What does it mean to be American? Does anyone know?

Posted by EthanJ Pennsylvania

This essay was originally shared with others students at youthvoices.live and explores questions raised by studying history and examine similar issues in present day America.

What does it mean to be American? Do you even know what an American is? Is it a person full of hatred because someone looks different? Or is somebody who is open to a door of opportunities? Well, I believe that at an American is a mixture of those two questions. As well I believe what time you are living it will change your opinion. From when I grew up being American is being free to whatever you want to do.

In the reconstruction time being American was different but as well similar to this time. For Africans, during reconstruction times they were not seen as citizens. For back then a citizen was a white American who owned a certain part of the land. Unfortunately, since black people just became free they were not seen as citizens. This is shown in the Dred Scott case where they say that African Americans once not in a free state are not citizens. He was previously free but once he crossed into one of the slave states to try and free his wife he was not allowed.

What I previously stated in the last paragraph is still somewhat relevant to this day. If you are a person who came to this country illegally there is a lot of things that you can not do. Such as little things as getting your license. If you come to this country and you stay for a year to get your green card, you have to wait for ten years. That is ridiculous that someone who obviously left their country for a reason but has to go back so that they can stay in the country they want. It is not like they have to stay there for a month but, ten years. To be American in this day and age means to be able to have their freedom to do what they want. This is shown through as simple things as driving their car legally.

The way that the reconstruction and present day is related is the fact of freedom. This is because back then freedom depended on how you look and now it is on how you got here. If you were to be a black person male or female and you came to a slave state you are no longer free. This is because they are black. Even though it might not be as harsh this is shown to people who immigrated illegally. This is because once they come here they can not do the same as any other American.

In conclusion, not much has changed as what it means to be an American. Whether it be where they came from or how they look. In the past, people could not leave their own state and have a life without possibly being caught. This could be said today with immigrants where they can not even drive. So has the image of an American changed or has it just disguised itself. Thank you for reading my blog post.

Published on Feb 28, 2018
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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

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