About

Welcome to My American Meltingpot.

If you’re one of those people who thinks culture is more important than color, that race is an outdated concept, loves fusion everything, actually considered majoring in ethnic studies, used to hang Benetton ads in your high school locker, and doesn’t understand why book stores and hair products have to be segregated, then you’re in the right place. Be warned however, we are not the cyber host for post-racial supporters of the colorblind, nor do we negate a person’s right to choose… their own identity. No, we appreciate differences and revel in contrasting colors. Culture clashes and cross-pollination is what makes life interesting.

My American Meltingpot is written and edited by me, Lori L. Tharps, author, professor, journalist and mom. I actually started the Meltingpot back in 2006 and  you can actually go back to the original site and read all my old posts. Or you can just start fresh with us right here.  In general, these are the topics we like to savor. (Please note, I keep using the royal ‘we’ but, seriously, it’s just me writing here.)

Books. I love books. I write books. I used to be a book reviewer at Entertainment Weekly magazine. I am partial to stories with multicultural characters and I am sucker for a good love story. I also have a weak spot for Jamaican authors.

Black Hair. I wrote a really good book about Black hair in 2001, and ever since then, I’ve considered myself a hairstorian. It’s a weird speciality to have, but it is mine and I embrace it fully.

Parenting. I have three kids. I need help sometimes.

Identity Politics. Since I have three kids with a unique cultural background and no clever identity label to slap on them (SpaNegro? Blanish?), I am always interested in how other people self-identify. Mixed? Authentically Black? Ambiguously Brown? Just White?

Food & Travel. I just love to eat, especially food from other cultures. If I can’t get myself to a foreign country, going to a great restaurant and sampling the flavors of another land comes in as a close second on my pleasure map. I am also pretty damn creative in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I hate using recipes.

Pop Culture, Current Events and the Media. I am a journalist. What can I say?

Sure we might not always agree on everything, but the conversations here are always fresh and juicy. So, grab a spoon, a pair of chopsticks or a spork — if that’s how you roll — and dig into My American Meltingpot!

(P.S. New posts go up Monday, Wednesday & Friday)

2 comments for “About

  1. 22 August, 2014 at 10:06 am

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  2. 26 June, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie
    This is not a review but my expression about the affect a writer can have on a reader.
    In the words of James Baldwin—
    “At the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society and; it is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.”
    When I became an educator, and desired to make a difference, I began to read not merely to be entertained but for the sake of learning more about researching facts , interpreting data, and finding answers in order to play my small part in counteracting the systemic issues that are plaguing today’s children and their educational progress.
    Therefore, I abandoned the genre of fiction only to read it when required. The last good piece of fiction I thoroughly enjoyed was Family by J. California Cooper. It was a novel set in pre-civil war south; a tale narrated from the female slave’s perspective about the mental and physical bondage, the traumatic experiences of rape and the regulation to unwanted conjugal bonds with the master. I loved how Always risked her life to learn to read and to count in order to become mentally free. In the end, she had enough wit to save some of the Master’s money to purchase and free slaves.
    This was one sense of how African American female’s gained their sagacity of liberation. Family was so good; I wanted to savor each readable moment and felt frustrated when the story ended.
    During the latter part of the month of May, while browsing through either an issue of Ebony or Essence magazine, I stumbled upon the suggested list of books to read.
    The contributing writer/editor wrote such a well written and certainly intriguing review that I thought if I didn’t check it out, I would probably be missing out on something great.
    On May 26th, I immediately went to Barnes & Noble with the intent to purchase Americanah but I was reluctant to buy it because it was a first edition work of “fiction” in hardback and I felt the retail price of twenty six dollars was a little too steep for me at that time .
    Unwilling to walk away empty handed; I wanted to give Adichie the opportunity to woo me back to fiction. I decided to sample one of her less expensive books.
    After reading the summary on the back of her first book, Purple Hibiscus, published in 2003, I felt more compelled to read her most recent book to date, the one before Americanah ; The Thing Around Your Neck published in 2006.
    The Thing around Your Neck is a compilation of twelve short stories based on relationships in two worlds she so intimately knows— Africa and the United States.
    Reading The Thing Around Your Neck, was just enough to push me to the next level. On May 31st, I purchased Americanah!
    As I delved into this great story, from the very beginning, with every turning page, my reader’s palate was wonderfully satisfied. By the time I completed Americanah, I had the same sentiments I had for Family and did not want to depart with it; it belonged in my personal library.
    Americanah was so enthralling, so imaginatively pleasing and so very hard to put down. It took me two days to complete this close to five hundred page post- 9/11 America and Africa, Nigeria story about love, race and hair. From the time I started, I could vividly follow the journey of both worlds which she cross-references so beautifully.
    Adichie’s layout of this modernized multi –dimensional realistic work of fiction has very few superfluous or unbelievable moments and plenty teachable ones.
    A good reader is able to detect this author’s nuances to educate. There are many thought provoking moments for instance; how the college Africans & African Americans socially defined themselves (African Students Association (ASA) vs. Black Student Union (BSU))

    “The Africans who go to BSU are those with no confidence who are quick to tell you “I am originally from Kenya’ even though Kenya just pops out the minute they open their mouths. The African Americans who come to our meetings are the ones who write poems about Mother Africa and think every African is a Nubian Queen. If an African American calls you a Mandingo or booty Scratcher, he is insulting you for being African.

    I found this very interesting because I have referred to some African Americans males as “Mandingo”; a positive term to mean how handsome and manly they appear to me.

    Adichie’s political correctness is so keen; she tactfully addresses the issues of what appear to be racially skewed and ambiguous— hair, the “N-Word”, and immigration issues. She say things most of us are thinking but are afraid to say aloud; always with a balance of objectivity and subjectivity.
    I must honestly say that this is one of my greatest reads of the twenty- first century and Adichie has to be classified as one of the best authors!
    There you have it. I have returned to fiction for a little while; currently I’m in the middle of The Half Yellow Sun and will purchase Purple Hisbicus when I am finished.
    I love Adichie’s’ style of writing so much it would be a privilege and a tremendous honor to take at the very least one of her writing courses.

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