Being an American is something I regularly joke about with my group of close-knit friends: “Gotta love guns!” “Freedom!” “Apple Pie!” “‘merican flags errwhere!” Stuff like that. I even own a bro tank with an American flag on it, with quotes on it saying “Back to Back World War Champs” surrounding it. I often wear it along with my American flag chubbies on occasions where I need to look “American” (we used to have a hype day when I was touring around the country called “Freedom Friday.”)
The problem is that this is actually what a lot of Americans think what being American is. It is a very pro-patriotic sense of discrimination against those who do not fit the status quo. My really great friend Mahmud would never pass as “American” because he is a second generation Arab. He is in all actuality one of the most American men I’ve met. He loves celebrating freedom and diversity, but in an ironic twist he is seen as extremely un-American by doing so.
So I still haven’t answered yet, “what do I think it means to be American?” In a way, there is not a sure fire standard of measurement to being an American in my eyes. But there are definitely a lot of nonnegotiables:
- A sense of community of all people, regardless of people’s background, orientation, nationality, and religion.
- A sense of nationalistic pride that promotes equality of all peoples.
- The promotion of equality for all peoples regardless of religion, politics, ideologies and genders.
- The dream that all people can get along through negotiation and debate rather than by war and violence.
These in my view are what it truly means to be an American. We do not need to promote hatred and bigotry in order to gain a superiority over those who we see as inferior.
Am I an American? In my sense, yes I am. I truly believe we can get along and live as brothers and sisters in arms.
Yes we can.