LIZ HARROD

I.Am.America

In We.Are.America(2012) on November 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I had an interesting conversation with two of the girls here about a week ago, about a topic that is particularly relevant to me right now, and something that seems to be quite relevant, or should be relevant, to a lot of people I know: namely, Americans.

As someone who has largely lived abroad for the past four years, it has taken me quite a while to identify, in my post-college “adult” life, as an American.

While traveling, I have often had to confront the stereotypes that come along with being an American.

In Niger, I experienced a new kind of racism, where because of my skin color and accent, I represented wealth, excess and ego. There I learned what it was like to be ashamed of my home country and what, for a large part of the world, it represents.

While studying and living in Australia, I learned the value of being able to poke fun at my own culture, since “taking the piss” is Australia’s national sign of affection, and to a majority of Australians, American conversations are loud and largely dominated by the words “awesome” and “oh my god,” – read, easy to make fun of.

While traveling in Europe this past year, I started to take pride when people didn’t immediately recognize me as an American, thinking that I was an exception to the stereotypes that plague my country. When people who met me thought I was unique in my life choices, I took pride in being something of an oddity.

I was a bit off base though.

I am an American, regardless how many days I have lived there these past few years, and I’m happy to be one. Whatever I am is what an American is. My nationality, and any stereotypes that come with it, does not define me, I define it.

So back to the conversation I was having with my couple girlfriends. We were chatting about our own country, whether we want to live there, or live somewhere else. I admitted that I recently realized, that my country is pretty cool. I have been a lot of places and can say honestly, that it is definitely one of the best, for me anyway. It’s beautiful, diverse, and the people are, on the whole, nice – or at least interesting.

So I’m glad to call it home, and I’m glad to say I’m from there; but that doesn’t solve America’s ongoing identity crisis.

So many stereotypes and misrepresentations of my home country are still floating about, some well-earned, some accurate, others hard to prove. For example, I’d love to find out what percentage of American’s actually do have passports as most the world seems to think it’s something like 10%.

I’ve done a bit of thinking myself about what makes me American and what makes America America; and the thoughts, in addition to contributing to my decision to move back to America for the next year or so, have also kept my gears turning on a video project I plan to launch on January 1, 2012.

The title is We.Are.America.

Click here to check it out. I hope each of you will take the opportunity to make your own voice heard as well as encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

With all that is happening in the world right now, I can’t think of a more appropriate time to examine who makes America what it is.

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  1. Liz this is awesome so glad to hear about your experiences. I think God has blessed you beyond measure so you could see or experience things away from your comfort zone. Keep writing this is quite a blog!!

    Outstanding.

    Blessings

    Edward

    • Eddie, that is just the loveliest encouragement. Thank you so much for the comment!

      I hope to see a contribution from you in we.are.america(2012), and maybe we’ll get to catch up soon over a coffee!

      X
      Liz

  2. Liz this is awesome so glad to hear about your experiences. I think God has blessed you beyond measure so you could see or experience things away from your comfort zone. Keep writing this is quite a blog!!
    +1

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