Apr. 27, 2017


“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

            This section of Emma Lazarus’ poem from New Colossus, I interpret to mean all are welcome. If they are then America is not a melting pot. That would mean people forget their heritage and become a homogenized culture. We are not. Take New York City for example. It is a very diverse city with parades that celebrate: Chinese Lunar; St. Patrick’s Day, Greek Independence, National Tartan Day, Persian, Puerto Rican, Philippine Independence Day, Gay Pride March, and of course the Caribbean Day Parade. Now this is a small sample of the people who populate New York City. Of course, with parades there is ethnic (a word I hate) food neighborhoods.

            But to classify NYC as a melting pot is ludicrous. People haven’t given up their heritage because they arrived in the United States except those that came bound in chains. And even the formerly chained find ways to revel in the history they have been able to extract. Since 1968 Harlem has hosted the African-American Day Parade to highlight their history and salute African people throughout America and the world for their outstanding achievements. 

            These various groups make up a city of seven to eight million people. Why do you think these parades take place? To celebrate the heritage intrinsic to the group. Watching any of them one realizes most people came here for a better life (whatever that means to them). And yet most still think of themselves as Americans. Parades symbolize the legacy, heritage and symbolism of respective countries and ideas within the American society.

            America as NYC is a stew with each group adding its own special flavor. We need to remember as immigrants (which we all are) that we bring a special essence to the American soil. But we don’t need to be nor are we all alike.