What Is The Soul Of America?

Posted on October 27, 2020
by FeliciaOctocog

On October 17, 2020, Elizabeth Dias, a New York Times reporter published an article in the paper entitled “Biden and Trump Say They’re Fighting for America’s ‘Soul.’ What Does That Mean?”.

As Ms. Dias wrote, “It is a phrase that has been constantly invoked by Democratic and Republican leaders. It has become the clearest symbol of the mood of the country, and what people feel is at stake in November. Everyone, it seems, is fighting for it.”

Vicki Tzortzis, our Teen Center Coordinator, put that question to the six Salem High School students in her Social Justice class which she facilitates once a week. This social justice series is the first step in LEAP’s pledge back in May to give our young people a safe place to discuss what they observe, how they feel and what they want to do about the injustices.

The students read the article, discussed the definition of “soul”, and discussed the points made in the article. Then they each wrote a paragraph in their own words summarizing their own thoughts about America’s soul. What follows are the thoughts, sometimes grim, sometimes hopeful, from the next generation.

I think that America has never had a soul and was never a whole to begin with. America claims to have justice for all even though there is only justice for white older men. Growing up we got taught about all these American heroes but we never got taught about slavery and mass genocides. America is only a home to some people and that’s why it was never a whole. Therefore, there can’t be an American soul. ~Angelica, 9th Grade 

A pure American Soul means to me that we are all the same. We’re all the same, meaning we’re all human no matter what skin color, gender, sexuality, beliefs, and/or culture we hold. ~Kelly, 9th Grade

When I think of the word “soul” I think of a peacefulness. America’s soul to me is not at peace, it is still restless and until everyone gets the liberty, freedom, and justice promised, the soul of America will never get to rest and be peaceful. ~Cyndi, 9th Grade

What does America’s Soul mean to me? In my opinion, the soul of Americans has been lost for a long time and has recently been revived by people realizing what is really going on around us. That America is not near perfect. The Soul of America comes from the citizens that use their power of being citizens for a better world. What I mean by this is that there are people that help the unfairness of the world without bringing others down. ~Jeison, 12th Grade

America’s Soul is in the heart of the youth. The youth are the ones pushing a cultural change and fighting for equality to have a better America. America has never had a soul until now, with the youth rising up, because it was built upon slavery, massacres, etc. These things are inhumane and it is now that we as young people are fighting against the system that favors the majority and does not pay mind to the minority. We are fighting for what we believe in and we are not going to stand down until we do get liberty and justice for all. Liberty and justice for all should not just be one group of people, it should be all groups of people in America and we should embrace the beautiful diversity we have. ~Katherine, 11th Grade