Today I read this quote:
In this country, American means 'white'. Everyone else has to hyphenate.
We live in this marvelous age where it's easy to find the words of anything that has been requoted enough times, but really hard to find the original and in-context source from which the quote is lifted. Oh well.
Here's what I notice:
- A lot of people seem to have repeated this quote. Maybe it means they see a deep truth in it. Maybe it means they already buy into a narrative of victimization and this resonates with that.
- If I wanted to stoke the fires of a victimization narrative, this quote is pretty damn good for that. How dare they? Grrrr...
- What's it called when something matches an existing pattern in your brain? recognition.
- That being said, I don't really hyphenate when describing my nationality. I haven't felt the need. It's the juxtaposition of perfect English coming from an Asian face that I'm counting on for recognition.
- In some cases though, maybe I am a "black swan" event for them. They never knew Americans like me existed. Well... now they know. And next time, or the time after that, maybe they'll recognize.
- The hard truth is this: America is a country found on principles. Not religion. Not race.
- My opinion? If you accept principles and the responsibility of living in a free society and you expect no one else to pay your way unless they want to, out of the kindness of their hearts, you may call yourself American. I'm really big on any "giving" being fully voluntary. (and... Volun-told is not voluntary)
- Anything you are born into, you didn't have to earn, and you won't immediately understand it's value. It doesn't make you automatically any more or less worthy of being American. It just is.
- I was born on American soil. While that gave me automatic status as an American, I didn't start calling myself "an American" until my 30s when individual liberty became a deep personal conviction for me.
- What happened in my 30s? I read Ayn Rand. (Whoops, I just lost half the audience. That's okay. I know what I learned and I know where I learned it. Wanna learn the core values of America? Read Rand.)
- Sometimes people who meet me ask where I am from. When I grok that they are inquiring about nationality, usually if they are immigrants, I answer with "where my parents are from" and then I say that I am American: Born in New York... raised on Pizza by Tom and Jerry and GI Joe and My Little Effing Pony.
- No kidding.