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Posted on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Images of America: Are we a Salad Bowl?

By Wayne Baker

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week, Dr. Baker will discuss five images of America along with the melting pot metaphor. What image represents your vision of America?

0208 Stand Against Racism Salad Sculpture.jpg

Here’s our third image of America:

A salad bowl.

What's your reaction to this representation of America? How does it compare with your reactions to yesterday’s image of morning colors at a U.S. Navy facility on Cultural Diversity Day — or with Monday’s 100-year old image of Israel Zangwill’s drama, The Melting Pot?

This salad sculpture was created in 2010 by the Art Honor Society and students of Dumont High School, N.J. as part of the YWCA's annual "Stand Against Racism" movement. In the salad-makers' words, we "created a large 'multicultural origami salad' to represent our society. In a 'salad' all the ingredients keep their individual characteristics while being held together in one bowl. Our American society is truly a 'multicultural salad'."

The YWCA's "Stand Against Racism" has the "goal of bringing people together from all walks of life — across the country — to raise awareness that racism still exists." The 2012 event will take place on April 27. (You can view a nationwide list of participating YWCAs here.)

Does the “salad bowl” represent your vision of America?
What do you think of the images we’re considering this week?
Is there an image you wish we would include?
Please add a comment below and "like" us on Facebook!

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.


Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 4:04 a.m.

To be clear, NO

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

If this nonsense of America being a "salad bowl" instead of a "melting pot" had existed 150 years ago, America never would have become the great nation that it became and still is. White Americans, the dominant ethnic group in America, do not pay much attention if one's ancestry is German, English, Polish, Italian, French, etc. We share a common culture, which is paramount. I'm so glad that my Irish ancestors were accepted by other, English and German ancestors, or I would not exist. Later, Italian and eastern European immigrants contributed to my family tree, and to that of my children and nieces and nephews. If this salad bowl nonsense of today had existed in the 1800s, or for most of the 1900s, I, and most Americans would not exist and America would be a balkanized nation similar to the former Yugoslavia, separated by ethnic groups. No nation today has survived this sort of racial or culture polarization, where every group seeks its "own" and eventually desires to separate. Multiculturalism, combined with immigration from all parts of the world, is a prescription for disaster. American has been held together by a dominate culture, and once this becomes just one culture amongst many, similar to the former Yugoslavia, a similar result could follow. Culture does matter, somethng the silly president Bush never figured out in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is America next, some day? This topic to too hot to get many postings...

Sarah Rigg

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Hm, interesting example of the Irish there. Apparently you haven't read the history of their immigration to the U.S. between about 1810 and 1930 - they were reviled as lazy and given to drinking and sex and were exiled to the lowest, dirtiest, most dangerous jobs. Even southern slave owners would prefer to employ the Irish in some of the most dangerous jobs because it was better for one of them to become maimed or to die than to damage their "property" (slaves). I'd hardly say they were "accepted" by our English ancestors and I would definitely NOT say that people in America didn't pay attention to people's ethnicity!