In honor of the Fourth of July (happy 241, America!)  I’m grateful to our friends at Tattly Tattoos who put together this lovely photographic series, in which they asked all different makers, creators, and entrepreneurs to describe what it means to them to be American.

While yes, it’s a promotion for Tattly tattoos, it’s just so interesting to read so many different answers to the question.

The artists touch on topics from opportunity, to diversity, compassion, pride in your heritage, hard work, and the continued quest for equality.

Related: The patriotic t-shirt that reminds us what makes America wonderful

Make America Happy Again: Tattly + Brooklyn Balloon Co

Robert Moy of Brooklyn Balloon Company


Akilah Hughes on what it means to be an American, via Tattly

Writer Akilah Hughes

Being an American means pride in whomever you are: Cristina Gomez of Tattly

Designer Cristina Gomez


What does it mean to be American? Filipino-American choreographer Shaun Evaristo + Tattly tattoos

Choreographer Shaun Evaristo

There are a few answers that have really stuck with me, like writer Akilah Hughes (who I adore) describing how, as a Black woman, being an American has always meant having to work twice as hard to prove that I am in fact American.

Photographer Natasha Janardan discusses gratitude for her opportunities, and how being American means helping others to achieve the same.

Then there’s a beautifully thoughtful short essay about the American experience from choreographer and first-generation American, Shaun Evaristo. The homage to his Filipino immigrant family is just lovely.

I step on the stones my family laid out to pave my my own way in the land of the Stars and Stripes.


Related: 9 lovely children’s books about the immigrant experience to help encourage more kindness and empathy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this year’s Fourth of July feels different to a lot of us than it has in past years. There’s a lot to celebrate — but also a lot of soul searching going on, about what it is that makes America so special, and how we can help our country better live up to its ideals and promises for all of us.

So I think what I really love best about Tattly’s series — the reminder of just what makes so many Americans so special. Because who we are is what we are.

Peace, y’all. Happy Fourth.