20 Deep & Shallow Reasons Why I Still Love You, USA

Note: This is intended as a light-hearted response to the election results. There is discussion and links to the serious consequences of it towards the bottom. A more emotional response can be found here.

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USA, you disappointed me. You have completely broken my heart. There are many reasons to be angry with you.* Not the least of which is that Apple crossed the line by making new iPhones without a headphone jack (grr!!!). And you think it’s okay that more people generally go shopping on Black Friday than vote in elections:

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(That’s from 2014.)

You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me cry-laugh with rage and disbelief.*

But I can’t quit you, United States. The reason why I’m so upset is because I care so much.

You’re not all bad, after all.

Here are some reasons why.

20. You have the best pizza

Nowadays, pizza isn’t so much Italian as it is American. Sorry to tell you, but no one does pizza like the United States New York (OKAY FINE CHICAGO YOU TOO). It’s something about the water. We’re just special.

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Nick’s thin-crust pizza in Forest Hills, Queens. Best pizza I know.

19. You are the birthplace of Starbucks

So, listen. I actually visit Starbucks about 90% more abroad than when I’m actually in the States, and I’m sorry not sorry about my love of it. It’s stupidly expensive, and I don’t buy anything except actual coffee (no “coffee drinks” for me since I was about 13). But I like the way it tastes. I like the atmosphere. I like the fact that I can sit there for hours without anyone bothering me.

When I was studying abroad in Athens in 2011, I had a really hard time being away from home for the first time. I was scared, lonely and painfully shy (though it’s hard to believe now). I spent most of my time studying in a gigantic, beautiful Starbucks. I will always be thankful to Starbucks for reminding me of home when I feel the most homesick.

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Gigantic cuppa joe from Athens

18. (while we’re on the subject,) You are the king of filtered coffee

I’m sorry Europe, but for me nothing beats good old filtered coffee. I miss making a pot and sipping massive amounts of coffee all day every day. I miss American-style cafes and coffee shop-hopping with my sister, Sydney.

Pictures circa 2010-2011

17. You are a major fan of peanut butter

My love of peanut butter is well-documented: here, here and here.

16. You lit up my childhood with Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon gave us some immortal circa-90s TV shows, cartoon and otherwise that I grew up with: Spongebob, Rugrats, the Wild Thornberrys, Cat Dog, Rocket Power, Hey Arnold!, Doug, All That,

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…and Legends of the Hidden Temple, an amazing and hilarious children’s competition show. My mom yelled at me a lot for trying to make my house into an obstacle course after I watched it.

15. You find any excuse to celebrate that you can

In Czech Republic, there are two main holidays: Christmas and Easter. And they’re awesome, but I miss the American autumn holiday season as well as our many other holidays. In the US, everything can be an excuse to celebrate and Woo! (HIMYM clip). Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween, just to name a few examples – though I must mention they are also huge opportunities for companies to make money 😛

14. You have Trader Joe’s

My favorite supermarket chain, which is Hawaiian-themed – always bright, colorful, and creative.

13. You can buy anything you want

For better or for worse, Walmart’s got anything you’d ever dream of needing.

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There are also any number of crazy food combinations.

12. You produced Kid President

This kid is so inspiring.

 

11. You have a wealth of talk show-host comedians

Jon Stewart, and now Trevor Noah of the Daily Show, Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report and Late Night with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, Ellen Degeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon, are God’s (and comedy’s) gift to humankind.

10. Oprah, Megyn Kelly, SARK, Beyonce, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob DylanRay Bradbury, Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale… (in no particular order)

We have a lot of amazing artists and personalities born and raised in this country.

Including these badass activists:

9. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Gloria Steinem, James Baldwin, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in this vein also very important to mention Sojourner Truth and Ida B Wells, Margaret Sanger, Amelia Earhart, Shirley ChisolmEleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Madeline Albright, Elizabeth Warren, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton

who fought and fight for peace and acceptance; for equal rights for people of color, women, gay and transgender people; for women’s and African Americans’ suffrage; for birth control and reproductive rights; and so on.

8. You did elect President Obama

For the short time he’s still in office, let’s give it up for Barack Obama, an inspiring and good human being who tried his best despite all the roadblocks in his way. He wanted to give all Americans affordable health insurance, spoke out against racism and gun violence, reopened a relationship with Cuba, and much more. Learn more about his presidency here.

7. You have amazing cities and beautiful nature 

Gantry State Park
New York, New York, a city where I’ve lived and loved.

Speaking of Obama, he added a lot of federally protected natural land. We don’t have a great track record of keeping nature safe and healthy and clean, but it’s still here for now…

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Panther Mtn in Catskill Mountains, NY

6. You preserve the right to freedom of speech and expression (let’s hope it continues) – one of my favorite parts of which is your vibrant spoken word movement

One of the things I’ve missed a lot about not living in the US is the opportunity I had to express myself publicly through poetry or song, mostly at Mike Geffner’s Inspired Word shows (“It’s not a series, it’s a movement”). This is one of the ways I got over my performance anxiety. All photos credit to Mike Geffner.

5. You legalized same-sex marriage in 2015

Though it took you long enough.

4. Planned Parenthood is still standing

An organization that has been providing free or low-cost women’s healthcare since the early 1900s- the first to support a woman’s right to birth control, which is still a surprisingly controversial issue in the US.

Planned Parenthood rally, circa 2011

Women’s rights are human rights. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Emma Watson think so. We still have a lot of work to do on this, but Planned Parenthood is working on it.

3. You produce an endless stream of Disney (and more specifically Pixar) movies

Disney is obviously more important than gay marriage or women’s reproductive health. If you disagree, just let it go.

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Show me someone who doesn’t like this movie, and I will show you a liar!

2. Diversity is your strength, not your weakness.

It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t live in or near large cities, or who spend a lot of time with people who look and think like they do. But diversity – having many kinds of people of different races, ethnic and national heritage, religion, sexual orientation, language background, and belief system – is the backbone of your society.

Queens borough, where I went to school, is one of the most diverse places in the whole world. This is what inspired me to travel in the first place.

Yes. You have a long and dark history of racism against people of color.

As recent events show, we have a lot of work to do to look this racism in the face, confront it, and try to understand it. Many people do not think racism even exists. This is because it’s painful to realize your country has a history of such deep mistreatment of others, and that you are part of the problem, especially if it doesn’t affect you (<–unpacking the invisible white privilege knapsack) or you even benefit from it. I’m not perfect either.

But it’s immeasurably more painful, scary, and disappointing for the people of color and LGBTQ communities who have been targets of white and cis-gender supremacy as far back as anyone can remember.

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But Americans tend not to take things lying down, and I’m no exception.

USA, you were founded on immigration. Different groups of people at different times, and most endured racist backlash – Germans, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Jews, not even to mention your history of slavery. It didn’t come innocently or painlessly, but today, diversity adds a lot of beauty and meaning to the life of your country. It makes a stronger workforce and a larger pool of ideas.

Major companies have started to catch on (Coca Cola commercial & Cheerios commercial), though not without controversy.

You are not the only country with this problem, but you are in a position to heal the divide, though only if you want to and work hard at it. And that’s the tough part.

Besides, without this mixing of cultures, I would have never learned how to use chopsticks brought my friends joy by looking stupid in public in an Asian fusion restaurant.

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Baby steps.

1. You made me who I am.

When I first came to Czech Republic, I didn’t know who I wanted to be. I was so excited to be here, I didn’t miss home at all. I loved the new European customs I was absorbing, and I was critical of the US – we don’t have free healthcare, the same job security, long enough holidays, paid sick leave, or widespread maternity/parental leave – but I wasn’t fooling anyone yet. I was ashamed of the stereotypes of my countrymen, I didn’t necessarily want to be known as one, but of course I was one — WHO WAS I?!?!

I am sometimes superficial and selfish. I am sometimes too loud in public. I like being able to order food to my house or go to the supermarket 24 hours a day. I am deeply uncomfortable with periods of silence. I don’t speak any other languages. Just kidding, I’m way cooler than most other Americans.

For better or for worse, I am an American. To Czechs, I will always be Američanka- or, to people who don’t know me as well, Paní Angličanka (Ms. Englishwoman). 🙂

Considering that freedom speech is being taken away in many countries (for example, Turkey), I don’t take that right lightly. As a citizen of your country, I’m not ashamed to speak my mind. I have confidence in my opinions. Democratic ideals influenced me to believe everyone else has a right to their opinion, too. I try to have faith in others. I believe I can achieve success if I work hard (ah, the pervasive American dream). But as always, there is more than one side to all stories.

USA, we are stuck together whether I like it or not. Though I’m angry with you, I will fight for you the best I can. I love you, but I don’t always like you.


*The KKK is coming backHate crimes against black people, Muslims, Asians – anyone who doesn’t look white. Trump choosing white supremacist anti-Semite as his strategist. His cabinet could include Ben Carson and Newt Gingrich, political nitwits who know as little about the world as he does.

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