When it comes to the concept of “America,” many people think of opportunity. People come to America from all over the world in search of a better life, such as Jose Antonio Vargas, who came to America from the Philippines when he was just 12 years old. His family had forged illegal documents to get him into the U.S. because his mother was desperate to give him the opportunity at a better life. He says that he “Convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.”
Many other people would agree that America represents opportunity, but some would probably disagree with how opportunity should be given. A woman by the name of Francene Sharp says that “America is about following the rules.” There’s a good chance she wouldn’t want people like Jose in America, because he is breaking the rules by being in America, by becoming an American.
I don’t think America is about following rules at all. The British settlers broke the American Indian’s rules by taking their land, and they broke British’s rules by declaring independence. The United States of America was founded upon breaking the rules, which leads to innovation and outside-the-box thinking, which I believe to be our best quality. Almost everybody in America took a risk or is the descendent of someone who took the risk of leaving their countries, communities, and often family’s behind in search of opportunity and a better life.
Being an American should not be determined by citizenship. I would argue that an American is someone who was born in America or anyone who took the chance of coming here and decided to stay. By extension of this principle, American Literature is any literature written by Americans, whether the authors are born here or who came here. American Literature can cover an incredibly wide set of topics, as there is an incredible amount of unique perspectives on all facets of the American Experience.