What Makes America?

1 January 2017

Since America has been created, tons of people have been travelling here and starting new lives striving for the success they deserve. Different aspects can add up to the identity of America. America has been widely shaped by citizen’s uniqueness, their ethnicity, and chances they have to become successful. Though there is a lot that molds American Identity, America has been shaped due to different lifestyles, which is illustrated through people’s individuality, religions and race, and opportunities.

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Everyone has a different lifestyle, which in the big picture creates American Identity. Individuality creates everyone’s uniqueness and shows what people can bring to society. In “American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity,” author Michael Jay Friedman explains the difference between the “Melting Pot or Salad Bowl” metaphor. Friedman states, “They strain at first to overcome their differences, but by film’s end all have bonded – as Americans” (Friedman). This quote clearly explains the strain that Americans have overcome to create a bigger whole, which has become America.

No matter how many differences each and every American has, they can all come together to create something much greater than anything else, a free country with a lot to offer. In another part of “American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity,” Friedman defines how there is no picture perfect American. Friedman expresses, “There simply is no one picture of a ‘typical’ American. From the powdered-wigged Founding Fathers to the multiracial golf champion Tiger Woods, Americans share a common identity grounded in the freedom – consistent always with respecting the freedom of others – to live as they choose” (Friedman).

In the text, Friedman explains how everyone is different, but in his or her differences Americans can respect the freedom of others, letting people be as unique as they please. In this nation, people have the freedom to do whatever they like, but it’s up to society to respect their wishes and always welcome them with open arms. Individuality will always remain in the United States because of the freedom that America has provided to their citizens and continue to add to American Identity.

Along with individuality comes religions and race. All the immigrants and differences in people, which include their ethnicity and their religious views, have molded America. Langston Hughes expresses how his race was not always free in America, but since then things have changed to add to America’s Identity and story behind the United States as a country. In “I, Too, Sing America,” Hughes illustrates, “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong.

By Hughes saying this, it shows how going through hard times with segregation and discrimination gives America character and proves to citizens that everything is not perfect, nor is everyone proving that American Identity has been shaped by positive and negative attributions. With religion, America’s wide variety of spiritual faiths has expanded across the country. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur explains what an American is in his piece, “What is an American? ” Crevecoeur states, “Here religion demands but little of him; a small voluntary salary to the minister and gratitude to God; can he refuse these? Essentially, this quote is saying how America does not demand of a certain religion, but giving thanks to your own God and minister is still important to show how thankful you are.

Religion in America has always made an impact on citizens from the beginning. For example, in America, religion has helped mold and shape people’s lives incredibly. It helps people get together and share their faith, hopes, and dreams. Having so many different religions in the United States gives the freedom of sharing people’s beliefs and helping society understand the different benefits of each religion, making us so unique and independent.

Race and religion contributes to America in many ways, remembering different struggles and strengths in each and every American themselves. Lastly, opportunities in America have been key to immigrants that are coming to America for new goals and hopes. Looking back on history, immigrants came from all different parts of the world trying to find a new life with new opportunities for jobs and freedom. In Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America be America Again,” Hughes tells of the land he’s always dreamed of. He states, “O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic reath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe” (14-18).

Hughes is saying how America is the land he dreamed of, and the land he dreams of has opportunities that are real and life that is free. Knowing that Hughes is African American helps society understand more how he struggled, and now that African Americans are accepted as anyone else in the United States, our land is full of opportunities and equality is in the air we breathe. Everyone coming to America now can look forward to the hopes and dreams they will accomplish.

In “American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity” Friedman explains how people in poverty can still have success in the United States. Friedman says, “Poor shoeshine boys or other street urchins would rise, by dint of their ambition, talent, and fortitude, to wealth and fame. ” Fundamentally, this quote is explaining how anyone can gain success in America as long as they have ambition and strive for their wealth. This shows how immigrants could actually make a living here and change their lives around for the better. Literally, boys who were at the lowest low could raise themselves and gain wealth and fame.

A “rag to riches story,” says Friedman. Since America was announced a free country, immigrants have been coming to the United States in hopes for new opportunities and a start to a new life with a successful ending. Since the creation of America, many things have added up to create the character that America has accumulated over the past two hundred years. Though America’s Identity can be from a lot of things, due to American Lifestyles, America is shaped from individuality, race and religion, and opportunities. Looking through different chapters of American history, you can find these three things as a common interest in America’s past.

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