Experiences Shaping Americans

Posted by Mia Y. Michigan

Ones own idea of their American Creed is greatly shaped on their community and family and, most of all, experiences. Experiences shape each individual in different ways and below you will see a few specific contrasting factors that shape certain individuals as American's.

There are approximately 327.2 million people currently living in the US. That's 327.2 million experiences, each different in their own ways. These experiences are constantly building individuals while shaping their ideas on what surrounds them along the way, shaping them to be an American. So how is one's idea of their own American Creed shaped? One's idea of this depends greatly on the cultural, religious and economic history of ones family and community. With those factors comes an array of different experiences between individuals which also plays a major role in shaping one's idea of what it's like to be an American.

I can personally say that my family history has played a great factor in shaping me as the American I am today. I have recently observed my 23andme report to get a better idea of my roots. The report showed that I am 100% European, 100% white. These results got me thinking. Because my ancestors were said to be of the same race, this means my family has never experienced anything that the other minority groups experienced and suffered through in America. Specifically slavery. Slaves were treated with a disgusting amount of disrespect. That kind of disrespect can easily travel through generations and place a negative view of America in these individuals minds. Different experiences regarding ones family history can have a massive impact on how one views America today.

After speaking with a friend of mine from around the same area I am, he was able to shed some light on what it was like growing up as an African American male in Southfield Michigan. His community growing up was not diverse in color which lead to some skepticism when he came to Royal Oak. He was nervous that he would be teased for his race or for being flamboyant, but he soon came to the realization that that wasn't the case. Ever since he can remember, his parents always put education first, "For my family, education was always first. Always." He said. Along with that, they care about his educational environment so when he started to notice that all of his friends looked like him, he began to want a more diverse population regarding his community, race and who he surrounded himself with. They took his wishes into consideration and moved him to Royal Oak. Speaking with someone who grew up in a different environment and of opposite race about their time in their community really showed me how different experiences could shape different ideas within individuals by how they were raised, the people they are surrounded by and especially the ideas their community expresses. Take him and I for example. Growing up in Royal Oak as a white female, I can say my experiences have differed greatly from his regarding my majority white school that attended growing up, having parents that were never adamant about education, my family's race and history, ect.

Going off of family history, I wanted to ask my grandmother ,on my mothers, side a few questions about my own family. She explained how education played a huge role in our family. My family consisted of mostly doctors or other medical professionals. I've been raised knowing that if I don't do good in school, I will not be successful in life. Yes, times have changed and I understand that that is not entirely the case but because of how I was raised, I still rely on education to help me succeed in America. For me, being an American means to be free to express yourself while still being successful in the workforce. Along with education, I've been raised to love my country and all of the opportunities that it provides me with. My grandma said, “We have always done our best to help better our country.” She went on saying that even when we disagree with certain political figures or other government leaders, this has been our family's country since we first came over on the second Mayflower, and we need to appreciate what shes done for us ever since then.

Throughout the process of writing this essay, I was able to see and recognize how different experiences in the past as well as the present can affect one's current idea of what it's like to be an American. whether it be in a negative or positive way, I was also able to see that we all have something in common as Americans. We all have the opportunity to continue shaping our experiences to help us thrive and succeed in America.

Published on Jun 3, 2019
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