So, as you can all see I did some major innovating on the title of our series here; if you’ve been following along or have seen any of the previous posts’ titles they are simply labeled “stuff”. However, I figured casually sliding the word “cool” in front of my former title was an ingenious compliment to the series;)
Here we are. Cool stuff about the United States?! But isn’t that like the biggest, baddest, most influential country on the face of the earth? I already know all I need to know about the United States of America, don’t I? It’s possible. Considering the education system there on top of the fact that we Americans don’t sit and reminisce all that much about our true history, there falls a good chance that you, good readers, might not know some things. And even if you do know everything I’m about to write here, isn’t it just fun to get reminded and “know” it once again? I mean, you can watch all of the movies coming out of Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean people are really as crazy and fun, or as angry on the daily as they’re shown on the screen.
A lot of this information anyway is geared more towards surprising the average reader far outside of my home nation, but who knows? It may catch some American eyes along the way.
One thing you might not figure is that the world’s biggest and most influential English-speaking nation is one of a handful that doesn’t have an official language, at least at the federal level. By that I’m saying in some states there are so-called official languages, but big brother at the center prefers to leave the “I speak:” category on its profile blank. Unlike lots of countries whose identities correspond with their official languages, Americans using English just happened to be the way that the Jenga blocks fell. Even though lots of languages have always been in use here, the people in power have mostly spoken just English.
… But we know that wasn’t always the case…
Speaking on that, the Midwest of the US was home to a great city called Cahokia. Now, Cahokia was one of the biggest cities in North America before colonial times and was home to the biggest man-made structures north of the Mesoamerican cities of Mexico. These pyramids that actually rivaled the Ancient Egyptians and the Mayans in size were at the center of a far-stretching Native culture belonging to the Mississippians — and yes, that’s where they got the state (and the river) from. It could be me, but I don’t remember hearing anything about that place in my history classes — looking at you, Ms. H -_-!
Besides Great Britain, or England depending on the year (I’ll get to that later), other European powers had claims in today’s United States, from countries like France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Russia, and then Mexico if you’re counting non-European powers, the Republic of Texas if you want to count the independent state they annexed (forcefully took), and of course the Kingdom of Hawaii and the countless American nations and clans that had been there before… and I’m probably missing a couple, so lots of influence outside of Britain.
If you want some proof, just look at America’s three biggest cities, none of which were founded by Americans or the British. New York was set up by the Dutch for their colony. Los Angeles was founded by a group of Spanish, Native American, and mixed (mulatto) settlers from New Spain, now Mexico. Even modern Chicago was established by a Haitian brother named Jean.
Besides Native Americans, all the other groups of people in the country are descendants of immigrants, some way or some other. This is a well-known fact, but it’s often forgotten that for most people none of their ancestors are truly from there, given that even the original people came over from Asia or sailed over from Africa (that’s before slavery, ooh, got you on that one!) but were still the first people to claim the land. Non-Hispanic white people (because there are white people in Latin America) are the majority today and have been for a long time, but minority groups together are expected to outnumber this majority in the coming half-century. This comes from reasons related to high rates of baby-making, more interracial relationships and continued immigration no matter what a border wall has to say about it.
Something we should know by now is that the USA was not the site of the first European landing or settlement in the “New World”, which by the way was likely Canada. Columbus never visited the contiguous United States, though the closest he got was Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Somehow, for years he was still celebrated as the discoverer of America.
As a control tactic, the country used a unique system, as far as other American countries are concerned, enacting colonization, annexation, and purchasing of nearby and foreign territories, something that many of its neighbors have been uninterested in or unable to do. Utilizing a mutated kind of dual imperial and democratic identity, it became one of the biggest and most influential nations in the world, and one of the few countries (only one in the New World) to still control overseas territories. Hey, we just happened to ace Colonizing 101 from Europe.
Sadly, one well-known thing about Americans is the drive-thru, frozen aisle diet. Though many people are health conscious and fit, still three out of every four men are overweight or obese, as are every three out of five women. Although the USA isn’t the most obese country in the world by percentage, it is home to the most overweight people in one place, mostly because the places that rank above it are tiny island nations. That goes to say there are a lot more fat people in Tonga than not as compared to America, but America’s fat people far outnumber theirs since Tonga only has a population of 110 thousand compared to the USA’s maybe 327 million. Why did that strangely sound like I was describing an elite army? As we know this comes from an irregular diet enriched with sugary, processed ingredients, and for many folks, alongside a sedentary lifestyle (sit down at work, sit down in the car, sit down on the couch, so on).
Its “health organizations” for some reason allow many additives and drugs in food products that are outlawed in many other countries, and don’t require the FDA to approve several product types including (but not limited to) health and diet supplements before being marketed. Now, hold on, when I said drugs, I didn’t mean they’re tossing barrels of cocaine into carbonated beverages (anymore), but some of the things allowed into people’s food, medicine and supplements by the Food & Drug Administration should be outlawed… In America, I should add, as they rightfully have been outside of the US, given that some of these legalized substances have been linked to diseases like, oh, cancer!
As a nation historically of immigrants, it’s often described as a “melting pot” society. In reality, its society works more like a “salad bowl”, or a large Panda Express box, a sort of KFC 5 dollar combo, if you will (hehe), where diverse groups of people, religious, social, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds all operate side-by-side often without really “melting” together. However, one place where the fried rice is known to cross over into the orange chicken is the dubbed “Capital of the World”, the N-Y, where the most languages can be heard in a single city out of anywhere else — about eight hundred, and some are more popular there than in their home country. Some other world centers include one of the globes economic capitals (the Chi, not talking about Showtime) and one of the entertainment capitals (LA) of the world.
Adding more to boast about, America holds many of the world’s top-ranked universities and colleges, including hogging the top four spots on the entire list.
Cutting these wonderful qualities a bit, individualistic values plus lack of support and general social pressure contribute to suicide becoming one of the nations top ten causes of death, linking one of the highest rates of mental illness and substance abuse on the planet. It also has the highest rate of imprisonment out of any other country, beating out Russia — we really don’t need to beat Russia in everything.
Ok, it’s obvious, they’re not perfect. Taking away some of the information directly above on top of having one of the most expensive healthcare systems there is, they do very well these days in foreign aid and support, quality of living, the economy, and global clout. Americans, like all people, are much more alike than they realize, with lots of shared history, culture, and values. The feel of northern California is different from central Alabama or in western Pennsylvania, but when you leave this culture for another it becomes clear how much in common these fifty states really share.
Because of its rich and diverse past, every state — and even cities within the states — each has distinctly unique cultures and identities, beyond just the license plate designs, and it’s good practice to visit and appreciate every one of them for yourselves.
Disregarding what’s been rolling around on more than a few news stations, the USA is home to some of the nicest, most generous, open, interested, and hilarious people you’ll ever meet (I was saving the biggest shocker for the end! Just kidding). We have to remember what as a people makes us so cool and unique, and not what sets us apart. So let’s do like in Jordan Peele’s Us and hold hands from sea to shining sea, and preferably leave out the doppelgangers and sinister rabbits. Deal?
America isn’t just one nation, it never was, and there’s a little space for everyone and everything in the land of the free. I thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful or at least entertaining to you all. Next time I should be covering those US territories I mentioned earlier. I’m talking Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and a couple more little ones that I call “baby territories”. If you have any info to add or something to point out, please leave your comment below. I appreciate you!
This was cool stuff about: the United States.
Vielen Dank für das Lesen!
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