Is America’s New Motto E Unum Pluribus?

Is America’s New Motto E Unum Pluribus?
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

I grew up in an American home. My Mom was born and raised in Germany, and moved to the US to marry my Dad (a physician in the US Air Force.) She became an American the way all legal immigrants do – she passed the test and gave up her German citizenship. Growing up ,we never considered ourselves German-Americans. We were Americans. We are Americans.

Our unofficial national motto for many years was E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One (until Congress actually ruled in 1956 that “In God We Trust” was our official national motto. Interesting that we are no longer allowed to say that.) I believe, if we keep going on this trajectory, we will no longer be saying E Pluribus Unum either. We’ll be required to change it to E Unum Pluribus, or Out of One, Many.  

Over the last couple decades there has been a tendency to categorize people by where they came from or how they self-identify. And I honestly believe this is tearing our country apart. We’ve been trained to accept African-American, Black-American, Asian-American. We have become accustomed to hyphenated Americans. And each time we accept this, segregation grows. We end up with Black Entertainment Awards, Hispanic Chambers of Commerce; we end up with grant programs that favor small businesses owned by women or people of color. In actuality, everyone American has the same access to the “dream.”

Never have I ever gone into a restaurant and asked what color the owner is, inquired about their sexual preferences or political leanings, or investigated what charities the owner supports. If the food is good and the service is good, the owner could be a purple-haired poodle – I’ll be back to support the business.

Never have I ever gone into a store, tried on clothes, and asked what color or gender the designer is. If it fits, the quality is good, the price matches its value, and it makes me look fabulous, I’m taking it home! There was a focus this year at the Met Gala on black designers. Who cares? And does that make white designers or Laotian designers or lesbian designers less worthy of praise? Can’t we just praise good design?

I’ve seen talk shows focus on spotlighting black authors – why? I read books based on the story-telling, not what color the author is!

But what really set me off recently was a mainstream reporter who identified a hero of 9/11 – she referred to him as a Gay American. His sexuality had absolutely nothing to do with his heroism, any more than the fact that he had brown hair. And actually, by calling that out, I think we send the message that this was unusual behavior for a gay person. 

Look at the news, at social media, and you’ll see a country more divided than ever. Liberal vs. conservative, black vs. white, LGBTQ+ vs. straight, the haves vs. the have nots. Decades ago, working as a Reagan appointee, I dated the President of the Young Democrats. I got a few elbows in the ribs and questions about whether I learned anything, but nobody thought I was cavorting with the enemy. I worked for a Republican US Senator who regularly played bridge with his colleagues from both sides of the aisle. There was no partisanship, unlike today.

President Obama vowed to unify America.  During his eight years in office, we became more disparate than ever. We experienced more black vs. white than ever before. When President Trump arrived, it became the 99% vs the 1%, the Democrats vs. Republicans, the Christians vs. non-Christians. We are no longer celebrating our differences; we are using those differences to define us and separate us. That is not what the United States of America is supposed to be.

You know, we have put a huge emphasis on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Corporations have updated their core values to include DEI policies. Yet, all of these hyphenated descriptors are making us less inclusive. Corporations have affinity groups now for Blacks, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ and Women. 

On job applications, you still must identify your race.  Why can’t companies hire based on who is the most qualified? And if there is unconscious bias in the name of the applicant (Mohammed, Laquisha, Tsien, Hector), let’s hide the applicant’s name and gender. 

There are student groups for every race, ethnicity, gender and non-gender. When I was in high school, we had one student body – one!  It included every student. Now, blacks belong to the black student union. There is no White Student Union (that would be racist.)

If we want to define people – and I’m not really sure why we do – let’s use positive affirmations. I’m a smart American, a brave American, a kind American, an innovative American. You can be proud of your heritage but don’t let it define you. And don’t let it divide us. We are One Nation. E Pluribus Unum.

Patty Deutsche is a Green-Eyed-American who founded a communications consulting firm Volterra Communications during the pandemic. She has had articles published in C-Suite Quarterly and Thrive Global and currently works with companies to help build and protect their reputation. She is a native Californian who is vigorously planning her escape to Tennessee.

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