What does it mean to be American?

Christopher Iba - Brazil


February 23, 2017

A·mer·i·can

/əˈmerəkən/

adjective

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of the United States or its inhabitants.

*Meriam Webster Dictionary

 

It is sad to think that the US has stolen the name America from millions. America is not one country. It is actually 54 countries that span across two hemispheres. I think as citizens of the US, we have been numbed of the reality that there is an America beyond our 50 states. An America that we have disregarded and tried to disown.  I was always taught that North and South America were two separate continents. Yet, if you ask anyone in Brasil, they will tell you that it is one America. They will also tell you that their teachers told them that kids from the US are taught this wrong. This interested me because it made me question the reasoning behind this. Maybe we were taught this way so we could differentiate ourselves from the lesser developed South America; to create a sort of class divide.  If we assume that US schools teach this fact wrong, then there must be other things we are taught wrong. How about the fact that we learn that the Wright Brothers were the first fly, but it is internationally recognized that Brasilian pilot, Santos Dumont flew the first legitimate airplane which did not use a launching rail.

Living in Brasil has really made me think about what kind of future I want to live in. And that future is one where all Americans help all Americans. And all people help all people. The idea of categorizing ourselves is a way in which we disassociate ourselves from one another and in turn puts us up against each other. Eduardo Galeano, a fellow American journalist from Uruguay, said that, “Along the way we have even lost the right to call ourselves Americans. For the world today, America is just the United States; the region we inhabit is a sub-America, a second-class America of nebulous identity.”  It is unacceptable that the United States which has no native representation in its government can take a continent’s name as its own.

Finally, the purpose of this post is not to try to ridicule readers, rather it is to bring awareness of the topic and create room for debate. The sole reason for this post is to make the reader think about what it means to be “American”?

 

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Christopher Iba