The Melting Pot Experience and an Attitude of Gratitude

By Katlin Esguerra, FINDink Contributor

It’s the season of thanks, and the season of coming together in unity. In order to come across these benevolent experiences, one must also be reminded of their familial roots, and the journeys that ancestors had gone through.

 Walking through Chelsea in New York City, New York. The history behind this city has been built-up by immigrants, thus the conception of the American, “melting pot.”

Walking through Chelsea in New York City, New York. The history behind this city has been built-up by immigrants, thus the conception of the American, “melting pot.”

Questioning the Meaning of the American Melting Pot

It is no doubt that the United States is a nation composed of people immigrating from other countries, or are descendants of immigrants. Because of the influx of people coming from different parts of the world, the term known as, “the melting pot,” has been conceptualized after the appearance of people of distinct racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds in the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th century.

The term has been tossed around for decades, but what does this concept of, “the melting pot” in the United States actually mean, anyway? The metaphorical meaning of the phrase varies from person to person. From what’s been previously learned, the basic history behind the term flowed along the lines of immigrants assimilating into an ideal “American culture.” Although many view the term as a celebration of embracing various traditions and backgrounds, the melting pot metaphor also presented itself as an identity crisis for many immigrants. There has been a struggle between assimilation into re-molding one’s self to become more American and maintaining transnationalist ties with the homeland. Because the melting pot metaphor possesses historical roots in American immigration, it also has ties to influencing politics and society, as well. The term has ties to U.S. immigration policies, as well as views and attitudes based on the encounters of people who possess different racial or ethnic backgrounds (i.e. stereotyping, ethnocentrism, racism, etc.).

Today, each person must engage in the historical significance behind the meaning of the melting pot metaphor, thus forming one’s own interpretation of what it could really mean on a personal level. Is the United States a blended composition of different backgrounds, or are we a “salad bowl” nation divided by boundaries? What are some ways in which a person can interpret “the melting pot” and apply it to everyday situations? Such questions are those that can be discussed between friends and family members in order to obtain various points of view, and eventually come to a consensus on differences. From there, a person may be able to realize one’s own experience with the metaphorical melting pot.

 The best of both worlds: Lumpia and pancit made by my family, who emigrated from the Philippines in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, and a roasted turkey and green bean casserole, two American classics. This is a part of my American Melting Pot experience, by embracing traditional Filipino cuisine with American influences.

The best of both worlds: Lumpia and pancit made by my family, who emigrated from the Philippines in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, and a roasted turkey and green bean casserole, two American classics. This is a part of my American Melting Pot experience, by embracing traditional Filipino cuisine with American influences.

Finding Gratitude Within the Melting Pot

As previously stated, everyone in the United States is at least a descendant of an immigrant, and everyone’s lives have been influenced by ideas of the American melting pot in various ways. The United States has been constructed by the work of immigrants, and many traditions, linguistic terms, cuisine, and other social or cultural aspects originate from the works of our ancestors. No matter how long a person has lived in the U.S., one must understand their personal background, as well as the backgrounds of others in order to gain a better perspective of what life in America is like for each person.

From a personal perspective, gaining an understanding of other people’s lives in this country helps better understand one’s self. A person gains an understanding of where they come from, and there lies some gratitude from acknowledging your own origins - you become more grateful and aware of your relatives’ journeys. You find solidarity with other people who are of different backgrounds, and have obtained similar journeys as you or your relatives.

We each define the American melting pot in a myriad of ways, but, in respectable and open-minded manners, we must learn to come together to share our own perspectives and differences.

 

Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.