America: Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl
2318 WordsDec 16th, 201310 Pages
America: Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl
Multiculturalism is also known as ethnic diversity relating to communities containing multiple cultures. The term is used in two different broad ways, descriptively and normatively. By using the descriptive term, we usually refer to the simple fact of cultural diversity. This can be applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place and sometimes at the organizational level such as schools, neighborhoods or nations. The normative term is often referred to ideologies or politics that promote this diversity or its institutionalization. The United States have been a magnet for people all over the globe, searching for a better life and bringing their own culture and traditions to a new vast country. No…show more content…
This is where a tunnel vision is created within America, because nobody bothers to explore and look outside the box. They pay more attention to copy and look-alike, than to stand out in a crowd. Earlier in the text we established that having a wide diversity of people in a society is very effective and useful. Just think about it, who wants a salad only containing lettuce? It is very boring to only eat lettuce all the time and nothing else in your salad. Even though this is what happens when everyone melts together, everyone is a piece of lettuce. While instead of only eating boring lettuce pieces you can spice it up with all kinds of vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat; whatever your taste buds prefer. Again, all of this leads back to diversity just within your eating habits and in your salad. Bennett also claims that America is already too divided as a nation and it’s therefore essential not to focus on our differences because this will only divide us further. James Surowiecki states “Diversity helps because it actually adds perspective that would otherwise be absent and because it takes away, or at least weakens, some of the destructive characteristics of a group decision-making.” (29) Surowiecki is a well-known author who writes for a popular column on business
“America is a melting pot.” Historians, social scientists and educators have long used this metaphor to describe the United States. This country is supposed to bring together the different cultures and peoples of the world and blend them in one society and culture: the American culture. However, as I discussed last post, this metaphor is considered by many to be inaccurate. There is still a distinct divide between people in America. Instead of culture blending, rather culture cohabitates and exists alongside the cultures and traditions of others. For this reason, I believe a more accurate metaphor would be, “America is a salad bowl.”
This article presented interesting insight on and development of this new metaphor. It illustrates how in today’s society, immigrants are not forced to assimilate by any means. Different ethnic groups are capable of existing with limited interactions with people outside of their group. For example, the author points out how most immigrants move to six states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. This proves two things. Firstly, it suggests that immigrants are looking to move to areas where there is already an immigrant population. This contributes to the lack of assimilation among immigrants we see today. Instead of settling down in a rural or homogenous area and adjusting lifestyles, immigrants seek out locations where there will be a population they are already accustomed to and comfortable with. Secondly, it indicates that immigrants are not distributing themselves evenly across the United States. While this may seem extremely obvious at first, one must consider the consequences. If the majority of the immigrants are living in the same areas, that means other areas are seeing little to no immigration and therefore little to no diversity.
Another aspect to consider is the level of integration even in areas with higher percentages of immigrants. The author points out Los Angeles and New York as examples, but really any major city of the six noted states would work. While walking down the street, one might see many different people from many backgrounds. However, where are these people going? In many cases, despite living in the same cities, immigrants tend to live separate lives within their own communities. For instance, consider the districts of New York: Little Italy, China Town, etc.
From all of these examples, it is easy to see how the term “salad bowl” is a more appropriate metaphor than “melting pot.” In a salad, undesired foods can be avoided or taken out. One can eat whatever components of the salad he or she wants. Similarly, people living in America are basically able to manage culture the same way. If immigrants wish to assimilate completely, that option is totally possible. However, if immigrants wish to live as close a life as they were in their native country, that alternative is also fairly achievable. In this way, America is very much a salad bowl.
So how is this problem solved? How does America go from salad bowl to melting pot? Further, does America want to be a melting pot, or is being a salad bowl the best option? Similarly to last post, I don’t know the answer to this question. Solutions like this one are complicated. The officials we elect to government struggle with these issues everyday. Personally, I believe there is merit to both sides of the issue. If America remains a salad bowl, it offers people around the world to move to a place where they are free to live their lives without fear or persecution. They can continue in their ways with all the customs and traditions of their culture. However, I also see the benefits of the melting pot approach. If America were to return to the melting pot model, a greater sense of understanding, acceptance and national unity could arise. This would ideally bring the cultures and traditions of the various peoples of the United States together to form an American identity, as was discussed last post.
Currently, America is very much a salad bowl, with separate components and elements, all of which are welcome to be the in salad, but not all equally integrated or accepted. The analysis of this metaphor is worth examining further.
*I realize that this article may not be the most credible of sources, but the author makes a lot of valid points that I have seen individually in other pieces.