Something Dash American

Most American who aren't White (though some that are, like Arabs) are labeled "something-American." Personally, the idea only makes sense to me for people who have lived in and/or hold dual citizenship for America and another country, but if a person was born and raised in America, why should they have to hyphenate their status as American? No one refers to Whites as European-American or French-American  or Irish-American, etc.  To me this is just an example of where White is considered normal and everything else abnormal. I get being proud of your ancestry—we all should be—but why do have to add qualifiers to our Americanness? As an I-can't-even-count-the-number-th generation American who grew up around other I-can't-even-count-the-number-th generation Americans, it wasn't until I was surrounded by people who weren't American that I realized how much I was conditioned to believe I was Black or African-American instead of just American. I didn't identify as American at all and much of what they considered "American" was "White." I was shocked how many people asked me where I was really from, but the real eye opener came from a single conversation. Images
I was at lunch with a group of friends once, and somehow we came to the topic of the offensiveness of the word "twinkie" (in the context of referring to an "Asian-American" person). The question was directed at my friend who is Chinese (actually from China, not "Chinese-American"), but she had never heard the word. Another friend, who was White-American, explained that twinkie meant "Asian or yellow"—which I would think is offensive enough, right there—"on the outside and American on the inside." When I pointed out that she must have meant white on the inside, she simply stared at me. I don't know if she was speechless at realizing she had just implied that White = American or if she was confused. So I elaborated by pointing out that just as Asian are subjected to words like twinkie, Blacks (or African-Americans) who "act White" are often called oreos. If we were born in America, how can we act American? We are American—I got the long form birth certificate to prove it!

I know that there are debates in the Black/"African-American" community on which is preferred (you can probably guess which side I'm on), but what about everyone else? Do you care? Is it something you've ever noticed or had experiences related to how people label you? Let us know your preferences and why.


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