To Define You is to Confine You

Dear America,

I am writing to you to tell you what you mean to me.  To many trying to define what you mean seems unrealistic because your complex but simplistic nature is hard to understand.  You would not be who or what you are without your strengths and weaknesses.  You resemble every single person that you contain through diversity and the beauty that you exude from your simplest state of being.  Just like a human, you have many parts that make you, you!  I accept you for all the mistakes you have made as well as triumphs that you have had to endure.  No country is perfect but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but in your exuberant, accepting, and most of all really freaking awesome culture.

I am a living-breathing product of your past, present, and future.  As much as you influence me, I have the same effect on you.  My decisions and those of my fellow Americans shape how others see you.  Or society is based off of consumerism; being appealing to the eye is so important to our culture that we fail to recognize the beauty within.  People see you in the same way.  For example, to the outside eye you seem pushy to other countries; always trying to get in their business.  You seem like you have a big ego; always trying to show that you are better than everyone else.  But, I see what you hold dear; it is your pride that makes you unique.  It is the way that you are not afraid to be different and it is your evolutionary past that makes you incredible.  Your present status has an incredibly bright future

The history of your existence has been build on some fairly shaky ground, discrimination, wars, poverty, and lies.  Just as ugly as your past is it encases a distinct beauty.  From music, technology, art, television, trends, and unique perspective of life you amaze the outsider.  By taking a step back and really tying to understand you I realize that I never will because your ever-changing culture makes you who you are.  For example, you have overcome but at the same time continuing to fight discrimination and equal rights.  I guess you aren’t as, “land of the free” as you claim to be.  It doesn’t seem right to constantly tell you what you are not because you are flawed.  It is your imperfections that allow people to see your beauty.

I live you, I am a product of you, and some would say I am even a prime example of an American.  The customs and values that are true to my heart are all a product of time and space.  By growing up in that era of you I am who I am.  You have seen everything, from the roaring twenties, to the hippie era, rock and roll, hip-hop culture, and whatever this era will be characterized as.  To sum it up, which is impossible I will define you as miscellaneous, you don’t fit into one definition, you don’t take on one specific meaning.  Your uniqueness makes you stand out from the crowd because wherever your people go others will know and recognize them as American.  Although people will see Americans is good or bad standing, that is their interpretation but we will stand up for you and defend your stature.  As much as we have put into you, you have given us so much more.  For your independence has allowed us, as Americans to define ourselves in anyway we see fit.  The ability to think and act in our own manner and make of ourselves the type of American we want to be is the best gift you have given us.

As individuals we are discovering ourselves and growing to be something more.  You have done the same, always trying to make improvements.  The steps you have made make you rise to the top, although it may seem cloudy at times there is a light in you that overshadows the darkness and sets you apart from everything else.  Acceptance of differences and mixtures of many different influences make you stand out from the crowd.  You are America and you are beautiful.

Sincerely A Proud American,

Kendra Campbell


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One Response to To Define You is to Confine You

  1. People Define America
    To describe what America means to an individual is very complex and unique to each person. There are simple symbols that are representations of America past and present. For my photo of America I chose to take a very cliché approach to it. This photo was taken in the heart of downtown Sacramento, Ca in April 2013. Sacramento is the state capitol of California and much government-based influence comes from this city. Our nation is made up of unity, government, and the people. The American flag is the most common symbol of what it means to be and live an “American” lifestyle. America is portrayed as the home of the free and the land of the brave. The flag shows the pride and soul of this great country. This is why I believe that there is no distinct way to represent America because it is not set in stone. Our country is extremely diverse with many cultures and cultural influences; this is what makes America America. It is the simple fact that our society and country are extremely difficult to describe. We are a country of people of all kinds and characteristics. We are a country of failure and success. The clouds show a dark side to America but the sun takes over and represents the triumphs. We are a country as individual as its people because people define a society/culture.
    The first United States flag was made in 1777 with thirteen stars to represent the thirteen colonies and thirteen stripes. Since then many more states have been added with the grand total of 50. The flag in the picture is red, white, and blue consisting of 50 stars and thirteen stripes. The colors of the flag are representative to the core values of what our country is based off of. Red takes on the symbolism of valor, blue represents vigilance and justice, and the white embodies innocence and purity (“History”).
    In Stuart Hall’s piece Representation it is discusses that the meaning to an object has no real “truth” until it is placed in a certain discourse (Hall 45; “The”). Having knowledge about the object gives it meaning, this changes based on time and space and also the observers personal experiences. Therefore, what the flag might mean to one can drastically change based on another individuals opinions and understandings. I am proud to be am American, whatever it means to be one. The flag is the best way to represent the differences and diversity of America based on its history and many interpretations associated to what America means. People can take what they want from this image that is the paradox to it. It seems so simple to place a meaning to it to one, but to another the meaning is different. Uniqueness in opinion and perspective is what is being portrayed though the manifesto and the meaning of the image.

    Works Cited

    Hall, Stuart. “The Work of Representation” Representation: Cultural Representations and
    Signifying Practices. Ed. Stuart Hall. London: Sage, 1997. 15-30

    “Hisory of the American Flag.” 2012. USA Flag Site. 30 April 2013. .

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