When asked how I identify as American I’d like to say that I don’t.
I was born into a country that my grandfather immigrated to and that my parents built lives in, but that I am not proud of.
When I was four, I was taught to say the pledge of allegiance every morning. When I was four, the US suffered the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but I don’t remember. When I was four, I didn’t know the definitions of the words “allegiance” or “indivisible.”
My first lesson was one of blind patriotism and indoctrination. But I guess that’s just American education. Real learning doesn’t matter, there’s no explanation. It’s just the common core, get a good score. Education opens the door…
Not to opportunity or success but to international competition. More important than actually teaching our children how to read and write is teaching them that they have to be better than the kids in China.
I know that I could have it a lot worse. That being born a white, middle class American is like winning the lottery. But I don’t want to be part of a system that fucks over everyone else. This was supposed to be the pot where perceived differences melt, but you deal with the cards you’re dealt, and if America doesn’t privilege you it pelts you…with everything from poverty and discrimination to hate crimes, jail time, and economic confines.
So much is based on the imagined concept of race. Because of your racial profile you’re not socially mobile so you have to stay in your place. I may not remember 9/11 but I will never forget the Trayvon Martin case or Ferguson where civilians were threatened with mace.
When I was 12, the United States elected our first African American president. When I was 12 it had been 143 years since slavery ended in America. It had been 44 years since segregation was legally banned. I am not proud of our country for electing a black president. We did not “step up to the plate,” we barely made it to the game on time. When we elect our first female president, I will not be proud. I will wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.
America was founded on the ideals of freedom and equality. We have total and complete freedom of speech, except for all the things we cant say. And every single person can love whomever they want, unless they happen to be gay. Other than that, everything is equal…but not women’s pay. If you have a copy of The Catcher in the Rye remember that it’s banned and put it away. But if you want to buy an assault rifle? Well, you have the right, this is America!
Why do we have to classify others as foreigners just because of their country, ‘cause they weren’t born in ours? We’re still all people and we’re citizens of the world regardless of whether a European’s hair is straight and an African’s curled.
We have come a long way, but we’re still scratching ourselves out slow
from the depths of past decay
And there sure as hell is room to grow
That when asked how I identify as American, I’d like to say that I don’t. The border control surrounding American culture is inescapable.
But there are a lot of other things I’d like to say that aren’t true either. I am begrudgingly and undeniably American.
Most of my ancestors have lived here for generations. So though I hate the way my country handles international relations it’s still MY country and it’s where I have my foundations. My goals are rooted in the American dream so when it comes time to play, the U.S. is my team and my identity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I can’t be completely free.