Xenophobia’s destruction of American values

America rejects the melting pot.

Lauren Vander Tuig , Staff Writer

On News Year’s Day news anchor Michelle Li reported on multiple cultural New Year’s traditions, including her own. Li shared her Korean heritage in this segment, explaining her family’s tradition to eat dumpling soup in the new year. 

This cultural expression faced criticism from a particularly upset viewer who found Li’s story to be “very Asian.”  The viewer expressed that Li should “keep her Korean to herself” and that if a white person talked about what they ate on New Year’s Day “they would get fired.”

XENOPHOBIA

This comment by the upset viewer reveals a strong attitude that continues to reign in America: xenophobia. Xenophobia is defined as the “​​​​fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” 

The complaint made on Li’s heritage expresses pure xenophobic thoughts. These thoughts negate Asian American people’s identity as being both fully Asian and fully American and promotes a form of nationalism that is built on false ideals of a white protestant America.    

Many Americans unknowingly experience xenophobic thoughts and harbor a fear of the unknown. Xenophobia is a hidden social issue that impacts society as a whole. Some examples of its impact include implicit bias, discrimination, hate crimes and isolationism. 

NEGLECT OF AMERICA AS A MELTING POT

America is a melting pot. The image of a “melting pot” comes from the idea “that all of the cultural differences in the United States meld together, as if they were metals being melted down to become a stronger alloy.”

With new immigrants comes new culture, including diverse music, fashion, food and religion. This multiculturalism is what makes America an attractive country—a country with many unique cultures under one national identity.  

To complain about something being “very Asian” is to regard it as not being American enough. Considering America’s alleged philosophy of the melting pot, America is a better place due to the numerous cultures that it is blessed with.

RADICAL AMERICANIZATION

 Despite this initial harmonious idea, some Americans interpret the melting pot as a symbol for assimilation and the abandonment of heritage for the sake of the country. This notion is known as Americanization or “the act or process of conforming, or making something conform, to the values, customs, and institutions of the United States.”

Americanization imposes a concept of American and un-American assumptions. In relation to the recent criticism of Michelle Li, foreign traditions are considered un-American. This expectation is not representative of American values and solely exists to perpetuate an indistinguishable image of Americans.

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

The criticism of Li stirred up a large conversation that is worth having. The viewer’s comment unpacked a world of prejudice that should serve as a reminder for all Americans to reflect on what makes the country so valuable. 

In the words of Michelle Li, “We should all be allowed to bring our full humanity to the table and this is what happens when you’re perceived as perpetually foreign.” 

In a nation that stands proud of its freedoms of expression, its citizens should feel fully American no matter their ethnicity.  

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