We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Tell Us Your American Story

We see a collage of six photos, 3 on the top and 3 below. The top left photo is of signs in Spanish on a business, top middle photo is an unfurled American flag with its bottom edge at ground level, in front of a sidewalk, top right are signs in Korean next to a traffic light with a sign that says Koreatown, bottom left is a sign in English and Chinese above a restaurant, bottom middle is a closeup of flowers in front of a flower shop with a sign in Farsi above it, and a small sign in English above that sign saying Happy Nowrooz, bottom right is a sign in Thai above a restaurant.
(Alborz Kamalizad and Chava Sanchez
LAist )
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

In 2020-21, we published our year-long Race In LA series, in which Angelenos shared personal stories about how our race and ethnicity shape our lives here in Southern California.

The question of what makes someone “American” came up often.

That’s not surprising, since a great many of us are immigrants or the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants. For some of us, our family histories in the United States go back many more generations than that.

Families like ours are integrated deeply into the history of this country. Yet as we heard from several of you, in the eyes of some, many of us remain perpetually foreign, even if this is the only country we know.

The definition of “American” is elusive. The word itself is complicated: We use it colloquially in the United States to describe our nationality, even though the Americas comprise most of the Western Hemisphere.

What we do know is that “American” does not refer to a race, an ethnicity, or a birthplace.

So we’re reaching out once more to you to help us continue the conversation about Americanness and who it belongs to.

We want to hear your stories: about your families and how they built new lives in a new land; about your struggles, successes, and contributions; about the things that make you American, and the ways in which you feel your Americanness is questioned.

We’ll collect your stories over the next few months, with the goal of publishing as many of them as we can.

Here’s how to participate:

Related Stories