America, the Best Country next to 10 Others. Is America the best country in the world? I mean, shoot, we’ve touted that for years now. Isn’t America the best country to live in? Don’t we have the best healthcare, judicial system, food, educational system, & Jesus? After all, God did “Bless America” didn’t he? H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks yeah He did!
Well, let’s begin; first, if you refer to the U.S. as just “America” you are ethnocentrically incorrect. America is not just the United States it’s the continent of America: Canada, Mexico, and then there’s South America—which is a whole other “American.” In fact, many other countries—and ethnicities for that matter—equate “American” with being White. The word “Americano” in Spanish refers to White people. So for me, “American” and “America” is a complex word. Most in scholarly literature refer to our country as the U.S. (Trust me, more on this later, but we must move on)
Second, over the last decade or so the U.S. has been loosing its “grip” as the number one spot. Sure, we here in the U.S. want to think of ourselves as number 1’s, but the reality is that the tide is changing.
About 4 years ago when I was in grad school, I met a woman who had come from Indonesia. She told me that she had been training to do missions here in the U.S. and that after graduation, her new mission field was the U.S. and that her church back in Indonesia had sent her. Whoa! Wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be the ones sending? Aren’t we supposed to be the one’s helping those there heathens? How can the helper need help? What?
It’s just something interesting that I wanted to begin with; this is something I will be pondering as I move forward here. An Op-Ed piece in the New York times the other day by Roger Cohen title “The World Is Upside Down” illuminated some great issues that we here in the U.S. are going to have to contend with.
I think the days of saying “We’re number 1” are numbered. We are one of the few nations that don’t require its citizens to learn a foreign language. Now, I realize that some colleges do and some private schools, but by in large, we here in the U.S. unashamedly expect people to speak English, after all, it is Jesus’ languageJ.
Moreover, often times the word “American” often gets connected with White & Christian. As a multi-ethnic male, I resent that. In Spanish, when the word “American” is used, it often refers to White people. It gets hard for me, a male of color, to only be identified as just an “American.” I am so much more than that. White’s who have yet to deal with their White privilege and White racism will often say, “Why can’t you just be an American? You don’t live in Africa and don’t know anyone from there!” This is the typical response of White supremacy. Now, when I say White supremacy, I’m not talking about the KKK, Neo Nazi groups, or Nazi hate groups. I’m talking about White people who are upright citizens, church goers, people who believe they are “moral,” and people who are not trying to initiate violence and hate. Yet, these are White’s who are completely ignorant to race issues, intercultural communication, & the history of race relations here in the U.S. These are Whites that continue to promote White as the pinnacle of civilization, believe they are excused from being an ethnic group, see culture as “those peoples” thing, and have little to no understanding of their own cultural/ ethnic heritage all the while continuing to remain ignorant under a very oblivious mindset—in other words, most of this is done unconsciously. Hence, the supremecy of Whiteness and the continuing of White ignorance to the issue of cultural/ ethnic identity. That being said, it becomes hard to have conversations with White’s who subscribe to this type of worldview.
So, is America the best? Hmmm, I’m not sure anymore. I believe we have hope for a better tomorrow with Obama, but Bush messed this country up for a real long time; not just domestically, but our name at the global table has been tarnished for a real long time! We’ll see what happens. I await the future with a little more hope, that someday, our country will be what we always dream it will be—the land of opportunity.