Solomon Hughes: The Exploding Melting Pot

2 min

America is a melting pot of peoples and cultures, or so the cliché says. But Solomon Hughes says there’s a very big problem with the metaphor’s reality.

Few things are more aesthetically pleasing than the image of a stew being cooked in a pot over an open fire. A metal pot blackened and scarred by flames relentlessly lapping against its cast-iron skin that maintains the integrity of the stew's ingredients as they slowly meld together. This process, this melding, is sustained by the steadiness of the cast-iron pot that sits beneath.

Yet when the conditions are right cast iron pots break, anyone who has seen one explode or crack while cooking knows well the awful mess it creates.

If you aren’t indigenous, your family immigrated to America. Upon arrival they all shared one common trait with almost every other immigrant arriving on these shores; their feet would not touch the bottom of society as that was where America had relegated Black people.

Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison expounded on the ugly truth about the idea of America as a melting pot. Morrison, who grew up in a neighborhood consisting of immigrant families, explained that an efficacious device for forming a shared identity among arriving immigrants was their being above Blackness. They could coalesce around their non-Blackness.

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Blackness has been strategically cast as subhuman throughout the history of American thought. The images we continue to see, faces of deceased Black people killed at the hands of civil servants, remind us that in America the fire is reserved for Black lives. When the inimitable Toni Morrison explains the gut-wrenching reality of the melting pot, she articulates the horrors associated with being Black in America. Cast iron sides break, and leave us with exposed sharp metal edges and scalding inedible muck.

Black lives matter despite the evil that has relentlessly tried to discard them. If you respond to the call that Black lives matter by saying all lives matter, you are willfully ignoring the damning evidence. If you truly believe that all lives matter, then you will devote yourself to doing your part in dismantling the racist hierarchy. When you finally reach the point where you truly believe that all lives matter, we look forward to hearing you proclaim that Black lives matter.

With a Perspective, I’m Solomon Hughes.

Solomon Hughes is an actor and writer based in the South Bay.