I define myself as an American by many different things. I am sure people have differences and similarities on this subject. The one way I define myself as an American is that I am free to choose things for myself. In my life I have had several different choices and responsibilities. The real question is who’s to say what we can and can’t do? We question, critique and judge ourselves with everything we do. In the end it’s not status or what we choose to listen or not listen to from the American society that makes or breaks us. It is our own thinking and choices we ultimately listen to that drives us to the decisions we make.
In the James Baldwin passage “The Discovery of What It Means to be an American” he is faced with a multitude of separating forces. He feels separated by color and as an artist in America. He was able to grow as a writer and a person in Europe verses America. There are many reasons why but one is the status issues in America. He can become real and a true writer in Europe because he releases that burden. In the passage “This lack of what may roughly be called social paranoia causes the American writer in Europe to feel- that he can reach out to everyone, that he is accessible to everyone and open to everything” I can understand that feeling of placement in America. It can be very empowering and diminishing depending on your career. In my life as a mom without a long term career or high status job I have felt the effect of status with my part time jobs throughout the years.
With the status America portrays, it is us who ultimately will accept to believe in that hidden rule that sets us apart socially from everyone else. Like in the passage “In short, the freedom that the American writer finds in Europe brings him, full circle, back to himself, with the responsibility for his development where it always was: in his own hands” I too can take responsibility for the feeling of that status and not let it defy who I am and what I want out of life.
To sum up, I believe the unspoken ways of Americans can shape our lives in many ways, but we can all feel how American’s status quo’s are put on us and either feed into it and accept it or look into ourselves and decide if that’s how we want to live.