When people think of America, they usually think about the “American Dream” or “The Land Of Opportunity”. After all, people from all over the world come to America seeking a new and better life. But others beg to differ. In the Article “The Way North”, by Damien Cave and Todd Heisler, they interview many people and ask them the question, “what does it mean to be american”. Many people said that it means being an honest and hardworking individual, but according to Joselyne Mahoro, it meant something else. “Being an American is very different. When I was in Africa, I could only eat once a day. Here, I can eat as often as I want.” Joselyne sees America as a place where you will be able to have enough food and water. Not a place where she can make a living, but a place where she knows she will be able to live, to have a future. I agree with what Joselyne said. In my opinion, America has many opportunities for people, from being able to have a good career, to just having the necessities to be able to survive. I don’t think many people think twice about that.
On the other hand, in the song “BLK Girl Soldier”, by Jamila Woods, she sees America in a different way. The main topic in this song is about how America still discriminates against African American people along with women. In the song, there’s a lyric that says “Last Century Last Week.” This lyric relates to how America’s treatment towards women and people of color a century ago still happens in today’s society. For example, the lyric “We go missing by the hundreds. Ain’t nobody checkin’ for us” states that women and women of color go missing everyday in America, and how the media reacts when a person of color goes missing vs. when a white woman goes missing. Just like a century ago, it still happens. People of color still get killed because of the way they look. Women go missing, get sex trafficked, and get murdered still, to this day. Jamila sees America as a dangerous and hateful place. I agree with Jamila as well. America still has racism, discrimation, and sexism, it’s not just a happy place full of opportunities. In my opinion, I don’t think many people think about the dark side of the United States when asked what America is, and it has a very big dark side.
America will never have one definition. In my opinion, America is a horrifying country to find an amazing opportunity. I definitely agree with both sources on what America is since I was taught at a young age to appreciate what I have. As a Latino male who lives in a household that is in middle class, I can say that I have had more opportunities than other people, but I have also learned that some people in America may not like the way I look, or may think that I am not a good person based on my skin color, and that affects my experience in America. I don’t want to visit certain places in America because I fear that I’ll be discriminated against and hated. This is my experience in America as a Latino male. So many people have many different stories of America, some written in our American History, others written in a letter to a family member. I think American Literature can be defined as literature made up of different people’s stories of America, their experiences in America, and their definitions of America. An example of this is the book “There There” by Tommy Orange. It captures the stories of multiple American Indians and their experience in America. It showed us their struggles of being an American Indian living in America. For example, it told us that the discrimination American Indians faced after their colonization still happens today. And that is what American Literature is, a story someone has of their experience in America.
“The Way North” by Damien Cave and Todd Heisler
“Blk Girl Soldier” by Jamila Woods