Decades ago America was given the nickname, Melting Pot. With all the different ethnic groups pouring in, there was beginning a mix of the world’s cultures that could not be found elsewhere. The world was finding a place to mix and mingle and learning to get along.
More Separate Than Believed
Though called a Melting Pot, it truly wasn’t one at that time. A true blending of cultures was far from happening. It would take decades before it could even hint to be a true melting pot.
Yes, everyone was coming and finding themselves living in the same cities and working for the same companies. The more things went bad in Europe and other areas of the world, the more people from those areas flocked into America.
Yet, everyone was still trying to stay separate.
Segregation in the 1950’s was nothing new. Segregation began a long time before that and even before America was born. It was perfected in countries long before America was a superpower. Since the beginning of time, people have separate into groups of their own kind for comfort, security, and commonality.
Many were moving to America to get a new take on life. The ideas was to become American. But in the young country, ethnic groups continued to create their own version of home. Instead of leaving it behind, they brought it with them. They named towns, streets, and counties after their motherlands. All the Italians lived in the same neighborhood. All the Spanish had their area. The Greeks had theirs. The Irish had theirs. The Chinese created their version of China. They moved their homes to the new lands.
This continued on decade after decade. Each ethnic group voluntarily stayed on their side of the tracks. “Wars” were fought as one person would crossed the line from one neighborhood to another. If one person moved into the wrong section, there were others to push him right back. Gangs developed with the younger generations to create an even tighter bond as one can see in stories such as “West Side Story” set in segregated New York.
The Irish stuck together in this new land. The Hungarians stuck together. The Japanese stuck together. There was very little melting going on. The Native Americans were clustered in resource pour reservations. Everyone was mixing like oil and water. Until Americans born generations later dared to cross the lines and truly make the ingredients of the pot melt together, the term ‘melting pot’ only applied to the fact that many different cultures called America home.
First Generation Newcomers
Those that never knew the homeland could not understand this territorial lifestyle. These were the ones who were born in the New World to immigrant parents. They were truly Americans, but their parents and grandparents were still of the Old Country. Yes, they followed the ways of their parents. But in their hearts they were American and were slowly letting go of the land their parents and grandparents came from. They began to create their own customs and traditions. Shockingly for that time, that included marrying someone from another neighborhood.
Lines were crossed and caused tidal waves of change to sweep through the various cultural segments. The move to a true melting was taking place.
America truly did not become the Melting Pot until inter-ethnic marriages began to take place. Each generation further down the line absorbed this action more than the one before. It began to cross racial barriers. Fewer stayed behind the boundaries their own people had erected. It was becoming more of being an American instead of classified on the Old World labels.
Though many still want to keep the “kinds” separate, it is becoming more difficult to do just that. Why? Because we have become the Melting Pot. We are moving through life with each other. I can sit in a cafe and see all kinds of people from all walks of life sitting by each other and conversing. There are sections they sit in. There are no boundaries. The melting is underway.
How many full-blooded ethnic people are walking around that were born in America? There are many, but not the majority. We all have a mix of blood in our genealogy and have fun discovering them in our family tree research. I am an American, but I have Irish, Scottish, English, and German in my veins.
America is now a Melting Pot of nationalities that are still learning to live together but a Melting Pot nonetheless.