Discussion challenges melting pot theories

Posted May 15, 2009

Julissa Cardenas
Staff Writer

“Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl” was the theme of the fourth session in a colloquium series on diversity at the University of La Verne, which took place May 7.

“Melting pot is when all cultures blend together to form one big culture, but salad bowl seems like you come together but are still distinguished,” said Daniel Loera, multicultural affairs director.

The facilitators giving the presentation of ethnicity and minority identity were Christopher Liang, assistant professor of psychology, and Leticia Arellano, associate professor of psychology.

Students and many faculty attended, including Zandra Wagoner, assistant vice president of undergraduate programs, and Michael Frantz, professor of mathematics.

“I’m here because I love having these discussions. I have great conversations with all of you, and even though I see you at meetings, it is nice to see you in this environment,” Wagoner said to the faculty.

Many were there out of curiosity and to understand the terms melting pot and salad bowl.

“I have heard of melting pot, but salad bowl is not very common,” Frantz said.

Explaining the difference between the terms resulted in a discussion among the students and faculty.

Everyone gave their opinions on the two issues.

After discussing the theme of the session, the topic of identity and perception came up and many were surprised to know that there were different stages that altered the perception of the individual.

Liang and Arellano both explained the different stages of minority identity development and the attitudes attributed to the different stages.

According to a chart made by Atkinson, Morten and Sue, there are five stages of development. Stage one is conformity, where the attitude towards self and others of the same minority consists of discrimination and self- depreciating.

Eventually the individual goes to stage five after going through many questioning stages.

Stage five is Synergetic Articulation and Awareness, where the attitude is positive about ones minority group.

“A person can move back and forth or blend one stage with another, there is not one sure stage,” Arellano said.

Liang gave many examples about the stages, which consisted of his life experiences.

“When I was young I grew up loving my culture. I loved the food, the music and the television, but I hated some of the views connected to my culture,” Liang said. “Asians were considered weak but I knew I wasn’t. I realized I could fight back when I saw my sister’s college friends stand up to some men’s rude comments.”

As the life examples and the discussions continued, many realized that they are at one of the stages of development.

“Even now I don’t think I’m quite at level five, there is still room for development,” Liang said.

The session ended with much still to discuss, but Arellano and Liang were thankful for the audience and the time spent in good conversation.

Julissa Cardenas can be reached at julissa.cardenas@laverne.edu.

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