About Site

The Melting Pot
Written June 26, 2005


Background:  In my high school American History class about 1963, one of the other students suggested a long-term solution to the problem of racial discrimination.

The teacher was horrified by the idea of miscegenation, but to me it seemed very reasonable and very American.  E pluribus unum.  I wrote this essay on March 18, 1965.


It may not happen for many years, but eventually marriages between the races will become common.

Some such matings exist today but are frowned upon.  It is still considered in very bad taste for a Negro man even to think of marrying a white girl, for instance.

However, the races are working towards equality in housing, in jobs, in restaurants, and in schools.  Negroes and whites, long separated by the barriers of racial segregation, are beginning to live and work and eat and learn side by side.  Is it not inevitable that this closer relationship will lead to situations in which love will flourish, and that this love will be expressed in the natural form of marriage?

Racial intermarriage is good.  If today's sharp physical distinctions between one race and another are allowed to remain, there can never be complete, wholehearted integration.  People of one race will always have the vague feeling that they aren't the same as people of another, for they will look different.  (Nor, for that matter, can complete integration be achieved if taboos against intimate associations are maintained.)  But if interracial marriage is permitted and encouraged, the differences between the races will begin slowly to disappear!

Although the change will take centuries, ultimately the choosing of a mate will depend as little on the shade of color of the skin as it does on the color of the hair.  And this will lead us to perhaps the only real solution to the racial problem, the only sure way to avoid friction:  to eliminate distinctions and combine all the races into one.



The look of the future:  two melted Americans, each the product of an Irish mother and a black father.

Mariah Carey's mother was disowned by her parents when she married a Venezuelan engineer, and the mixed family that resulted was subjected to hate crimes and harassment.  Intolerant neighbors blew up the Careys' cars and poisoned their dogs.

Derek Jeter was an unknown when he became a New York Yankee in 1999.  Italian fans said he looked Italian.  Jews said he looked Jewish.  Puerto Ricans thought he was one of them.  His therapist father said, "As a biracial family, you get a lot of those stares.  You can't live in this world without running into ignorant people.  We would just tell Sharlee and Derek, you've got to be good and for some people you've got to be better."

So-called "black" celebrities include many melted Americans.  For example:

• Actress Halle Berry had an English mother.

• Playwright August Wilson had a German father.

• Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. had a Puerto Rican mother.

• Senator Barack Obama had a white mother from Kansas.

• Actress Vanessa Williams, the blue-eyed former Miss America, had two white grandparents.

In Time magazine for February 8, 2007, Orlando Patterson explained why all these celebrities are considered "black."

Historically, the defining characteristic has been any person born in America who is of African ancestry, however remote.  This is the infamous one-drop rule, invented and imposed by white racists until the middle of the 20th century.

As with so many other areas of ethno-racial relations, African Americans turned this racist doctrine to their own ends.  What to racist whites was a stain of impurity became a badge of pride.


Some white folks dread being outnumbered by nonwhite folks, because that would mean they had lost their supremacy.  Could they be outvoted?

According to he Atlantic, “In recent years, demographers and pundits have latched on to the idea that, within a generation, the United States will inevitably become a majority-minority nation.  The narrative is inherently divisive because it implies winners and losers.  It has bolstered white anxiety and resentment of supposedly ascendant minority groups.  The narrative is also false.

“One in every nine babies born in the U.S. today will be raised in a mixed minority-and-white family, and this group is steadily growing.  These children have kin networks — including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins — that include both white people and minorities.  America's racial groups are blending now more than ever.”


Blending may be the key to our survival.  Carl Zimmer of the New York Times quotes an article in Nature wherein scientists report  their analysis of genomes of 290 living people:  Humans did not arise from one place in Africa during one period in time!  They descended from at least two populations that coexisted for a million years.

The Neanderthals branched off maybe 600,000 years ago and made their way to Europe.  Then, about 120,000 years ago in southern Africa, "people from Stem1 and Stem2 merged, giving rise to a new lineage that would lead to the Nama and other living humans in that region. Elsewhere in Africa, a separate fusion of Stem1 and Stem2 groups took place. That merger produced a lineage that would give rise to living people in West Africa and East Africa, as well as the people who expanded out of Africa."

Evolutionary archaeologist Dr. Eleanor Scerri speculated that "living in a network of mingling populations across Africa might have allowed modern humans to survive while Neanderthals became extinct.  In that arrangement, our ancestors could hold onto more genetic diversity, which in turn might have helped them endure shifts in the climate, or even evolve new adaptations.  'This diversity at the root of our species may have been ultimately the key to our success,' Dr. Scerri said."



More OpinionMore Opinion
Back to Top