The popular discourse about immigration has become so ugly in the US that it often seems Americans have forgotten that we are a nation of immigrants; that, unless we can trace most of our ancestors to Native Americans, we — whether our relatives came over on the Mayflower or whether we just arrived last week from Nigeria, whatever the color of our skin or the religion we practice — are all immigrants.
So much for the US being a “melting pot” or “salad bowl” in which individuals of many different ethnicities and races see themselves as co-existing. The notion of e pluribus unum, “out of many, one,” seems in danger of being lost today.
Anti-immigrant policies are all the more exasperating when you think about how central immigrants are to the US. A recent study from the Fiscal Policy Institute found that 18 percent of small business owners in the US are immigrants. It is an eye-opening figure when you consider that immigrants make up 13 percent of the overall US population. In fact, between 1990 and 2010, 30 percent of growth in small businesses was thanks to immigrants.
Immigrants own restaurants, doctor’s offices, real-estate firms, groceries and truck-transportation services, notes the New York Times. How often is a Latino-owned bodega or a Chinese restaurant the sole business in a small town or urban neighborhood where nearly every other storefront is shuttered?
In honor of the fourth of July and of Americans who trace their roots to countries around the world, and in celebration of the diverse traditions that are part of American culture, here are five foods that we can thank immigrants for. They foods that most of us can find in our communities and that some (many? all?) of us may well routinely eat.
Photo by @cdharrison
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