Jodi Anderson-Wolhaupter

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Jodi Anderson-Wolhaupter

Minneapolis, MN

American should mean that the great-great-granddaughter of a Lutheran, Norwegian immigrant farmer can choose to wear a hijab when her student of Somali heritage shyly asks her to wear one to promote Muslim women awareness day. Uneasy stares and parent complaints claiming favoritism for terrorist groups say otherwise. In my student’s shoes, I appreciated her bravery to live her truth in a society that often shuns its best pluralistic self. By standing with her American story, my own patriotism grew. American should mean “I can emerge.” I can be my best self and find support, no matter how long I’ve been here. American should not mean individualism; it should mean revering community dependence. My great-great-grandfather survived on the prairie by sharing equipment and labor with neighbors miles away. With pride for our farmstead of 144 years, my evolving Americanism sees it as a multi-layered place. Whose Dakota footsteps walked here before? Who will stop by our graves in the future, and will they honor our history? American should mean “one who makes space for the timeless voices searching for liberty and justice for all.” Or else, “American” will mean “antiquity.”

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