What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Identities

A Stranger in Africa

Surrounded By Faces Like Mine, I Connected Not with My Long-Ago Ancestors But with My American Home

Janice Littlejohn, Ghana

By Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn
December 1, 2014

As I stood in the humid, dank cell, I found myself hesitating a bit, peering down into the cavernous doorways of the male slave dungeon of Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle. It was April 2001, more than a decade before President Obama would visit there. The worn brick-lined corridors told eerie tales of thousands of African captives held in cramped spaces, sometimes for months, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in their own excrement. That excrement, after 200 years, had hardened and raised the floor …

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The Hidden Life of Japanese-American Teenagers

Facing Exclusion and Internment in the World War II Era, Boys and Girls From Seattle to San Diego Created Social Clubs Where They Could Dance, Play, and Belong

JuniorMisses

By Valerie J. Matsumoto
November 18, 2014

Fumiko Fukuyama Ide always loved to dance. Being a member of the Tartanettes, a club for Nisei (U.S.-born children of Japanese immigrants) girls in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, kept her dance card full in the 1930s. Ide grew up during the Great Depression, sewing her own clothes, darning her socks to make them last longer, and helping out in her father’s Little Tokyo hardware store. She was active in school clubs and edited the Belmont High School newspaper, but much …

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Caught Between Gefilte Fish and Campbell’s Soup

I Loved My Jewish Mother’s Cooking, But I Also Longed for PB&Js and Mallomars

gefilte fish, food, Jewish food, Passover

By Hasia Diner
November 7, 2014

When I first gravitated toward writing about food and immigration to the United States as an ostensibly serious academic, colleagues asked me—and, frankly, I asked myself—the obvious question. Why food? Food perhaps lacked the gravitas and significance of subjects like political, labor or immigration history.

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What Color Should a Quarterback Be?

How James Harris Changed the NFL’s Marquee Role

What Color Should a Quarterback Be

By Samuel G. Freedman
September 22, 2014

An hour or two before kickoff on the night of August 15, 1969, a rookie quarterback named James Harris noticed a well-dressed man about a foot shorter than him approaching through the tunnel beneath Detroit’s Tiger Stadium. His 5-foot-4 height notwithstanding, the man was a former NFL running back named Buddy Young. More to the point of this encounter, Young was now the first black executive in the league’s front office.

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New Orleans Is My Second Language

We Lived in Los Angeles, But My Mother’s Songs, Stories, Cooking—and Most of All the Way She Spoke—Made Louisiana Feel Like Home

New Orleans Is My Second Language

By Lynell George
September 22, 2014

For a time, most likely between the ages of 5 and 8, I floated around with a secret: a dogged yet utterly erroneous notion that my family spoke a second language—on my mother’s side at least.

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