In high school, I had always been taught that America is traditionally referred to as a “melting pot” of cultural diversity. However, in a recent class discussion, we considered the new and updated term, the “salad bowl”, should describe America’s cultural diversity. Personally, I have never heard of the metaphor the “salad bowl”, so I am comparing the metaphors “melting pot” and “salad bowl” and determining which best describes America.
When discussing the theory that a “melting pot” is an accurate metaphor for cultural diversity in America, it is referring to the term assimilation.
In class, we discussed assimilation is known as individuals blending into a wider society resulting in the loss of cultural differences. During discussion, someone mentioned an advantage to assimilation is unity. People who approve of assimilation believe sameness is America’s greatest asset. People who are culturally different may feel as though they do not belong in society, but with assimilation individuals feel as though they have purpose and are accepted within their communities.
Another advantage is assimilation helps individuals overcome their natural differences.
Natural differences include race, ethnicity, gender, etc. When society embraces assimilation, they’re encouraging everyone to mix themselves into the community. However, there are some disadvantages to assimilation such as, a lack of cultural diversity. We discussed everyone has their own personal experiences that shape them and their perspective on life. When this is taken away, everyone’s uniqueness is gone. Another disadvantage is it forces families to lose their traditions. When society embraces assimilation, most traditions and beliefs are no longer practiced or accepted in society, so it is expected families disregard their traditions in order to join the majority.
When discussing the theory that a “salad bowl” should represent cultural diversity in America, its referring to the term pluralism or acculturation. In class, we discussed acculturation is multiple cultures co-existing within a society. An advantage to an individual is the opportunity to learn about other cultures. People can learn other ways of doing things, other ways of thinking, and other ways of reacting. Additionally, acculturation allows everyone to be a part of the bigger picture of America- everyone being their own definition of American. While there are a lot of advantages to acculturation, there are some disadvantages such as division of America into isolated units. When individual factions are formed, people in different cultures do not intermingle amongst one another. Another disadvantage is thoughts and ideas clashing. It is very easy for people to believe that their religion, beliefs, and traditions are the correct ones, so when cultures have a conflict, there can be more problems than just that original disagreement.
After comparing both the “melting pot” and the “salad bowl”, I have determined that America should be referred to a “salad bowl” when it involves cultural diversity. As a society, we should embrace uniqueness and not force individuals to conform to American beliefs and traditions. There are no specific criteria that determines whether a person is considered to be an American or not. Individuals moving to America bring with them great ideas, beliefs, and traditions, is what makes America the country it is today.