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Salad Bowl or Melting Pot: Immigrants in America


The metaphor of the Melting Pot is a damaging concept. The idea that immigrants must “melt” their cultural identities into “One America” or U.S. culture and abandon their ethnic culture in order to fully integrate themselves into American society is a poor viewpoint on immigration in the U.S. The melting pot houses flavors rather than distinct elements. Within the concept of the Melting Pot, why does being American have to be one type of identity? Why must immigrants forgo their own culture in order to be socially accepted? Why can’t the U.S. be a mix of distinct and un-Americanized cultures?

This ideology of preserving separate cultures within immigrants is known as the metaphor of the Salad Bowl. In the salad bowl components do not melt together but rather keep each element’s integrity and “flavor”. The fact is that American culture is not one definable entity. In reality it is a mix of hundreds of cultures each with their own untampered identity.

Of course the Salad Bowl ideology can be damaging as well with the reinforcement of separated groups rather than a sense of commonality, nationalism, and cross-cultural community. For this reason, the two metaphors pose an essential question to be answered: Which metaphor (or what parts of each metaphor) should we as a nation value? 

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