America, the world’s melting pot. A country where people with roots from all over the world blend together to form the star-spangled United States. Over three years of doing American Studies has taught me that the melting pot is a debatable concept, but actually being in the US at an American university made me realize that it’s complete bullshit.
There is no melting pot. Americans with different roots don’t blend. When I look around the dining hall, I see tables with African American students, Hispanic students, white students, Chinese students, or Indian students – all in their own groups.
I once asked someone if they were going to an event on campus. ‘Oh, you don’t wanna go there,’ he said. ‘It’s a black party.’ A black party. The words startled me. Apparently, even parties are segregated.
In one of my classes, a student argued that the US is the best country for immigrants. Everyone can just settle right in and integrate, he thought, because there is already a community of other immigrants waiting for you. A Chinatown for Chinese immigrants, or a Little India for Indian immigrants. But that’s not really integrating, if you’re just sticking with people from a familiar background.
There’s no mixed American culture the way it is sometimes represented in movies and commercials. If anything, America is like a traditional Dutch microwave meal. It’s all in the same container, but every category – meat, potatoes, vegetables – is separated by a little wall.
America isn’t mixed. Except for its food. Because for some reason, Italian spaghetti with Asian stir-fried vegetables and American fried chicken is a totally acceptable meal here.