In U.S. history America was originally thought of as a melting pot: a place where many cultures and ethnicities would melt together to form a uniform, ‘American’ culture. Then the school of thought changed to reflect a different concept, that of the salad bowl. It was expected that people of all cultures would adopt some ‘American’ culture in their lives, but would maintain their unique culture. America as a whole then would be a diverse community of individuals proudly displaying their unique cultures.
The concept of the melting pot can be seen best in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. My dad worked at INOVA Fairfax hospital in northern Virginia. He described his office as “the U.N.” because he regularly saw a buffet of different cultures, religions, and ethnicities: Indian, Hispanic, African American, Mulsim, Christian, Gypsi, Jewish, Saudi-Arabian, Pakistani, and more.
But if these people all had the same skin color and dressed the same, my dad would of had no idea he was in such a diverse place. Their identities would not have been as proudly expressed to nearly the same extent with verbal rhetoric alone. I think this demonstrates the need need for visual discourse in establishing one’s identity, and I think that this examination of visual discourse should be considered by sociologists as well.