I have lived in America for twenty years as a Haitian immigrant. Although I obtained citizenship almost two years ago, I still feel like a foreigner. I did not think much about my disconnect from American culture until I entered college. I am currently making slow progress towards a Human Services and International Affairs combined degree. It was during a French Culture course that I started to question the notion of national identity. What does it mean to be French? Or to be American?
From what I have learned, French identity is deeply connected to the land. Advertisements, television shows, and even political campaigns reflect pride in the country’s soil. Farmers are regarded with high esteem because they use the land to create quality products. The general population is quick to rally behind farmers when legislation issues arise. Observing the relationship between French citizens and their farmers led me to question how we interact with our agriculturalists here in the United States.
Although the family farm can be credited with laying the groundwork for present-day American values, there does not appear to be much reverence for the farmer. On a daily basis I am bombarded with advertisements for technology’s newest innovations: beauty products, weight loss pills, and reality television! I cannot remember the last time I saw an advertisement promoting the family farm. We are relying on technology more and more. Scientists are striving to perfect lab-grown meat. I am not sure where that innovation would leave future farmers.
The optimist in me believes that American identity does not rest solely on technological advancements. I am hoping that enough people still value family farms. I have joined the Farm Aid organization to find out for certain.