Four Videos on Being a Salad.

2013.01.06 Four Videos on Being a Salad

I came across a handful of videos about what it means to live in and live as a mosaic within “salad” terminology and thought I’d share them with you.

This professor, Dr. Magala, clearly defines and contrasts the melting pot and the salad. He points out the risks of the salad, that a group or groups can be made the scapegoat or discriminated against if they “stand out” too much. The video’s intended audience is student learners in entrepreneurial work but I think it gets the point across quickly and succinctly. Plus, the bit of humor at the end is classic.


On the other hand, there’s Rick Santorum’s comment during a campaign stop the College Convention in Concord, NH in 2012 in which he says America being more than one thing means no one should be surprised when it’s difficult to get things done for the one. He does present the challenge of the mosaic yet instead of embrace it I think he’d rather ignore it or push it away. And if I didn’t think he was concerned that the “one” America should look and believe just like him, I would give him a little credit. No, Mr. Santorum, the challenge of the mosaic is one to embrace and celebrate. To slightly alter and paraphrase something another US politician may or may not have said, “You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Know why? ‘Cause we’re a salad bowl, Mr. Santorum. And by “we,” I mean the world, not simply the United States (what you call “America”).


Finally, I don’t know who the student is who made this video about “The American Salad Bowl” for a class. I think she does an excellent job providing some factual information on statistics of diversity in the US and I appreciated the human touch of her immigration story and understanding that she not only has several identities now, she knows there are some she isn’t even aware of yet. She asks, “What is your American identity?” I might go further in asking, “What are your identities?” Note: the sound is a little tricky so you may want to adjust your speakers accordingly.


These short videos offer a little more insight into what I’m thinking in terms of embracing terms like “mosaic” and “salad” to describe both individuals and groups. Still haven’t found the first “salad” video I saw a few months ago but I will keep my eyes open.

And if none of those videos get you thinking, perhaps the wisdom of classic Sesame Street can:


I remember watching that clip way back when some of the kids seemed so much bigger and older than me.


4 thoughts on “Four Videos on Being a Salad.”

  1. Nate, I have never thought of the “melting pot” metaphor in the manner it seems to be being used here. Then again, I am a chemist…
    I think of the disparate materials being melted into a homogeneous whole, yes — but ALL of them taking on the characteristics of one another. Like tin and copper — weak individually — being alloyed into the much stronger bronze. The point being that the bulk of the “melt” is also changed by every ingredient added.
    Am I missing some extrapolation of this metaphor? Forgive me if I’m being dense (insert lead alloy joke here).

    • Hi Jon, I think part of why some persons would hesitate to use the melting pot metaphor for the United States is the dominant culture – white, straight, and Protestant – often does not take on some or many or most or ALL of the characteristics of other cultures in the US. Meanwhile, many minority cultures are confronted with many or most (or perhaps ALL) of the characteristics of the dominant culture every day without choice. For example, a white person saying to a person of color that we should all be the same can actually mean, even if (and usually very) subconsciously, “Be like me.” The white person doesn’t meet the person of color where they’re at and doesn’t want to change or be challenged; everyone should melt / meld into the context they know for themselves. But that’s impossible. This is not necessarily an extreme example or an imaginary one; it’s one I’ve witnessed persons express in person and documentary (I will have to write about “The Color of Fear” sometime). A salad acknowledges each person has their culture and those cultures are great, yes, and when brought together make something wonderful, yes, and the harmony of flavor they bring can enrich our lives, yes. AND! They still get to be who they are and no one can take it away from them. That’s an off-the-top-of-my-head response. This is what makes us better allies, not alloys. That’s my alloy joke which, actually, makes sense to me for the point! 🙂


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