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Essays

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 )
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Earlier this year, we set out to gather your stories for a new essay series.

We were inspired to do so by the success of our year-long Race In LA series, in which Angelenos shared personal stories about how our race and ethnicity shape our lives.

In those stories, 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.

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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.

We’ve gathered several responses in recent months, and are glad to report that the new series is in the works. We’re calling it “Being American.”

We’re reaching out again, because we’d love to hear your story, too, as we continue the conversation about Americanness and who it belongs to.

We want to hear 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 continue to collect your stories, with the goal of publishing as many of them as we can.

Here’s how to participate:

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