Posts tagged ‘Immigration’

Reflections of our American selves – “American Like Me” by America Ferrera and other writers

In the States, one of the biggest crisis of our time seems to be this trying to hold onto, 40604126.jpgfathom, envision, or reimagine what it means to be an American.  We have a reemergence into our collective society of the KKK repackaged with different names. We have camps of people trying to get legal status in our country.  We have caravans we are going to block, walls we are going to build, and on and on with many plans to keep something that is claimed to be valuable – the status quo or even perhaps a fictional version of the status quo.  All of this weighed heavily on me this week as I drove for work through the Midwest and listened to “American Like Me: Reflections on Life between Cultures.”  It is was a good fit for my mindset.

Each chapter of this book is a telling of someone, who by all accounts, is a successful American but who is either first generation or second generation in this country (sidebar: there may have been a third generation story as well that I have forgotten).  The stories are about the gifts of this country, the confusing parts, the narrowness of our definitions, the struggle to fit into somewhere or anywhere, the opportunity and the heartbreak.  There are deep struggles with religion and what parts of themselves they can sacrifice to be “more American” and what must be cherished.  There are lighter struggles of why do we have so many peanut butter choices and how hard twerking really can be.  But there are struggles, and in all of my narrow whiteness and narrowly tailored American understanding, taught to me by others with limited understanding and scope, they are struggles I have honestly thought minimally about.

I, like many people, can immerse myself in books and stories like this, work with people who have immigrated here, yell and shout for better understanding and laws that better reflect who we truly are as American, but then I can put on my coat and go home to my white-bred world of entitlement.  Where I know the words to use, the food to order, the songs to sing, the holidays to celebrate and the clothes to wear (usually) that help me blend in seamlessly.   How quaint and easy for me.

This book was important for me in this moment at this time because it reminded me that there are struggles I do not experience that I need to be mindful of and think harder about.  It reminded me that before I get too comfortable in my quaint, entitled world I need to be thinking better about how that expands and breathes life into other important elements of our society that include different ways of seeing, feeling, experiencing and feeding (literally or figuratively) our understanding of what is American.  It is too important in this moment, in this time, to miss or overlook or put your coat on and walk away.  Because let’s really be honest, this, my white friends, was not our country to begin with.  And no amount of rewriting, reconfiguring, reimagining can change that fact.


October 26, 2018 at 10:22 am 4 comments

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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