To be American is to be able to fight for both your freedom and the freedom of others that are seeking liberty and equality. All Americans should be able to have three basic rights that were given to us in the Preamble of the Constitution which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. For example, in the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie we learn that Native Americans are often treated poorly and fail to have access to both equality and the pursuit of happiness even in the relatively modern world. Having the rights that are supposed to be given to the citizens of this country is not what makes you American because there are so many Americans without those rights. In order to fit the definition of being American one needs to be able to fight for those rights and change the country to fit the American ideals in evolving ways.
The Constitution, outlines equality as a blatant necessity in order to maintain a successful country. More specifically the 13th amendment states that “No State shall…deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.” (National Constitution Center). Yet, the country as we know it has been divided multiple times over the course of our history and even today about who is even considered to receive the same equality that white males do. For example, in order to even get lawful equality for African-Americans we needed both the Emancipation Proclamation (Emancipation Proclamation) and the 13th amendment to end slavery as well as the Civil Rights Act (Civil Rights Act of 1964) to end segregation. Therefore, in order to form “a more perfect union” (U.S. Const.,) as said in our preamble to the Constitution we must fight for our constitutional rights and doing that is what our country was built on. The fight for liberty, in the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, through all those wars and protests we still don’t have equality for the members of this nation.
Many members of this nation don’t receive the same equality as their counterparts. Often, people of different sexual orientations fail to find jobs and are discriminated against both in society and in the law. For example, “There is no federal law protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the United States” (“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workplace Issues: Quick Take.”). Meaning many people in this country are able to discriminate based on sexual orientation with essentially no penalty unless there is some kind of state level law. An example of government purposely discriminating against lgbtq+ when “In a tragic reversal of a historic step forward for the United States, the Trump administration today instructed the Armed Serves to begin discharging transgender service members effective April 12.” (Trump Administration). The country faces inequality and a lack of freedom in far too many different aspects both intentionally and unintentionally.
One may ask, what if there is no problem this country has that it’s people need to fight for? Unfortunately, humanity has never and will likely never be perfect. In order to maintain liberty, equality, and an orderly country we need to fight the problems we have. Today, these problems include climate change, war, poverty, immigration, abortion, and much more. We live in a nation that has the ability to allow people to disagree and therefore a country with a group of people seemingly on a civil war of ideals. Together, however, we must debate these issues in order to maintain a successful nation and do right by both past and future generations.
Among many, gun control is an example of an aspect of this nation many believe needs change. Those who are killed by guns are a large range of people. From adults to kids. People of all kinds of races, orientations, religions, genders, and more. In fact, “In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC” (Gramlich). However, there are also people who believe guns are an important part of maintaining freedom in this country as well as following the 2nd Amendment which outlines citizens rights to bear arms. This controversy makes gun control a highly discussed topic today. Nevertheless, it is the ability for the citizens of the United States to debate any kind of topic amongst themselves in order to promote change that has allowed our country to withstand years of disagreements.
Our democracy is built in such a way so that the people are able to fight for the change they want, live in a country where everyone has a say. It does not happen naturally, we cannot expect our basic rights to just be there without fighting for them. Inequality exists, people who seek liberty are waiting for the change that needs to happen. This country has fought for change since it was born, if we want to fit the definition of being American, we need to get the change we want or that we need because those are the ideals this country was built on.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Cornelsen, 2011.
“Bill of Rights.” Bill of Rights Institute, billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/.
Gramlich, John. “What the Data Says about Gun Deaths in the U.S.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 16 Aug. 2019, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/16/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/.
History.com Editors. “Civil Rights Act of 1964.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 4 Jan. 2010, www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-act.
History.com Editors. “Emancipation Proclamation.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation.
“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workplace Issues: Quick Take.” Catalyst, www.catalyst.org/research/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-workplace-issues/.
National Archives and Records Administration. National Constitution Center – Centuries of Citizenship – The Idea of Equality Enters the Constitution, constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw06_12097.html.
“Trump Administration Announces Beginning of Transgender Military Ban on April 12.” National Center for Transgender Equality, 13 Mar. 2019, transequality.org/press/releases/trump-administration-announces-beginning-of-transgender-military-ban-on-april-12.