Is America living up to its motto E Pluribus Unum, the Latin for "From many, one" and rapidly advancing towards a melting pot? Have all races and ethnic groups enjoyed similar opportunities to assimilate into American culture? In his latest book, Race Relations: A Critique, sociologist Stephen Steinberg argues that the prediction of ultimate assimilation, replete in our history books, has been dead wrong with respect to African Americans.
In a recent interview
with Znet magazine, Steinberg remarked that, “Today there is compelling
evidence that Asians and light-skinned Latinos are following in the footsteps
of earlier immigrants -- which is to say, footsteps leading to the melting pot.
But it is another story altogether for peoples of African descent -- African
Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos, and immigrants from Africa. In
effect, we are witnessing the emergence of a dual melting pot--one for
blacks, the other for everybody else.”
As we arrive at the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath (of the failed, or to say the least, badly mismanaged relief and recovery efforts), which disproportionately affected one side of our “dual melting pot,” these questions are worth revisiting.