Figure 1. Tattered American flag
Everyone has their own ideology of what being American means to them. In my opinion, America does not stand for freedom and a better life, it stands for a country torn apart (see figure 1). When I think of being American, I think of big brother, destroying any person or country that stands in their way (see figure 2). I see a country that discriminates against your capital value and skin color.
Figure 2 The United States repurposes an old military plane specifically for dropping bombs on foreign targets.
Many people see America as the land of the free. Freedom from religious persecution, freedom of speech, a place where everyone can cohabitate in harmony. I do not believe we have ever been that place, but rather use this image as a facade. If you are not an Anglo-American, please take a moment to reflect on how some of these supposed benefits may or may not have been presented to you. Has being American fulfilled all of these implied benefits, regardless of your race, religious beliefs, or gender?
I have received numerous benefits from being American. Being American to me is eating a pizza on a subway in New York, hiking a mountain in Colorado, riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or letting it all ride on a bet in Las Vegas. Being able to do all of these things without one person glancing negatively at my presence in an airport, not being concerned about run ins with law enforcement officers, not one woman clutching her purse as I walk by. Unfortunately, these are not universal benefits every citizen will get to experience. Many of these benefits are based upon your socio-economic status, the color of your skin, or even the gender you were born with.
Figure 3. Muslim Americans Protest against discrimination of their people.
For those not born with innate advantages, thesepeople will experience a different America. Do not even think about trying to enter this country if your current or existing citizenship places you in the middle of a civil war. Do not expect anyone to respect you religious beliefs if your beliefs make them feel uneasy. Most of all, do not expect to be treated equally if your skin color is represented by negative stereotypes and connotations (see figure 3).
Am I American? By birthright, on paper, and geographically, I am American. I am one of the lucky ones, inherently born into the benefits of this country. However, I do not feel that I can truly be an American behind the facade of it all. This country, albeit great for many reasons, has many issues that need to be corrected. We need to come together as a collective society and educate our citizens. The fact that we choose to ignore taboo topics, is exactly what keeps encouraging history to repeat itself. It is only when we acknowledge our unfavorable behaviors that we can truly be remorseful and learn from them. I cannot ignore my privilege, and I refuse to accept that those who were be treated differently. When being an American becomes an embodiment of what it claims to be, then I will truly internalize my title as one.
Burdine, Krista R. “AMERICAN SIKHS CONTINUE TO SUFFER RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION.” Worldreligionnews.com. N.p., 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2017, http://www.worldreligionnews.com/issues/american-sikhs-continue-to-suffer-religious-discrimination.
Liggett, Britt. Military Plane Repurposed to Drop 900,000 Tree Bombs a Day. Digital image. Inhabitat. Inhabitat, 20 Oct. 2010. Web, in habitat.com/old-military-planes-repurposed-to-drop-900000-tree-bombs-a-day/.
Valezadeh, Roosh. “AMERICAN SIKHS CONTINUE TO SUFFER RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION.” Return of Kings. N.p., 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 8, http://www.returnofthekings/52021/35-things-wrong-with-america.