Saturday, January 6, 2018

May I Please Be an Unhyphenated American?

It's great that all these categories of Americans are set up on our census forms.  However, it's time to recognize "American" as a separate ethnic group.   

  I would like to be known as an American.  Period.  I don't need to set myself above or below anyone else.  There is no box on  the census to be "American." 
   Look, if I have to be hyphenated, by blood, my family is Korean-Amish-Indian-Chinese. (I'm the Korean Amishman, and my wife is from Malaysia, but she is not Malay. Got it?)  By nationality, my Mom was technically born in Japan since Korea was part of the Japanese Empire.  So we're Swiss-Japanese-Malaysian-German-French-Dutch-American.   
    Now I don't mind if YOU wish to be hyphenated.  And I'm cool with government programs that are directed towards some ethnic groups but not others. I"m not saying that there's anything wrong with categorizing people if that's what they want to be known as.  That's not what this is about.  
      It's just that, for myself, I just want to be American.  With no reservations, no qualifiers, no ifs ands or buts.  

     America is odd because it is arguably the predominant culture in the world, but it doesn't realize that it exists as its own culture. It dawned on me when I was watching a tennis match from France at a time when there was an international crisis, and a female African tennis player was booed for being an American.  Not for being from African descent but just because she was an American and symbolized President Bush to the French people.  The rest of the world may not always like us, but at least they recognize us.  
     So you can be European-American, Asian-American, African American, or Native American.  But on the census form, there is no listing for "American."  Also, I am still looking for the box marked "Korean-Amish-Indian-Chinese-Swiss-Japanese-Malaysian-German-French-Dutch-American."   
    At some point, you have to realize that this is getting ridiculous, and no longer descibes many Americans in a useful way.  Perhaps, for at least some of us, it's time to drop all these silly hyphens and to try to do the best we can to just be American.  Plus, I am concerned that insistence on subcategorizing Americans is likely to yield to some form of cultural elitism.  The word "discriminate" actually means to categorize or subdivide.  Only now it means to view one subgroup disfavorably and usually to persecute them.  In the same way, I am concerned that creating categories of people may make us easier to administer and also enable us to persecute other groups.   But I also realize that there are other ways that the government seeks to help correct biases in the system, and they like to keep stats  to see how well it's working.       
     Anyway, as a personal decision, I'm going to write in "American" or better yet leave it blank  when I am asked in the future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment