Saturday, July 27, 2013

America The...Salad?

I love my country.

But, as many know, this does not mean I love everything about it. I love the concept of our country – the idea of a government of, by and for the people. However, in practice, we fall well short of this ideal. More accurately, this country is of, by and for the powerful and connected. Money rules. And it always will.

But anyway. I want to talk about a phrase used to describe America, which I believe, is totally inaccurate. That we are a ‘Melting Pot.’ That somehow, people from all over the globe come here, become Americans, and get added into this purported roux with the rest of us resulting in an altered, refined mixture.


For starters, for that kind of alchemy to occur, those who are already here would have to accept and respect the cultures of those who recently arrived and, further, embrace them. This does not happen. It never has. Whether it were the Irish who came here in the mid-nineteenth century, the Europeans in the early twentieth century, the Cubans who came here in the early 1960s, or the Haitians soon thereafter, each was met with scorn and resentment. They were exploited, ridiculed, considered less than equal in the eyes who were here before. It was only after a long period of time, usually stretching to two or three generations later, did these groups gained acceptance. And that’s where our purported charity stopped – eventually their numbers became so large that people finally said oh all right. I guess you’re here to stay.

But never does the overall ‘mix’ of this country get adjusted due to their presence.

So, we are not a Melting Pot, so stop with that description.

So what are we? What is a more accurate description for this nation of people from somewhere else?

A fruit salad.

Think about a fruit salad. It is pieces of various, well, fruits, each individual in its taste, texture and color. Sharing the same container.

That is America. The blacks are over there, the Hispanics are down the street, and the whites are behind the guard gate. They each occupy a space in the overall container, and sometimes rub against each other, but a piece of pineapple remains a piece of pineapple. It is not overly affected by the piece of cantaloupe next to it, or the grape next door. We all go to Walmart to buy our stuff and see each other (and that’s where the overlaps occur – we all buy Walmart shit), but each gets back into their shiny metal box and heads back to their turf in the salad bowl.

So please. Let’s stop glamorizing a vision of America that does not exist. We are not tolerant people. New pieces of fruit appearing (What is that? What’s a kiwi fruit? Get it out of here!) are barely acknowledged until too many of them appear, at which point the established fruits rail against their existence in the bowl. They want them expelled for fear of contaminating the salad.

But…what makes a good quality fruit salad? Uniform pieces of melon? No, that would be a melon salad. What makes a great fruit salad is the variety of fruit.

And that’s what makes us a great country. New pieces of fruit, each with its own flavor, which adds to the overall awesomeness of the salad.

But each piece still separate. Grapes taste like grapes, melons like melons. You never get a hybrid Grapelonapple. There’s no ‘melting together’ going on.

Maybe I should conduct diversity training. Because that’s what diversity is.

And that’s what our country is.

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