America Is: the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly truth

American Flag

Let me start by saying that I am an American. I was born, raised, and currently live in the Midwest. My mother and father were born in America, so were my grandmother and my great-grandmother. This is all that we have ever known.  While most of us African Americans know that we are connected to the continent of Africa, we may never genealogically connect ourselves to a country in Africa. The place that kidnapped us we now call home. We are America’s illegitimate children trying to find our place in a land that never meant for us to be free.

Who or what is America?

America is Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Smith, Williams, Jenkins, Lee, Martinez, Ramirez, Martin, Williams, Abdullah, Chen, and Takashi

 

America is apple pie, peach cobbler, baklava, churros, sweet potato pie, and fortune cookies
America is pizza, burgers, hotdogs, tacos, fried rice, sushi, fried chicken, and maize
America is mayo, Miracle Whip, mustard, soy sauce, salsa, and Sweet Baby Ray’s

 

America is Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim and anything else you may worship

 

America is rural, urban, and suburban
America is free enterprise
America is Hoffa, Capone, Gotti, Fort, Hoover, and Tookie

 

America is blond, brunette, the afro, jheri curl, the fade and the comb over.
America is collars, v-necks, and turtle necks
America is mini-skirts, velvet suits, bell bottoms, Daisy Dukes, and baggy pants
America is where you can buy and sell clothes created in sweatshops

 

America is the Magna Carta and the Constitution
America is Christopher Columbus, John Smith, Lewis & Clark, and Jean Baptiste Point DuSable

 

America is the Trail of Tears, the enslavement of Africans, and the detaining of Japanese Americans

 

America is military segregation and desegregation
America is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
America is the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, Word War 1, World War 2, Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, War on Illegal Immigrants, and the War on drugs

 

America is where crack is greater than cocaine
America is Call of Duty and Columbine
America is urban assaults by narcotics with government ties

 

America is the Army, Navy, Air Force, S.W.A.T. and the guardian angels
America is COINTELPRO, FBI, CIA, ATF, DEA and PD
America is the assassination of Lincoln, X, King, JFK, RFK, Evers, and Hampton

 

America is the Dawes Act, Fugitive Slave Act, and Dred Scott
America is the Indian Removal Act, Chinese Exclusion Act, Oriental Exclusion Act
America is separate but equal
America is the Emancipation Proclamation and Plessy v. Ferguson
America is Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan
America is a place that allows indigenous people to become citizens

 

America is the Morrill Act, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Little Rock Nine
America is Illinois State University, Harvard University, and Grambling State University
America is pro-English and anti any other language
America is migrant workers

 

America is racism, sexism, ableism, sizeism, and homophobia
America is three-fifths of a man
America is illegal interracial marriage
America is four little girls being killed by a bomb
America is not equal pay
America is the Civil Rights Act and affirmative action
America is Proposition 209 in California and Proposition 2 in Michigan

 

America is the OKC Federal building and the World Trade Center
America is Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill
America is addicted to oil
America is only Democrat or Republican

 

America is a Democracy
America is Bush, Clinton, Bush
America is an election thief

 

America is where old white men can be president
America is where the election of a Black president eliminates racism and 400 years of oppression

 

America is NASA
America is Ford, Chevy, and Dodge
America is Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs

 

America is playgrounds, basketball courts, gymnasiums, grassy fields, and concrete
America is Coney Island, Six Flags, Kiddieland, Santa’s Village, Disney World and Sea World

America is postal mail to email, no phone to home phone to cell phone, floor model to flat screen, transistor radio to mp3, black & white to color photo, Polaroids to digital cameras, silent movies to 3D movies

 

America is fake reality shows
America is overnight success with the formula for next day has been
America is Kardashian, Amber Rose, and Paris Hilton

 

America is Bob Hope and Paul Mooney
America is Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke
America is Johnny Carson and Arsenio Hall
America is Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, Selma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Liu, and Beyonce
America is Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper, Laz Alonso, Daniel Dae Kim, Robert Downey Jr and the Old Spice guy
America is Gil Scott Herron, Rick James, James Brown, Etta James, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, Left Eye, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G.

 

America is NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS, PGA, WPGA, and NCAA
America is Jack Johnson, Ali, Joe Montana, Gretzky, Jordan, the Williams Sisters and Jackie Robinson
America is King James and no crown

 

America is the Harlem Renaissance
America is Langston, Poe, Giovanni, Sanchez, Angelou, Robeson
America is Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, Bebop, Doo Wop, and Hip Hop
America is Growing Pains, Cheers, the Cosby Show, and the George Lopez Show
America is Let’s Make A Deal, The Price is Right, Family Feud, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire
America is not smarter than a 5th grader

 

America is generous, opportunistic, back stabbing, impatient, and forgiving
America is too comfortable, too enabling, too gullible, too immature, and too apologetic
America is the world police

America is the current President and every President before him
America is President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, and Sasha Obama
America is you, me, and all of our baggage
America is rise, fall, and rise again
America is 1% power and 99% struggle

 

America is all of this and so much more.  We will never move forward if we cannot acknowledge our successes and failures, the good, the bad, the fortunate and unfortunate.

 

Let me end by saying that I am an American. I was born, raised, and currently live in the Midwest. My mother and father were born in America, so were my grandmother and my great-grandmother. This may be all I have ever known but this will not be all that I ever know. While most of us African Americans know that we are connected to the continent of Africa, we may never genealogically connect ourselves to a country in Africa. The place that kidnapped us we now call home. We are America’s illegitimate children trying to find our place in a land that never meant for us to be free.

This blog is co-written by Danny Cochran, Clarence Evans, JeVaughn Martin, and Antoine Peterson

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