"american" is a brand spanking new identity. one that is only about 230-400 yrs old for whitefolks (mayflower status proper), and MAYBE about 145 yrs old for blackfolks.
put this up against the millenia human beings have been on this planet.
this is one of many reasons songs like this - while i understand the attempt, sentiment, and meaning - frustrate the hell outta me.
in my opinion, this is one of the major differences between descendants of voluntary immigrants and the descendants of enslaved africans and indigenous american peoples (continentally speaking).
it is not a bad difference. you want a better life, i'm all for it. come on thru and get your piece of the pie.
but while songs, imagery and sentiments like this may do wonders for soothing white guilt--especially when being sung sweetly by a woman of color (yeah, i said it. run tell dat.)--i don't know that they do much to address the cat-back-raising complexities the statement, "i am an american" holds for those of us who have...um...complicated relationships with this place.
or maybe i'm just being an angry black lady again.