Everyone’s ethnic heritage deserves to be celebrated | News, Sports, Jobs

The American melting pot was something you often heard about when I was young.

We heard about how America is made up of many different people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.

The idea is for everyone to come together to forge America’s identity. Each adds their own characteristics to the jar, making for an assortment rich in layers of tradition.

The melting pot was almost always presented in a positive context. It was about unity. It meant coming together to make America a great place.

Normally, no one has looked at the downsides of a crucible, the part that calls for setting aside traditional cultural norms.

Immigrants have often felt the need to act, dress, and talk like Americans. It was a necessary part of integration, of adapting to a new way of life.

Young people often adapt the fastest. Older immigrants are more likely to cling to traditions. Over the years they have done what was necessary to function in public; but practiced their own language, food and customs at home.

In some cases, there was prejudice against immigrant culture. There were pervasive stereotypes about Irish, Italian and Eastern European ethnic groups. The situation was even worse for racial minorities in society.

Native Americans were forced to settle on reservations and were denied the opportunity to live in traditional, sustainable ways. Africans were brought from their homelands as slaves in the hope that they would adapt to life on the plantations.

Much was left behind in the process. Many people have lost contact with their roots, with their personal identity. Many descendants look for him more than a century later.

Parts of traditional cultures have survived, often through the efforts of artists, musicians, writers and educators. It has not faded as the 21st century unfolds. On the contrary, efforts to represent culture have become more dynamic.

Our part of rural Minnesota has some great examples of cultural preservation. They range from games such as Belgian rolle bolle to architecture like the Icelandic American Big Store founded in Minneota.

In terms of festivals, we have Aebleskiver Days in Tyler, Polska Kielbasa Days in Ivanhoe, Belgian American Days in Ghent and Ole and Lena Days in Granite Falls. Someone who ventures further into the region can find Dutch in Edgerton and Czech in the village of Bechyn near Redwood Falls.

There is still potential to do more. As Ivanhoe explores options with its former creamery, for example, they could consider the potential for a Polish-American cultural center. If it could work, it could be one more thing that would bring visitors to our rural area.

We also have the added advantage of having new immigrants. We can learn a lot by being open to the cultures of our Hispanic, Somali and Hmong neighbours.

The thing to avoid is a completely uniform modern culture, where everything is the same everywhere.

What made our communities great was the fact that they had unique attractions. Anyone with ties to a city knows old places that were popular. In Marshall, the list includes examples like the Blue Moon, Club 59, and The Key roller rink.

We must continue to showcase and promote all that makes our communities special. Each makes our crucible more detailed.

— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime journalist and contributor to the Marshall Independent

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