Nikita Melwani, 18/ Los Angeles, California/ Asian/ Indian
Stereotypes: "Indian people have the belief that your parents are super strict, and you're forced to marry an Indian person... there are very specific job stereotypes to what you 'should be'".
Inclusion: "I think it has definitely gotten a lot better, where you live is not just one race living in one are".
I pledge for an America that will protect me and will honor the differences of everyone here, not just a set of beliefs and conforming to it, we should stand for diversity.
Serina Li, 18/ Beijing, China, Manchester, NH/ Asian/ Chinese-American
Stereotypes: "Growing up in two different countries I have had very unique stereotypes of my race. In Beijing, I was raised in a very international atmosphere. However, after moving to New England, a lot of conflict dealing with my diversity occurred, my middle and high schools were 99% white students. People would make Ching Chang noises... made me uncomfortable in so many ways. But I have always been someone that would not put up with anything that disrespected my culture. Language is also another "stereotype"... there isn't actually a national language in the U.S....you need to adapt and try your best to understand others".
Inclusion: "The U.S. is supposed to be the melting pot of all kinds of diverse individuals, I haven't exactly felt like this is the case. Because of how internationally involved I am with friends and family from all over the world, contrasting to many other countries, inclusion of races in America is not quite realistic".
The America I pledge to be a part of is the America that is curious, accepting, and understanding of all cultural backgrounds. Not the one that is driven by fear and hatred.
Tovia Sobel, 18/ Burlingame, CA/ White/ Jewish-American
Stereotypes: "People do have stereotypes about Jewish people such having curly hair, a big nose, and greedy. I have curly hair but have not had people accuse me of being greedy because of my race. I don't think stereotypes based on race can ever always be true".
Inclusion: "I believe that we are more inclusive than 50 years ago but still have a long way to go. People believe that America is more inclusive than it really is. People still have a mindset that races are separate, they always say things like "all races are equal", but people from different races aren't perceived or treated that way".
I pledge to see all races as equal in America.
Nicholas Lividini, 18/ Ossining, NY/ White/ Italian
Stereotypes: "I've never personally been stereotyped but some of the stereotypes that are placed on Italians can be true".
Inclusion: "Back in my hometown I thought inclusion was executed well but once I got to college that mostly disappeared. Often times we don't actually practice what we preach".
I pledge to be a part of a country of freedom that my grandfather fought for. We should all be granted equity as claiming equality will not cut it in today's day and age.
Christina Conte, 16/ Ossining, New York/ White/ Italian, Irish
Stereotypes: "Yes, I think a lot of the stereotypes based on my race are true. But, a lot of the ones associated with minorities aren't".
Inclusion: "I feel we practice what we preach when it comes to inclusion of races in my own town because there is so much diversity here".
I pledge to be part of an America that welcomes every race and ethnicity no matter what.
Emma Tavangari, 18/ Los Angeles, California/ White/ Russian, Jewish, Iranian Bahàí
Stereotypes: "Since I am white-passing I would say I haven't experienced too much in the way of stereotype, but I have been the target of anti-semitism and xenophobia... my father is constantly being called an Islamic terrorist by Americans. I don't think any of the stereotypes are true, especially those based on looks- my father is not Islamic, nor does my mother actively practice Judaism, despite their looks".
Inclusion: "Race inclusion in America I think has really not come as far as we say it has- I think racism has gotten a lot more subtle, but it has not disappeared. I think that the continued use of racist structures and power dynamics in society permeates every aspect of our lives despite our insistence that racism is part of a historical past".
I pledge for an America that is rigorously self-critiquing, that functions for all and not for the few, and that is less about tradition and historical rhetoric and more about progress and dialogues about equality"
Ariana Cardenas, 17/ Ossining, NY/ Other/ Ecuadorian
Stereotypes: "I have experience stereotypes of not knowing English, not having financial stability, and people often assuming I am less knowledgeable. As a Hispanic Latina, I have constantly been doubted in my ability to succeed".
Inclusion: " It is preached that the U.S. is the country of equal opportunity. Often a hispanic person's inability to receive a higher education results in them having low-income jobs. Additionally with the discrimination toward innocent immigrants who come to build a life, they are immediately labeled as "drug dealer". It has been historically implemented that the United States has made mainly black and hispanic people minorities, making it harder to succeed and seek the same benefits as every other American".
I pledge for an America that isn't dehumanizing... where people with no resources are given the opportunity and should be helped to build a foundation of life and success no matter where they are from.
Kate Sullivan, 18/ Long Beach, California/ White/ Italian, Irish, Swedish
Stereotypes: "I have personally encountered the stereotypes of white people being ignorant of other races/cultures. I think these can be true to an extent of where they were raised and whom they where raised by (friends, advisors, teachers included). Growing up in a very diverse city and going to an inner-city public school, these stereotypes are definitely false. My peers and teachers were extremely socially aware. However, having family in white-dense areas such as Orange County and the mid-west, these stereotypes can be somewhat true because they are less exposed to a variety of cultures".
Inclusion: "In America, the inclusion of races is also very dependent on geographic location. Many states/regions tend to be more exposed to other races and are more conscious of a long history of a dominant white society that we need to leave in the past".
The America that I pledge to be in is one that upholds the values of the constitution, that every person is created equal. I pledge to a country that puts the success and wellbeing of citizens about all no matter what race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status"
Sabrina Piccirillo-Stosser, 18/ Ossining, New York/ White/ Latina- Brazilian
Stereotypes: "A lot of people personally get confused as to what my race is because I have tan skin, they immediately assume I am Hispanic. However, when I'm with my friends from high school who were all white, we became known as the 'white girls' and were always thought to live in nice houses, have a lot of money, and such. It was interesting to see the difference to when I was by myself or with my family versus which I was with my friends in school".
Inclusion: "In some areas of the United States, I do believe we have inclusion. From my town I saw that there were a difference in friend groups and where people lived based on their race. America is definitely developing to be more inclusive country".
I pledge to be part of an America where diversity is seen everywhere and in everything. I hope to see a new progression toward a bigger fight to solve separation between races, ethnicity, and identities of all types.
Anisha Chandy, 18/ Pleasantville, NY/ Asian/ Indian
Stereotypes: "Asian Americans have been stereotypically portrayed as "nerdy", solely concerned with academics. While I grew up in a household that always prioritized education and knowledge, my parents never forced academics on me and they gave me the freedom to pursue any subject or interest that I wanted".
Inclusion: "I believe that some parts of America are hyper aware of race and its many connotations, while other regions are more ignorants. Urban and coastal areas are highly diverse, exposing residents to the unique and interesting cultures of each race. Rural areas of America tend to be more homogenous, allowing for misinformation about race to spread and heighten resentment. Education and exposure are the key to making sure all races feel included in American society".
The America that I pledge to be apart of is one that does not hide or ignore the differences of others, but embraces them. I hope that one day people of all races will come together as Americans to promote equal opportunity and inclusion in our society.
The presence of a system of racial meanings and stereotypes, of racial ideology, seems to be a permanent feature of the US culture. (4)
Race was now established as a primary way to categorize people, simply based on the color of individuals skin, or their physical features, it was assumed whether or not they were American. New races were created as immigration increased, as specific markers for a race were provided with social meaning. Although the U.S. developed new race classifications for Indians, those from Europe, and African Americans, the Latino and Hispanic community was left out, preventing this group of people from being represented in a custom that America has been using to create a hierarchy of people. Even with our multiple perceptions of America today, there is no limit on people of certain races from becoming American citizens, yet by never including Hispanics into one of America’s most established customs, they were excluded from being added to the American family, even after they are legally allowed to be a part of it. The implications of this ostracization are widespread, as America developed into a country where all were supposed to receive free and equal treatment, Latinx individuals were consistently not included in the equation. Mother Road depicts this struggle, as William and Martin clash in their representation of what family means, and how one is related to them. The gesture of creating a “new American family” apart from one that is only characterized as looking alike, or being blood related, is an important factor to breaking down the misunderstandings of race. When the William and Martin first meet, they are only connected by blood, William aiming to leave his farm to Martin, and Martin looking for a way out of the poverty he has been living in. Although both men place value in family, they immediately fail to see each other as such due to the boundaries institutionalized race has placed on what the “typical” American family is. Generally, Americans only believe they are connected with those who look like them, whether it is because that is who they associate their family or friends are, or who they believe have similar struggles as them. Yet, Mother Road used Martin and William to depict how we can redefine the American family as being much more than just blood relations; we are all related to each other through our experiences, which pushes back at the core of what race is used for in America. The comparison between Martin and William is a prime example of where established aspects of American culture, like the Pledge of Allegiance, fail to acknowledge the differences in experiences of people of distinct races.