Unique Americana in the Modern Day United States
*Note: Americana refers cultural heritage of the United States in this piece and American refers to the demonym for United States residents in this case.
One unique thing about the United States is the diversity in culture, religion, race/ethnicity and thought. Diversity in political opinion is so American that every group that disagrees with each other accuses the other of being “un-American” even though both parties just really want to create a better country to live in. The United States is a complicated pluralistic society still learning to live together. American culture varies by region and by the person.
Like many other countries, the history of the United States is complicated similar to any other colonial settlement on stolen Indigenous land that used African-slave labor to build the structure of the country. Stolen culture and/or forced labor, these groups of people have made huge contributions to the United States along with other groups of immigrants. The word “American” means something different to everyone, good or bad. We’re just one big country on the North American continent with a bunch of different people and loud opinions.
One of the most fun parts about the United States is that the cuisine changes with the people and the amount of culture are in the country. United States residents love “Americanizing” and/or fusing cultural dishes. Whether it’s Cal-Mex/ Tex-Mex, Alfredo sauce (not really Italian), American Pizza, Soul Food, fortune cookies, Chinese (Chinese American) food and other food, eventually whatever’s made in this country almost becomes unrecognizable to the country it originated from. We could just eat burgers, fries, hot dogs and southern comfort food all day but why not just make something up?
Cold Cereal used to be only a “breakfast food” in the United States but cereal can be eaten at pretty much at any time of day. Whether in a bag, in a bowl or just out of the box, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, General Mills’ Lucky Charms and Post’s Honeycombs make a great snack.
iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Apple Watches are pretty much across the globe now but Americans love their Apple products no matter how expensive they get. Literally, almost everyone and their mom had an iPhone at one point but the war between iPhones and Androids continue to go on.
Influenced by African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, Hip Hop is the most popular music genre in the United States. We’ve had jazz, pop, and R&B but nothing as popular as Hip Hop. Hip Hop, both as a genre and culture developed in the 70s, primarily among Black youth residing in the Bronx. Today, Hip Hop culture has evolved and influenced the rest of the United States, if not the world. Hip Hop culture is the culture China loves but proclaims to hate.
Born in the United States during the ’80s, Sneakerhead Culture and Hip Hop culture are adjacent to each other. After arguably the greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan released his first line of Air Jordans, the world changed forever. Americans love rushing to shoe stores and/or getting online to cop the latest shoes. Sneakerheads have started popping up in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic in the last decade.
American Basketball and Football
While the rest of the world loves rugby, Americans love football and basketball, and occasionally some watch soccer/ fútbol or baseball. Football even has an entire day dedicated to it, Sunday. Food orders come in four hours late on Super Bowl Sunday and almost everyone loves keeping up with Basketball players in pop culture. We watch Basketball players on the court and their wives on reality television. Without Basketball, Sneakerhead culture wouldn’t exist.
High School Sports/ High School Spirit
Americans have so much pride in their high schools, enough to give them colors, mascots, and parades. Reporters actually cover high school sports in the news. We take grades 9-12 seriously.
High school is arguably one of the most important times in life for Americans. Some of us get into our first relationships, go to our first parties and go to our first dances. High schools across the United States celebrate Homecoming but no one knew why (alumni coming back made more sense in college). We dress up as celebrities or in school colors during spirit week, have a parade and watch our high school football team win hopefully before the Homecoming dance. We vote for a Homecoming King and Queen and forget about them just in time to focus on voting in Prom royalty before graduation.
American cinema doesn’t really need an explanation. We love our movie stars, glamour, the sequels and all the films we can binge on Netflix now because most people are too lazy to pay $10 to see movies in person. Everyone loves a romantic comedy, action film and/or horror film. In the past, we’ve had an obsession with wizards, zombies, vampires and post-apocalyptic dramas. Right now, we’re really, really into superheroes…
Americans love shopping! We love shopping so much that we dedicated a whole weekend to celebrate the season for shopping. The night after one of our most problematic celebrating family in the midst of the anniversary of mass genocide of our indigenous people, some families kind of just skip the whole dinner aspect and shop together because a family that shops together stays together.
Sweet 16/ 21st Birthdays
The legal driving and legal drinking age, respectively, are a really big deal to American youth because they both represent freedom from our parents or just to get lit. Instead of just getting our drivers’ license or having a casual drink at the bars, some of us go overboard and party with our friends.
Greek-letter organizations are probably most popular in the United States and a huge part of the college experience for some. American college students usually join for social and/or professional reasons. Some organizations emphasize brotherhood/ sisterhood/ a sense of family, scholarship, community service, cultural awareness and/or some other important pillar. In the United States, there is a wide range of Greek organizations celebrating the manhood, womanhood, Jewish culture, Blackness, Latinidad, Asian culture, Indigenous scholars, Queerness and other identities all over college campuses.