Projecting America as a Salad Bowl
There exists a myth in which America is prided for being a salad bowl of identities, cultures, beliefs, yearnings, hopes, and more. When immigrants from all over the globe come to America, they bring a small part of their previous lives here. Yet in the long run, surrounded by propagation of the American way of life, the American dream, it is only a matter of time before immigrants, not all but most, succumb to the slow assimilation and deliberately choose the American things such as hot dogs and hamburgers -- over their home cuisine. In deciding which is best for creating a citizenry that is engaged with America’s cultural and political institutions when it comes to concepts of assimilation versus multiculturalism, we need to look at things through an immigrant’s visage. My parents were like the millions of other Chinese immigrants; They came to America in hopes of better opportunities and the freedom it promised. Multiculturalism offers the former in addition to a safe environment in which they are able to embrace their Chinese heritage and all of its cultural and linguistic beauty. In hopes for a more innovative citizenry alongside broadened perspectives, multiculturalism is the key to a substantially more inclusive society, starting from the base, children.
In light of the exponential increase of Asian hate crimes, my dad, unfortunately, was one of the victims of the situation, though definitely not to the degree of some of the other victims. Living in the 626 area (where a majority of the population are Asian-Americans or Asian immigrants) had conditioned our family into thinking we were safe from the terror that was on the news every night. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, our family took our bikes for a ride at the beach, which seemed harmless and innocent enough, keeping in mind that we were indeed social distancing and wearing our masks. My younger brother and I rode up ahead with my mom tailing close to us, leaving our dad a little further behind. Stuck at the crosswalk due to the light, my dad solemnly described when we were in the car, two white males at that intersection looking him up and down before one of them asked my dad, “You’re not dead yet?” His friend, of course, snickered behind him. Thankfully, the light turned green before anything happened but my dad’s attitude about what was on the news had changed after that. Similarly, I am endlessly grateful that the light has changed. We are easy targets and a scapegoat, a means for unleashing their frustration, for Americans during this pandemic. If we had, in every school, a way to broaden kids’ perspective to the different skin colors, cultures, and beliefs of the melting pot (what multiculturalism is all about) that is America, things would undoubtedly be different.
In addition to a broader perspective, both America and her students can experience an influx of multicultural innovation. When we look at places such as Koreatown and Little Tokyo here in Los Angeles, we can see that businesses have recognized and in turn, shifted to maneuver a more culturally diverse group of consumers. These places are products of multiculturalism that work to spread the customs of Korean and Japanese culture. As they grow in popularity in relation to Los Angeles’s expanding diverse population, there arises a need for more environments like this in which different people feel safe and secure, surrounded by different aspects of their cultures. To meet this need, today’s dynamic market demands consideration of culturally diverse talents in America that bring about more buildings, venues, organizations that encompass ethnic values need to be established. Students of color bring valuable insights to starting these projects and should be welcomed with open hands.
With all things considered, multiculturalism is crucial for moving forward with a more open minded and innovative citizenry starting with the base of the newest generation, children. When they grow up in a multicultural environment, America is sure to take one step closer in eliminating racial prejudices and prevent any more victims like my dad.