Keyword: America

One word defined in Keywords for Children’s Literature by Philip Nel and Lissa Paul is “America”. This word is described by the shared values among US citizens, such as freedom, bravery, liberty, and democracy, and “Americanization” came to signify the degree to which immigrants altered their customs and values in accordance with the dominant view of Americanness at the time. The two pieces that I will be discussing, the book Meet Kirsten and the song This is America, have two very differing opinions of what the word “America” represents. In the American Girl book Meet Kirsten, Kirsten is a young girl who immigrates with her family to America from Sweden. Her family is moving to America to help their Uncle Olav work the land on his new farm. Kirsten’s parents believe that America will bring new opportunities into their lives, and that it will be a fresh start for the family. Overall, Kirsten and her family seem nervous, yet excited to begin their new life in America. On the contrary, the song This is America by Childish Gambino, speaks to the injustices that go on in America everyday, that people seem to ignore and turn a blind eye to. The song and music video bring up issues such as gun violence and injustices to African Americans, that have plagued the nation lately, while he repeatedly sings “This is America” as the violent acts occur. This is America has received a lot of public recognition and even won “Record of the Year” at the 2019 Grammy’s. Through Meet Kirsten and This is America, we are given two varying opinions on what the word “America” truly represents to different groups.

3 thoughts on “Keyword: America”

  1. I think its interesting to think about the different times that these took place. Meet Kirsten took place a long time ago while This is America is a recent song/video. I bet that during both times there are people who have opposing opinions on what America is and what it feels to be American. Good job!

  2. Cassandra,

    I think the connection you made between Kirsten’s story and the song This is America was very interesting. It is amazing to see America represented in two completely different ways, one that is very positive, and the other that is quite the opposite. I think that both Kirsten’s story and the song speak valuable messages about America, showing that it can be a land for pursuing hopes and dreams, however it can also be a place of violence and injustices. This shows that it is important to recognize all that America stands for, and not turn a blind eye to the injustices that occur. I thought your post touched on a very unique connection, something that I had not thought about!

  3. Cassandra –
    I enjoyed your comparison of medias you chose. I think this is a great representation of the thoughts on America. I think a lot of the values and feelings discussed in “Meet Kristin,” still stand today. They embody the American Dream; moving to America with high hopes of starting a successful life. I think this book shows the stereotype of what America is expected to be. On the other hand, “Who is America,” shows the realities of America being injustice and prejudices. Especially for people who are minorities or not natural born citizens, this song is especially relevant. Opportunities are limited, the focus of media is skewed, and a majority of people have become numb to these concepts.

    I’d like to think that one day the definition of America will turn back to the values and ideas seen in “Meet Kirsten,” but I’m not sure this is possible. What are your thoughts on this?

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