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Culture - Essay Example

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The earlier depiction of American culture as the ‘melting pot’ has changed to one of the ‘mosaic,’ as different ethnic groups continue to contribute to American culture and yet retain their ethnic identity.
America is undisputedly a nation of immigrants: the only truly…
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American Culture: Melting Pot or Mosaic? The earlier depiction of American culture as the ‘melting pot’ has changed toone of the ‘mosaic,’ as different ethnic groups continue to contribute to American culture and yet retain their ethnic identity.
American Culture: Melting Pot or Mosaic?
America is undisputedly a nation of immigrants: the only truly indigenous group is the American Indians! Contemporary American society is composed of a large number of ethnic categories, ranging from African and Asian to Norwegian and Welsh. The earlier depiction of American culture as the ‘melting pot’ has changed to one of the ‘American Mosaic,’ as different ethnic groups continue to contribute to American culture and yet retain their ethnic identity.
In the early years, immigrants shared a common ethnic and religious profile: white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (McDonald & Balgopal, 1998). The first wave of European immigrants ‘melted’ into the mainstream American culture easily due to this similarity of the ethnic background. Israel Zangwill’s concept of America as a ‘melting pot,’ in which immigrants of diverse ethnicities assimilated into one homogenous cultural identity, pertains to this age.
Present, second wave of immigrants is largely from the developing nations of Asia and Latin America. They bring with them a diversity of languages, customs, distinct physical traits, religions and ethnicity, which does not submit to easy assimilation. Today, “there is more emphasis on preserving ones ethnic identity, of finding ways to highlight and defend ones cultural roots” (Booth, 1998). America is now a multicultural ‘Mosaic,’ in which various groups preserve their ethnic identities and yet remain a part of the larger American way of life.
The Chinese exemplify this ‘mosaic’. This group retains its ethnic identity and also makes significant contributions to the American culture. Steven Chu, Samuel C. C. Ting, and others are Nobel Prize winners. (“Chinese American Culture”, 2010). Amy Tan is one of today’s most popular American writers. Chinese take-away is as much a part of American cuisine as apple pie. The teachings of Confucius are part of the curriculum of many American universities. The benefits of Chinese meditation, green tea, and acupuncture are a part of American life. Chinese calligraphy, character tattoos, and martial arts have permeated American culture.
In this age of immense diversity, American culture is no longer a ‘melting pot’ which blends all its composite groups into a homogenous whole. There is no single American identity. “Ethnicity remains an important factor in shaping people’s self-definition” (Zogby, 2001). This is clearly demonstrated in the hyphenated terms used to define groups such as African-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Asian-Americans. American culture is a rich ‘mosaic’ of various ethnic identities, which fit together to form an infinitely rich culture, with common values and pride in being ‘American.’
Booth, William. (1998). One nation indivisible: Is it history? The Washington Post. Retrieved
Zogby, James. (2001). America: Still a mosaic of ethnics. Retrieved from
Chinese American culture. (2010). Retrieved from
McDonald, Helen G., & Balgopal, Pallassana R. (1998). Conflicts of American immigrants:
Assimilate or retain ethnic identity. Migration World Magazine. Retrieved from Read More
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