Can we imagine an American story of radical belonging, an American identity that is untied from the persistent pull and power of white supremacy?

Over the last year, we traveled from coast to coast, from city to small town, to talk with people about American identity and take an honest look at the stories we tell about ourselves, who we are, and what we value.

We are grateful to our over 150 research participants who were  willing to share their thoughts and feelings, both on and off camera, in-person and virtually, in one-on-one interviews and in focus groups.

This short video series features some of these voices and is based on the Topos/Bridge Project jointly-released report: Belonging in and To America. Both the report and these videos are intended to be another step in the process, not a destination. We recognize that this is a continuing conversation and will be for some time. 

We invite you to share with others, share your thoughts, engage, and raise your own questions.

In a time that feels unstable and divisive, when many of our shared values are being questioned, what does it mean to be “American”? Do we have a shared identity? Should we?

Freedom is in the fabric and at the heart of American identity. But what does freedom mean? It  can mean completely different things to different people. 

But what clearly emerges from our research is that experiencing freedom requires feeling SAFE, emotionally and physically.  Everything from being able to express one’s views without being ostracized to being able to be who you are without fear of violence.

For many  – especially Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, trans, and non-binary people –  the stakes of freedom to simply exist are obvious and high. And that freedom (and feeling of safety) is experienced in groups where there is a sense of BELONGING.

We see the polls. We see the numbers. But people’s lived experiences aren’t always reflected in those numbers and voting blocks are not a monolith.

Mindsets don’t always fall along demographic lines or into expected corners, but can help us think about the complicated ideas around who we are and who we could be.


The Bridge Project, a project of Future Currents, invites us to imagine a future American identity untethered from white supremacy, a “new shared identity that is so expansive and rooted in belonging that it is irresistible.”

In support of the roadmap to this urgently needed future story of American identity, the Think Big Narrative Learning Community prioritized further exploration and partnered with Topos Partnership on a research project that builds on and is in conversation with the foundational work of The Bridge Project.