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American Culture: Melting pot or salad bowl or something else?

Conversation Guide

American political leaders of all kinds throughout history have pointed out that American identity revolves around a set of ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his most famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described America’s creed as an unfulfilled “promissory note” based on the idea that everyone deserves freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity to pursue happiness and advancement. People of good will often fundamentally agree, yet we struggle to find way to effectively work together.

Background Information:

While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

What are your thoughts on American Culture: Melting pot or salad bowl or something else??

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • “What is your cultural heritage?
  • Have you experienced cultures other than your own? What did you appreciate? What made you uncomfortable?
  • What value do you see in having a single, shared American culture? What would that culture look like?
  • What value do you see in having a decidedly multicultural society?
  • When should cultural symbols be public versus private?”

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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Thank You!

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