It could be imagined that a melting pot is a vessel in which ingredients are put and melted together to create one uniform flavor. The ingredients are however not visible. This is a mixture that melts and bonds together. It has been symbolically used to describe the experience by races that adapt to the culture of America. America has been alleged to be a melting pot in which all individuals of all nations are melted into a new race (Schlesinger, pp. 51-63). Some people think that this melting pot metaphor is false. It may appear like the melting pot is reserved for people who look and act like the majority of Americans, while those who don’t are excluded from participating fully in American life. Are there some races marginalized as the “other”? Is the melting pot really just a way for the dominant, majority group that holds power to force other groups adopt its ways? It leaves a lot to be desired whether assimilation into American way of life is inevitable, necessary, and/or appropriate for social cohesion. Thus, this essay seeks to highlight the trends of assimilation and multiculturalism in establishing that America is truly a melting pot taking an example of the American Filipino.
Most of the Filipinos migrated into the United States by 1920s. They mainly settled in United States’ west coast. The Filipinos fathers in the U.S navy also brought their families to the United States. The immigration of the Filipinos was mostly evident in the 1970s and was still a mission for them to settle fully in America. They were however not getting along with the control of their government. The Filipinos intermarried with the people they found in America. However, the reception that the Filipinos got did not allow them to easily integrate into the American society. All the same, those who had lived long in the American society had completely gone native to the land. Therefore, for any new comers into the American society to fit well in the society, they had to find some way of coping with the new environment because not even the Filipinos who stayed in America for long seemed to accommodate them. Therefore, there was no option left for them other than to be fully assimilated into the American culture.
The melting pot theory is linked with J. Hector de Crevecoeur. In 1782, J. Hector de Crevecoeur envisioned America as a place people of various origins melted into what could be constructed as a new race amongst men. During this time, there was slavery in the America. This saw a lot of immigrants into America including people from the Philippines who are the main focus in this essay. Immigration continued later towards the end of the 19th century and early 20th century (De Crevecoeur, pp. 194-213). America could thus be construed as a melting pot. These events however do not initially ascertain that America is a melting pot until a later date. Assimilation takes place to an extent initially but finally leads to a complete melting of cultures. There were schools that faced segregation up to the 1950s and although arguable, there is still de facto segregation. There were people and races that melted into one another as claimed through this theory. Of course, there is a literal translation that can suggest that a certain people would surely melt into another different culture. The translation suggested that people could agree and take on a number of the same things. This would also imply a great deal of mixing of races. There would be a lot of intermarriages and a greater acceptance of cultures and races. This has provided evidence that supports this assertion. There is a move towards absolute assimilation which initially looks like a multiculturalism ideology.
The idea of generalizing the trend of assimilation to American culture lacks is backed with proof. Mukherjee talks of two sides to belong in America and differs with a friend on what could be seen as holding on to the idea that America is a melting pot (pp. 126-129). While there are those that have been assimilated into the new race of American culture, there are those who hold on to their origins and have accepted the trend of multiculturalism. Mukherjee apparently claims that multiculturalism has failed since the 1900s. The concept of melting pot did not appear to affect the non-European immigrants at first. Some like the Philippines who were from Asia still held onto their culture. Therefore, there was a trend that was away from assimilation and another towards multiculturalism (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). However, assimilation seemed to gain an upper hand in the end.
The Filipino American history has been told repeatedly in so many various ways. Books can be read concerning the history of the Filipino American libraries of history. All the same, the best source could be that well explains the immigration and settlement of the Filipinos in America would be the Filipino parents, neighbors and grandparents having the heritage of Filipinos in them. For the Filipinos, the question would be how a people can move into America and completely assimilate into the new culture completely. Migration to the United States of America is an end to the journey of the Filipinos whereas at the same time is a beginning of a new chapter (Thernstron, pp. 73-95).
America was and is still considered the land of opportunity and there is a hunger and thirst for better life for the Filipinos and their families at large. Marquez presents a multiculturalism trend and states reasons why she has not been assimilated into the American culture together with the mother (510-513). It is a position that seems to refute claims of America being a melting pot. Just like Marquez puts it, adjusting to the lifestyle of the Americans was very difficult for many Filipinos. This was for the reason that the Americans did not approve the Filipinos despite migrating to America. The American society members regarded the Filipinos as African Americans. They were called by their racists’ names. They were not even called Filipino Americans. Therefore, the idea of America being a melting point for them sounds logical because they needed to fit into the system. For them to work comfortably, it was useful for them to learn some elements of American culture. Marquez says that, most immigrants whether from Poland, Finland or Italy or else where maintained their language through out the history of America despite learning English (512). There is a lot of evidence that proves that they spoke to one another in their native language but finally got themselves fully assimilated.
The concept of multiculturalism was so evident amongst the Filipinos. Most of the Filipinos were mistaken for Vietnamese, Koreans and Chinese. Not many Americans knew the culture of Filipinos. What initially was seen with the Filipinos was the adjustment they made towards to American lifestyle. This meant that no culture of the Filipinos was mentioned at all in many Filipinos homes. Despite these diverse cultural affiliations, there was still a push for the maintenance of the Filipino culture. There was a feeling that parents were not passing on their cultural history to the children and that is why the true Filipino culture was fading away slowly. People felt that Americanization was the best thing that the Filipino children could ever have and adopting English as the basic language was important to them as well (Rodriguez, pp. 467-671). This is one of the ways through which the Filipinos made a move to fit in the lifestyle of the Americans. Considering the history of the Filipinos, there are various cultural ethnic identities which people normally experience as they migrate to an entirely new different destination (Thernstron, pp. 73-95).
One of the factors affecting people’s identity is bi-culturism. This is a situation where people explores and finally adopts values from two cultures. A second aspect would take the form of ethnic separation. On this occasion, the ethnic background of an individual means everything to an individual. The person is never affected by new environments even after migration. Another ethnic identity is assimilation where the ethnicity of a person does not count. They give up their original culture and consider their nationality as all that matters to them. However, there is another group that is affected by what people say of their culture (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). Quite a number of the Filipinos went through assimilation because there was a need for them to fit into the culture of Americans. The Filipinos automatically had English as their first language. This was later followed by their mode of dressing and cultural mannerisms which were also affected in the process. Assimilation and multiculturalism co-existed at the initial stages but assimilation took over completely.
De Crevecoeur talks of what appears to be American charms especially to the Europeans (206). There seems to be very many temptations to adjust and remain in the American culture. This is his own version of assimilation to the American culture. He says that a traveler in Europe tends to be a stranger immediately he quits his own kingdom. But all the same, assimilation is present in American which is enough to generalize the fact that America is a melting pot. Definitely, there is a disagreement on the way that America should follow. The Americans generally like patriotism. After the September 11, 2001 it was such a refreshing fact to hear that some of the Muslims regarded themselves as Americans first (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). They were upset just like any other American. These are some of the issues that the Filipinos struggled. Some were half longing and half defiant and did not know exactly where to belong. All the same, they were those who were completely assimilated while others remained stuck to their culture and others fitted in a multicultural context. The former is the main objective of melting pot and the Filipinos finally seemed to conform to it.
However, answers are still being sought concerning the co-existence of assimilation and multiculturalism. There was a growing crisis in America for the Filipinos on they way they accommodate to and they way the majority groups accommodated them in the American society. Assimilation and multiculturalism have been conflicting ideologies. What seemed to be another alternative for the Filipinos was to choose both ideologies. Actually, affirmative action has been clearly known to embrace all these paradigms. Therefore, the ideologies of assimilation and multiculturalism characterize the American society. It is however more of assimilation than multiculturalism hence making America a melting pot. However, the theory of melting pot can change its implications (De Crevecoeur, pp. 194-213).
What people refer to as melting pot is a multifaceted idea. We can think of a melting pot as having ingredients that melt a little even though they may retain their initial identity (De Crevecoeur, pp. 194-213). The mix of any pot can be identifiable although considered as part of the meal. Thus, the societal goals must not be to make a separation and thereby create a multicultural community but instead create a single society that is integrated containing Americans first but also with other identities in it. Therefore, this social integration to fit and experience same privileges and opportunities is what has made America a melting pot (Thernstron, pp. 73-95).
There have been some remedies to endeavor to achieve integration. The famous Brown v. Board of Education was used to force integration. This was a move that targeted social integration although equal facility was just not achievable. Thus, integration is important in order to level the playing ground. Melting pot is only achievable if an individual accepts that there can be regular changes in the blend (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). This has left the Filipinos with no other option other than to integrate into the American society. Initially, Spain was the dominant Philippines colonizer for a number of centuries until islands were ceded to the United States in 1898. Because of the Filipinos commonwealth citizens of the United States status, they could immigrate freely to the United States more than other parts of Asia. Rodriquez says, “Race became the prism through which all social issues were perceived. But because their past and present is characterized by a continual synthesis, a blending of the Spanish and indigenous cultures, Mexican-Americans could project their own melting pot vision onto America, one that includes mixing race as well as ethnicity ” (p. 469).
Well, cultural identity is an issue of “becoming” as well as of “being”. Cultural identity belongs both to the past and the future as well. It is something that is already in existence, transcending time, culture, place and history. Cultural identities have histories. Just like everything that is historical, transformation is bound to be realized. Therefore, what sometimes may be regarded as the multiculturalism are just mere claims and another version of the melting theory. Multiculturalism may just be a cultural identity transformation taking place for people living in Diaspora. The balancing of two different cultures is a very difficult engagement and therefore, sitting on the fence may not bring out a complete access to opportunities. Therefore, some Filipinos grew up as they made efforts to balance the American culture and the Filipino roots. The main effort by the Filipinos was finding their place and their personalities in the American society. According to Bonus, the melting pot is very common in the history of the Filipinos and it finally came to be that no traces of Filipino culture could be traced anymore (pp.42-67). It is a prevalent thing to desire to fit in. Therefore, it is only natural that some individuals conform and become a part of the white culture of the Americans.
The “American Dream” together and the melting pot as well are both linked together as they are in the fate of each and every immigrant. They are the main incentives for the Filipinos and many other people who travel to the United States and leave their homes behind. All the same, the multiculturalism ideology is not what defines the American society. It all starts with a specific way through which a balance is created for all cultures through a salad theory (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). Assimilation is not a spontaneous thing but a gradual predisposition. Thus, all cultures have not completely melted into the American society all at once.
At first, multiculturalism is takes roots in the American society where all cultures co-exist. It takes a form of salad theory where all cultures have a space even though they are close in a manner that is not threatening same as is the case with a salad. All vegetables mix together without being crushed by the other on the plate. Therefore, the Filipinos initially co-exist amidst other cultures without having any problems. The experience of the Filipino is concerned with finding a true personal identity in life (De Crevecoeur, pp. 194-213). Looking for a balance between the people they are and where they came from. Ultimately, things gradually change to a complete assimilation.
The melting pot theory is thus very true to America. This has been occasioned by the need felt by some immigrants to learn some American culture for them to fit well in the American society and pursue their ambitions. Some of the Filipino immigrants in America chose to learn some aspects of American culture to help them pursue their dreams and earn a living. It finally came to be that their culture was melted into the American society. Making an effort to learn the American culture to gain a healthy position in the United States was in fact the doorway through which a process of melting cultures took place. America comprises various people of different religions, race and cultures (Thernstron, pp. 73-95). Despite all the many differences amongst the people, they work together. Therefore, there must be things that unite them. One of the basic things is a language that is common to all. Thus, assimilation into American way of life is inevitable, necessary, and/or appropriate for social cohesion. American is therefore a melting pot for cultures.