So I was thinking about a song today, particularly God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood. Have you ever thought about this song? The first two lines alone are difficult. Let’s begin at the beginning.
“Proud to be an American” Well yes, I am indeed. I am also proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. These are two very different things. What does it say about U.S. Citizens that we make sole claim to being “Americans”? It is very true that someone from Mexico, Brazil, or Argentina are all Americans. And yet we fell justified in saying this. That is not a part I am proud of.
“Where at least I know I’m free” I see, well this is an emotional line for citizens of the U.S. because we place such high priority on freedom. Of course have you ever really thought about this? Perhaps this line is true for Lee Greenwood as a rich, white, heterosexual male, but what happens when we view it from a different perspective? This freedom we love so much doesn’t seem so free.
For example, tell the woman who every time she goes out worries about what she wears, where she parks, which way she walks, what she carries, what she drinks, and more that she is free. Tell the gay man that is given strange looks that make him uncomfortable for P.D.A. With his partner whom he cannot marry that he is free. Tell the Muslim person who isn’t allowed to wear their traditional clothes to work because they are not “business” and can’t take time from work to say their prayers that they are free. Tell the Jewish person who has to take extra time off from work in order to celebrate their religious holidays while they watch their Christian co-workers not have to do the same that they are free.
We claim The U.S. To be the great melting pot or mixed salad, depending on your metaphor, but we only accept it openly if it is of the heterosexual, European, christian tradition. When was the last time you told someone they had a beautiful accent rather than commenting to your friends later about “how funny they sound.”
When was the last time you listened to someone else’s story and tried to understand it rather than dismissing it?