American Identity

Am I Only American ?


American identity can be very confusing in many ways, we as a society attach many things to the word ‘American’, and because of this many people are confused as to whether they identify with being an ‘American’. Many people say that if you are born here that makes you an American by default, others believe that if you identify with American culture, American politics, and American beliefs, that makes you American. Personally I’ve always struggled with whether I identify as ‘American’ or not, because growing up as a Dominican from both sides of my family, I’ve always really identified with the culture I was brought up in, visiting the Dominican Republic every summer allowed me to grow up knowing, and loving my roots, so I always identified as Dominican until a certain point. Realizing that while I may be Dominican, I was also born in America, and I’ve lived here all my life, I receive my education here, I participate in American traditions, and while the laws here definitely have their flaws, I also believe in American laws for the most part. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to identify as Dominican American.

Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” was a reading I really enjoyed, reading the pure (no pun intended) insanity of how gods wrath would eventually fall upon us excluding those who could be ‘saved’. We might dismiss it as ‘old’ but, the puritans built the society, and blue prints for what they considered to be ‘America’. states “Recognizing that political doctrine alone was insufficient to produce an effective ideology, a succession of Puritan religious leaders employed a series of literary devices that transformed their sermons into culturally expressive literature. As leaders of colonial America, John Winthrop, Increase Mather, and Jonathan Edwards politicized the religious sermon in an effort to create a New World identity that was separate and distinct from their Old World heritage.”, this is so crazy to think the puritans, no matter what you think of them did start this idea of American identity, and we can see its effects in certain religions, and certain people. One quote from Edward’s“Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” that stood out to me was “Mens Hands can’t be strong when God rises up: The strongest have no Power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his Hands.”, this line basically saying that no one can resist the will of god, and portrays this idea that to be pure we must accept the love of god, and that in many ways that was what Edwards and other puritans wanted America to be, a society that accepted gods fate, and did not dare to step out of this belief. I feel this view of American identity is an extreme to say the least, and I feel any kind of extreme is not good. While I don’t identify with this view of American identity, it is amazing to see how far we’ve come as a society, and how much the definition of ‘American identity’ has changed throughout time. I believe that everyone’s interpretation of what it means to be ‘American is valid’, even Edwards. This is because we are all a product of our time, and we are the way we are because of the people, and events that have been here before us, that isn’t to say some views are flawed, in fact Edwards shows this but, we can’t say one is wrong and one is right, we can only choose what we identify with. With that being said do you see yourself as only American?

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This was a cool documentary on Dominican Americans I found :

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One thought on “Am I Only American ?

  1. I’m really glad you brought up this point: “I participate in American traditions.” I think that’s a significant part of identifying with a culture or nationality. Habits in our daily lives and what we choose to participate in say a lot about us. We haven’t talked nearly enough (yet) about traditions and cultural habits, values, and practices. Thank you for bringing that into the conversation!


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