I am American
Please can we start again
I have your passport.
I mean I have a passport that looks like yours. Citizenship too. I don’t know why you decided I was still too other to make my home in the country of my birth. It’s left me feeling stateless.
You were destroying yourselves while you were destroying me and you didn’t stop to look at what you were doing, no, not once.
I got nothing
But mounting debt and fear
We scratch our heads
Wondering how we got here
I can tell you exactly how you got here. You circled the wagons. Success was American. Misfortune was Other. Only now you have to look around and admit that you’ve had misfortune, too. Does that make you Other like me?
Why does it take conscious effort to embrace each other in a time of pain? What happened to community? Why am I shocked to the core when I see it happening? It shouldn’t be this way, land that bore me. I disown you so often because you disowned me first. My dad gave you the best of himself and his daughter you met with scorn because she was the product of that life spent serving.
Twenty-one years later, the lyrics of this song feel like they could fit me. America, I am American. What are we doing? I can say “we”.
There are Americans by birth and by adoption who are trying to counter the model you gave me. I embrace them. I reject, rather, the cruelty of the irresponsibly prosperous, who forget you were ever anything else the second you get yours. Someday you may need help, and I will be there. You will never acknowledge what you did and I will help you anyway. Someday you will see how stupid you were, long after anyone could write it off as kids being kids. Someday you will become sensitive to the pain you caused.
Then I will hold you when you cry like you didn’t hold me. This is how I’ll pay it forward, what love I have been shown.