The Pot Could Use Some More Ingredients to Melt

By: Rosemary Montes

We constantly questioned our identity as children and wondered where we came from. When our parents took the time and explained our ethnicity to us, we subconsciously started putting people into categories. Later in our education, we learned of the “melting pot,” which explained America’s present-day culture and how it came about. The typical definition is that people from various cultures come to America, become Americans and influence the American culture by incorporating their own into it. But there is another side to the “melting pot” experience, which is seldom recognized. When people immigrate here, they end up adapting to the American ways—that is, they become Americanized due to the pressure of racism and inequality (and the threat of), hiding their origin to try and avoid mistreatment.

When speaking in terms of race, a person usually identifies with one or two races their whole life. When taking a survey or test, a person must only select one option to describe what race they identify with. Filling in a bubble or even using the term biracial does not go into enough depth to describe the average American and their genetics. America has used the term “melting pot” to define itself and celebrate its diversity, but it truly isn’t allowing Americans to be “melted together” while they are constantly categorized and separated by their race.

When speaking biologically, there is not a “pure race.” With history’s many invasions and conquests between countries, procreation of people from different places meant for melting pot situations long ago. Whether your ancestors came from Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, or Brazil, migration and invasions have taken place all over the world, so there is no security in saying that your ancestors were born and lived 100% in a certain native country. The idea that we each identify with one, two, or even three races is not logical since there is not such a thing as a pure race. There truly never was to begin with, but that’s besides the point. Being identified by race has only made America entitled, and created racism towards humans on a land that never belonged to anyone to begin with.

English is a universal language and the unofficial, official language of the United States. In countries besides the United States, children are taught English before they even truly learn their native language. Why is this? Because America is seen as the land of opportunity where people are willing to become “americanized”—to lose their own culture and adopt a new one first. Not being able to speak English in America or having broken English is another way of showing your birth certificate, a piece of paper giving Americans the entitlement to approve and distinguish a “true American.”

America is a very diverse place, but only when it wants to be recognized as one. People don’t mind eating at ethnic places, shopping and recreating different cultures as a fashion statement, and traveling to different countries, expecting to be treated as guests, when in reality they judge and set immigration laws to prevent the same people who give them food, ideas, and service from stepping foot in their country, America. Citizens who do not see a problem with the way America handles diversity are part of the problem; they either are the ones inflicting judgement or they turn a blind eye to reality. 

America first became the land of opportunities and dreams through immigration; Jewish and Cuban people sought freedom, Mexican people sought opportunity, and Africans were brought against their will. But everyone saw the land as a place to build and change. Immigration was the source of the melting pot, yet entitlement scorns it and brands the word “immigrant” as something shameful— disdainful of people who seek better opportunity for their lives.

The phrase “America is a melting pot” unjustly neglects to describe the discrimination, seperation, and categorization that happens in this country. The “melting pot” will not melt while we continue emphasizing ethnicities and defining ourselves by them. In order to truly melt we need to add ingredients: equality, opportunities, ethics, justice, and lastly decategorization.