What Makes an American?

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

While observing America and its social structure, being a college student who migrated to this country just nine years ago makes me wonder where I stand. Technically, I am no longer an immigrant because I am a citizen and I am able to vote, and I feel as though I have gone through a quick process of assimilation along with my siblings. Even though we have assimilated, in our household, we still speak our own language, hold our traditions and values of own culture as we did when we came to this country. When we are out in the public, perhaps that's when we show our Americanness, we speak English, eat fast food, go to movie theaters, or play sports. But it is very hard for a lot of people to tell what Americanness really means, in trying to do so many generalizations and stereotypes are used. I have a greater difficulty in forming a more broad sense of opinion about America's overall heterogeneous population, which is the most unique aspect of American culture today.

Many scholars and ideologists have tried to pinpoint what the exact meaning of Americanness is. Among these scholars are Richard Rodriguez, Samuel P. Huntington, Gino Speranza, and Charles W. Chesnutt. These scholars have many similarities, differences, and future predictions on the issue of Americanness.

Richard Rodriguez was a middle class Mexican American who did not endure the typical immigrant hardships that they usually go through. While growing up, Rodriguez felt different from the los gringos and felt a great sense of intimacy with his family, and most importantly their language. But this intimate bond was strained when Richard was BABU 2 forced to become fluent in English at school. This was the first step toward their families' assimilation in the American culture and their...