There are many perspectives on what it means to be an American. Some Americans think being an American is unlimited opportunity, patriotism, diversity, integrity, tolerance, etc. Others think you must be homogeneous to everyone else. Being an American citizen means nothing to me personally. I am not forced by the government to be patriotic to the president, our military veterans, or serve in the military. All I do as an American citizen is go to school, pay taxes, work, and volunteer in my free time. What does being an American mean to you?
We should not call ourselves “American” for nationalism. When we call ourselves American, we are trying to fit ourselves into an imaginary common identity. Nationalism can easily turn into xenophobia. Innocent people can be victims of hate crimes if they are not homogenous with our expectations of what an American should be.
When we call ourselves American, we are being discriminatory because we decide who is American and who’s not. Our founding fathers said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Though they had their bias on race and gender, their quote advocates unity and is used presently to ensure equality for everyone. When we call ourselves American, we are creating a division and contradicting our founding fathers’ values. Defining ourselves leads us into judging those who are different from us.
To call ourselves American is to homogenize ourselves. But the United States has never been a homogeneous country in its establishment. We always had diverse religions, cultures, and ethnicities. Our constitution borrowed ideas from the Iroquois Confederacy. Spanish is our second most spoken language due to a large population of Latino/a Americans that call the U.S. home. This is beautiful. Some countries will not tolerate outside ideas because they want to maintain the status quo. The United States has come a long way because we are open to different ideas. When a country is open to different ideas, good things happen.
Multiculturalism is good for America because we are exchanging ideas. If our country accepts other cultures and ideas, our country’s social atmosphere improves. Not only will our reputation go up, but also our country will be praised by the world for living up to its ideals of liberty and happiness. The United States currently has a reputation of being colonialist and racist. But by allowing our borders to be open and keeping an open mind, our country can overcome xenophobia and racial division.
Because the United States is a multicultural nation, being American is not a priority. If you abide by the U.S. Constitution and the laws, you have liberty. We have natural-born citizens who practice their ancestors’ cultural customs, like Muslim Americans and indigenous people. The first and fourteenth amendments in the bill of rights give everyone the right to religion and equal protection under the law. This shows that America has always been a diverse nation and that the title “American” has no true meaning.
The term “American” is absurd. The United States of America is a multicultural nation. People from all over the world fight to get here. Our country was built on diversity and always will be diverse.