Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Melting Pot or the Divided Country

Lately, I have heard more talk and signs of prejudice than I have in many years. Perhaps this is because I did not recognize the inuendoes when I was younger, but I now realize just how injurous and ignorant these comments can be. Being from Texas, I often hear people make derogatory remarks about Hispanics, but I have realized that this talk is not limited to any one group of people. In just over a month, I will be heading off to college, ready to begin an new part of my life. Because I am going out of state, I will know only one person when I arrive in the fall. However, instead of this being a challenge, I see it as an exciting opportunity. I have the ability to meet an extremely diverse array of people, different from anyone I have ever met before. When I see people of different cultures, I want to meet them and see how their background has shaped them into who they are today.
The other night, some friends and I went to Starbucks. Outside, a group of young Asians were playing some sort of card game as they spoke in a language neither of which I would probably ever be able to learn or understand. However, I was completely intrigued. I watched the way they interacted. They were intense in their game, but laughed and enjoyed each other's company at the same time. Unfortunately, my friends did not see their lifestyle in the same light as I did. They did not make any particularly degrading remarks; they did not have to. I could tell by the way they looked down on them, scared, disturbed, and confused by their actions and mannerisms. My friends made it clear that they desired to move as far away from them as possible. I was distraught. Here was an opportunity to learn about someone else; why they lived like they did and how it was to be an immigrant in America. After all, my brother currently rooms with an Asian student (even though he grew up in America, he does have some family connections abroad), and my brother has learned a great deal about other cultures through him.
Someone on National Public Radio (NPR) today mentioned that the US is no longer a melting pot. I had always been particularly fond of this term because it described how so many people could congregate and still get along. However, I began to think that this term was just an idealists' dream. Instead, we have become a divided nation, each ethnic group its own segregated people. I hope that soon, we can again become a true melting pot, learning from each other's differences, embracing our similarities. It takes one little step at a time. Be inquisitive, not derogatory. Be open-minded, not set in your own ways. In this way, we can become a united nation, rather than one divided because of its diversity.

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