The “melting pot” metaphor for American identity came about because America welcomed and accepted a wide variety of immigrants. I believe the idea was no matter what your culture, religion, or ideology all people could come together, merge and become one united nationality: American. This idea in theory may seem simple and for the good will of all involved especially our country. I feel sure the intention was to have a united nation where no one felt marginalized. The mistake that was made was the “simplicity” of the idea. To become completely melted, one has to melt their culture, past, ethnicity, ideologies, and personhood into one united new personhood. The celebration of each culture and appreciation of that person was washed over and usually left behind. As humans we have a need to be accepted and part of a community. Immigrants were “American” but they lived separately; the Germans of Louisville lived in Germantown, the Irish lived in a different area and so on and so forth. Each smaller community had a subculture within the American culture. I believe the subcultures evolved to keep their tradition and heritage alive. Those subcultures could celebrate their identities, religions, and beliefs.
So, here we are centuries later wringing our hands asking what went wrong? We were trying to build a unified nation, filled with loyalty and patriotism. Now, we have division among races, religions, classes, etc. We have a man who has made it through our political system who is clearly prejudice against many different nationalities, and religions and he may become our next president. What then? Will he fuel the fires of hate and mistrust among different cultures, building walls instead of bridges?
I believe it is imperative for our country to support diversity especially in our schools. If our children grow up embracing their culture, heritage, ethnicity, religion, and differences then they can teach them to others. If all children are asked to share who they are with others from a young age the diversity will just be a part of life, not something different or hated. Children befriend one another. Studies have proven that people who are friends or have contact with more diverse people are less prejudice. Acceptance, celebration, and understanding of each other will change our society.
It is important to work with lots of diverse people in workplaces. Pointing out the differences is probably not the best solution. However, changing it up so there are teams working together, getting to know each other will help to break down stereotypes and barriers.
Diversity, acceptance, celebration, and understanding of others could make our country great. Pitting one ethnicity or class against another will only break it. Building a wall to keep others out does just that; it builds walls. Walls do not create great ideas, designs, or innovations. Walls do not provide loyalty or unity. Our country has enough division and hatred. What the world needs is understanding. We don’t need a “melting pot” we need an “understanding, accepting, celebrating people” to raise each other up and unify our country.