American Identity

Am I An American?

 

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Colin Kaepernick & Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers taking a knee during the national anthem before a game. (Photo from ESPN.com)

We are all aware of the idea of The American Dream. A white picket fence, a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a dog to complete the family. And wealth, don’t forget about wealth. However, who is this American dream really built for?

Benjamin Franklin wrote a piece entitled To Those Who Would Remove To America, that warned future immigrants that they could not expect the life they dreamed and heard of when they arrived to America. They needed to have skills. He says,

[E]very Freeman, to preserve his Independence, (if he has not a sufficient Estate) ought to have some Profession, Calling, Trade, or Farm, whereby he may honestly subsist.  

He stated that it would be unlikely for them to receive roles in political settings. He welcomed immigrants into America, but only because of what they could provide for America. Laborious work for low pay. It seems that it has always been this way. This country was built on the backs of slaves. Men in power were only interested in what you could do for them, how you could make them rich.

If you are born in the United States, you are automatically considered a citizen. This is found in the Constitution under the Natural-Born-Citizen Clause. Being a minority in America, I have to take a different route to get to the American Dream. However, I still have a chance to make it there. There was a time when that idea was unheard of. A time where I would have been considered only three-fifths of a person. A time where I was refused access to schools, restaurants, bathrooms, water fountains, stores, and so many other places that were designated for whites only. Denied access because of my blood and the color of my skin. Although segregation has ended (only a short sixty years ago), minorities in America are still treated as “others”. We are judged by our appearance, by the names we were given, by the social classes we were born into. Things that we have no control over.

This issue is still alive and well today. Everyday, black men and women, and men and women of color are dying at alarming rates by the hands of those put in position to serve and protect us. Authorities who are constantly getting charges dismissed, or granted mistrials. Rarely are they held accountable for their actions. The Black Lives Matter Movement, was created to fight these injustices, to end senseless killings, and to bring equality among the races that is so obviously not there. When celebrities and people of power, people with large voices speak out against police brutality, they are quick to be called “Un-American”. The most recent example being Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers taking a knee during the national anthem to show his support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. Some Americans in turn, decided to burn his jerseys, protest watching games, and some police even refused to walk with those of the team who did not stand for the anthem. Now they are not “American” and they’re “disrespectful” because they refuse to recite an anthem that was not even made for us. The funny thing is, the NFL did not even have players come on to the field to recite the anthem until 2009, when the National Guard paid them to do so. Some football players have gotten in trouble for domestic violence (caught on camera for the world to see), DUI’s, and even murder, but none have been as vilified or as disrespected as Kaepernick and the 12 (and counting) other players who decide to sit out the national anthem until there is a change in the way minorities are treated in this country.

So yes, I am an American, but that is only because I was born on American soil. The American Dream was not made for me. I do not have equal rights, like the Constitution falsely claims, and some people will never see me as anything other than the color of my skin.

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4 thoughts on “Am I An American?

  1. I loved your post. It was so powerful and I could tell that you obviously have some very deeply rooted feelings about this and I’m glad that you shared them because this was honestly a powerful piece. I think the whole controversy surrounding Kaepernick is just absolutely hilarious ( I mean that in a sardonic sense). Those same people that villify him probably drive Japanese cars, wear clothes made in Thailand, eat food from India, buy things in large stores that exploit other nations to cater to the insane demands of the middle class of America and then go about their days having no reason to think about all of the horrible things happening in this country because it doesn’t affect them but yet feel entitled to hate a man who is exercising his rights as an American by simply kneeling down. The man explicitly stated he did not mean any disrespect towards any of the members of the Armed forces (and many of them actually support him) and yet he is considered what is wrong with this nation. I could literally rant for an eternity on this but let me just end it by saying that I genuinely thought your piece was really good. Thank you for sharing your amazing opinion with us and good luck on the midterm cuz that is coming up soon. Best wishes =).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your post! I agree with the fact that we are only American’s because we are born on American Soil. That is about as close as we get to even reaching the American dream because as minorities in this country, we have a path to the American dream in which the dominant group does not have to go through (racism, racism and wealth, race and sex, etc). I am glad you mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement. They are a group that ironically to some people actually exemplify American values, as they stand up for their rights (sort of how some people did in 1776? hmm). The national anthem was not meant for us, you are so spot on with that.

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  3. I love that you wrote: “Men in power were only interested in what you could do for them, how you could make them rich.” For some reason, I didn’t truly consider the source while reading Ben Franklin’s work. As he calls for hard working men to help this new country grow, I remember thinking that it was right for him to discourage the wealthy from trying to capitalize on America in its youth; not considering that Ben Franklin was the very type of man he renounced. I did notice that he implied it was noble to start off as a servant and build up from there, which I wondered at the plausibility of in that era.

    Great post!

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