What does being an American mean?

My whole life I always wondered about this. What does being an American mean? I constantly struggled with this. Even when I’m traveling. I get asked, “where am I from?” I would tell them  I am American. They would reply with, “but, where are you really from?” Most of the time, there is no malice with that question.  Although, I have gotten used to it.  There are times, it makes me self-reflect. I was born and raised in the USA. I have family members in the USA military.  My grandparents came here 80 years ago and have been living in the same apartment for over 60 years.  However,  I  never felt American. In the last few months, we have seen some of the worst and troubling times in recent history. Businesses closing down, lockdowns, mass graves, social distancing, and protests. Yet, there is no unity. We haven’t been united in these issues.

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For those who have been following us for a while, know that I’m Hispanic with African roots. In the Spanish language, Americans are people from the continents of North and South America.  As corny as this sounds, United-Statesian is the real term for the people with citizenship to the USA in Spanish. Going with the English term, American means people from the United States of America. These last couple of weeks have shown that the states in the USA are not united. It has become really divided. Divided by opinions, this country has become a place of turmoil.

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I love the USA. This is the place where I grew up. Also hopefully. the same place where my kids can grow up.  However, I have been thinking about moving to another country lately. The mistreatment of civilians by the police has been shamefully brutal.  People just expressing their rights being run over by horses and cop cars. The USA has been bleeding.

Hopefully, as Americans celebrate 4th of July, we should really reflect on what does it mean to be American. This is a country of immigrants from all over the world.  The USA is full of diversity. If this post offends you, then you really need to look in the mirror and ask yourself. “What is it that really bothers me about this?” Although change doesn’t happen overnight, it starts with people taking small steps towards a goal.  Glad, I am able to have friends from different backgrounds. Also, I am honored to be able to experience/learn through friends: juneteenth. learn about the struggle of eastern European countries, learn about the Islamic culture, the struggles women have in the middle east,  Latin American politics, the differences between Asian cultures, the struggles LGBTQ have around the world, and how to be a person that care about others.  The USA is diverse. Division only really benefits politicians and the super-rich.

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48 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I can totally relate to this! I love that, as you pointed out – through travelling, through conversations with others, through just google!, we can learn about other cultures and traditions, not just our own.

  2. Excellent post with good points to consider. America as you say is far from United and this really needs to be addressed. The brutality being shown to the people is uncalled for. I wish you a Happy 4th July and Luck in your future travels

  3. Like you, I’m Hispanic with immigrant grandparents. But I have European, not African, roots. I too get the Where are you really from? or Where were you born? Answer: Chicago. Or Where were your parents born? Again, Chicago. I even get What are you? Answer: human. Or my all time classic Are you Italian? If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if i was Italian, I would be a millionaire. STAY STRONG. At least we’re seen enough for people to ask!

  4. Earlier today I thought about how usually on the 4th I’m so happy to call America home. But after these last few months of seeing the sad but real side of alot of Americans I’m ashamed to associate myself with this country. People with kindness, acceptance, understanding and empathy towards others are so rare in this country and it makes me sad. People need to realize if we were all the same life would be boring, learning about others helps us grow and is what keeps life interesting. Thank you for writing this post

  5. As an adult I have struggled with the July 4th holiday. Yes, the US gained freedom from British rule, and in that way it is “Independent”. But being an activist most of my life, I have looked at just who is independent? This country was stolen from the Native Americans, built by Black slaves and Chinese and other Asian people brought to do the building but then were turned into being despised, and some in internment camps. Battles were fought with Mexico to take much of the southern border states, and immigration laws were skewed from the beginning against Hispanic/Latino people.

    Trump stood in front of Mt. Rushmore to deliver his supposed “Independence day” speech. He was standing on Sioux land, stolen by the US government, and even the Supreme court ruled years ago that was illegal. But it still hasn’t been returned to the Sioux. The carver of the monument there was a member of the KKK. Trump’s speech was all about condemning those protesting at peaceful BLM protests around the country, referring to them as if they are all criminals and should be stopped. Condemning those wanting to take down confederate hero statutes as he celebrated the confederacy and created an “us” and “them” theme, as anyone not white and supporting white supremacy is against the US.

    In college I learned about many of the dirty deeds of the US, only joining wars for economic reasons, no matter what the publicity said, and starting wars and/or overthrowing or assassinating democratically elected leaders in many countries, again for economic reasons….or just sanctioning them to death like they are doing to Cuba and Iran.

    But that is the history around the world due to the control of those who really run countries, hidden in the shadows, but pulling the strings.

    I work to free this world so that someday we are a planet without borders, flags, governments that keep us separate, united as one people because the truth is, we are all One.

    Great post and thanks for bringing up this question and concern.

    • yeah, that was a dirty move from him. i never dislike a like president so much until trump. this country has been built by cheap laborers. that includes their ancestors as well. yeah, what they are doing to Cuba and Iran is horrible. I have Cuban friends that are like family in the USA and cuba.. they have to do a lot of illegal businesses just to survive in cuba, most of them are considered normal businesses like having a home restaurant ..they are hit hard, In Iran, I have met people that couldn’t afford diapers for their babies because of the sanctions and inflation. the USA is pretty heartless. I learned more about the dark governments, bill gates is in it I’m sure. he wants to start doing testings for vaccines in Africa. not sure I told you this, but my father was a social worker and activist for illegal latinos. so it’s really awesome to learn that you are an activist!

      • Yes, worked with Mexican and Central American refugees for years and was an activist before and after that.

        Gates has been murdering, paralyzing and sterilizing children and women in Africa, India for man years. A criminal.

  6. This a great piece, here in the UK we are spoonfed various amounts of rubbish from varying news agencies so rarely get to hear truth of any kind….there is always some sort of spin put on things. Thank you for adding some clarity .

    • glad i could make it clear, it’s bad but not as bad as the media wants to portray overseas. i have seen some news about like we are in a state of a civil war. it’s more like people are tired of being pressed and not feeling American.

  7. As I’ve being telling people recently, if you do not like something here, it’s not a reason to leave. You know this “love it or leave it” v.s. “love it or fix it.” I am a firm believer in the latter one. You love this co untrue. I love this country. We will make it better.

    • haha this is your original comment. I just been told that my whole life by a lot of people in the USA. they say go back to Africa or country. i want to stay and fix it but not too sure. i believe in what the protesters are doing is good but it’s a lot of work to fix a country that was based on hate.

      • I do not think that it was built based on hate. I do not think we can justly apply today’s views to the end of the 18th century. At that time, the basis was very progressive, and any European country was far behind in acknowledging human rights, comparing to the US. The world evolves. Morales evolve. And the countries, policies and politicians should change. No country in the whole world in governed on the same principals as it was 250 years ago.
        Our elective officials are not from another galaxy. I happen to be very much involved in the politics because of my daughter. She worked as our local congresswoman staffer since she was 14. She served as a Congressional Page when she was 16, the only non-citizen page at that time. And at 18, she was a campaign manager for a candidate for Illinois General Assembly. Because of her, I saw the inside of all elections since 2006 midterms, and I know first -hand how much one person can do. I know that each vote matters. And I know (that was her biggest take-away from the Capitol) that policies are not created by the men with cigars in the back rooms. I’ve being doing all I could the last election year. We know all mistakes we made, and are determined not to repeat them.
        Whichever place you live I can tell you want you can DO to change things for better. If you want to fix:)

  8. Nice thoughts. What is going in US seems just a frustration of people who have been oppressed.. still i believe one human need to respect another irrespective of color, creed, religion and place of origin.

  9. I love this post! I totally agree that our country has been really wild lately with both COVID and protests, but I hope that from our protests and our calls for change we are able to change as a country for the better of all of our citizens.

  10. I have been leading dozens of tours for Americans in my career. Migration is part of our history. When millons of Italian migrated out the country at the turn of the 1800s into the 1900s, places called “little Italy” were created in several countries. In New York they do still call it little Italy, in Buenos Aires they call it “Caminito”, in Sao Paolo, Brazil it is estimated that 1/3 of the population have Italian origins and the same for some cities in Australia… That is why we, as europeans, are curious about the origin of the people from countries that are made of a mix of migrants from other areas of the world. It makes us feel a lesser cultural distance, ease communication and help us find a sense of sharing. I am one of those who usually ask what are the roots of the visitors I help planning their trips or lead around in Italy and the EU. There are many who travel to discover their roots and origin and to visit the places their ancestors were from. I have been seeing several Americans crying before the house of their great grand parents in a remote little village in the countryside of Italy or Belgium, Ireland and so on. Don’t feel bothered if we ask. There usually is a reason behind our question. I know I am replying late, but i wish all my American friends and readers a happy 4th of july.

    • no, i’m not bothered being asked about where I’m from. It’s about what Americans in the USA consider to be Americans. I don’t mind when I’m another country and I get asked my origins. I think that estimate is for more Argentina. I read brazil is about 15. Italians have put a strong imprint in the Argentinan culture . the way they speak Spanish is really close to Italian. regardless, I get you are saying that is why I said most mean no harm. Just it feels uncomfortable when I get that in the USA.

  11. We might understand, but please try to understand us as well. Especially, when you see a person who is not white, or if you can tell that a person is talking with an accent. For zero-generation Americans this question sounds like “you are not a real American”. And we are. There are better ways to ask, if you are curious, something like “Could I ask you what’s your heritage?” BTW, it you ask it that way, you will feel that it’s more personal question than you originally thought. And it is indeed. People might or might not want to share it with strangers, due to many reasons. For example, because their country of origin is currently under a dictator ruling and they do not want to be asked questions how they feel about it. You might want to know, but please, be respectful.

    • yes, i understand what you mean for the zero- generation Americans. However, I’m just saying what a lot of far-right has been saying as to who is American and me not being a part of it. MInorities in The USA is 40 percent. The whole point of the post was to mention that the usa has favoritism into who they want to consider American. even if you are hird, the second, etc. we are all Americans regardless

  12. Thanks for this post. Indeed it is a time for reflections on the USA. My ancestors immigrated at the turn of the century for a better life free of religious persecution and for more economic opportunity. As a country of immigrants it always astounds me to see citizens against immigration, as if there are not important and humane reasons to open our borders. It is my hope and belief that through the revelations and truths being revealed the country will in time be stronger and regain the spirit of freedom and liberty for all.

    • yes, exactly! i understand trying to stop further illegal immigration but don’t force the one already here out. They have families here. i hope the USA goes into that direction but it’s not looking like it… too many hidden agendas. all we can do is have hope

  13. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a “United Statesian” living overseas for about fifteen years, and watching the unraveling of the US, I am finding it difficult to make sense of what it means to be American anymore and increasingly difficult to even identify as American, even if that is the passport I hold.

  14. Great post, I believe we are not of one nation, I was British born but have lived in France and Spain. Through travelling I discovered I was 3.5% Indian, I also have Irish and German roots. The only thing that divides us is borders fuelled by politics. Most people want the same thing and that is to live a peaceful life.

    • yes, exactly! politics are used to control people. we are all the same! i used to dislike middle eastern people then I found out I was part middle. eastern. we show just love each other . all this hate is dumb

  15. I don’t blame you for considering a relocation from the USA to another country. The USA has a history of hate of non-white Christians. Donald Trump is playing on that hate in his efforts to be re-elected. But there is hope. Today one quarter of Americans are not White. Larger cities have high “minority” populations. NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta all have substantial non-White populations. 52% of Los Angeles is White.

    • yes, donald trump has shown he only cares about himself than the peace of the USA. the minorities are actually 40% of the population. that white percentage is not that accurate because a lot of Hispanics claim to be white . Non-Hispanic whites population is actually 30 percent

  16. I am a United Statesian who moved to Belgium 9 years ago and today I am not sure if I feel more relieved to be isolated from the situation in the states or ashamed that I am not there trying to do my small part to make things better. I relate with you wondering about living abroad. In general it is an amazing experience but hopefully if you have that opportunity, it won’t be to escape but to enrich. But always remember that unfortunately prejudice exists everywhere and Europe has its issues as well. It just comes from different angles and when you are soaking up the benefits of traveling or engrossing in other cultures, you might not notice it as you will be less focused on current events and more focused on how to get the most of your experiences here.

  17. Nice post.

    I’m white…very very white. So white in fact that every summer it was my goal to get brown … that’s what I I think it’s so ironic about so many white people being racist… We have created technology to change our skin tone to match the tonality of the very people we as a culture have systematically set out hurt.

    Makes no logical sense.

    I had never thought about my nationality the way that you have. I was adopted as a baby and I grew up in a family that went back six generations. None of those generations had ever been financially wealthy… But all of those generations had been content with their placement in life.

    On my very first business trip to New York City, at the age of 26, I got in a cab and started a conversation with the driver. Shy is not a word that anyone would use to describe me.

    I asked what his nationality was and he said he was Jewish. I was so young and naive and I said I thought that was a religion not a nationality. He of course laughed at me and then explained. He then asked me where I was from and what my nationality was. I said that I was from Wisconsin originally and that I’m American. He again laughed at me, and he said “no I mean your heritage”

    I honestly had to think about it for a while, and I said “I’m actually very American. I’m adopted, my birth parents heritage was a mixture of Italian and French on my birth mother’s side, my birth father was first generation American from Sweden, I grew up in a household with a German mother and a Polish father. So I’m really just a mutt.

    he smiled big and broad as I can see in the rearview mirror and commented that is very seldom that he meets somebody who only identifies as American.

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