What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Imperfect Union

LeBron James Is America

Grappling With the Tension Between the Comforts of Home and the Pursuit of Opportunity Elsewhere—and Getting Grief For It—Is a National Tradition

Cleveland Cavaliers fans in Ohio wear shirts expressing their disappointment towards LeBron James, who was with the Cavaliers for seven years before leaving to play for the Miami Heat

By Gregory Rodriguez
July 18, 2014

Every schoolchild in America should have to read LeBron James’ marvelously hokey essay in Sports Illustrated explaining why he’s going home to northeast Ohio. Before that, of course, they should watch a brief clip of 2010’s infamous The Decision special on ESPN. Four years ago this month, the NBA superstar announced he was leaving Cleveland and “taking [his] talents to South Beach” where he thought he would have the best “opportunity” to win championships.


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Is Diversity the Source of America’s Genius?

Living With People Who Don’t Think and Act Like Us Requires Hard Work, Good Humor—and Extra Brainpower

Is Diversity the Source of Americas Genius

By Gregory Rodriguez
July 7, 2014

An Irishman, a Jew, and a Mexican walk into a bar. It’s a classic set-up line for a classic American joke. But it’s also a means of coping with our diversity.

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Are Politics Making Americans Boring?

The World’s Most Diverse, Innovative, and Surprising Nation Is in Danger of Becoming Entirely Predictable

Sasha Obama, younger daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama, watches inaugural parade in Washington

By Gregory Rodriguez
June 23, 2014

America—arguably the world’s most diverse, innovative, and surprising nation—is becoming a lot more predictable. And boring.

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Want to Save Newspapers?

Then Journalists Need to Grow Up. Being America’s Watchdog Is Critical, But It Isn’t the Press’s Most Important Obligation

Want to Save Newspapers

By Gregory Rodriguez
June 9, 2014

Newspapers are in trouble. Not just because of the Internet and advertising and subscriptions. But because, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center poll, only 28 percent of Americans think that journalists contribute a lot to society’s well-being.

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Is Memorial Day About Grief, Glory, or Hot Dogs?

To Understand America’s Most Confusing Holiday, You’ve Got to Ponder Why We Get the Day Off in the First Place

Is Memorial Day About Grief Glory or Hot Dogs

By Gregory Rodriguez
May 25, 2014

Memorial Day is one of America’s most confusing holidays. Depending on the celebrant, it can be a day of grief, glory—or backyard barbecues.

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Why Are Americans So Obsessed with Genealogy?

How Studying the Family Tree—Long the Province of Racists and Social Climbers—Became the Country’s Second Most Popular Hobby

Why Are Americans So Obsessed with Genealogy

By Gregory Rodriguez
May 12, 2014

Alex Haley, author of the hugely popular 1976 book Roots, once said that black Americans needed their own version of Plymouth Rock, a genesis story that didn’t begin—or end—at slavery. His 900-page American family saga, which reached back to 18th-century Gambia, certainly delivered on that.

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Is Placelessness the Cost of American Freedom?

If We Want to Nurture a Sense of Place in This Country, It Might Help to Know Why We Lost It To Begin With

Is Placelessness the Cost of American Freedom

By Gregory Rodriguez
April 28, 2014

Forty-four years ago—well before the advent of the contemporary mobile phone, Wi-Fi, and social media technology—fabled futurist Alvin Toffler predicted a “historic decline in the significance of place to human life.” He was right, of course. And no country has proven him more right than the United States.

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Does America Need a Tahrir Square?

The U.S. Has Let the Public Square Become a Metaphor. That Can’t Be Good for Our Democracy.

People gather in Tahrir square to celebrate the anniversary of an attack on Israeli forces during the 1973 war, in Cairo

By Gregory Rodriguez
April 14, 2014

Maidan Square in Kiev. Taksim Square in Istanbul. Tahrir Square in Cairo. Recent democratic movements around the globe have risen, or crashed and burned, on the hard pavement of vast urban public squares. The media largely has focused on the role of social media technology in these movements.

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