What does it mean to be an American?

We asked writers how they define the “American,” and what that word means to them. The answers often contradict each other, much like the diverse experiences of American lives. Watch the videos below, keeping in mind that each view only represents one small part of the fabric of the United States.

Julissa Arce

“But more and more as I’ve discovered the HISTORY of my people in this country, I have come to understand that we have been AMERICAN since before the United States of America even EXISTED, because we were here even before that happened.”

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Pablo Cartaya

“It is my right to be ANGRY when I want to be. It is my right to be HAPPY when I want to be. It is my right to LOVE and to show RESPECT and also to be FED UP.”

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Viet Thanh Nguyen

“One of the ultimate EXPRESSIONS of our American identity is to be able to do both those things, to be PROUD of who we are and to also recognize what we have done WRONG, and to believe that we should be able to address these flaws, these failures, and make ourselves BETTER.”

Learn more about Viet