Two songs in my head from Two Angelenos from two different backgrounds and experiences.
“God Bless the USA” vs. “America”
One of the songs is by Lee Greenwood from 1984, a tribute to soldiers that I most recently heard at a Balloon and Wine Festival in Temecula. “God Bless the USA”
The “other” song (pun intended to those who regularly invoke nouns such as “imperialists” or “capitalists” and adjectives like “colonial” into their speech), is a rap song from one of my favorite rappers, Bambu. “America”
I don’t know Lee Greenwood. I do know Bambu. I know I probably won’t like Lee Greenwood’s politics, seeing that he is a Republican supporter. I do like some of Bambu’s ideas, but as with any or anything, I’m not in total alignment with any and everything he does or says.
I’d been having discussions with my signif other about being in America. She came to America as an immigrant child. Now, she’s “making it.” She’s generally very happy, and she likes being here.
I like being here and I’m happy to be here, but I’m not proud of anything.
I am an American by birth. I was born to Filipino immigrant parents. I’m not sure I would know how to navigate the Philippines, and I’m still barely sure how to navigate America.
I like being in America in the sense that I’m grateful for what I do have. My America has been urban America, specifically Los Angeles, CA. I’m grateful for each of things in the sense that daily life is relatively easy as long as you have “enough” money. I’m grateful for having enough to eat everyday and then some, a few home(s), water, some entertainment, no real conflict, access to the latest technological conveniences. There is a degree of certainty.
Now am I proud of being born here and legally being ‘American?’
Not that much.
Being proud of someone or something usually means they’ve achieved and accomplished something.
Being proud of America is like being proud of a tank. Why would you be proud of a super-powerful weapon of destruction? I suppose you would be if it eliminated people you hated/didn’t understand.
Being here and being American means I’m privileged compared to my cousins in the Philippines, that I can get ignored from jobs and social groups and lose out on career opportunities, that I have access to all these technologies and have been so since birth. Socially, economically, and politically, it means we tend to intervene in other countries, bomb brown people, take their resources, and pay them for cheap.
Is there any reason to be proud of that? Continuing with my “America as tank” metaphor, the only reason you would be proud is if you view other nations and people in them as enemies.