What Makes YOU 'American'?

What Makes YOU 'American'?

Immigrants should not have to prove that they are American.
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The answer seems obvious enough; if you were born here or you live here, you qualify. And yet, the answer is constantly up for debate.

Directors Katharine Round and Ben Steele released a short film via The Guardian, centered around the city of Dearborn, Michigan. They provide five drastically different stories of life in the city, each story attempting to define American identity. Dearborn is particularly intriguing in how it grapples with this; it is home to the largest Arab American population and the largest mosque in the states. In addition, the impoverished population is overwhelmingly white.

Unsurprisingly, the documentary begins shortly after Trump’s presidency began; the contrast between the five individuals lies primarily in how the presidency affects them. For women like Sarah and Suehaila, feeling unaccepted by a community is almost commonplace. As the child of immigrants, Sarah remarks the sense of appreciation for America that the immigrant experience instills. Her parents left war in Lebanon to pursue a better life, and given that she has just graduated law school, it is evident that that pursuit was successful. She claims her American identity proudly; per the aforementioned definition, she was born here and feels that origin should not affect one’s right to that claim. Nevertheless, she notes that Muslims now experience an oppression of the mind here, as they are not allowed to freely be themselves.

As a child of immigrants myself, it is difficult to watch her story downplayed and invalidated by other voices in the documentary. They 'otherize' those who are Muslim, and admittedly see them as a potential threat. Conservative citizens like Bob Dutko are vehement in their disagreement with Islam, and describe violence as inherent in the religion. Another citizen, Rob, echoes the claim that undeserving people overseas are employed over those living an “American life.” He claims that discrimination is exercised towards him for his allegiance to Trump and that he wants the country to exist as it was “designed to be.”

His claim of an America “designed to be” a particular way is not too far-fetched. History demonstrates the systematization of white privilege. Whether in our incarceration rates, salary margins, or employment opportunities, there is constant reassurance that white lives are of greater value. For Dutko and Rob, the presidency has aired the concern that being American demands a singular narrative.

This documentary is a difficult watch. The horror stories of history emerge as an established part of our present. And yet, it ends with a montage of mass protest against the mentality that being American must fit a given schema. Dearborn, Michigan is a snapshot of a much larger conversation; immigrants should not have to prove that they are American. The idea of an American having a single race, religion, or class is apparently dominant, and as the film demonstrates, is dangerous. For women like Sarah, Suehaila, and myself, the need to reform that archetype is more imminent than ever.

Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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7 Types Of People You're Bound To Get Stuck With In A Group Project, Mostly Unfortunately

Who is in your group can often determine how the project is going to go.

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There are many different methods that teachers can use to get students to understand the material. Group work is often painful for a wide spectrum of personality types, as it means that students must work together and collaborate to create something that everyone can be proud of.

Who is in your group can often determine how the project is going to go, so here are seven types of people who could be in your group project:

1. The Leader

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The rubric is handed over and this person cannot wait to get started. Everyone wants this person in their group because they know that this person isn't going to let the group get a bad grade, and they will be really good at organizing and working hard.

2. The Shy One

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The words "group project" makes this person want to run away hide immediately. They'll do their part, but it's going to take a LOT of encouragement to get this person to give their opinion.

3. The Slacker

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The kid that hands in their slides the night before. The kid that needs constant reminders that the project is due in x amount of days. The kid that thinks someone else will end up doing the work for them because they just truly don't care. Yeah, you probably know them all too well.

4. The Clown

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This is the person that maybe isn't taking the project so seriously, but they do love the idea of getting to make the whole group laugh. They love attention so they're going to give silly suggestions and get the group off topic. They aren't always helpful, but they can be fun.

5. The Best Friends

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If you happen to get stuck in a group where two of the group members are "BFF's," you'll know it right away. The names will be read and the giggling will start. These two are gonna talk to each other the entire time, and not give any input, but on the bright side, they will probably go to Starbucks together and get their work done on time!

6. The One Who's "Too Cool"

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This person is far too cool for school, let alone this group project. They want everyone to know that they think this project is lame and that they don't care about grades. The perfect addition to any team! Right?!

7. The No Show

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This person's name is called on the first day, but they aren't there. "We'll just assign them a part to do when they get back" you'll say. "They'll show up when we have to present" you'll say. Oh silly, productive student, this person is not showing up.

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