Melting Pot vs. Cultural Pluralism

The idea of the melting pot is not what many think it is. At one time, the United States was considered a melting pot due to the many different backgrounds of the people here. However, a melting pot represents the dominant culture; everyone goes in, and whatever the majority is will surface. The melting pot concept encourages assimilation, and "being American" as it's top values. That, however, loses culture in the process.  Immigrants coming to the United States were expected to give up the language and culture of their backgrounds in favor of the "American way." Students in schools were taught to give up their culture and take on American customs, beliefs, and ideals, in order to create a society with "American" being the dominant culture.

The term cultural pluralism has since replaced "melting pot." Cultural pluralism is an understanding and appreciation of the cultural differences that people have. It focuses on society as a whole, and the uniqueness of each part that makes up the diverse population. Cultural pluralism can be seen like a mosaic; one whole made up of different, individual parts. Another metaphor used to demonstrate cultural pluralism is a salad bowl; each part of the salad is different but it makes up one whole. Cultural pluralism disregards assimilation, and is based on everybody maintaining their own diverse and equal identity.