woman with US American flag on her shoulders

What I believe as an American

America, the land was founded in 1607 and was declared to be free from Britain in 1776. With new land comes more people, and over time the country has gained even more land than from the beginning and has gained more people from all over the world. With this large population we have formed a society, we Americans all have relatively common goals, these goals lead up to what we call the American Dream. So what does it mean to be an American? It is to value the freedom we have, and what we can do with that freedom, and turn our situations into better ones.

Our culture can also help define us on who we are and what being an American really means. Culture is a hard thing to define in American however. “In addition to Native Americans who were already living on the continent, the population of the United States was built on immigration from other countries.” (Zimmerman) which is why it is so hard to define culture, we have so many cultures. American culture would be defined as most likely english as the language, a majority’s religion is Christian, and the food we eat is among a couple of things. However to be an american it is not a necessity to have anything that was just listed, just that you have experienced that american culture. 

Another thing that can help define who we are as Americans are our values. What I value personally are the rights we get and the freedom we have. I also value our safety and what we are able to do. Proof of this is “A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly. He reads “Grapes of Wrath” in kindergarten when other children are struggling through “Dick and Jane.” (Alexie Superman and me) which he talks about not having a very well off past however he makes the most of it and proceeds to have a higher skill level than the rest of the kids and becoming a writer, proving we have the ability to do whatever we want as long as we work hard enough.

The final subject that can help us understand what it means to be an American are our beliefs. I believe that whoever you are in the United States you are able to live your own life and have your own experience. Common beliefs are Equality, Freedom, and American dream, Which I essentially agree with. This helps us explain who we are because us Americans believe and value what we have and most of the time take for granted. 

I feel like most of our beliefs and values are repetitive, “Freedom, Equality, American dream”  however that is what we value and believe, we want this country to give us what it has said to give, I believe this country should give us a chance at our own unique lives. Our culture, our values and beliefs, are essentially what define us as who we are as Americans.

Works Cited

Zimmermann, Kim Ann. “American Culture: Traditions and Customs of the United States.” LiveScience, Purch, 14 July 2017,

Engle, Jeremy. “What Do You Think Are the Beliefs and Values That Define American Culture?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Apr. 2019,

Sherman, Alexie. “Superman and Me” The Los Angeles Times 19 Apr.1998,

The American dream in Death of a Salesman

“What are our American values?” And “What is the American dream?” Are very important questions in this country. Arthur Miller gives his answer to these questions in the book Death of a Salesman. Miller states “if Willy’s is an American dream, it is also a dream shared by all those who are aware of the gap between what they might have been and what they are.” 

Death of a Salesman is focused around Willy Loman a father and a salesman. As Willy is getting older he starts talking to himself and loses his riches and respect from others. In the beginning the Loman’s were seen as the perfect American family but throughout the book the truth is unveiled. Willy, the father, begins talking to himself and fighting with his sons Biff and Happy. The sons are no longer the hot shots that they used to be seen as. Happy is an assistant to the assistant buyer in a department store. Although he has a successful job he still dreams of moving out west with his brother which they often talk about. Biff doesn’t have a job like his brother and is more focused on moving out west. Just like in Of Mice and Men their American dream was to live off the land. After a big fight with his father Biff makes plans to ask an old friend and businessman for a job. After the meeting Willy and his sons met to share the news, which wasn’t as good as they originally hoped. “Then why’d you go?” “Why did I go? Why did I go! Look at  you! Look at what’s become of you!” This Biff says to his father after breaking the bad news that he didn’t get a job. Towards the end of the book their values get skewed, they all start to care more about money and reputation that they are now seen as somewhat crazy. 

The definition of the American dream is “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S., especially by working hard and becoming successful”(Merriam-Webster). Throughout the book it is thought that the values and “American dream” is having money and being well liked. At the end of the book it is proven that all the obsessing over money and being well liked is not all that matters. Without giving away the ending, I can say that although some can see that in the end there is more to life than money others cant. “He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smiling back-that’s the earthquake.” Others were even able to see and understand Willys values and dreams. The book takes place in the 1940’s and sense then people’s values have changed. Now things like happiness is more important than money or looks and what others think of you. 

Works Cited

“The American Dream.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

Fichandler, Zelda, and Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesman. Penguin Classics, 1976.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin Books, 2017.

The Influence Behind the Invisible Man

American literature often reflects issues that were present during the time of writing.  While Ralph Ellison was writing The Invisible Man in 1952, civil rights movements were gaining momentum and support. The issue of equality is one that has existed in the United States since its beginnings. Although much the oppression students learn about is the problem of slavery in the 1800s, other groups had been discriminated against as well. Such an example would be the Trail of Tears, an event where thousands of Native Americans were displaced from their homes to lands in Oklahoma. Many would die as a result. Since the 1700s, America’s definition of equality has been continually changing throughout the course of its history through its reforms in civil rights, such as the Thirteenth Amendment. Although it has improved significantly since then, the United States still faces social inequality today, which is evidenced by the treatment of minority groups.

The Invisible Man demonstrates many ideas that were considered normal for its time, such as the mistreatment of African Americans and the belief that one race is superior to all others. An example of this can be seen when the narrator is being used for entertainment. He is told to get around a rug with money on it. As he passes by he hears someone say, “This ought to be good.” A few moments later when he was on the rug, the narrator finds out it was electrified (27 Ellison). Such dehumanization of a person would not be acceptable today, regardless of the victim. Since then, the United States has made changes and additions to its civil policy that prevents such actions. An example would be the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This document outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, color, or national origin. When we compare the state of the country from back then to today, we can see how much the country has changed throughout the course of its history.

Other groups of people have been the victim of racial oppression as well. One example, as previously stated, are the Native Americans. During Andrew Jackson’s presidency, many Native Americans were forcefully displaced from their original homes in order to fulfill Manifest Destiny, the belief that America has the god-given right to have ownership of all the land between the two oceans. Thousands were forced to walk hundreds of miles to Oklahoma. Along the way, many died of illnesses such as dysentery and whooping cough (Pauls). Even though this was not a direct massacre or mass genocide, it still decreased the Native American population. An article by the New York Times talks about the “Indian invisibility in the media”(Millet). This illustrates how certain races may be excluded from proper coverage. The author of the article then goes on to describe specific stories where injustice occurred against Native Americans. Despite there being a significant amount of injustice being done to them, their struggles are seldom brought to light. Although other movements like the Black Lives Matter movement are more popular than the Native Lives Matter campaign, all of these issues show the same problem of racial bias in American society. The Invisible Man perfectly illustrates many of the racial prejudices of its time. When compared to today, the United States has shown growth in the social aspect of society, especially in terms of equality. Although certain issues still persist today, there is still time for change to occur.

Works Cited

Abzug, and Bella S. “H.R.14752 – 93rd Congress (1973-1974): Equality Act.”, 14 May 1974,

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library, 2018. Editors. “Civil Rights Act of 1964.”, A&E Television Networks, 4 Jan. 2010,

Millet, Lydia. “Native Lives Matter, Too.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Oct. 2015,, Elizabeth Prine. “Trail of Tears.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 11 Nov. 2019,

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Immigration Impacts American Values.

America is one of the most diverse countries in the world and you cannot say that is has one belief or value. America can be described as a melting pot and is a mix of different cultures and lifestyles with people from different backgrounds. If you go to any major city and look around you are sure to find people from different ethnicities and cultures and that’s why diversity is one of America’s core beliefs. When we think of diversity we usually think of many people from different cultures and this only comes from one thing and that’s immigration. Immigration has impacted Americans from before this country was founded, and is an important principle in today’s society. 

Immigration in the United States has made this country very diverse and some people want to stop the flow of immigration. People coming to this country has helped shape America and open peoples eyes to different things around the globe. Immigration has contributed to our country in various ways. Coming from a different country it is known that they want a better life and coming here to America they are looking for one so they work harder than any of the people who are native. This causes many immigrants to create businesses and take risks creating jobs for many people. My grandpa is a great example of this, he moved to the U.S in search of a higher education and with not a lot of money but he worked really hard and made a name for himself.  My grandpa’s story is a prime example of the American Dream and how America’s ability to welcome immigrants has impacted so many lives. 

 People may ask, “What does it mean to you to be an American?.” and that is something that cannot be described in a few words. If you ask an immigrant that, most will say that it means freedom, equality, hard work, free enterprise and many other things. A main problem that we are facing in today’s society is about immigrants and people in Washington wanting less and less of them. Illegal immigrants on the other hand  should not be let in but there should definitely not be a stop to legal immigration. Over half of all fortune 500 companies founders are immigrants living in America or children from immigrants. We should think about that the next time we make a decision to stop the flow of immigrants, because one of these children who come from a rough background may grow up to be the next Elon Musk or Sergey Brin. 

Immigration has impacted this country tremendously and the U.S has been shaped around it. People need to be less ignorant around the topic and realize what immigration has done for this country. America has a variety of different cultures because of this reason, so there cannot be just one “American culture”. Everything mixes and that is why the U.S is the most diverse country and why many people come here to get a better life. Immigration is a very important part of our country and it impacts us everyday.

Cohen, Steve, and Steve Cohen. “Immigration and American Values.” State of the Planet, 6 July 2018,

Griswald, Daniel. “Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World.” Cato Institute, 7 Apr. 2016,

Prager, Dennis. “Immigration and Cultural Change.” National Review, National Review, 28 Mar. 2019,

Wharton. “The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy.” Penn Wharton Budget Model, Penn Wharton Budget Model, 27 June 2016,

The Importance of Hard Work in America

Hard work is an American value that has been extremely important throughout history. It is the backbone behind the achievement of all other important values, like freedom, patriotism, diversity, and equality. Hard work being an important American value is often underestimated and forgotten. America is often described as the “land of opportunity,” but not everyone benefits from the opportunity in the country and most people are able to achieve great things with hard work. Many of today’s youth and even some adults seem to overlook this value, and they have forgotten how hard work helped people in the past to make this country what it is today. From the young children who had to work in harsh conditions of factories to help provide food for their families, to all the brave men and women who have fought in wars to protect American values. Freedom, patriotism and success, which are more often thought of as the “key American values,” are important values in American culture, but hard work is ingrained in all of those values and without hard work it seems like those other values might disappear. While other American values have been altered or lost at times, hard work is a value that will always remain instilled in every American, whether they choose to utilize it or not. 

The story of my grandfather is a good example of how his hard work was critical for him to live the American dream and benefit from all its values. He and his family were immigrants to the United States and arrived here when he was young. His father got a job, started working and taking advantage of the opportunities he had, but he died when my grandfather was only 13 years old. My grandfather started working at a very young age, balancing his school work with the need to help around the house and provide some support. When he graduated high school, he joined the Sheet Metal Workers Union. When he was alive, he would talk about unions and how workers had the freedom to organize to achieve better working conditions and better pay (Bevins). Unions really represent some of the best of American values. He worked his entire career at a Sheet Metal Worker. He worked hard to get out of the field to be an elected union representative from the entire Midwest region and worked as an international representative as well. He worked long hours and provided a home, supported his children’s and grandchildren’s education dreams, and did whatever he could for the people he loved. His hard work not only helped him and our family live the American dream, but he instilled that value in the entire family. 

Hard work is the most important value because it is at the heart of every other American value. For example, hard work and freedom seem to go together. Freedom as a value is about taking great chances in the face of adversity, being able to say something that is not popular, and participating in elections. There are many great examples of these values going together in American history, from the journey by Columbus to America to the pilgrims leaving England to achieve liberation. Other examples include when slavery was abolished or women were granted the right to vote. None of these freedom achievements could have happened without hard work. Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglass are people who worked harder than some will ever work in their lives because they believed in the idea of freedom. Some of them even gave their lives for the freedom they believed in. Dr. King valued freedom, for it was the heart of the civil rights movement that he helped to lead, but it took his hard work and overcoming great obstacles to achieve freedom. When Christopher Columbus was only a teenager he acquired a job on a merchant ship. He called that ship home until 1476, when the courageous boy was attacked by pirates who sank the boat, the young Columbus found a scrap of wood and floated ashore to Portugal. In Portugal, he began to study mathematics, cartography, astronomy and navigation, these skills were essential to him finding the Americas ( Editors). Devoting your entire life or a massive majority of it for freedom or anything your passionate about is strenuous, but it is the only way to achieve success. 

The Fourth of July is one of the most patriotic holidays in America. Most Americans celebrate this day with family and friends, hot dogs and hamburgers, fireworks, and red, white and blue. This holiday celebrates many American values and it is a way to commemorate what is thought to be our most important founding documents, the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence, written by our founding fathers, is often thought of as a gold mine of American values. It was hard work that resulted in this astounding document being produced as it was written under great political pressure that took 17 days to write. On August 2nd 1776, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. “It was an incredibly difficult time for the young United States. For more than a year, Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies had been at war over the issue of ‘taxation without representation.’ The Colonies believed that their rights were being impeded by the British, who were levying taxes upon them without their consent” (ConstitutionFacts). On the Fourth of July, as we are celebrating with good food and fun, we tend to forget what we are really celebrating which is the hard work those first early political leaders put in to make our country free. 

Hard work is an important American value that is often forgotten. It seems like it is also being taken for granted. People in today’s society have noticeably changed from the generations of their parents or grandparents. The value of hard work may be of less value and people are becoming lazy as technology improves and the hard work is done by a machine through automation. Jobs are being replaced with robots who do the job in half the time at half the price and this is resulting in the value of hard work getting buried under a wave of automation. The danger is that the hard work has been so critical to the success of all of the other values that makes America so great. Those values have never come easy and so if we lose the willingness to do the hard work, then all of the other values that are part of America’s history may be lost as well.  

Works Cited:

Bivens, Josh. “How Today’s Unions Help Working People: Giving Workers the Power to Improve Their Jobs and Unrig the Economy.” Economic Policy Institute, 2017,

“Drafting the Declaration of Independence.” Constitution Facts – Official U.S. Constitution Website, Editors, Editors. “Christopher Columbus.”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009,

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Protection of Privacy

Privacy is one of the main American values that is deeply explored in my independent reading book Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy. The main character Christopher Wright is a member of the Idaho State Army and he shows a strong sense of nationalism. He is always willing to do what’s best for his country and is ready to put himself on the line for what he believes is right. But when President Rodriguez issues a new law stating that all citizens must carry around a identification card to show their location, he doesn’t know whether he can trust his own nation. Privacy has always been a highly debated issue in our country and through this book we can see the tensions it can create. President Rodriguez believes that he is doing the right thing because the nation is in a time of crisis. He believes that by issuing the new ID’s, the country will be a safer place and everyone can stay accounted for. According to Doug Linder “The U.S. Constitution contains no express right to privacy” (Linder para 1). Doug is claiming that if the government wanted to pass a tracking system like the ID cards, the constitution wouldn’t be able to stop them. President Rodriguez is making the national IDs mandatory and if any state objects, they will be punished and sent into lock down by the National Guard. The governor of Idaho, Governor Montaine, believes that the ID cards violate basic human privacy and he refuses to accept them. Governor Montaine says “The Idaho house and senate stand with me in opposition to the new federal ID card law. Privacy is a basic right to everyone across this nation and nothing will be able to change my standpoint” (Reedy 103). Governor Montaine is standing up to the national government for what he believes, even if it means getting punished. We can see the difference in opinion of privacy and what values people hold true to themselves.

This book does a wonderful job illustrating the tensions of privacy in a fictional point of view. Our problem in our modern day country is not with ID cards but with our digital privacy. According to Rebecca MacKinnons “similar interception points were set up around the country to gather and analyze the emails and phone calls of Americans who were not suspected of any crime” (MacKinnons para 10). This shows that the government has been looking in and analyzing our data without our consent or knowledge. Divided We Fall shows us a parallel between our nation and the fictional world of Daniel Wright. We see that the government is trying to take care of their country by invading privacy to make sure the people stay safe. The other viewpoint is that the government shouldn’t be able to look into people’s information because it is a basic human right and protected by Article 12 of the UN. But through these viewpoints, we see another question being brought up. What is privacy and what does it protect? We don’t have a standard list for what counts towards privacy. I believe that setting standards for privacy is crucial to stopping this argument and coming to a middle ground. As our nation becomes more technologically advanced we must make sure privacy stays number one priority. I believe that privacy is a god given right to everyone and the government must respect that even if it means losing national security in the process. The government has no right to be snooping in our private digital information and it is unacceptable to be doing it without consent. No matter what the circumstances are, Americans should always have their privacy respected and maintained as a value.


Linder, Douglas O. “The Right of Privacy.” The Right of Privacy: Is It Protected by the Constitution?, Apr. 2018,


MacKinnon, Rebecca. “We’re Losing Control of Our Digital Privacy.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Jan. 2012,


“Page 103.” Divided We Fall, by Trent Reedy, Scholastic Inc., 2015.

Divided We Fall-Trent Reedy



The Middle Ground of a Hot Issue

American creed and values have been an ever changing concept, heavily  influenced by numerous factors that tend to change over time. Some would say that it’s human nature for people to strongly adhere to their core values and beliefs and expel those who refuse to conform, and this argument has many examples to back it up. This phenomenon can especially be seen in the years of war and chaos, observe the Cold War when the idea of differing views of the government instilled fear in civilians and caused a “hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. became known as the Red Scare”, ( Editors, 2018). This then raises the question, what are American values? This question is one of the few where no matter your political, religious, or other beliefs, almost all Americans are able to find some common ground when it comes to forming an answer. These common ground traits seem to be agreed to be Equality, and Independence, ( Refugee Center Online).Equality and Independent are timeless descriptions of the U.S. whose usage can be traced all the way back to the founding documents of this country itself, (U.S. Constitution, Article VII). I believe that these are two answers that are broad enough to allow everyone’s beliefs to fit under. The differences in answers tend to occur when you narrow down the answers into subcategories. For example, equality is an easier answer to stand behind then equity, which can be considered to be a subcategory or equality. From there we get into other ideals and values that could be considered controversial, these include: assimilation and education. The reason I believe these ideals to be controversial is because of the value and intensity of these ideals deal with.  The Huffington Post attempts to describe the different views on required assimilation. They begin their argument against required assimilation by explaining how America does not have a direct ethnicity, rather it is an unique combinations of thousands. They also claimed that the different ethnicities created a stable economy. They claim the argument for assimilation involves a greater sense of community when common ethnicities are reached. The value of education in my opinion is less controversial and can be more easily summarized. The controversy of this topic stems from what people consider to be the reasonable amount of schooling for Americans, often showcasing their views on the importance of certain career paths over others.

In conclusion, there are several characteristics that can be classified as American values, however, there are a select few that the majority of people can agree upon that fit their personal answer to the controversial question, even if these characteristic values have varying definitions among persons.


Works Cited:

Featured Images, Youth Voices.

“Red Scare .”, A&E Television Networks, 13 Sept. 2018,

Union, Yale Political. “Should Immigrant Assimilate?” The Huffington Post,, 25

            May 2011,       

“U.S. Constitution, Article VII”

“What Do Americans Value? | Information for Refugees and Immigrants.” Refugee Center Online,


Our American Values

America is a land filled with opportunity and new beginnings. Everyone can pursue what they want and can live their life as they please. There is a lot that goes into our American values, creeds, beliefs, and culture. I believe that getting along together and supporting each other is important for our American values and day to day life.

These days not a lot of people get along and it feels like there is a lot of division with all the stuff that is showing up in the news lately. We have to learn to understand each other and try to see or put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We have to learn that we are all one nation and it doesn’t matter what race you are or what religion you believe in. It is important that we learn to love each other and help each other achieve our goals as a nation. We all want to be treated fairly and equally and its time that we put that fourth.

In the article “ What Do American Values Mean to You?” the author Caroline Gilpin says, “You cannot define Americans by what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or how they worship. Only our democratic values define us. And if we lose sight of this in our conduct at home or abroad, we jeopardize the respect that has made the United States the greatest nation on earth.” I believe that if we learn to love and care for each other we could make anything possible and achieve our biggest dreams and goals as a nation. 

Everyone works hard towards their goals and wants to achieve their dream. This is part of the American culture and our creed. In the article, “What the American Creed Means to Me” the writer says ,”The best way to better achieve the vision that is shown in the American Creed, is to see past the difference and work together towards the prosperity of the nation as a whole. By working together, it is possible for so many things to be done and the vision that the American Creed illustrates can be reached.” (Matthew R.) We all want an equal opportunity and be able to live freely and independently. We as Americans are very diverse and everyone in America has a different background and a different story. Everyone is unique and different in their own way and should be treated fairly. In the article “Key American Values” the writer of the article states, ” America’s population reflects remarkable ethnic diversity. More than 20 percent of the population of two major cities, Los Angeles and new York, were born in another country. ” (Unknown) We value helping each other and being there for each other. We help each other reach our goals and guide each other into a better tomorrow.


work cited

Caroline Crosson Gilpin (2017) “What Do American Values Mean to You?” link -

Matthew R ( 2018) “What the American Creed Means to Me” link –

Author Unknown (2013) ” Key American Values” link –


Reflecting on the Significance of My Name in 2018

My full name is Esmeralda Sarai Ortiz-Munoz. I never really thought about my name, it’s just something that represents me. This is who I am and I love my name because that’s the name my parents choose for me. It’s a beautiful name that reminds me of the beauty of Mexico. Because Esmeralda for me, sounds like flourish, the flowers growing and spreading their beautiful pedals. Esmeralda reminds me of nature and I love nature and earths beauty.

My name takes me back to memories from Mexico, walking in the streets, feeling the breeze in your face. Because Esmeralda is a mexican name.

I asked my mom why she named me this name out of curiosity and when she responded, I didn’t expect her to say that she got it from a novel. There was this actress that her name was Esmeralda Sarai and since then, it stuck with her. I guess my mom was a novel addict. It’s not the typical story where people get their names because of their grandparents or other family members. That’s what makes it unique and I love it.

Also, I know that my name Esmeralda, are beautiful gems. I never really looked into it because i’m not interested. But whenever I introduced myself to people as Esmeralda, they often tell me about the beautiful gems that my name represents. I’ve ever look into the meaning of my name and I don’t know if that’s important to do so.

It’s weird how depending where i’m at , I expect people to call me a certain name. Like, for example, whenever i’m at school, I expect people to call me by Esmeralda not Sarai.

However, when I’m at church, I expect people to call me as Sarai not Esmeralda. I feel connected more to Sarai though. Because my family and my friends from church call me that. Only the people from school call me by my first name.

My name might be considered one of the common names but I do not believe so because I haven’t meet someone with the same name as me. I love my name Esmeralda Sarai Ortiz-Munoz and I wouldn’t consider changing it even if I had the chance.