“20 Dollar” [M.I.A.]

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Flag of Sri Lanka
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AK’s and goat fry. Read the song lyrics below and learn some new English idioms, phrases, or cultural explanations. And don’t forget to watch the video and read more below!

War! War! War!

Talking about y’all’s such a bore

  • *Talking about you all is …

I’d rather talk about moi

  • “Moi” means “me” in French.

Like do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa?

  • I’m sure you know, AK’s, or AK-47’s, are a type of assault rifle, probably the most referenced rifle in pop culture. Also, saying “up in” someplace is just a more colorful way to say “in” someplace. The “up” has no real meaning here.
AK-47 – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre
An AK-47 from Wikipedia

20 dollars ain’t s*** to you

  • 20 dollars isn’t… Saying that something “ain’t s**” or “isn’t worth s***” means it isn’t worth anything, doesn’t mean anything, or it has a super low value/cost.

But that’s how much they are

So they’re gonna use the s*** just to get far

  • To “go far” or “get far” usually means to become successful. “You have a great voice! You’re going to go far.” It can also mean to escape a current situation.

Is gold, diamonds helping ya?

  • *Are gold and diamonds helping you? “Ya” is a popular way for many English speakers to pronounce “you” informally.

Don’t you like my bandanna?

  • A bandanna is usually worn on the face of criminals, like bandits. It can also be used by liberation fighters, protestors, or rebels, which is what I assume M.I.A. is referring to.
Classic Black Paisley Bandana | Apparel @ Hoo-rag
A pandemic-style bandanna from Hoorag

My stains hang low, on my shirt’s like “Ay-ya-ya!

  • “Stains” might represent bloodstains, as with someone who has been fighting a tough battle. This phrase probably comes from a song by Jibbs called “Chain Hang Low.” It’s a hip-hop song that came out a year before this one, so it might have influenced M.I.A.’s lyric here. Stain rhymes with chain. That last “ay-ya-ya” is just something you might say if you’re stressed, upset, or confused. Listen to “Chain’s Hang Low” here.

Got monkey brains and banana

  • *I’ve got… “Monkey brains” or “banana brains” is another way of saying that someone has disorganized and wild thoughts, or that they’re a little crazy. A similar phrase is something is bananas. “This beat is bananas!”

I’ll hit you with my antenna

  • She is talking about a radio antenna. To “hit” someone, besides physically striking them, can also be to figuratively strike them. You can hit someone with a song, with some advice, or with your opinion, for example. Basically, M.I.A. will “hit” us with her music and her style on the radio. Also, hitting someone with a thin metal stick, like an antenna, makes me think of beating or whipping someone for discipline.

I put soap in my eye

Make it red so I look rawr-rawr-rawr!

  • I can’t tell if she’s saying “rawr” or “raw.” Either way, her red eyes will make her look scary, intimidating, or really cool. “Raw” in slang also has these meanings. “Rawr” is the sound a big cat makes, like a lion or tiger. Could be something to do with the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group in Sri Lanka that influenced M.I.A.’s family and ancestral country.

So I woke up with my Holy Quran and found out I like Cadillac

  • The way she says “Cadillac” almost sounds like she’s saying “Allah,” meaning God in Arabic. This plays with the previous line about the Quran. Cadillac is an American brand and a representation of a strong, American product. This line might mean that she read the Quran (the Arab/Eastern world) and decided she preferred the Cadillac (the American/Western world). Or, she read the Quran (religion) and decided she preferred a Cadillac (consumerism, buying things, earthly things). There could be a lot of interpretations from this quick lyric.

So we’re shooting until the song is up

  • If something “is up,” that means it ends. This is represented in the phrase, “You’re time is up.” Your time is finished.

Little boys are acting up

  • To “act up” is to be bad or misbehave. Kids are good at acting up.

And baby mothers are going crazy

  • This is related to “baby mama” which is a very popular way to refer to the mother of someone’s child. It has turned into a pop-culture reference to a certain class of people that is uneducated, has lots of babies outside of marriage, and is usually lower class or has bad taste. “What are you gonna do if you quit school? Turn into some guy’s baby mama?”

And the leaders all around cracking up

  • *And the leaders are all around … To “crack up” here means to laugh a lot, or laugh really loudly. “That joke always cracks me up!”

We goat-rich, we fry

  • *We’re goat rich… “Goat rich” isn’t a very popular term at least in American English. I can imagine that it refers to someone who has a lot of goats or livestock (animals for farming and produce). So M.I.A. and the people she represents are not rich in money, but have lots of livestock and make money in a simple, humble, and traditional way. In lots of poorer countries or regions, people still live off of trading and raising animals. Also, adding “rich” after a noun means that you have as much wealth as that thing. “I’m not Zuckerberg rich, but I make good money.”

Price of living in a shanty town just seems very high

  • *The price of … A shanty town is a type of improvised community for people who are either poor or live in extreme poverty. They are usually made of wood, tarp and other plastic, or anything sturdy enough to build a small improvised home. In some countries, these communities can be more dangerous, hold gang activity, trafficking, or just have bad sanitation. Another word for the same idea is “slum.” Shanty towns often start as temporary camps or communities that evolve over time into permanent neighborhoods or miniature towns. That’s why the price (emotionally, or for one’s wellbeing) of living in one can be high.
Shanty town along the Mekong River - Picture of Sundance Riverside Hotel,  Phnom Penh - Tripadvisor
A common shanty town/slum, TripAdvisor

But we still like T.I.

  • T.I. is a famous rapper from the U.S. who represents Atlanta, Georgia. This line can mean that even though they live in poor conditions, they still listen to American music, or hip hop, and still like to have fun.

But we still look fly

  • To “look fly” is to be dressed really nicely or have good style in appearance.

Dancing as we’re shooting up

  • Again, the “up” doesn’t necessarily have meaning. They might be shooting “up” into the sky, or shooting up a place (shooting it a bunch of times). This is similar to the idea to “beat up,” meaning to beat or hit a bunch of times.

And looting just to get by

  • To “loot” is to steal. It’s more of an old-fashioned word, and in the U.S. it reminds most people of pirates who would loot other ships. Also, “loot” can be an informal term for money, in general. Of course, to “get by” means to survive some situation or to get through something difficult.

With your feet on the air

Your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it – yeah!

Your head’ll collapse when there’s nothin’ in it

And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?

  • These four lines of the chorus were taken from a song by Pixies, “Where is My Mind.” Besides that, it’s just a really cool, trippy, interesting thing to put into a song. Listen to “Where is My Mind” here.

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

War! War! War!

Who made me like this?

Was it me and God in co-production?

My Devil’s on speed-dial

  • To have someone on “speed-dial” is to have their number saved and easily accessible. Basically, it means they’re the first person you call when you want something or they are your favorite person to talk to.

Every time I take the wrong direction

All I want is one thing and that is what you got

  • *that is what you’ve got. Or *that is what you have. To me, it also sounds like she could be saying “and that is what you want.” Either way, she wants what someone else has or desires.

Sometimes I go lose my mind, and I feel numb

There’s 24 hours in a day

  • *There are 24 hours …

I used to spilt it 8, 8, 8

That’s 8 – work, 8 – sleep, 8 for play!

Now I give it all it takes

  • To “give it all it takes” is to put in full effort, try as hard as you can.

Got people on the Internet with a new lack for the intellect

  • *You have people on … People on the internet have created a new way to be stupid, basically (lack of intellect). It almost sounds like she’s saying “a new life for the intellect,” but I’m not sure. “Lack” makes more sense to me, it sounds more like what she says, and it’s funnier.

People judge me so hard ’cause I don’t floss my titty set

  • *so hard because I don’t … To “floss” something means to show it off to others. This was before the “floss” dance, but it might be related (?). Titty is kind of a controversial word, and to lots of people, it can be offensive. I just wanted to note that it is a woman’s breast or boob.

I was born out of dirt like I’m porn in a skirt

  • I almost forgot to mention! So “dirty” can refer to something that is covered in dirt and has bad hygiene. It can also mean something that is naughty, sexual, or sleezy. So “dirt” here has a double meaning.

I was a little girl who made good, well au revoir, adieu

  • To “make good” is to make success or be successful at something. It usually has to do with monetary success. “Au revoir” and “adieu” mean See you later, and Goodbye in French. In many places of the English world, France is seen as a place that is rich, fancy, and high class. M.I.A. repeating French words in this song can be a reference to how other people might see her as fancy and high class now that she is making music on the radio and becoming famous. For her, this was especially true in the late 2000s.

I put people on the map that never seen a map

  • *that have never seen … Also, to be “put on the map” means that someone gets discovered by lots of people. They become a landmark much like the Statue of Liberty of Eiffel Tower (since we’re talking about France).

I’ve showed ’em something they’ve never seen

And hope they make it back!

  • “Make it back” here means to survive some wild situation, to come out on top, and to overcome. Think of a soldier “making it back” home after a war.

Then the lyrics repeat.

Sooo … This song is close and dear to my heart. It’s a song that made me fall in love with M.I.A., partly because of the weird and crazy instrumental, buzzing sounds, and her ominous chanting all throughout the song. But the lyrics are certainly a big source of my love for this song. It’s kind of a random song and the lyrics touch on multiple different issues. Most of the song is about M.I.A.’s newfound success and international fame, and how she is dealing with it. She talks about her humble beginnings, places she’s been and how hard life is in those places. She’s made success, but she doesn’t forget where she’s been. She definitely won’t let her listeners forget that there are places in the world where people make a living frying goats or where guns only cost 20 dollars, even if in the world of fame and fortune, that cost means almost nothing.

What did you think of this song? Can you understand her struggle between ridiculous wealth and cruel poverty? Do you know what M.I.A. stands for? Let me know in the comments! As always, if you want to send me a message or suggest a song for me to do next, please send me an email! tietewaller@gmail.com

Oh, and please listen to this song!

Isn’t America all cold and snowy?

Oh, my friends from down south. Friends from around the equator, the tropics, the desert, and elsewhere … Chances are the U.S. is bigger than your country. And if it’s not, then you should know the answer. Here we go:

So this one’s less about Americans and more about geography. Still, this is a doubt (as stated in my brilliant intro) that I get from people who live in or around the tropics. The U.S. is up north, right? Just like Europe, Canada and Russia. These are places generally perceived to be cold and covered in snow. One thing that some people forget is that the U.S. is a gigantic country with 50 states. Not only that, but the States also cover just about every biome or ecological zone you can think of. I’d like to mention that even Americans fall into this, many from more southern states seeing the North as always being cold. Anyway, to show you what I’m talking about, here’s a nice map that shows the biomes in color.

28. Being Grounded – Beyond the Pail
from here

Now, that map includes Canada and Mexico, but you can get an idea for how big and ecologically diverse this country really is. The contiguous U.S. are the 48 states all connected to one another on the mainland. They alone have:

Temperate Forests (hot in the summer, cold in the winter):

  • think the whole eastern part of the country, from Maine down into Florida and over to Midwest

Plains & Prairies:

  • pretty much the whole middle part of the country, from Minnesota down to Texas

Alpine Forests:

  • all the Western mountain parts, including the Rockies

Desert:

  • that’s right, think of the Southwest, from Arizona up to Idaho

Mediterranean (dry but not a desert):

  • basically the California coast

And the southern tip of Florida is the only part of the Lower 48 states considered tropical.

The U.S. also has two other states. Alaska is huge, almost as tall and as long as the 48 states when you count all its little islands! Alaska is famous for being cold and icy, and it is home to the only tundra and taiga (tundra with some trees) climates of all the States. But even Alaska has lush forests and mountains.

And let’s not forget Hawaii, a place that almost never gets cold (except for at the tops of its many volcanoes) and is the only state truly in the tropics. Hawaii and Alaska, by the way, are full U.S. states just like California, Kentucky, Illinois, or any other. It’s a lot like how French Guiana (Guiane) is fully part of France even though it’s not in Europe. Physically, anyway.

513 fotos de stock e banco de imagens de Temecula Valley - Getty Images
Mediterranean climate in California (that’s right, Getty Image)

There is one interesting fact to follow all of this; even though there are several states with warmer climates, such as Hawaii, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, etc., pretty much all the states still get snow or really cold temperatures anyway.

As I said before, Hawaii has those tall volcanoes, and all the desert states also have tall mountains that get snow. Even the South gets snow in some areas due to mountains like the Ozarks and Appalachians. So if you measure it by states and now individual regions, then every state does technically get snow, even though it depends on the altitude in those lower states.

It turns out that the places as a whole that don’t get so much as a single snowflake are Guam and the Virgin Islands of the U.S. variety, which are both territories, not states, and are both groups of tropical islands. They are also low-altitude, which explains why Hawaii gets a bit of snow but they don’t.

For the most part, the answer to if the U.S. is cold and snowy is Yes, all of the states do get snow. But in many of the Southern states, snow is a lot more rare than in the North or Mountains. Even within many of the lower states, there are large regions that do not see snow like, say, Houston, San Diego, New Orleans, and so on. Also, don’t forget that large parts of the U.S. are either Semi-Arid (kinda dry) or Humid, so during the summer much of the country is blasted in heat. Much of that cold weather doesn’t come until those winter months.

Unless you’re in Alaska, of course.

For more information, please check the resources here below, as well as linked to the images.

Do you think the U.S. is cold? Have you ever been somewhere tropical or hot in the U.S.? Would you want to visit Alaska?! Please comment below or send me your thoughts directly! tietewaller@gmail.com 😉

U.S. biomes: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/science/glencoescience/unitprojects/climatemap.html

Where in the U.S. has it never snowed?: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/places-where-it-has-never-snowed-30142

Por que eles são chamados de “americanos?”: Uma história alternativa

Deixe eu lhe contar sobre a história de uma grande nação chamada los Estados Unidos de América.

Há muito tempo, havia um cartógrafo alemão chamado Martin que gostava de fazer grandes mapas mundiais. Ele percebeu que havia uma enorme extensão de terra ao oeste que todos chamavam do “Novo Mundo”, mas ainda não tinha um nome de verdade.

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“Não posso deixar este continente assim quando existem grandes nomes como África e Ásia.”

Ao decidir como chamar este Novo Mundo, ele pensou no nome de “América” ​​por causa de um explorador florentino de quem ele tinha ouvido falar, Amerigo, ou Américo, que identificou corretamente aquela terra como um novo continente, ao contrário dos exploradores anteriores. O próprio Américo provavelmente não soube dessa honra enquanto estava vivo.

Avance mais uns 200 anos; Os mapas do Martin ficaram famosos e o nome América pegou. Diversas potências europeias exploraram novas terras no continente “sem dono” e estabeleceram colônias por toda parte. A Espanha não é exceção.

As colônias vão bem por algum tempo, quando, de repente, algumas coisas mudam. Depois de vários conflitos no início do século contra os ingleses, holandeses e austríacos, a Espanha decide impor um monte de impostos ridículos, um após o outro, em suas colônias americanas. Isso perturba muitos dos assentamentos em todo o continente, como pode imaginar. Depois de uma pequena provocação pública, os soldados espanhóis abriram fogo contra um grupo de moradores da cidade de Veracruz. Novamente, não foi uma boa idéia.

Como resultado de altos impostos e tarifas, sem falar dos ataques a seus irmãos mexicanos, os rebeldes cubanos vão e despejam açúcar e prata que estavam a caminho da Espanha tudo no porto de Havana. Este evento desencadeia ações semelhantes em Santo Domingo. Em resposta à rebelião do Caribe, os portos de Porto Rico, Cuba e outros ao longo da costa da Nova Espanha foram totalmente fechados. Para acrescentar mais o fogo, a Espanha exige que os criollos (os colonos americanos brancos) em todos os seus territórios forneçam alojamento para as tropas reais dentro de suas casas.

Colonos radicais, agora enjoados ​​do apadrinhamento da Espanha, atiram e matam várias tropas espanholas enquanto tentam impedir as rebeliões de libertação no México e no Peru. Sabendo disso, a Espanha queima os portos de San Juan, Lima e Veracruz para intimidar ainda mais os criollos. Agora há um senso de urgência e união para todas as Capitanias Gerais e Vice-Reis que, até então, não sentiam um forte senso de unidade. Essa no México e no Peru se preocupam com as altas tarifas sobre as exportações. Os que vivem na região do Caribe e em Nova Granada se preocupam com o comércio de escravos africanos. Chile e Río de la Plata ficam de fora por medo de que a Espanha venha a impor graves consequências. Além disso, nem foram eles mesmo que a Espanha atacou em primeiro lugar.

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Nova Espanha, Nova Granada, Peru, Venezuela e o Caribe unem forças e derrotam a Espanha. Eles ganham independência total aproximadamente no mesmo momento. Eles funcionam no continente como Estados independentes, mas têm dificuldade em governar as pessoas, administrar suas economias e organizar militares eficazes. Após alguns anos de problemas, os líderes coloniais criaram uma convenção para decidir sobre o futuro de suas antigas terras espanholas. Eles reúnem os pensadores mais brilhantes dos estados, os guerreiros mais bem-sucedidos e os melhores estrategistas e políticos; os Delegados.

Semanas se passam de debates acalorados, compromissos insatisfatórios e tempo longe de suas casas e famílias. No final, os delegados concordam em unir seus estados como uma única nação, mas não conseguem chegar a um acordo sobre um nome para seu país. Apenas algumas semanas atrás, eles eram todos estados independentes com seus próprios nomes e histórias particulares.

“Devíamos ser chamados de México, já que fomos os primeiros a ser assentados.”

“Não. Nova Granada é a mais central, então devemos usar nosso nome. ”

“O Peru é o melhor porque somos os mais ricos.”

“Olhe para nós, Venezuela! Temos os portos mais fortes e acesso à Amazônia.”

Os delegados caribenhos decidiram ficar quietos nesta parte do debate. Uma coisa em que todos concordaram foi em não nomear sua nova nação com nenhum nome da Espanha. Com pressa, eles assinam sua constituição com “la Declaración unánime de los siete Estados Unidos de América” em castelhano – os sete Estados Unidos da América – com a intenção de alterá-la posteriormente. Afinal, não existem outros estados independentes em todo o continente que se importem com isso, e o nome veio de um italiano 200 anos antes que não tinha laços ancestrais com a terra de qualquer forma.

Mais anos se passam e os Estados Unidos expandem seu território das tundras do Ártico da América do Norte até os Andes, no sul. À medida que mais terras espanholas são liberadas, eles optam por se juntar (ou são comprados pelos) Estados Unidos em crescimento. As colônias britânicas, francesas, portuguesas e holandesas ganharam independência ao longo dos séculos. Mesmo o Río de la Plata e o Chile eventualmente se tornaram independentes de seus governantes espanhóis, embora pacificamente, ao contrário de seu vizinho maior.

Depois de séculos de conflitos, de guerras civis e movimentos pelos direitos civis, revoltas de escravos e resistência de proprietários de escravos, guerras napoleônicas, duas guerras mundiais e industrialização, os antigos Estados Unidos de América nunca acabam mudando de nome. Por acaso ou por sorte, eles não se dividiram e se tornaram a nação mais poderosa do mundo ocidental, uma das mais poderosas da Terra. Sua cultura conquistou o mundo com inúmeras inovações na música, ciência, cinema, literatura, esportes e muitos outros campos. No entanto, eles têm o péssimo hábito de se envolver nos assuntos de outros países.

Os países não espanhóis das Américas presumem que los Estados Unidos de América devem ser arrogantes; eles chamam seu país de América de forma curta, e eles próprios Americanos. Por que não estadunidenses, já que isso seria mais apropriado? Mas, vem cá, estadounidense não soa bem em espanhol. Para piorar as coisas, os outros países americanos aprendem que América do Norte e América do Sul são uma só continente, já que estão conectados. Mas los Estados Unidos argumentam que são continentes distintos, já que, como África e Eurásia, os dois estão conectados apenas em um ponto muito pequeno.

Sem saber disso, los americanos não vêem mal em seu nome e, sem saber, ofendem um monte de pessoas fora de suas fronteiras. Além disso, é prático para eles. Eles se autodenominam los americanos desde o dia que eles nascem e há quase 500 anos. Os pobres outros países da América gostariam que eles já mudassem de nome. Por que essa terra de tolos ignorantes, que nem mesmo sabem a diferença entre a Jamaica e a Guiana, chegou a “possuir” o nome do continente que pertence a todos eles? Não é como os nomes de seus preciosos países. Os nomes que foram dados por pessoas que não eram nativas da terra e que deram nomes de pessoas e santos que eles próprios nunca conheceram.

Os outros países continuam a questionar isso por toda a eternidade. Os Americanos, especialmente aqueles que não viajam ou estudam, permanecem alheios ao fato de que seu nome causa polêmica alguma.

Fim.

Os americanos não são ricos ou têm uma maneira fácil de ganhar dinheiro?

Ricos? Claro que não! Mas vamos por que …

Um equívoco normal do estrangeiro comum que vê um americano de férias é: “Bem, ele/ela deve ter dinheiro. Vamos cobrar um pouquinho mais deles. ” E tem uma boa razão para pensar assim. Basta olhar pro valor do dólar em comparação com qualquer tipo de peso, real, iene, rupia ou rublo. Os valores são extremamente desproporcionais. Então, os norte-americanos em férias podem pagar um pouco mais. Não tenha dor!

A questão é que você precisa observar quantos americanos viajam para o exterior. O fato é que apenas 11% de nós viajamos pro exterior no ano passado, sem contar o México ou o Canadá, que era ainda menos do que no ano anterior. Eu nem quero imaginar como eram os poucos que viajaram este ano (2020, Covid-19, etc.).

O limite de pobreza nos EUA é de US $ 25.700 por ano para uma família de quatro pessoas, o que representa cerca de 38 milhões de americanos.

Aqueles com maior probabilidade de serem pobres são:

  • famílias com pais solteiros em vez de casais
  • mulheres, em geral, ao invés de homens
  • crianças em vez de idosos

E há quase 4 milhões de deficientes vivendo na pobreza.

Indígenas e negros também têm maior probabilidade de serem pobres, enquanto brancos e asiáticos são igualmente os menos prováveis. Mas essa é uma tendência comum em quase todos os lugares.

Então, aquilo é só falando sobre “pobres normais”. E aqueles que vivem numa pobreza profunda e intensa? Bem, contando os americanos que ganham menos da metade do que é considerado o limite da pobreza, ainda tem mais de 17 milhões que vivem nesta zona chamada de “pobreza extrema”. Isso significa que passam fome, que não têm onde morar, ou vivem em condições terríveis, se não na rua. Isso sem mencionar os mais de 93 milhões que estão quase na pobreza; isso significa que se uma pequena corda for cortada, eles qualificam. Para acrescentar a tudo isso, tem ainda mais americanos que enfrentam acesso instável a alimentos suficientes do que aqueles que enfrentam a pobreza. Surpreendente, não é?

Tá bom, não se sinta tão mal; a grande maioria dos americanos trabalha e pode ter uma vida sólida, até mesmo viver bem. Devido à infraestrutura e ao sistema de previdência relativamente desenvolvidos, a maioria das pessoas pobres nos Estados Unidos não precisa viver nas ruas ou em favelas como em tantos outros países. As taxas de pobreza calculadas pela OCDE (Organização para Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Econômico) mostram que os EUA têm taxas de pobreza mais altas do que países como Chile, México, Turquia e Rússia, e caem quase no fundo de todas as métricas de renda em comparação com outras nações “desenvolvidas”.

Para explicar melhor, isso não quer dizer que as pessoas pobres nos EUA estão em situações piores do que os pobres no México, por exemplo; significa apenas que há mais pessoas na pobreza em proporção à população geral. Afinal, a América tem 2,5 vezes mais habitantes do que o México. Vale lembrar que a forma como cada país define a pobreza é ligeiramente distinta, então pode muito bem haver mais chilenos vivendo em extrema pobreza do que americanos, embora haja mais americanos vivendo na pobreza em geral.

Dizendo tudo isso, os norte-americanos, em geral, estão em melhor situação do que em muitos países, e nossa nação tem muitos programas que tornam a vida um pouco mais fácil do que seria em uma nação “em-desenvolvimento”. Ainda assim, apesar das altas taxas de emprego, a pobreza e a fome ainda são problemas comuns em todo o país, tanto nas maiores cidades (veja os sem-teto em Los Angeles) quanto nas áreas rurais (veja algumas das cidades não incorporadas da Califórnia). A Califórnia é um outro caso total, mas deu para entender.

A pobreza é um problema global que certamente afeta alguns lugares mais do que outros. Os EUA em toda a sua glória capitalista são, sim, ainda uns desses lugares. Se você consegue ler inglês, verifique os recursos para saber mais!

Recursos:

Americanos que viajam pro exterior: https://www.statista.com/statistics/214774/number-of-outbound-tourists-from-the-us/#:~:text=In 2019%2C there were approximately,of 41.77 million overseas travelers.&text=Excluding visitors to Canada and,in 2018 at 41.77 million.

Dados demográficos da pobreza e da fome nos EUA: https://www.povertyusa.org/facts

Taxas de pobreza nas nações da OCDE: https://www.statista.com/statistics/233910/poverty-rates-in-oecd-countries/

Uma análise mais aprofundada das estatísticas de pobreza nos EUA: https://www.epi.org/publication/ib339-us-poverty-higher-safety-net-weaker/

Locais de baixa renda nos EUA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lowest-income_places_in_the_United_States

“B.Y.O.B.” [System of a Down]

Flag of Armenian SSR
Armenian USSR
Flag of Lebanon
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Flag of the United States
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View video & explanation below–>

You!

  • Since the lyrics talk about war, this “You!” feels like a call to go and fight. It’s like the famous Uncle Sam recruiting posters, written “I want You!”
Poster I Want You, no QueroPosters.com
Classic “I want you” poster, from here

Why do they always send the poor?

  • Usually, by majority the poor, lower class, or undereducated are sent to fight wars, at least historically.

Barbarisms by Barbaras with pointed heels

  • “Barbarisms” are acts of extreme cruelty, like what barbarians (wild and uncivilized people) would do. Barbaras could be a reference to a specific group of barbarians. It also seems like a plural of the name Barbara, which could be a shot at certain women in power, such as Barbara Bush (George W. Bush’s mom). The “pointed heels” makes me think it’s about these kinds of women, too.

Victorious victories kneel for brand new spanking deals

  • “Kneel” usually means to bend down to pick something up off the ground. It can also mean to bow down in front of a leader. “Brand spanking new” means the same as brand new, or very new.

Marching forward, hypocritic and hypnotic computers

  • Talking about how governments and their intentions are often hypocritical and turn their citizens into “hypnotized computers” willing to do everything they ask, almost like robots or zombies.

You depend on our protection, yet you feed us lies from the table cloth

  • Saying how the government needs us (the public, the common people) to protect the nation. Yet, they “feed us lies from the tablecloth,” or since we are born. To “feed lies” is a common way to say that someone is being lied to or giving lies to another. A “table cloth” is often what parents use to clean a baby’s mouth.

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, ooh-ooh

  • This “la-la-la” reminds me of a happy, silly kid’s song. It’s like a lullaby (children’s song) used to make everything look okay and happy.

Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time

  • This line shows how governments try to make going to war seem like a big party, a lot of fun, and how “everyone” is doing it. It’s the cool thing to do.

Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine

  • Knowing this song is about war, we can guess that “dancing in the desert” is a reference to America’s recent wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and parts of Africa, and how the fighting often happens in desert climates. “Blowing up sunshine” references big bombs that look like the sun when they explode.
Nuclear explosion - Wikipedia
blowing out the sunshine, from here

Kneeling roses disappearing into Moses’ dry mouth

  • Kneeling roses can be a reference to dead soldiers, since people usually leave flowers at graves. Moses can be a reference to Israel or the Middle East in general, since that is where Moses and most of the Bible’s characters lived. These soldiers “disappear” into the dry desert, dying during these wars.

Breaking into Fort Knox, stealing our intentions

  • Fort Knox is a famous American military gold reserve. To “break into” something is to force your way in with intentions to steal or do something bad. The intentions of most people who go to war is good, to protect the nation, fight for freedom, etc. This line shows how the government just uses wars to make more money and corrupts the good intentions of the common people.

Hangars sitting dripped in oil, crying, “Freedom”

  • A “hangar” is a storage building for aircraft. This could mean that war planes are sitting and waiting with their engines full of oil, ready to attack and protect their “Freedom!” at any minute.

Handed to obsoletion, still, you feed us lies from the table cloth

  • “Obsoletion” I’m not sure if it’s a real word, which is fine. To be “obsolete” means to lose value or purpose. To “hand in” means to give something up or give it away. So the common citizens are being turned obsolete, or useless, by governments and big corporations. But we’re still lied to from the time we’re babies.

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, ooh-ooh

Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time

Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine

Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time

Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine

Blast off, it’s party time

  • “Blast off” is what you might say before traveling in a space ship, or before doing something really extraordinary on Earth. Again, they refer back to the “party in the desert.” Now it’s time to take off in our planes and go have fun in the desert (go to war).

And we don’t live in a fascist nation

  • “Fascism” is a kind of extreme right- or left-wing government that oppresses any opposition and practices strict control over the economy, society, and other social functions. The tone here makes it sound sarcastic, and the sentiment is that they do live in a fascist nation.

Blast off, it’s party time

And where the f*** are you?

  • Before, “You” was pointed at citizens, calling them to go fight the wars. Now, they turn the question back at leaders, asking “where are they?” When leaders send people to fight, the soldiers are often forgotten when they come back. You can see a lot of veterans in America suffering physical and mental injuries and who don’t receive the help they deserve.

Where the f*** are you?

Where the f*** are you?

Why don’t presidents fight the war?

Why do they always send the poor?

And … the lyrics repeat.

B.Y.O.B. is a very radical and anti-government/establishment song, common for this genre. “BYOB” usually is an acronym for “Be Your Own Boss,” or take care of yourself, start your own business, etc. For this song, it is an acronym for “Bring Your Own Bombs,” referring to the subject of war and destruction. The lyrics are very critical of bureaucratic leaders who make war and corruption seem fun, like a party. In reality, they often leave behind the people who fight and forget about them, making them useless in society. This recalls so many veterans who get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or lose limbs, for example, and can’t function normally in society when they return from battle. Ultimately, it’s a criticism against the U.S.A.’s corrupt nature making people do what they want, telling them it is heroic and for freedom, but ultimately using these people for their own gain. Deep stuff! And best of all, it doesn’t just apply to America!

Did you understand the lyrics of this song? Do you feel this way about the U.S. or your own country? Do you think it’s noble to fight for your country? Please comment below or send me an email directly. I’m always open to topic suggestions, critiques, or positive reinforcements! tietewaller@gmail.com

Watch it here!

Os americanos falam apenas inglês?

A resposta curta é …

Bem, o inglês é a principal língua de negócios, operações governamentais e a vida diária para a maioria dos americanos. No entanto, existem alguns pontos interessantes e talvez confusos a serem feitos sobre isso. Por exemplo, os EUA são um dos poucos países sem um idioma oficial. O inglês passa a ser a principal língua em uso por causa da longa história de imigração britânica no início e, posteriormente, a consistente assimilação de outros imigrantes na cultura britânica tornada em americana.

Apesar disso, trinta dos cinquenta estados têm um idioma oficial (inglês), enquanto os demais, assim como na esfera federal, não têm nenhum.

Washington, Rhode Island e Oregon:

  • Política “English Plus”, o que significa que há uma inclusão mais ampla de idiomas disponíveis para uso público e governamental, embora o inglês ainda seja o idioma predominante nesses estados.

O francês tem um status especial na Louisiana, assim como o espanhol no Novo México, mas não são línguas oficiais do estado. Cherokee também tem status oficial nas terras Cherokee dentro de Oklahoma. Outros estados com línguas nativas (pré-coloniais) em status oficial são:

  • Dakota do Sul (Sioux)
  • Havaí (havaiano)
  • Alasca, que tem mais de vinte línguas oficiais além do inglês que não ouso tentar pronunciar.

Muitos estados, como Califórnia, Arizona e Texas, têm políticas que facilitam procedimentos públicos e informações em outros idiomas, como espanhol, tagalo, coreano e assim por diante. E não se esqueça de que a cidade com maior diversidade linguística do mundo está localizada nos Estados Unidos. Nova York pode ter cerca de 800 línguas faladas na cidade, sendo o Queens a zona mais diversa.

Dito isso, é comum pensar em outras línguas como sendo muito populares entre as comunidades de imigrantes. Poucos sabem que o país com a segunda maior população de falantes de espanhol no mundo são os Estados Unidos da América, perdendo apenas pro México. São 53 milhões de falantes de espanhol, ou mais de 16% de todos os norte-americanos.

Quase metade da população das cinco maiores cidades da América não fala inglês em casa.

Em algumas áreas, como Hialeah, Flórida, Leste de Los Angeles, Califórnia e Laredo, Texas, é mais de 90% da população. Em uma cidade grande como Los Angeles sozinha, quase 60% das pessoas falam um idioma diferente do inglês. Essa tendência não se limita apenas a lugares próximos à fronteira. Outros locais em todo o país, como Connecticut e New Jersey (nordeste), Illinois e Michigan (meio-oeste), e Colorado e Nevada (oeste), têm cidades ou condados onde mais de um terço das pessoas falam um idioma diferente do inglês.

Idiomas com mais de um milhão de falantes:

  • Espanhol, chinês, tagalo, vietnamita, árabe, francês e coreano

Isso não inclui falantes de um segundo idioma. O crioulo haitiano e várias línguas do subcontinente indiano também estão em ascensão. Embora o inglês seja de longe o idioma principal nos EUA, existem muitos idiomas falados em todo o país. Então, não se surpreenda se você encontrar alguns americanos que respondem ao seu “Como vai você?” em Gujarati.

E não se esqueça de ler mais no CultSurf! Se você consegue ler em inglês e quer aprender mais, aqui estão algumas Referências:

Os EUA não têm idioma oficial: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/20/us/english-us-official-language-trnd/index.html

Gráfico mostrando os idiomas oficiais dos estados: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Official_languages_of_U.S._states_and_territories

Idiomas dos EUA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States

Idiomas falados no Alasca: https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol/alaska/state-language-or-poetry/english#:~:text=Official%20State%20Languages%20of%20Alaska&text=These%20languages%20are%3A, Tlingit% 2C% 20Haida% 2C% 20e% 20Tsimshian.

Idiomas falados na cidade de Nova York: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-languages-are-spoken-in-nyc.html

Falantes de espanhol nos EUA: https: //telelanguage.com/spanish-speakers-united-states-infographic/

Diversidade linguística nas cidades dos EUA: https://www.lingualinkdc.net/blog/language-diversity-in-the-top-20-cities-in-the-us

Comunidades dos EUA onde o inglês não é a maioria: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._communities_where_English_is_not_the_majority_language_spoken_at_home

Shooting the buzz bang

Today’s terms: hit / slam / bang / rock / hit me up / give a ring, buzz / shoot a message

No, I’m trying to get you to meet my buddy. He’s a producer.

Jonah was trying enthusiastically to calm Charles down on their way to the music studio.

—Come on, man. You know I don’t like to be around these kinds of people. I get nervous.

Jonah reassured him; —Yeah, Mike is a real scary kind of guy. A real gangster off the streets! Come on, bro. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll hold your hand.

Charles tapped Jonah’s hand away as he reached for it.

—Nobody likes sarcasm, bro, Charles protested.

—Everybody does!

Eventually, they drove up to the studio parking lot. There were a group of teenagers smoking in the front, maybe add the smell of spilled liquor on the floor. Everyone looked calm but suspicious. Although, when they saw it is Jonah, they all smiled and signaled “hello” to him.

—What’s up everybody! Are y’all rocking today?

Everyone nodded, made mumble sounds, and they turned back to their joints. Charles gave them a shy nod. Then the two friends strolled inside.

Once inside the studio, there were strong musical beats coming from all over the place. Smooth instrumentals blended with fast rhythms. The noise was chaotic but artful, all the same. Jonah saw one of his colleagues coming towards them.

Yo, my brotha! What’s happening with ya? Y’all just got all the beats banging today.

—Well, you know how I rock, Jonah. Who’s your friend?

Charles felt a quick pain in his belly.

—Oh, my name’s Charles. What’s up?

The man reached out his hand and gave Charles a mixed handshake and hug in a friendly manner.

—Classic Mike. Gotta show them love. This is my buddy, Charles. He comes from another country, but he knows a lot of English.

—He seems like he can handle his business, isn’t that right, Charles!

They all laughed for a few seconds. Charles then spoke up.

—Yeah, I get by pretty well out here. I just didn’t understand when you said “banging” and “rock.” I didn’t really get it.

—No prob, man. Banging is what I say when something is really good, especially when it comes to music. I can say, “This song bangs.” It’s the same with Hit or Slam for something that’s really good, like a piece of music, some good food, or even a cute girl, for example. All my music slams and hits.

Charles was reminded.

—Oh, right. You are the producer!

Correct-o! But that’s different from banging, like to be a part of a gang. I don’t bang. But, those kids outside, I don’t know. All of them look like they bang. Now, Rock is basically the same thing. If something rocks, that means it’s really good, amazing. And what’s cool is you can rock something, like a song, a test, or a sport. It all means that you do really good in it.

—Yeah, my buddy Mike here rocks as a producer, by the way, Jonah added in.

As they talked, a young lady appeared from one of the recording booths and made her way towards the exit.

—Sheila?

She turned around. Yep, it was the same Sheila that Charles had been out with.

—Charles! Woah, I didn’t know you were into music.

Charles puffed up his chest.

—Oh, yeah. I’m really into music. Recording, he coughs, Really into recording. What do you do here?

—I’m a singer, remember? I thought I told you when we were texting a few days back.

Charles scratched his head.

—Anyway, I gotta go. Nice seeing you here! Exciting, am I right? Hit me up tonight, okay?

In a hurry, Sheila left from the studio and into her busy life. Charles looked confused.

—Why did she want me to hit her up? Is that, like, sexual?

Jonah and Mike stormed with laughter.

—You wish!

Jonah then explained.

Hit me up, man! It means the same as “send me a message,” or “give me a call.” It’s not sexual at all. Well, I guess not.

Mike added, —Yeah, it’s the same as saying give me a ring, shoot me a message, or give me a buzz. It all means “call me” or “message me.”

—Oh, I guess that makes sense.

—Charlie’s got a girlfriend!

All three of them laughed and pushed each other around playfully. Oh, guys.

—So, are you gonna hit her up tonight? Jonah asked Charles.

—You know I will!

Despite his outward confidence, Charles still felt pretty nervous. Not to mention guilty, having forgotten so quickly that Sheila was a singer. He dug for a little more information.

—So, Mike. Sheila records her songs here?

—Yeah. Just a few samples for SoundCloud. Why?

—Is she any good?

—For sure, bro! Sheila slams in the recording booth!

Saying that something slams, hits, or bangs is saying it’s really good to the senses (That food looks slamming! That rhythm hits hard! This song is banging!) These are more colloquial slang, so not all communities across the country use them. Otherwise, “hit me up,” “give me a buzz/ring,” and “shoot me a message” are all pretty common nationwide to tell someone to send you a message or to call, though these terms are very informal. Using “bang” to talk about being in a gang can be a problematic word, so I underlined it. It’s best not to use it unless you really know what you’re saying, and most people don’t even have to use it. Do you know why the other terms are underlined? Can you use today’s terms in your own sentences? Share with me down below!

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference. Did you recognize the mistakes in this story?

Os americanos não são brancos? Quer dizer, a grande maioria?

Bom, essa é uma pergunta que não tem uma resposta tão simples quanto pode parecer. Por um lado, considera as cidades principais:

Los Angeles

  • quase 1,9 milhão de latinos / hispânicos, superando os brancos não-hispânicos lá

Chicago

  • tem mais de 840 mil negros, apenas uma pitada a menos em comparação com a população branca

Nova York

  • tem mais de 2 milhões de hispânicos e negros cada, embora os asiáticos não fiquem muito atrás

Atlanta

  • com quase 70 mil negros a mais que brancos na cidade

Nova Orleans

  • com mais de 100 mil negros a mais do que brancos

Houston

  • mais de 400 mil hispânicos a mais do que brancos

* Desculpe todas as cores. Só queria que você visse como nossas cidades são coloridas. 😉 *

Outras cidades importantes com maioria de minorias: Washington, DC, Saint Louis (MO), San Jose (CA), San Antonio (TX), Filadélfia (PA), Milwaukee (WI), Miami (FL), Memphis (TN) , Long Beach (CA), Honolulu (HI), Fresno (CA), El Paso (TX), Detroit (MI), Dallas (TX), Cleveland (OH), Baltimore (MD), Albuquerque (NM)

Apenas olhando as estatísticas de cidades individuais, dá para enxergar claramente como as áreas urbanas da América são diversas.

Apesar disso, posso dizer por experiência própria que, ao deixar essas cidades, você encontrará muito mais brancos do que qualquer outra coisa, o que atribui a 60% dos norte-americanos que afirmam ser brancos, mas não hispânicos, quase 200 milhões dos 330 milhões de norte-americanos. Agora, o próximo maior grupo demográfico seriam os hispânicos, mas essa também é uma classe confusa. Os “hispânicos” podem ser brancos ou negros, embora geralmente são mistos ou mestizos (mistos de brancos e indígenas), e a única coisa que os qualifica é serem originários de algum país da vasta extensão da América Latina. A América Latina nem mesmo tem uma definição sólida, o que mostra o quão confiável é esse qualificador.

Outra coisa que complica essa resposta é a crescente população de pessoas não brancas ou pardas. Como há tantos não-brancos nas grandes cidades, suas culturas costumam ser as que fazem os maiores sucessos no rádio, na TV e no mainstream. Isso, misturado com um ressentimento geral entre as minorias sobre o passado (e, vamos ser sinceros, atualidade) racista do país, gera uma cultura que é fortemente influenciada pelos ideais e prioridades de norte-americanos não-brancos, embora ainda tenhamos um longo caminho a percorrer antes que esses se dão um pulo para frente por completo.

Seria bom se os norte-americanos pudessem viver como um verdadeiro caldeirão onde todos se misturassem e se fundissem. Quanto à sua pergunta, apenas não se surpreenda em sua próxima viagem para Mardi Gras.

Se você consegue ler em inglês e quer aprender mais, aqui estão alguns recursos:

Cidades dos EUA por maioria racial: https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/blog/morning_roundup/2015/09/minority-groups-account-for-55-of-buffalo-s.html

Dados demográficos de Albuquerque e outras cidades dos EUA: https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/albuquerque-nm-population

Demografia dos Estados Unidos: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/united-states-population

Quem é hispânico nos EUA: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/15/who-is-hispanic/

Diversidade crescente nos EUA: https://www.brookings.edu/research/new-census-data-shows-the-nation-is-diversifying-even-faster-than-predicted/

“Lazaretto” [Jack White]

Watch video below–>

Oh, my veins are blue and connected

  • Having “blue blood” means to be privileged, an aristocrat, or well-off. There also might be a connection to Blues music.

And every single bone in my brain is electric

  • This reminds me of the phrase “hard-headed” or “having a hard head.” This means that the person doesn’t listen or follow directions, and they like to do things their own way. Having “bones in my brain” might be a reference to having a hard head.

But I dig ditches like the best of ’em

  • Adding “like the best of them” to an action means that you can do it as well as the best. “He’s a great guitarist. He can play it like the best of them.”

Yo trabajo duro

  • For those that don’t speak Spanish/Castilian: “I work hard”

Como en madera y yeso

  • “Like in wood and plaster.” Like he’s a construction worker, basically.

Como en madera y yeso

And even God Herself has fewer plans than me

  • Referring to God as a “Her” in English is not common, but it’s a rebellious way to break the idea that God is a male figure. A biblical reference, but he’s saying he has even more plans than God has. Very busy.

But she never helps me out with my scams for free, though

  • A “scam” is some plan that is discreet, undercover, or malicious, usually trying to trick someone or to do something you’re not supposed to. Again, referring to God as a female.

She grabs a stick and then she points it at me

  • This is like people who are outcasts or have severe diseases. People are too afraid to touch them with their hands, so they only touch them from far away with a stick. It’s like being disgusted or frightened by those who are different than us. It also reminds me of the story of Moses parting the Red Sea with his staff, for some reason.

When I say nothing, I say everything

Yeah, when I say nothing, I say everything

Transmission of Leprosy in the US via Armadillos - The Plainspoken  Scientist - AGU Blogosphere
some of the symptoms of leprosy, from here

They threw me down in a lazaretto

  • “Lazaretto” was a special kind of quarantine for people with a disease called leprosy. Historically, people with leprosy were secluded from the rest of society. This relates to him feeling like people threw him away into isolation, maybe because of his style or ideas.
Long before coronavirus, Philly ran a quarantine center for another deadly  contagion
An example of an old lazaretto, found here

Born rottin’, bored rotten

  • To “rot” is to go bad, like when a fruit or piece of meat is left out of the fridge for too long. If he was “born rotting,” this means he was born into this state of quarantine, or he’s never fit in with others since he was a kid. To be “bored rotten” is to be extremely bored. Similarly, a kid that is “rotten” is spoiled, or gets whatever they want even if they act bad. There are a lot of mixed meanings in this small lyric.

Makin’ models of people I used to know

Out of coffee and cotton

And all my illegitimate kids have begotten

  • An “illegitimate child” is one born out of a relationship that is not approved of or outside of marriage, for example. To be “begotten” is to be forgotten and left alone. It’s not such a common word in English nowadays and has more of an archaic or biblical feel to it.

Thrown down to the wolves, made feral for nothin’

  • “Thrown to the wolves” is a popular phrase for when someone is thrown into a situation that they obviously have no chance to win. A similar phrase is “thrown to the lions.” “Feral” means wild or like a wild beast. Also, he pronounces “nothing” like “nuttin,” which is common in certain regions and accents.

Quarantined on the Isle of Man

MICHELIN Isle of Man map - ViaMichelin
Isle of Man between Great Britain & Ireland, from here
  • The Isle of Man is a small island off the coast of Great Britain.

And I’m trying to escape any way that I can, oh

7 Reasons you should visit the Isle of Man
Isle of Man is actually quite pretty, here

Any way that I can, oh

Damn, I have no time left, time is lost

No time at all, throw it in a garbage can

And I shake God’s hand

I jump up and let Her know when I can

This is how I’m gonna do it

They wanna burn down the prison

They’re lighting fires with the cash of the masses

  • With the public’s money.

And like the dough, I don’t fall down

  • “Dough” is a slang term for money. Real dough (used to make bread) rises in an oven. “Bread” is also slang for money.

I’m so Detroit, I make it rise from the ashes

  • “I’m so…” is a way to compare yourself to something else. “I’m so Los Angeles, always hot and sunny!” Detroit is known for suffering a huge economic crash but has been steadily rising in importance again. This image of “rising from the ashes” comes from the myth of the Phoenix, a bird that burns and rises again from its ashes. Figuratively, it means to reinvent yourself, grow, learn new things, and come back better after failing.

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This song centers around the idea of a societal outcast, like someone with a terrible disease like leprosy. His quarantine, as if on a lonely island, doesn’t come from a physical illness, but from his ambitions and personal style. The fact that he feels isolated turns out to be positive, since all this makes him unique. There are lots of references from the Bible or that could relate to religion, since leprosy is a disease that was prominent in the Bible. There’s this idea that he was born with some privilege, but he acknowledges this, accepts it, and it doesn’t stop him from working hard or getting his hands dirty. Him saying he works hard like a construction worker in Spanish is kind of a reference to many hard laborers in the U.S. having Mexican heritage, or Latin American heritage in general. What are your thoughts on this song? Do you understand why he would compare himself to a lazaretto? Share your thoughts!

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Also, watch the video. It’s really cool!

Aren’t Americans socially cold and emotionally guarded?

So, this one is going to be more about my own opinions and experiences, though I did do a little bit of research just in case.

As far as the above question goes, the doubt about whether Americans are emotionally cold with others and guarded with their feelings usually comes from countries that have really (really!) open and social societies — places like South America or the Caribbean — or places that are super family oriented — the same places including most of Asia and Africa — at least to generalize. In my experience, I’ve found that many Europeans and Asians tend to see Americans as emotional, expressive of their feelings, and sometimes — in the best of cases — very giving and sweet. This doubt then, I would assume, comes from people in these very “open” societies that see the U.S. on the same pedestal as Europe or East Asia. I’m flattered, really! But yes, there is a difference.

America, much like Canada and other parts of the American continent in general, was constructed by very different types of people from diverse countries and even continents, that had to find ways to trust each other and work together. Given this culture of mixing and melding, many areas of America had to learn to be open and trusting of one another.

But, there’s always a contradiction;

Now, there are lots of Americans that are emotionally guarded, even seem kind of mean, but that’s also a cultural thing. Like I said, we’re mixed, and so we have a heritage of people that are very suspicious of strangers or that don’t share emotions as much. For men in general, it has been traditionally looked down upon to share your feelings, express emotions, and so on. This norm has been steadily changing though, and many of the younger people, especially, are becoming more comfortable with self-expression (just listen to Emo music or Emo rap). You all know who colonized us, and the English are famous for being sort of evasive emotionally. Again, to generalize.

Some factors that historically contributed to this were:

  • wars against foreign powers
  • wars within our borders
  • racial discrimination
  • racial violence
  • riots
  • creepy child abductors
  • mass shootings
  • sometimes our media/government/next-door neighbor has intentionally scared us more than need be

But we get by like any other people.

Another factor in this difference in emotional expression is a matter of East vs West. Eastern cultures tend to connect emotion more to family and community, while Western cultures link emotion to the inner state, meaning it’s more of an individual thing. Even though Americans in general value independence, individualism, and self responsibility, we humans are made to live in communities. We rely on each other for emotional well-being, and a society that’s famous for individualism is vulnerable to certain emotional setbacks. There are scarily high rates of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, as well as hospitalized, suicidal, or self-harming individuals, not to mention the high amount of suicides. I’ll leave the stats out this time since this post isn’t about mental illness, but you can bet there’s a lot of it to go around.

Not to fear! In the end, Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.

You could easily visit the U.S. and meet the rudest, most guarded person ever on the same day that you meet the most expressive and kind person ever. I’ve met people who wouldn’t let their own momma stay a night in their home, and people that would shelter a whole block-full of strangers if they could.

We’ve got it all. Some might say it’s regional, since the South and Midwest are known for being more open, relaxed, laid-back; after all, they call it “Southern hospitality” for a reason. In my experience, kind and expressive people can be found all over the country, though whether you’re in a big, stressful city or a calm, small town also makes a difference in the quantity.

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What were your experiences with Americans like? Were they nice and expressive? Were they really guarded and mean? Let me know what you think! And don’t forget to check out some other articles to learn more!

Here are some resources for further reading!

Emotional Tendencies in America: https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/01/08/an-emotional-america/

Emotional Complexity in Different Countries: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/01/emotional-complexity-study/426672/