Melting Pot … so Ol’School

A high school History teacher once told me that he found the metaphor “Melting Pot”, which is commonly used to describe the ethnic diversity in the United States, as dated and imprecise. Of course he was right to say it is “dated”, in truth, seriously, where can you buy a Melting Pot? And as such, to new-fledged history students, is it really a good metaphor when you have to explain at it at both ends: starting from “what is a Melting Pot?”, and from then to “so, what is this supposed to represent?”. Instead, and in keeping with the gustatory theme, this same teacher came up with his own metaphor (he ‘claims’ authorship), “the salad” . A salad, unlike a Melting Pot, is a single entity composed of various vegetables that maintain their own individual identity. As a whole, there is unity, yet still the essence of each vegetable and their unique taste, as well as their respective identities are not homogenized into one completely new substance.

But as we are all well aware, metaphors of salads, or pots that are melting, look great in theory, but in practice things are not always so “peachy”. In fact, with a salad, nothing is ever “peachy” (and purists will adamantly avouch that fruits have really no place in salads). A salad doesn’t accurately portray the tense and complex soci-economic class contentions taking place in reality. Alright then, no Melting Pot, no Salad. What then is a better metaphor, or is there one? … Taco Salad?