Paul Kusuda’s column
Melting pot/Diversity revisited
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”
Inspiring words. Powerful. Yet, I wondered years ago and even now. Does the word “men” include both men and women?
Does it include all the slaves that we had in the colonies? Does it include the right for all “men” to vote? As it turned out,
amendments to the U.S. Constitution eventually provided answers (Amendments XIII, XIV, XV, and XIX). The 19th
Amendment, women’s right to vote, wasn’t adopted until August 18, 1920. That’s almost 90 years ago – and 144 years after
the Declaration of Independence.
Instantaneous is not what I’d call the relationship between words of inspiration and the realization of parts of the
Declaration. However, what I’ve noticed about our democratic form of government is that even though policies and practices
appear to stagger from one form to the other, the general direction is worthwhile. Our job is to assist the staggering
syndrome to move in the general direction as we as a group consider being appropriate and proper.
The “melting pot” dream was to create a colorless or single-color society such that decisions and emotional responses to
social, economic, educational, and many other issues would be based on considerations other than race or color. At one
time, there was a disdain about anyone claiming to be a hyphenated American, such as I, a Japanese American. I never
used a hyphen because I am an American with Japanese ancestry.
Some in mainstream America believed that “foreigners” could be assimilated into American society if they could “only be
like us.” Thus, we who were not White were superficially accepted if we wore clothes “correctly,” walked and talked
“correctly,” and otherwise “fit in.” Many non-Whites bought into the idea, some probably as a self-protective device. They tried
hard to meet the acceptable mode. Ostensibly, they were accepted, according to the “melting pot” conceptual design. They
were deceived, and though they knew it, it seemed better than being totally excluded from many social and other functions.
That deception, sometimes real and other times erroneously misperceived, leads many non-Whites to be suspicious, wary,
and constantly on guard not to be lured in a possibly embarrassing situation. Occasionally, that cautionary attitude results
in the non-White having a chip on his/her shoulder, daring others to express racially-tinged remarks. That can result in
hostility, either covert or overt, as a worse case result. The inevitable result is reduction in communication. Gestures,
glances, words, intent, meaning etc. become too easily misconstrued.
So much for potentials relating to the “melting pot” paradigm. It’s not a truly workable concept, even though intentions may
be pure and geared in the direction of promoting understanding among people. There are too many pitfalls and naïve
hopes. So what is the alternative? One is diversity.
Three years ago in writing about supporting diversity, I noted my scarcity of knowledge about the many ethnic groups
comprising the ethnic classification of “Asian.” Then I wrote, “Lack of knowledge, however, should not limit empathy or the
pursuit of understanding. Our feelings and emotions must be directed toward acceptance … (W)hat the heck! We should
give it a try because diversity is worth the extra effort and can lead to a better society."
Since writing all that, I’ve been looking at diversity as a working social model. I’m not impressed, and I’ll write more about
my observations and concerns.
(Published in July 2009)
About three years ago (April and May 2006 to be exact), I wrote articles called “Melting Pot or
Diversity: Which Makes More Sense?” and “Melting Pot or Diversity: A Review and Opinion
Change?” Since then, I’ve continued to watch what seems to be going on. I’m not impressed. In
fact, I’m far from being impressed.
The “Meling Pot” paradigm, or model, was premised on the hope that the United States’ populace
aspired to fulfill a dream that all who reside in this great country would develop into what might be
ideally conceived as “AMERICAN.” Neither race nor color mattered if one were American. Non-
Whites seized the paradigm; caring people, many of whom were idealists, also bought into the
dream. That concept of American was not real (and could never become possible).
The dream fit well within the Declaration of Independence (second Continental Congress, July 4,
1776): “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are