The legacy and story of what it means to be an American is something that will generally be positive. Depending on who one asks, the answers to be found will usually be at least somewhat positive. However, there are some reasons why the answer may not be entirely positive. Indeed, there is a reason that Colin Kaepernick started kneeling before his football games and there are people that do not have entirely good things to say about whether being an American is a good thing, at least in whole. While stories about the American dream and other such things will generally center on a positive message or pattern, there are some caveats and exceptions to that rule.
What the United States has been able to accomplish in under two and a half centuries is nothing short of amazing. There are other countries and empires that have done fairly well over the years. However, what the United States is done is generally unmatched in many ways. However, there are some parts of United States history that are a little negative. These negative parts and facets can lead some people to have less than rosy ideas about what it means to be an American. The author of this response is African-American. For the author and many others that share the authorâ€™s background, it can be fairly easy to see why any recitation about being an American may not be entirely positive. African-Americans in the United States were treated as slaves before the forming of the union in the late 1700â€™s. When the United States came to be, not much changed. This generally remained unchanged until the Civil War flared up in the 1860â€™s. Even after that and the eventual victory of the Union. African-Americans did not have a terribly positive time in the United States. After all, there are still many people that are aware of what has come to be known as the Jim Crow era. Further, there are people alive today that saw the very end of that time period in American history. The civil rights era that came to a boil in the 1960â€™s proved to be another sea change for African-Americans. However, there is still progress that is sought and craved by some African-Americans. Even if things are continuing to improve and evolve for African-Americans, the events of places and people like Ferguson, Kaepernick and others tend to point to the idea that African-Americans have worries and concerns that are unique to them, at least in part (Reid).
To be fair, African-Americans do not have a monopoly on being oppressed and mistreated over the course of American history. The taking of land and killing of men and women is something that the Indians can point to, for example. The internment and racism that the Japanese endured during World War II is another thing that easily comes to mind. The very mixed debate that exists when it comes to Hispanics and the current immigration debate is yet another. Sure enough, there are valid concerns about gangs and criminal immigrants. However, there are many other people involved that seek asylum and refuge from terrible circumstances. Even with the plights and stories of other groups, the challenges and issues involving being African-American are no less important and notable. The problems and bigotry that are fostered by some people is something that definitely needs to be addressed. Even with that, African-Americans can have some pride in what they bring to the table. This is true when speaking in general terms as well as when speaking specifically about race. People of all races, African-Americans included, should have generic pride as Americans when they are victorious in the Olympics. However, some pride is to be seen in racial terms as well given the oppression that African-Americans have faced, but yet they show their national price anyway.
There were surely many people that had to bite their tongue when the union was formed despite the fact that equality principles in the Constitution were not being followed to the letter. There are stories about how President Lincolnâ€™s motives were perhaps somewhat about winning the war rather than doing the right thing in the 1860â€™s. There were many politicians that wanted freedom for all in the 1950â€™s and 1960â€™s even as those like George Wallace and others were full of hatred and rage. There are many people of all races that are willing to admit that someone breaking the law or harming others, regardless of that personâ€™s race, should face the music and capturing for what theyâ€™ve done. Even so, there needs to be a continued push towards treating all people the same under the law and not based on biases and other issues. That is the American ideal that the author of this report would point to. The country is certainly not in a place where biases and bigotry are gone. However, the country is moving in the right direction. Authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates do have a point when they rail against the racism that continues to this very day. However, things are getting better and there are many white people in the United States and other places that are very good people. For the problems that do exist, there should be less rancor and strife and more cooperation and good will. There should be an environment of working together and working towards a better paradigm and place for living for everyone rather than vitriol and negative actions. Passion and calling things what they are is one thing. However, keeping things in the gutter and otherwise perpetuating what is not the best of the American dream is not something that should be accepted or tolerated (Coates).
Anything that continues and progresses the negative parts of the legacy of the United States and the world should be avoided and disregarded. Trying to ignore what happened and trying to call things â€œsolvedâ€ when they are not is not acceptable. People trying to liken not flying the â€œstars and barsâ€ in public to erasing history should be called out for the hyperbole that they are engaging in. At the same time, casting aspersions with no end is the American ideal.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The First White President.” The Atlantic. N.p., 2018. Web. 25 Feb. 2018.
Reid, Eric. “Opinion | Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick And I Decided To Take A Knee.”
Nytimes.com. N.p., 2018. Web. 25 Feb. 2018.
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