Melting Pot

Dennis: So, just for the record, what is your age and where you born.
Dan: I’m 18 and I’ve lived in New Paltz my entire life. My father was born in Puerto
Rico when he was real young so that makes me Latino, but I don’t really advertise
the fact I’m Latino. I don’t fit the stereotype and people assume stupid *censored* when
you tell them.
Dennis: Do you come out of the closet to other Latinos?
Dan: No. I feel weird because it’s almost like I’m not Latino enough to admit it. I’ll
admit it if it’s someone else who doesn’t fit the stereotype.
Dennis: How would you define a Latino stereotype?
Dan: Gold chains. The guys, the girls, the real obvious Latino people all have ‘em.
Dennis: All Latinos or just the people our age?
Dan: Well not all the older people, I mean like young adults. It’s a college town so
there’s less adults than there are kids.
Dennis: Does your dad fit the stereotype?
Dan: Not really. Not the physical stereotypes. A hot temper? Oh Yeah. You don’t want
to be around when he’s pissed off. He had four kids so that’s less than the
stereotype. That’s because my mom’s Italian, you know? She balances it out.
Actually she makes it more uneven than balancing it. She can’t cook anything but
Italian. So much of ethnicity is food because everyone has to eat. What do you
think of when you hear the word Chinese?
Dennis: I think I’m hungry but we’re focusing on the wrong culture here. What about
your kids? How Latino do you think they’ll be?
Dan: Not at all dude. It’s don’t think people should stress where they’re from if there
really American. Maybe second generation kids, but I was born here and unless my
kids are born on vacation they will be too.
Dennis: You’re a second generation kid.
Dan: Yeah, but my father sees himself as an American. I mean, he grew up in Brooklyn.
Dennis: What about your brothers and your sister? Do they identify with your Puerto
Rican heritage?
Dan: No way dude. No gold chains there.
Dennis: Have you ever been to Puerto Rico?
Dan: Nah. If I start saving money now, maybe when I’m a senior I’ll be able to go for
spring break. I want to try the Puerto Rican ganga (laughs). You can’t put that in
can you?
Dennis: Do you want to be stereotyped as a pothead Latino?
Dan: Dude, I don’t *censored*in’ care what people think.
Dennis A Young
Reflection Paper
Professor Stevens
89101 02

Is Melting Pot a Good Thing?

Had it not been for a random comment made by Dan about a year ago, I would
have never known he was Puerto Rican. We work together, but we aren’t particularly
close, so I was curious as to how proud of his heritage he was. Although he wouldn’t
outwardly admit it, he seemed almost ashamed of his family’s origins. I asked him a
quick follow up question the next day, because I had never asked him about his
grandparents. It turns out he never knew his grandfather and his grandmother died when
he was seven. I thought it was funny that his father didn’t do very much to pass down his
Puerto Rican heritage and like a true son, he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Since the interview I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out
how this made me feel. On the one hand, it looked like his father wanted to fully
integrate his family into American culture, and he succeeded. On the other hand, his
children have only the slightest clue of where their roots begin. I’ve always thought that
eventually everyone in America would be so ethnically mixed that all people would be
viewed equally. An ethnically combined Brave New World. I had never stopped to think
about what would be lost ethnically. At first it was disheartening to think of how much
would be lost, but if that is what a parent wants for their children, then who am I to
second guess? I’m curious to see how these factors play out in different parts of the
country. New York is the cultural melting pot of the world (where else would you find so
many different cultures rooted into society as you do in Manhattan), so I would