Melting Pot


Melting Pot Essay, Research Paper

Dennis: So, just for the record, what is your age and where you born.

Dan: I’m 18 and I’ve lived in New Paltz my entire life. My father was born in Puerto

Rico when he was real young so that makes me Latino, but I don’t really advertise

the fact I’m Latino. I don’t fit the stereotype and people assume stupid *censored* when

you tell them.

Dennis: Do you come out of the closet to other Latinos?

Dan: No. I feel weird because it’s almost like I’m not Latino enough to admit it. I’ll

admit it if it’s someone else who doesn’t fit the stereotype.

Dennis: How would you define a Latino stereotype?

Dan: Gold chains. The guys, the girls, the real obvious Latino people all have ‘em.

Dennis: All Latinos or just the people our age?

Dan: Well not all the older people, I mean like young adults. It’s a college town so

there’s less adults than there are kids.

Dennis: Does your dad fit the stereotype?

Dan: Not really. Not the physical stereotypes. A hot temper? Oh Yeah. You don’t want

to be around when he’s pissed off. He had four kids so that’s less than the

stereotype. That’s because my mom’s Italian, you know? She balances it out.

Actually she makes it more uneven than balancing it. She can’t cook anything but

Italian. So much of ethnicity is food because everyone has to eat. What do you

think of when you hear the word Chinese?

Dennis: I think I’m hungry but we’re focusing on the wrong culture here. What about

your kids? How Latino do you think they’ll be?

Dan: Not at all dude. It’s don’t think people should stress where they’re from if there

really American. Maybe second generation kids, but I was born here and unless my

kids are born on vacation they will be too.

Dennis: You’re a second generation kid.

Dan: Yeah, but my father sees himself as an American. I mean, he grew up in Brooklyn.

Dennis: What about your brothers and your sister? Do they identify with your Puerto

Rican heritage?

Dan: No way dude. No gold chains there.

Dennis: Have you ever been to Puerto Rico?

Dan: Nah. If I start saving money now, maybe when I’m a senior I’ll be able to go for

spring break. I want to try the Puerto Rican ganga (laughs). You can’t put that in

can you?

Dennis: Do you want to be stereotyped as a pothead Latino?

Dan: Dude, I don’t *censored*in’ care what people think.

Dennis A Young

Reflection Paper

Professor Stevens

89101 02

Is Melting Pot a Good Thing?

Had it not been for a random comment made by Dan about a year ago, I would

have never known he was Puerto Rican. We work together, but we aren’t particularly

close, so I was curious as to how proud of his heritage he was. Although he wouldn’t

outwardly admit it, he seemed almost ashamed of his family’s origins. I asked him a

quick follow up question the next day, because I had never asked him about his

grandparents. It turns out he never knew his grandfather and his grandmother died when

he was seven. I thought it was funny that his father didn’t do very much to pass down his

Puerto Rican heritage and like a true son, he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Since the interview I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out

how this made me feel. On the one hand, it looked like his father wanted to fully

integrate his family into American culture, and he succeeded. On the other hand, his

children have only the slightest clue of where their roots begin. I’ve always thought that

eventually everyone in America would be so ethnically mixed that all people would be

viewed equally. An ethnically combined Brave New World. I had never stopped to think

about what would be lost ethnically. At first it was disheartening to think of how much

would be lost, but if that is what a parent wants for their children, then who am I to

second guess? I’m curious to see how these factors play out in different parts of the

country. New York is the cultural melting pot of the world (where else would you find so

many different cultures rooted into society as you do in Manhattan), so I would assume I

have a better idea of Latino culture than the average Joe living in Iowa. I would hope that

the United States eventually mixes over completely with the cultures the world, giving

everyone insight into where they, their best friend, or even someone they know only in

passing can trace their roots back to. Not to mention the fact that typical white

Americans would be less ignorant of those we share this country with.

The Latino heritage may not have been handed down directly to Dan, but whether

it is through the music he hears on the radio or the Puerto Rican day parade, in a country

like ours he could never completely lose his heritage. As our society progresses and the

Latino influence weaves its way further into mainstream America, future generations will

gain a better sense of the culture. It is ironic to think that while a significant amount of

the culture was never passed on to Dan, his children may have a better idea of where they

come from when they are eighteen than he does now. While that may be less ethnic

identity than many second generation Latinos, I’ve come to the conclusion that it really

isn’t that bad. When someone immigrates to the United States, I’m sure they realize that

their children will probably never fully grasp the life they leave behind. That’s exactly

what it is, left behind. Anyone who wants to experience and learn of Puerto Rico can hop

on a plane, and experience it firsthand. As long as there is a Puerto Rico, the culture will

prevail. The beauty of the United States is what you give up from your own heritage, you

gain from everyone else’s.


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