Salad Bowls and Melting Pots

 8th July 2015

Here at The Outsiders, we like to think that we are inspired by great minds.

We quote Gordon Allport’s seminal text on prejudice; apply Richard Sennett’s thinking about cooperation and hold ‘Chavs’, by Owen Jones, as a modern-day masterpiece on the topic of social inequality and injustice.

However, it is a less highbrow experience that I often find myself using to illustrate what The Outsiders are all about.

As a student, I occasionally watched daytime TV (only when lectures were cancelled, of course). On one of these rare days, I found myself watching the Oprah Winfrey Show and the topic of discussion was social integration in the United States. A well-meaning member of the panel proudly announced that their country should aspire to be a melting pot, where everyone blended in. I found myself nodding in agreement, along with most of the audience.

Then someone said they disagreed.

This person thought that a melting pot was a negative analogy because everything that made people unique and different was being ignored. Genuine diversity comes from understanding and respecting our differences, rather than from a desire to think of us all as being the same. Instead, the idea was put forward that better inspiration might come from a salad bowl, which is all the better for its variety of colours, textures and flavours.

Celebrating difference became an idea upon which The Outsiders would be founded. We’re not overly fond of the term ‘tolerate’: we don’t think that tolerance is a good basis for equality, whereas understanding and respect are. Maybe this is the difference between melting pots and salad bowls?

So the founding principles of The Outsiders are well described by an audience member on the Oprah Winfrey Show, who was not afraid to say they disagreed with a commonly accepted term for equality.

It can be brave and bold to disagree and we hope these are principles we’ll continue to adhere to. We keep watching the Jeremy Kyle show in hope of similar inspiration…

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