One American Perspective From Another
December 22, 2016
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To some, what it means to be an American goes beyond a person’s place of birth or the documents he or she has, it goes back to when hordes of Pakistanis, Chinese, Japanese, European, and Indians sailed across oceans in search of a better life.
What it means to be an American is less about who you are than what you are about— how you live your life, the contributions you give to this country, how you pledge allegiance to a flag that you hope and pray represents a country that will make room for you.
What it means to be an American is defined in the hearts of the people who, in their sacrifices and struggles, in their accomplishments and triumphs, fight for America and fight to be American every day.
Philip Gleason, an historian put it this way:
“To be or to become an American, a person did not have to be any particular national, linguistic, religious, or ethnic background. All he had to do was to commit himself to the political ideology centered on the abstract ideals of liberty, equality, and republicanism. Thus the universalist ideological character of American nationality meant that it was open to anyone who willed to become an American”
America is one of very few countries in the world where it is nearly impossible to define the nationality of the country by one race, ancestry, or religion; because of this, citizens have different ways to describe their American-ness.
“[Being an American] means I have the opportunity to have a better education. I also believe that in America everyone is equal and no one should be treated differently,” sophomore Makab Abraham. Abraham, born in America, is of Ethiopian heritage.
Some students, those who don’t seem to be the “typical” or “expected” American because their names, skin color, or facial features, might indicate their heritage comes from another country. Because of this, they often feel criticized for their lack of “American-ness.”
They dislike that facts that others make fun of their culture or question their connections to America.
“My name is different than an ‘American’ name; people can’t pronounce things so they make names up for me, only making it better for themselves,” Abraham described his personal experience.
But just because Abraham experienced this does not mean ALL immigrant Americans feel this way,
“People don’t really judge me. I just blend in with them and socialize a lot,” sophomore Richard Hughmanick, a Filipino-American, explained.
In Hughmanick’s case, he says he isn’t judged as much as Abraham says he is. When he is believed to be something he isn’t, he doesn’t let it affect him, and eventually he fits in to the American lifestyle.
When people are criticized for their backgrounds, there are still people out there that think it isn’t right to treat people differently based on it,
“They are not aware of what others are going through. They should be more educated,” sophomore Robbie Gorey, a Caucasian-American, described.
Hughmanick urges the American people to treat others the way you would want to be treated,
“Come on, this is common sense. Treat others the way you want to be treated. People just don’t think about that stuff,” Hughmanick asserted.
The Harry Ransom Center explains that Americans are starting to study more about other cultures now, with many indicating they are doing so to understand those with different cultures and heritages more.
“People are always going to judge you for who you are throughout your life, but do not let that get to you. People judge others by their race, sex, sexuality, what’s next? Hughmanick questioned.