Comparison of Essays by James Baldwin and Eric Foner

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The Identity American English
What makes you an individual and an American? The idea of what qualifies a person as an American is very vague. Eric Foner, in his article “Who is an American?” describes the idea of what qualifies a person as an American has changed over the years. There once was a time where the only people who were American citizen were white males that later became that all people living in the United States had the qualification of becoming a citizen. There are several factors, including both underlying and overt, that affect idea who qualifies as a citizen. Overt factors such as if you are here legally or if you have your citizenship certificate to more underlying factors like what you look like or if you can speak English. James Baldwin in his essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is” explains how the English he and his people speak is what qualifies them as individuals. Going on to say that, with out the language that they used to communicate with each other their survival would not have been possible. Both Eric Foner and James Baldwin talk about individuality and identity in their articles and arguing that the identity of a person is what gives the person their freedom and liberty. Eric Foner states:

Americans’ debates about the bases of our national identity reflect a larger contradiction in the Western traditions itself. For if the West, as we are frequently reminded, created the idea of ‘liberty’ as a universal human right, [West] also invented the concept of ‘race’ and ascribed to it predictive powers about human behavior (Foner 141). Foner implies America, as a whole, is a diverse country; the thought of each of all American belonging to a single, included group, is somewhat illogical. All American have different need and wants, different goals and ambitions, and can’t all enjoy the same “liberty” because of their “race”. Baldwin agrees with that saying, “The brutal truth is that the bulk of the white people...
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