Friday, October 06, 2006

On "the great American melting pot"

A great post from Harlow's Monkey on the idea of the melting pot as drawn by School House Rock, and how it was remembered differently from how it looks to her today. The segment was one of my favourite when I was a kid (she and I are just about the same age), and I had the same reaction as an adult upon being reintroduced to the song.

Here's an excerpt from the post (go read the entire thing):

In 1976, the Schoolhouse Rock creators began working on a series to celebrate and highlight the bicentennial which they titled “America Rock.” My favorite of the America Rock series was “The Great American Melting Pot” with the image of all these little kids jumping into a swimming pool “pot” shaped like the United States. Of course, as an internationally adopted kid, “The Great American Melting Pot” was a comforting notion. Heck, the United States is a country MADE of immigrants like myself! Right?

Uh, wrong. Looking back at TGAMP with fresh and adult eyes, here is what I noticed: American was founded by the English, German, French and Dutch. And the “immigrants” who came “in search of honest pay” were Russian and Italian.

Hm. Nary a Korean, Nigerian, Iranian, Japanese, Indian, Kenyan or Samoan.

According to the 1970s version of the United States, this country was only made up of European and Eastern Europeans.

Nothing about the people who were already on the land. Nothing about the slaves and indentured servants kidnapped and stolen and forced to “immigrate.”

In short, nothing but a happy, pastel rainbow version of how great all the “immigrants” have “melted” into a giant pot.

Really great post, thought provoking and something I needed to read today.

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