A Melting Pot is defined by Merriam Webster as “a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole” (“Melting Pot”), but over the lengthening time period that this country has existed and has endured, our melting pot has become more known as a part of all of us, rather than all of us being a part of the melting pot. By calling yourself an American, you do not identify as a specific race, gender, or religion, but rather a mix of all of them. We all put our own aspects into this melting pot of a country, and we all draw our identities from these aspects, which grow in size each year. Although it took quite a while for diversity to be accepted as a value of the United States, step by step our citizens made progress towards the multicultural society that we live in today. We have come quite a long way since the foundation of America, since the abolition of slavery, since the Jim Crow Laws and the world renowned Supreme Court Case Brown v. Board of Education, but despite all of the progress that we’ve made in accepting diversity, there is still quite a ways left to go before everyone can identify our Melting Pot as a part of them. Some may say that we will never see full equality in our lifetime, but these people have forgotten the epitome of the country that they live in, because after all, this is America, and America has come to mean defying all odds and completing the impossible, providing opportunities where no one has seen them before – and where there are opportunities, there will always be hope for the future.

In order to fully understand the roots of our Melting Pot of a society, one must go back to the foundation of the United States and how our culture was originally intended to be. Often times people don’t hear many negative thoughts about our founding fathers and tend to believe that these people had no flaws. However, each and every one of them did in fact create the United States on a contradiction laid out in our Declaration of Independence by proclaiming “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal” (US 1776), but if in fact all men were created equal (like Thomas Jefferson so profoundly wrote), then we would not have experienced the enslavement of Africans and African Americans up until the Civil War and their specific segregation well into the 20th century. It’s preposterous to think that so many of these men fought in the Revolutionary War to gain independence for white people who would not reciprocate the action and emancipate slaves, yet at at the same time, it’s remarkable to acknowledge just how far we have come in so little time. One of our nation’s most famous civil rights activist of all time – Malcolm X – grew up in a world where discrimination and racism was the status quo. His father was lynched when he was 6 years old. His mother was removed from his family for no justifiable reason whatsoever. He was one of the smartest children in his entire school, yet he was told that he would never go anywhere in life because he was black. Ilyasah Shabazz, his daughter, wrote X: A Novel (told in the first person of Malcolm X), which specifically described to readers all of these acts of racism that whites committed against Malcolm and his family. In one part of the book, Malcolm travels to Harlem – a prominent sight of black pride and the civil rights movement in the 20th century – and watches a performance by Billie Holiday, a jazz singer who expressed her desire for equality through song. One of the pieces (“Strange Fruit”) sung by Billie during this performance described the horrors of African American lynchings. After the performance, Shabazz wrote about Malcolm reflecting on a lynching that he had seen on a train ride to Boston when he was young. He said that the performance “evokes, really evokes, the lynched body I saw. The lifeless bodies Billie sang about. Hanging there, blowing in the wind. The song never says why they were lynched. There is no why. What did they do? Blackness is reason enough.” (Shabazz 222). This horrific perspective that being a different color justified being killed for no reason makes us think that these events must have occurred hundreds of years ago, but really, this happened in 1942. 75 short years ago, which is less than the average life expectancy, it was justified for black people to be hanged for being black. In 75 years, this country has completely switched the direction in which it was headed and turned itself into a nation where diversity is celebrated, where lines of descent are honored, and where all people are giving equal rights under the law regardless of their race. 75 years ago, there were likely very few people who thought that in the year 2008 an African American president would be elected, and even though it seems unlikely that in 75 years from now racism might be a word of the past, anything is possible in a country where people can speak their minds freely, anything is possible when someone believes it can happen, anything is possible in a nation that was built on dreams, in a nation where dreams do come true.

America is a unique country in many forms. It was one of the very first democracies that this world has ever seen, it was the first nation to defeat Great Britain in a war, and it was the first nation to be established on the principle of white privilege but later shift to finding value in the vast diversity of the population. In the article “America: History’s Exception” by Victor Davis Hanson, the author took a very interesting perspective that America has thrived most when it controlled and documented immigration and Americans and immigrants blended their values together. This blending of cultures was essentially what started our melting pot. To have many different cultures in one nation does not make it a melting pot, but rather when these cultures interact with each other and adopt different parts of one another’s beliefs and ideals. However, this was not how the country was originally created, because at first, we valued exterior appearances above interior thoughts. We began to judge people before we got the chance to get to know their culture, but as more and more minority cultures gained influence, “the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance” (Hanson). This policy first started to really take off after World War I during the Harlem Renaissance, which was “a blossoming (c. 1918-37) of African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and the most influential movement in African American literary history.” (Hutchinson). The Harlem Renaissance was really the first time that Americans began to recognize African culture, and the movement became so popular that it has stayed a part of our culture ever since. In X: a Novel, Malcolm X is influenced quite a bit by this increase in African American pride and culture, especially when he first arrives in Boston and is immediately drawn to Roxbury, a town where music, clothes, and talk from the Harlem Renaissance were all present (Shabazz 86). Without this influence, Malcolm would not have gained the true sense of identity that he was able to with all of his exposure to his culture, and if America never began to accept foreign cultures, we would still be an entire nation of the same. This nation has always been adaptive and has never failed to change with new times, and although our Melting Pot did not exist at the start of the United States, it did not take very long for whites to begin adopting foreign cultures, and as soon as that took hold, we were left with hundreds of different values and beliefs that we all hold close to us today, because they are all part of the Melting Pot, and the Melting Pot is part of all of us.

America has been dubbed many names and has been given many themes that represent the country, but in order to go to the center of our values as Americans, we have to analyze the entire population as a whole. Coming from Michigan, I am used to hearing every single winter that no two snowflakes are the same, and this cliché can in turn be applied to each and every citizen of this country. No two Americans are the same, our views clash and we say bitter things about each other, we disagree on current events that our critical to our country, and we follow many various cultures, many of which have no similarities at all. We are each our own snowflake, holding our values that define who we are close to our hearts, but just like every snowstorm that hits Michigan, the end result is a beautiful sight of all white, a stunning blend of every single difference of every single snowflake coming together to form something so identical that no one would never have guessed that no part of it was the same. This is our Melting Pot. Each and every one of us brings to the table something different from the other, each American contributes to society in a unique way, and when we all contribute in different ways, we come together and we form a society united by our differences, a society and a nation that can not be broken because of all the bonds that we have between ourselves. Diversity isn’t a dividing factor amongst Americans, diversity brings us together and makes us part of this Melting Pot. Diversity will always be a factor of this nation as it continues to grow and gain new values, but at the center of all of those values will forever be these things: a country united by its differences, a Melting Pot formed by all of these differences, and one large population that this world renowned Melting Pot is a part of.

Works Cited

“Melting Pot.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melting%20pot.

Shabazz, Ilyasah, and Kekla Magoon. X: a Novel. Candlewick Press, 2016.

Hanson, Victor Davis. “America: History’s Exception.” National Review, National Review, 9 June 2016, www.nationalreview.com/article/436347/americas-melting-pot-culture-made-country-great-we-are-losing-it.

Hutchinson, George. “Harlem Renaissance.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Feb. 2017, www.britannica.com/event/Harlem-Renaissance-American-literature-and-art.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 The American “Melting Pot” by Owen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

10 Comments
  1. Skyler 2 months ago

    Dear Owen ,

    I am in deep thought by your post, “The American ‘Melting Pot’”, because it’s accurate to today’s society in the USA. The USA is indeed a “melting pot” with various backgrounds and identities that shapes how our society works today. There are many benefits and injustices in our country’s “melting pot”.

    One sentence you wrote when explaining Malcolm X’s story is, “He was one of the smartest children in his entire school, yet he was told that he would never go anywhere in life because he was black.” This is very relevant to today because many minorities are oppressed due to their skin color. In today’s society, the paler your complexion, the more privileges are bestowed upon you.

    A sentence that stood out to me was where you told the audience Mr. Hanson’s point of view that “America has thrived most when it controlled and documented immigration and Americans and immigrants blended their values together”. I disagree with this because without illegal immigrants our workforce would decrease. They take the jobs that many are unwilling to do. I conclude that without undocumented immigrants, our economy will plummet a bit.

    I do not agree with the statement you make in the post that says, “…it did not take very long for whites to begin adopting foreign cultures….”. I do not agree with this statement because I believe that there are always going to be people who cannot adopt to foreign cultures. In my opinion, racism will always exist due to different beliefs and stereotypes. It’s the sad reality to it.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because your descriptiveness and examples are impeccable. Your post states real issues that occur today and why these issues remain. I am highly attentive on these matters because they interest me.

    S.W.

  2. Sia-Imani 2 months ago

    Sia’Imani Warden
    2/26/18
    Blog response

    Dear Owen

    I love your post on the “The American Melting Pot”. The United States diversity is what makes our country so unique and makes it stand out more than others. To me I feel as though our country is like a refuge to people no matter what their ethnicities are they are welcomed to be here and to embrace themselves without being judged because we except that everyone is different. The United States has been through a lot of racism not even black and white other races and religions too. People are taught the past so they won’t make the same mistakes in the future and us as Americans have embraced our mistakes learned from them and have became a better country.
    
    Something you pointed out that I really liked was when you said “75 years ago, there were likely very few people who thought that in the year 2008 an African American president would be elected, and even though it seems unlikely that in 75 years from now racism might be a word of the past”. Nobody not even me would’ve thought one day we will have a black president our country has came a very long way. 75 years ago was apart of time were lynching was big in this country. Malcolm X daughter had wrote about her fathers experience on lynching and also how billy holiday never wrote why they were lynched in “Strange Fruit” she just said “Blackness is reason enough.”
    

    “Diversity” is also another big part of this blog in the text you said “Diversity isn’t a dividing factor amongst Americans, diversity brings us together and makes us part of this Melting Pot.” I also agree with this being different in America is perfectly fine. It’s okay not to look like someone else. It’s okay not be exactly the same as anyone. Just because we are different it makes us even better and creates The Great American Melting Pot.

    From my point of view and the information you’ve gave me, just like food the Melting Pot is different spices put together to make a soup made of such cultural and beautiful diversity which makes our Melting pot so unique.

  3. Chisom 2 months ago

    Dear Owen

    I am extremely intrigued by your post ¨The American Melting Pot¨ because it explains that the United States has been through a lot to get to where it is now. You explained that the U.S has gone through slavery and jim crows laws but we have overcome this and it has made us better people for it.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is ¨Without this influence, Malcolm would not have gained the true sense of identity that he was able to with all of his exposure to his culture, and if America never began to accept foreign cultures, we would still be an entire nation of the same.¨ I think this is powerful because when America was lost and was trying to find its way it needed to realize that it was a country with various cultures that would only make America greater.

    Another sentence that I liked was “This horrific perspective that being a different color justified being killed for no reason makes us think that these events must have occurred hundreds of years ago, but really, this happened in 1942. 75 short years ago, which is less than the average life expectancy, it was justified for black people to be hanged for being black.” This stood out to me because people with darker skin have been ostracized throughout the years because of something they cannot change. It makes no sense but racism is apart of America’s history. Looking at the world we live in now shows that we are only getting better.

    I do often agree with you that no two snowflakes are the same. One reason I say this is that when you judge people by what you see on the outside you do not always get the full picture until you dig deeper. Another reason I agree with you is that when we learn new things about different cultures it connects us further.

    Thanks for writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because this post was highly intriguing. I’m glad that you dug into this subject. Your thoughts on this subject are similar to mine. Your views on America’s tragic history have opened my eyes to a broader way of seeing things. I am very glad that I took the time out to read this blog post. Cannot wait to see more!

  4. Zakaria 2 months ago

    Dear Owen,

    I am in love with your post “Melting Pot” because of the way you were able to articulate your point and draw a historical comparison to modern times. The historical comparison really helps drive the point home and makes you realize the amount of change that is possible.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out to me is “75 short years ago, which is less than the average life expectancy, it was justified for black people to be hanged for being black.” I think it’s impactful because it makes you realize how bad it truly was back then, and how much the world has changed since.

    Another sentence you wrote that I liked was “However, each and every one of them did in fact create the United States on a contradiction laid out in our Declaration of Independence by proclaiming “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal” (US 1776), but if in fact all men were created equal (like Thomas Jefferson so profoundly wrote), then we would not have experienced the enslavement of Africans and African Americans up until the Civil War and their specific segregation well into the 20th century.” This stood out for me because it shows how what was written in the nation’s law isn’t always what goes on in the real world.

    I agree with you that we still have a long way to go before we are truly equal. I say this because lots of racism and discrimination goes on even today. Another reason is that politics still divide people in a terrible way, perhaps more now than ever.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because you definitely know what you’re talking about, and can put those words to paper in a beautiful way.

  5. Jetline 2 months ago

    Dear Owen:

    I am fascinated by your post “The American Melting pot” because it explains the beauty of so many different cultures that define our country. It provides knowledge to people who disagree with the idea of diversity among Americans rather being a good aspect to our country.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out to me is “…..even though it seems unlikely that in 75 years from now racism might be a word of the past, anything is possible in a country where people can speak their minds freely, anything is possible when someone believes it can happen, anything is possible in a nation that was built on dreams, in a nation where dreams do come true.” I think this is inspiring because in today’s society people lose hope believing in a civil society where racism does not have to be a problem. If more people start having this mindset I believe we can come up with solutions that will benefit our nation as a whole.

    Another sentence that I admired was “ Diversity will always be a factor of this nation as it continues to grow and gain new values, but at the center of all of those values will forever be these things: a country united by its differences, a Melting Pot formed by all of these differences, and one large population that this world renowned Melting Pot is a part of.” This stood out to me because people don’t recognize how important diversity is to this country. We need different ethnic groups and people to share and help new and innovative ideas that will benefit theirs and ours future.

    I do agree that we need to analyze the population as whole. One reason I say this is in order to have a civil society and be able to work together, everyone has to be viewed equally as important. Another reason I say this is only benefiting one group of specific people will not benefit the others so we have to tend to all people.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because your thoughts are important as a young person coming up in the generation. Recognizing today’s issues is one step closer to finding a solution for the problem. Your thoughtful responses will inspire others to do the same

    • Author
      Owen 2 months ago

      Jetline,
      Thank you for your response. I’m glad that you enjoyed my perspective of this country outlined in my text. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on how we as a country could move forwards from recent events that seem to have had a lasting effect on us and maintain a unified people despite actions taken by some that have seemingly divided us. For example, following the recent “take a knee” campaign, many people were offended by these professional athletes who sat or kneeled during the national anthem because it somewhat disrespected the flag. What do you think about this? Did that divide move us apart or bring us together? Thank you again for your thoughts!

  6. Shannya 5 months ago

    Dear Owen:

    I am intrigued by your post “Melting Pot” because of the ideas that you convey in said post. I am intrigued by it because you convey ideas that people have, but just don’t have the words or voice to speak up and say.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “By calling yourself an American, you do not identify as a specific race, gender, or religion, but rather a mix of all of them. We all put our own aspects into this melting pot of a country, and we all draw our identities from these aspects, which grow in size each year.” I think this is inspiring to some people because to those whose families don’t come from a “special” place, this could show them that even if they aren’t foreign, they can still have unique aspects about them.

    Another sentence that I was intrigued by was: “Often times people don’t hear many negative thoughts about our founding fathers and tend to believe that these people had no flaws.” This stood out for me because as a student, I have never really learned anything about the Founding Fathers other than that they paved the way for our society to this day.

    I do agree completely with you that “… a contradiction laid out in our Declaration of Independence by proclaiming “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal”…” One reason I say this is because of all the men and women in jail. Some of these men and women, were wrongfully and/or didn’t have the right attorneys for the jobs. Another reason I agree with you is that even today in society you see people of minorities, LGBTQ+, etc. being treated differently because of how they look, and/or who they love, etc.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because of the way you explain the ideas that you write about, and how you choose to write about ideas that are happening in society throughout the years, instead of just in one time period.

  7. Abasi 5 months ago

    Dear Owen:

    I am amazed by your post “Melting Pot” because of your ideas. The way that you compared America to a Melting Pot is the perfect metaphor. It describes our country very well.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out to me is “Each and every one of us brings to the table something different from the other, each American contributes to society in a unique way, and when we all contribute in different ways, we come together and we form a society united by our differences, a society and a nation that can not be broken because of all the bonds that we have between ourselves. Diversity isn’t a dividing factor amongst Americans, diversity brings us together and makes us part of this Melting Pot”. I think this is great because I completely agree with it and each one of us is different in our own way, but if we come together then we can create something amazing.

    Another sentence that I admired was “This nation has always been adaptive and has never failed to change with new times, and although our Melting Pot did not exist at the start of the United States, it did not take very long for whites to begin adopting foreign cultures, and as soon as that took hold, we were left with hundreds of different values and beliefs that we all hold close to us today, because they are all part of the Melting Pot, and the Melting Pot is part of all of us.” This also stood out to me because of the powerful message behind it that we all make up America in a unique way.

    I agree with you that the great amount of diversity in America is a factor to the greatness of the nation. The diversity makes our country unique and it adds to the Melting Point. It also adds many different perspectives and cultures to our country.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because of your excellent writing style and the way that you express your great ideas.

  8. Walter 6 months ago

    Hey Owen, really do like the analogies you draw in your piece. The example of a snowstorm in your conclusion really spoke to me, and was really the perfect anecdote to bring the entire piece together. It is important to remember that our country really was born of violence, in your passages that highlight the experiences of Malcolm X and the early country of the USA. Those really spoke to me, as many forget that the History of America was painted primarily in blood.

    • Author
      Owen 6 months ago

      Thank you for your thoughts Walter, I’m glad that you enjoyed the historical aspects of my piece. It’s very important to our society that we do not forget the roots of our nation and its people and just how far we have come since the principle foundation of America. I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts on Youth Voices and reflecting on them.

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