What does it mean to be american? This is a question that is hard to define but never has a wrong answer. I believe that being american is to remember your voice and language.
As a kid we aren’t given lots of chances to embrace our culture or even language if your parents were foreign. During schools we always spoke english, and school takes a lot of our time away from family. It doesn’t help when our parents worked everyday around the clock. This only allows only a small pocket of time to talk and learn our cultures language. But when we can i get to learn as much as I can by ear. Everyday my parents would talk to me in vietnamese whenever they could even if it was just reading mail or a small conversation and they would get mad if i ever responded in english, I always thought that they just couldn't understand but this was never the case. They told me that I should always talk to them in vietnamese because I should always learn and improve. They told me that i need to remember my parents past and what they did to get me here. It was a sign of respect and knowledge because I can talk to elderly people like my grandparents. But knowing vietnamese won't just affect the present, it also affects the future too. I can keep a generation connected though language including my future kids. If i didn’t learn vietnamese my future kids wouldn’t be able to talk to their grandparents and so they seem more foreign than family. Us kids that were born in america that know two or more languages are literally the bridges that our parents are building to keep families together.
There is a saying “when in rome, do what the romans do”. It is said in america but slightly altered. Sometimes we are told “ you’re in america,you should speak english ” or do this and do that because it's more appropriate here. But they fail to remember that america is a place of freedom and diversity. We came here not to be different and fall into a single group but to express ourselves. We should never fall into a category “american” because that isn’t who we are. We are merely taking that title of “american” on our citizenship papers.
America is a place with many languages. It is important to remember yours and express it freely and never let someone take it away. It is your voice that links families together. It is your voice that you use to speak up with during all the violence.