"After seeing this, and seeing all the... histories and the stories that weren't told in the regular history books, I got to get a different view of what it means to be an American... and I was like, yo I'll be that American. I'll stand up for that as well."

Lupe Fiasco quoted here duringan interview on Chicago Public Radio this past January, as he joined the cast of "The People Speak, Live!" This one night performance "aims to bring to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who made the United States what it is today," according to the Voices of the People's History website.

When I read this quote by Fiasco, I began to think about how we all have different views of what it means "to be" American. In light of the 11th anniversary of September 11th, passing just two days ago, I think it is important to explore this idea. In the spirit of Zinn, to be crtical about ourselves, and those around us, about how the America of past histories is very different from the America today. How while we so often hear about what "true" American values are, espeically in the resent Presidental debate rhetoric, why is this discussion about what it means to be an American left to the rich men in the fancy suits? As we remember those who died on September 11th and lost their lives trying to save those attacked, it is important to think crtically about what you think it means to be an American, not what you have been told it means. So often dangerous, violent, and descriminatory ideas of past history are perpetuated because we do not take the time, or practice in, critical thought. The notion to challenge what one hears about America and its values is so often upheld as "un-patriotic". Wouldn't a nation of critically thinking individuals be vital to the success of a democracy, or as Michelle Obama recently reminded us, the future of humanity? Critical thought and self-reflection could only lead to important thoughtful discussions around so many of the issues that Zinn felt went un-noticed or represented in the dominant history narrative.

So, are we going to take on Lupe's attitude of, "yo, I'll be that American" or just sit quietly and let others do the critical, or not so critical, thinking for you?
 





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