A Melting Pot vs. A Stew….

StewWhen I was a kid I often heard that the USA was the great American melting pot. That implied that when people came to this country they gave up all their traditions and heritage and merged seamlessly into the American ethic. I was a pretty naive farm boy in my youth so it was years before I realized that the melting pot was not as homogeneous as I thought.

Those who grew up in large metropolitan areas very much realize that American is more of a stew than a melting pot. Take any major city and you will find “Little Italy”, “Chinatown”, and many other ethnic neighborhoods. I even recently learned that there is a “Little Ukraine” in NYC. Being deaf I have even come to understand that there are deaf enclaves in many cities where Deaf culture people congregate. They have their own groceries, and other type stores who all know ASL.

Originally these communities started as a way to hang out with people who spoke our language and understood the world as we do. They were ways to hold on to old world customs in the strange new world of the United States.  But since mass immigration is now several generations ago they have now morphed into centers to celebrate their uniqueness and there is nothing wrong with that.

I think that the U.S. has always been a stew rather than a melting pot. A stew is made up of many different components each contributing to the unique overall taste. If there was nothing but potatoes in a stew it would not be anything close to what it is.  By the same account if we just threw all the vegetables into a pot of cold water they would never come to be a stew but instead just a pot of veggies.  It takes time on the stove, or crockpot, for the parts to come together to be a stew.

On this blog I call the American Stew by the name of diversity. We are made up of many different parts with many different views. Our diversity is what makes us the great nation that we are. When we fail to recognize that fact we are damaging ourselves.  Slavery damaged us for hundreds of years as has bigotry among some of our population. Today the anti-diversity campaigns such as Left/Right, conservative/progressive, white/color, are still threatening the stew.

We have to all understand that being made up of a population of differences is what makes us unique in this world. It is what gives us our strength. For that reason we should all take up arms when bigotry and prejudices are used to attack any of us. We are a stew, not a melting pot.