Beyond the Stripes And Stars: How to Really be Able to Identify Yourself as an American
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People of society understand the basic ideology of American identity, but not the underlying causes of the issues presented in the world through American identity. People stop at the definition of being American is to be born or be a citizen of America yet people who are born in America or are a citizen never identify as one. Being American is much vaguer and deep to put into one simple meaning such as “just being a citizen”. Writers such as Zeba Blay, Ralph Ellison, Bisma Parvez. and Amy Chua all talk about their meaning of identity. From all the different definitions the main point has been to be American, one must possess the capability of free-will in order to both shape one’s life and truly feel American. To be American one must be capable of possessing free will which means to have control of one’s life.
Some people believe their life is being written out by a higher being while others believe it’s their own choice but what if it’s neither. “I did not leave the one-bedroom apartment that I share with my partner for 27 days. The farthest I ventured out of the safe orbit of my bedroom was the front steps of the building” (Blay, On the killing of Nia Wilson And the Anxiety Of Being a Black Woman, pg 6). This Black woman legally has the right to a life of peace and opportunity, yet here she is afraid to go outside of her home. America is about choosing one’s own path in life yet those who should be protecting her just instill fear in her until she is dead then they say a sorrowful speech. The opportunities are a facade of those in power to make it seem that one can identify themselves as American when one cant be treated like one. This isn’t just a problem for black women but people, in general, are putting into certain neighborhoods or pushed a certain way because of their race and ethnicity.
They are believing it is that way because they are just inadequate as a person rather than realizing the people in power will choose who is successful, who follows what path and who identifies as what. They trap people in cages and people accept it because it’s the only place they know they won’t be killed or hurt yet the bigger picture shows them willingly staying in their homes. This article was based on a recent event but it just something from the present but also built from the past.“All that had gone before, since his birth, and his mother’s birth and the birth of his father. It had always been there, even though he had not been aware of it, handing out the unlucky cards and numbers of his days” (Ellison, king of the bingo games, pg2). Racism has always been in this country and one cannot completely remove it from society because deep down racism has always been subtly controlling the lives of the people. The way power was shared is fake because the people with the most power are just that 2% of people who control everything and they give the little jobs or ‘unlucky cards’ to those of a certain race or religion.
No one really understands how to change it so people ignore it. The problem has been identified yet people cover it up when they know it is their cause of misery because to their understanding this is the American system and if one obeys it then they will be accepted as an American when in reality people accept it because it’s their only hope that keeps them alive. Free-will allows one to truly feel American because opportunities are open for them. To fully identify as American one must have the equal right and respect that they are promised. People are feeling incomplete when they should feel acceptance, there should be no special treatment for others because of their identities. “Their talk just stick. I don’t know how Bees Shea learns to use her words, but sometimes I hear what she say a long time later. Permanent resident.” (Jen, Who’s Irish, pg19).
That enlightenment that gave her a new insight of people also applies for American identity because to feel American means different things for everyone. Feeling acceptance and respect of what a citizen is promised is what makes a person feel American because if there is no feeling then it’s just an empty label with no meaning. Also to be able to relate to another culture or race doesn’t always mean that you can identify as one because relating and identifying are two different things. For the grandma she didn’t really identify herself as Irish it was more of her personal experience as she was able to embrace her culture with someone of a different culture that symbolizes the feeling of unity and acceptance which is a part of what America stands for. To have the ability to explore oneself, to break down the barrier of hate and fear.
Yet people are destroying that opportunity of having the ability to identify themselves with this culture because of the fear of losing the chance for change. “ If everything is racist and sexist, nothing is.” (Chua, How America’s identity politics went from inclusion to division pg 3). To feel American means to have the opportunities as everyone and if people of different races and cultures begin separating themselves they are removing the ability to expand their identity and with that, there is this oppression competition than trying to get their groups improvement in society. With that people are forgetting the bigger problems, making everything sexist or racist or offensive belittles the actual racist sexist and offensive actions of horrible people. To feel American one must be able to unify and respect each other, helping each other grow not trying to bring themselves down just so they can get the proper rights one deserves. The ability to feel American then gives the people the access to shape themselves.
Shaping oneself means to have the ability to create one’s identity and that is an important aspect of American Identity since it creates the uniqueness of America. That diversity that is found not given is what really makes the country successful. “If you are presented with the same image over and over again, it’s bound to stick. (Parvez, Muslims in America are Just as American As Everyone Else,pg7).The author, in this case, is talking about Media and Influence of people can assign the identity of others and oneself unconsciously if presented incorrectly. The ability to make one’s own identity and to find themselves while feeling one’s identities can never really happen if people can’t shape oneself. But it not just through media is also the certain communities that are pushed to believe certain images and books. If presenting the same negative image of a certain race or culture or gender on tv could redefine a culture and stick, well the same could be done for the correct images. The blame isn’t the media, it’s the fact that there is no representations but rather a standard that defines American as Rich white male blue eyes and blonde.
That diverse America is split between communities and identities. The ability to really shape oneself is lacking so there isn’t this opportunity to identify as America. To really identify oneself as a part of this country one must really have the ability to create their own image without it being belittled or exaggerated through media but understood properly. America is so diverse but because there is only one certain shape of an American it then creates this black hole where everyone else just sticks with an identity they are given. To identify as American one must have free-will to be able to sincerely feel it is a part of them by shaping themselves because that is what the American identity stands for.
This is a enlightenment for people to understand what this country stands for and how to really be able to identify as an American one must be able to feel accepted in society so it gives everyone the ability shape themselves into the unique person they are that holds new America’s traditions and future in their hands without being controlled by the standard of white supremacy. This is a call for unity and power where people don’t get judged or controlled by the system but instead, create the system. If one pursues the goal of making sure it is a possibility for everyone to have that ability to identify themselves as American than the white supremacy in society that controls the people and creates their lives full of misery and fear will be outweighed because there will be more unity as different Americans against the fear of racism.