America: Melting Pot Or Tossed Salad?

Tossed Salad. Photo by jeffreyw.

Guest Editorial By Thomas

Most of us are familiar with the metaphor for America as a “melting pot.” People from countries all over the world come together here to form one nation where we are all Americans. This metaphor implies that during that process, our diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religions melt away as we form a homogeneous American stew.

As the idea of what an American should be advanced by the Founding Fathers took form, immigrants by the Nineteenth Century were subjected to nativism, the fear of foreign ideas and influence in favor of those of the “native” population. Every group of people that arrives in America has to undergo an “Americanization” process. This process consists basically of assimilation into mainstream American culture.

The metaphor of the melting pot has shifted. America is now to be considered a “tossed salad.” This means that components of our racial, religious, and cultural heritage remain intact. We identify with our groups outside of being just plain American. We are Mexican-American, African-America, Muslim-American, Italian-American, Asian-American, and the list goes on.

Immigrants (such as this writer) play a balancing game. They struggle with figuring out what parts of their culture to keep and which should be discarded in favor of assimilating with American practices. Even though, in theory, we celebrate the diversity within America, there is an othering that takes place for immigrants who do not fully assimilate.

The question to you, the reader, is this: which theory makes more sense to you – the Melting Pot or Tossed Salad and why?

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