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40 years since I called America, Home! Mati Karni November 1981

Updated: Jul 25

Becoming American means following the rules...


Becoming American means following the rules, respecting others, your neighbors, your friends, the people on the streets, standing in line, talk quietly in public, cleaning after you, leave tips, dress clean, park your car straight in a parking spot, pay when required to pay Not calling someone after 9 pm, treat others as you like to be treated, being straightforward and honest doing business, being on time, respect fellow men.


Being American is making a change, and making good changes. Being American is being welcoming, being caring about other people, being proud of the country. And it’s forgiveness. It’s not holding grudges on anything—I mean, where’s that going to get you?

Being American means protection by the law. Anyone can say whatever they want and, even if I don’t agree with them, they’re still protected by the law it’s my job to enforce. That’s their freedom. That’s their right.

Being American is red, white and blue and being free. It doesn’t matter what language you speak; if you’re born in America, you’re still American. No matter what you look like, no matter what. I want all girls, especially girls of color, to know that they can be a part of science. And more than that, they can be leaders in science. I want them to know that, because I know that I am America. That I am science. I’m just the part that people refuse to recognize.



Precisely because we are not a people held together by blood, no one knows who an American is except by what they believe. It's important that we do know our history, because our history is the source of our Americanness. —Historian Gordon Wood When people wrote "All men are created equal," they really meant men; but they didn't mean any other men except white men who owned land. That's what they meant. But because the ideas are powerful, there's no way that they could get away with holding to that. It's not possible when you have an idea that's as powerful and as revolutionary as a country founded on the idea that just because you're in the world, just because you're here, you have a right to certain things that are common to all humanity. That's really what we say in those documents. The idea that we begin the Constitution with, "We, the People" . . . even though they didn't mean me! They had no idea I'd ever want to make a claim on that. And they'd have been horrified if they'd known that any of us would. But you can't let that powerful an idea out into the world without consequences. —Writer Rosemary Bray The American Dream has no meaning for me. What it was founded on, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, in many ways I feel are used as billy clubs against minorities and cultural minorities, whether they be gay, or different in any way from the norm in this country. I, for example, don't think I'd like to go to California because of what I look like. I could be pulled over and carded, and I would have to prove my ancestry. And look how long my family has been in northern New Mexico. Ten to twelve generations!
Vicente Martinez
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