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America a ‘stew pot’, not a ‘melting pot’

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To the editor,

As you suggest in your column on the Latino and other immigrant and refugee presence in North Carolina, [Philanthropy Journal, 08.03.05], yes, to heal our communities, we need to follow the Golden Rule in the way we treat our newest neighbors.

However, I think perhaps the image of the melting pot is one that often leads us astray.

When one imagines a melting pot, one sees that all of the ingredients added to the pot have melded, somehow sticking together, to become one.

Yet I contend that we are not a melting pot; we are a stew pot.

The difference is that in a stew the carrots remain carrots, the potatoes remain potatoes, the beef is still beef, the celery adds flavor and is still celery.

This stew is delicious with all of its ingredients, but all of them are allowed to keep their own identity while they all combine to make the whole “pot” better.

Why then do we ask that people from other cultures lose their identity and become part of many ingredients that have melted into one–melting pot?

Were we — most Americans who have foreign roots — required to lose our identity?

Most native North Carolinians can tell that I come from the southeastern part of the state, but those from the “outside” only know that I come from the South.

I have been fortunate to retain my culture — that of my mother from Pilot Mountain blended with that of my father from Bladen County.

When I left my native county and moved to the Piedmont, I had to learn the culture and language of another people.

Most of the natives have accepted me after thirty-five years, but there are still those who remind me that I was not born here.

So, although I am a native North Carolinian, even I am an immigrant.

Catherine T. “Cathie” Hodges, Troy, N.C.

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