The United States is a nation comprised of people who effortlessly label themselves as “Americans”

The United States is a nation comprised of people who effortlessly label themselves as “Americans”. These same people decorate their front houses with flags, and wear symbolic shirts that show patriotism but really, what does it mean to be an American? Is it contributing to our country? Pledging allegiance to the flag and respecting laws?
As a girl who whose parents originated from the Middle East, I often stuck out from the crowd. Not only was I born with tan skin, dark hair and narrow eyes, I also wore a headscarf, was bilingual and subsequently had difficulty speaking english. Growing up, I was often teased for looking so different from others and although many say being different is unique, I did not feel “unique” but instead, ugly and unaccepted. I remember much of my conversations with strangers/peers started off along the lines of:
“Why do you wear that?” Although the question itself was harmless, repeating it to every one of my peers was exhausting. Not only that, but much of my so called “friends” made terrorist jokes and I distinctly remember a boy a grade lower than me saying:
“Don’t look at her for too long, she has cancer.”
As I grew up however, I realized that the questions and hurtful jokes stopped. In fact, I started seeing more girls that looked like me on social media, at supercenters and even in the fashion industry. I moved schools midway of my seventh grade year and my first day was not at all how I expected it to be. I thought I would receive a new set of bullies and unnecessary racial jokes thrown at me. Instead, girls came up to me and called me “very pretty”. To say I was blown away is an understatement. Never had I felt so accepted and loved in my life. Throughout the next year, it had seemed that the way that people viewed me had changed. No one made any racial comments and people had respected me, and my head scarf. By the end of the year, I had realized how much of society’s views changed, especially on diversity. It had seemed that in the short period of time, society had become more accepting of diversification.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As an American who follows different beliefs, I have the right to openly express my opinions and with our generation now, I think many are encouraged to, especially when it comes to diversity. With an accepting generation, many are inspired to come forward to friends, family, and loved ones about being different. An example of accepting Americans recently is same sex marriage being legalized. Merely the idea of being in a relationship with someone of the same sex in the past, would be looked down upon and many families would rather disown their own child then let shame be brought upon their family name. As a teenager, this makes me value America and our generation now because I am able to be a person with different opinions and still fit in with society.
Although America is becoming more acknowledging in diversity, many third world countries are not. LGBT rights are very limited in some parts of Africa and during the 20th century, Europe’s diversity came under attack. As a result, millions of people were killed and/or expelled from national borders. This easily emphasizes how much America has come to when it comes to differences.
All in all, I find that more recent generations really do define what it means to be an American. Diversity is gaining recognition across the United States and this change has improved for the better. Teens and adults feel more confident voicing their thoughts and views on different topics with a more supportive community. With a moe diversity society, we have a better understanding of who we are as people and I think that many times, one of the few obstacles we face is finding out who we are. Writer Marilyn vos Savant once said, “What is the essence of America? Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom ‘to’ and freedom ‘from’.”