“Denial Is the Heartbeat of America” an essay published by Ibram X. Kendi the Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. In this article Kendi is implying that America runs itself by denying it’s history as a country. There are many historic life changing events that have happened in america that are almost completely ignored by everyone nowadays. “To say that the attack on the U.S. Capitol is not who we are is to say that this is not part of us.” This quote reflects the idea suggesting that Kendi thinks people are denying what is happening in our country by calling it unamerican. “In the aftermath of catastrophes, when have Americans commonly admitted who we are? The heartbeat of America is denial.” Here Kendi is further showing that whenever a tragic event would occur we would deny it being a part of our country by calling it unamerican. Kendi’s entire article revolves around this idea of our country being called great yet whenever something bad has happened we deny it as part of our country and that this is what we have been doing for our country’s entire lifetime.

On the website facinghistory.org there is a video titled Marine Life in the Midwest:Tegan Griffith. In this video we see Tegan Griffith a white military woman from a rural town talking about how she became a marine and what it mean’s to be a part of the military. She responds to the question “What does it mean to be American?” and the responsibilities she feels comes with her identity as an American. “When a nation is under attack you serve” This is a quote from the video where she is talking about 9/11 and what her experience with it was. Compared to the my previous source this video shows a much more conservative approach to the question of what it means to be american. In the article Kendi talks about our country striving by denying any any sort of tragic events from being related to the idea of being american. In this video however Tegan is saying that people in the military aren’t involved with politics but are meant to protect the citizens rights and freedom’s. “You don’t join the military to be in one political party or not. You are a marine, and you can’t pick political sides.” This quote shows the drastic differences between the 2 people and their ideologies.

In the essay “My life as an undocumented Immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas it shows the Jose’s childhood and life up until he was able to succeed in journalism. Vargas is a gay filipino man originally from the philippines who illegally immigrated here with fake papers. He didn’t know he was illegal until he showed a fake greencard to a DMV at the age of 16 when he wanted to get a drivers license. Vargas grew up being told to work hard and go to school for an education and he had the idea in his head that if he did these things he would be accepted and recognized as an american. “I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.” You can clearly see here that he was under the idea that if he did all of these things he could earn citizenship. To Vargas being american meant fulfilling the american dream of working hard and being successful. “I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.” This quote supports the claim that he has fulfilled the american dream because he has accomplished so much and become successful despite all of the obstacles he faced.

I grew up as a half-Chinese, half-White American in berkeley which is a very diverse and democratic place. Growing up with some chinese culture as a background my ancestors had to work themselves to death to pull themelves up from extreme poverty. My grandfathers ancestors worked on the railroads and my grandmothers family immigrated here when she was very young. I grew up being told what I have to do to be successful for the sake of my family and myself. In a sense we achieved the american dream because we have made a good amount of success compared to how poor my ancestors were in the past. To my mothers side of the family being an American was never really something we cared about, All we cared about was having a better life and achieving the rumored american dream. We have done a great job in achieving that since now me and my family and middle class and have everything we really need with the occasional spending money to spare.

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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