Melting Pot Or Salad Bowl Essay

“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.

This entry was posted in Civic Issues and tagged ci, katekielceski, minbiole, rclspring2013, wk5 by Kate Kielceski. Bookmark the permalink.

As The United States grows more and more diverse, a simple question is starting to appear in my mind – what does it mean to be an American today? This American Identity essay is a little research on who is the modern American citizen and how the United States became a large box of chocolate, containing every existing flavor in the world. If you’re looking for custom writing services provided by professionals, look no more!

Native Americans

As Wikipedia describes, Native Americans are people, whose ancestors were indigenous to the lands that are located in the nation’s modern boundaries.

Since the end of 15th century, the Americans have faced with an extensive amount of emigrants from Europe that led to a lot of changes and adaptations between the societies. The indigenous Americans were composed of tribes and groups and their lands were used by the entire tribes, whereas Europeans had developed individual property rights. The differences in the land using were not the biggest problem. Cultural dissimilarities, as well as the constantly changing alliances during war, created political tension, violence on an ethnic base and social disintegration.

After declaring the United States of America, President George Washington created a policy of assimilation as United States citizen, for which Native Americans needed to be “civilized”. Due to the expansion of European-American population after the American Revolution and an increasing pressure on the Native American’s lands, the tension had started to rise that resulted in the Indian Removal Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1830. According to this act, the government was authorized to move Native Americans from their homelands to lands that were located west of the Mississippi River, thus making more space for European – Americans. That caused in the extermination of many tribes and a bloody spot on American history.

Racial Groups

The census of 2000 in the United States showed that people are established of being of more than one race. Since 1960th, people have started to claim that they have Native American ancestry and by the time of the census in 2000, the number of them greatly increased. In accordance with the census, America was divided into these racial groups:

  1. White Americans, European Americans, Middle Western Americans. This group has origins of the original people who immigrated from Europe, Middle East or North Africa.
  2. African Americans. Originated from people who came from sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Native Americans or Alaska Natives. People originated from North, Central and South America.
  4. Native Hawaiians or other Islanders. People who have origins from comers of Polynesia, Melanesia, or Micronesia.
  5. Middle Eastern Americans. Population coming from Middle East, North Africa and the Arab countries.
  6. Some other race. People, who reported themselves in this category, are Hispanic Mestizos. They are considered to be of mixed races. Hispanic and Latino Americans originate from Andorra, Latin America, Spain and Portugal, most of these countries are racially diverse, as well as the United States. Therefore, there is no separate group for Hispanic and Latino Americans because they don’t comprise a race or national group.
  7. Two or more races. This category represents people with mixed races, also known as multicultural.

As of April 30, 2016, the United States has a total resident population of 323, 730, 000, making it the third most populous country in the world. The majority of people, leaving in the USA, are whites, including people reported as having Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Arab or Polish origins.

Crisis of American identity

It is said that the spread of multiculturalism has weakened the American’s national identity. The Bradley Project, established by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2008, took a national survey that showed the bifurcation of American society and the degrading of the national heritage and ideas. The 84% of the respondents still think that America has a strong and unique identity, which is based mostly on a way of life, in lieu of ethnicity. Devotion to freedom is considered to be the definition of American national identity.

But shocking 63% of the respondents think that American identity is becoming weaker. People are concerned that Americans became so divided that they can no longer have a joint, general identity. The respondents below 35 years old even claimed that there is no national identity at all.

The Bradley Project was created to help in initiating a conversation about identity crises in America, to repair the balance that can unite the diverse nation, with all its cultural characteristics and unique features with its focuses on the similarities and different ways to find a common ground, but not a uniform faced country. The Bradley Project suggested that children should be taught history in schools in order to learn about the past, as well as immigrants should be taught American values and educated in the principles of American democracy.


With the immigration crises and no clear idea of what the future of the nation would look like, I think, Americans should consider the questions, like who they are and what kind of nation they want to be. The immigrants should be respectful and willing to contribute to the nation that welcomed them in its lands. On the other hand, Americans should help them to adapt to the new society and help them not to become criminals, who break the laws, but the devoted members, who would want to make the country better and stronger.

American Identity has a vast ethnical background, creating a bright and diverse society of people who perfectly resonate with the line from Walt Whitman’s famous poem “Song of Myself”: “I’m large, I contain multitudes”.

In my opinion, perhaps, we should all reconsider the way we see race and identity and stop putting people in categories. Let’s just come back to those times where we were all just humans, not French, German, English or American, but simple human beings.

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