“What is America” by Jesse Gordon is a collection of 24 photos of diverse individuals who seemed to come from different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. As evident from the title, it could be deduced that this question was asked to these different people and their responses were noted below the respective photos. The photo-essay therefore showed, in addition to the faces of these individuals, the flag of the United States of America, being held across their chests. Thus, it was interesting to note that the responses to the question was unique and distinct to these individuals, depending on their personal perceptions, convictions and beliefs of what America could be or could represent in their lives. The responses itemized as: freedom, money, imperialism, diversity, religious freedom, plastics, possibility, choice, ignorance, my adopted country, needs healing, hope, open-minded, jazz, ketchup, original ideas, business, consumerism, fun, lost opportunities, excess, sundar (beautiful), and ahhhh! .
The essay entitled “The Americano Dream” written by Angela M. Balcita, on the other hand, was apparently narrated by a Filipino migrant to the United States. It was evident that the narrator, a male doctor, had to contend with pursuing diverse livelihoods to support his wife and son when they decided to move to America to apparently seek new opportunities. The author initially presented a description of how American was perceived by the Filipino migrant through a vivid description of the domicile (an apartment in the fifth floor in a big city); working in a blood bank; language and communication barriers; discrimination and prejudices; and trying to adapt and adjust; among others.
The audience for these essays could very well be the minority races who opted to migrate in America in pursuit of better lives. At the same token, the target audience could also be the American citizens so that they would be made aware of how other people from diverse cultural backgrounds perceive the United States. Thus, from evaluating the messages being relayed in each essay, one is convinced that there could be associations being perceived by these people regarding American values and beliefs. The photo-essay focus on more predominant positive values which include freedom, hope, land of opportunities, fun, and optimism of the future. Balcita’s essay apparently contain associations to American values and beliefs that provide great opportunities for all, freedom of expression, embracing diversity, and being open for continued changes in life. As such, both essays share similar contentions in asserting that people from other cultures opt to migrate to America due to reasons of pursuit for personal and professional growth through greater opportunities that were perceived to be available and accessible.
However, despite the general and more universal perception of American being the land of milk and honey, there could be some evident realizations after actually migrating. Like from the point of view of the narrator in Balcita’s essay, there were apparent tones of confusion, anxiety or even traces of regret which could be deduced from the narrator. This was evident from the portions which presented negative overviews of the country including cramped places, discrimination in work places, prejudices in service establishments, raising children who have imbibed the American culture, and having to lose opportunities of seeing loved ones at home. Also, there were negative perceptions in Gordon’s photo-essay which included descriptions of America, such as: ignorance, lost opportunities, excess, and of course, ahhhh! (which could be an expression of hopelessness, depression, or indifference). Thus, despite emphasis on positive values, there still exists negative overtures where were clearly identified in these essays.
Balcita, Angela M. "The Americano Dream." Looking Closer. n.d. 222-224. Print.
Gordon, Jesse. "What is America." Looking Closer. n.d. 220-221. Print.