On Being an American

My young friend Emma Mitchell-Sparke asked me to describe what I thought about America. Emma was doing a project for school, one in which she “mapped” American artists geographically and politically.

Here’s what I said:

“Being an American means that I have incredible freedom of movement on one of the prettiest pieces of land in the world, a region sprawling between two great oceans. As a country, the US is one of history’s greatest social experiments because it aspires to welcome people from all backgrounds and beliefs, encouraging them to live together. I believe that being an American means that you must raise your voice and encourage others to do so, both culturally and politically, so that the vibrancy of a democracy can work.

When it America fails, it does so because it is a capitalist empire with severe over-reach issues.”