93 pages • 3 hours readAmerica Ferrera
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“They don’t care about us. It’s just Americans like you.”
America Ferrera shares when a classmate told her the government was only looking for Americans like her, thereby suggesting she was illegal. The essay collection grapples with what it means to be American and how divided Americans can feel when others force definitions and limitations upon them.
“Are there different words for different kinds of Americans? Am I half American? Kind of American? Other American? I am nine years old, and suddenly I am wondering what do I call an American like me.”
In grappling with what it means to be American, Ferrera underscores the trauma involved in identity politics and how devastating this can be for a child. She faced stigmatization as a child born of Honduran parents, and many other writers in this collection faced similar trauma. This essay collection affirms there are indeed various ways to identify what it means to be American.
“I believe that culture shapes identity and defines possibility; that it teaches us who we are, what to believe, and how to dream. We should all be able to look at the world around us and see a reflection of our true lived experiences.”
Ferrera upholds the beauty in differences. What once seemed normal in movies and TV, like homogenized white culture, has made way for the inclusion of different cultures and identities. This inclusion helps people see themselves in media and recognize their stories deserve a voice.