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Whats wrong with being american?

Grassroots

Cyburbian
Messages
90
Points
4
I just don't understand. While living overseas and now back in America...I constantly hear people try to associate themselves with some ethnic group as apart of making them feel better about themselves in some way. For example..."i am Irish-American" or "Italian-American". It was worse overseas as all the Americans I met over there were trying to fit in with the Europeans by telling them how they were somehow linked (in their lifetime) to Europe. Whenever they came across with these statements, I could not help but ask..."oh really...well let me hear your Italian...or...if your African American "break out the swahili" I can understand for census purposes telling the gov where your ancestral ties may be, but it kind of grated on me that nobody said...I am an American. Simple. As if that wasn't enough. How do any of you feel about it? I am sure some of you hear it at times too. Whenever anyone over there asked me what I was, I told them American. My ancestors came from Scot-English descent, but I don't speak Celtic and will not sit there and try to convince someone that I am tied to any of the culture over there. It seems that as developed as a society can get, you still can not break away from a triablistic mentality. Thoughts anyone?
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
As an american with german and spanish ancesters... I don't give it much importance...oh wait.. you're refering to the US "American" not the Citizen of the AMERICAN continent "American" My bad! :p
Nah we don't get much the "my ancesters were from this or that part of Europe" even though we've been known to emulate europeans and north americans here in Chile.
 

Grassroots

Cyburbian
Messages
90
Points
4
I see what you mean about the continent perspective, but I would be willing to bet that if anyone asked you what you are, you would proudly say Chilean...right? Not German-Chilean. Why is it that I find it a phenomenon just among Americans (US). I can understand some of it with our history as a melting pot and being a young country, bit it seems that this mentality is divisive for the people in America and further emphasizes a sentiment that we are unsure of ourselves in some manner.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,386
Points
25
This could get into some good discussion. I have always questioned the use of calling yourself by your ethnicicty and then "american." I don't refer to myself as a European-American. I was born in the USA and therefore, am an American(North). Of course, those born in Central and South america are Americans too. The use of the ethnicity is primarily used by miniority ethnic groups, I would assume for recognition. I almost seem to think that when people use this type of name, it appears to place more importance on the country of ones acncestors than were the invidual was born. I know there are some ethnic groups represented here on the board. Maybe BEK or Planderella can shed some light on the issue.
 

El Feo

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
19
I'm a mutt

So what else can I do, but say I'm an American? Thus far, my family has traced our ancestry to blood from: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Germany, Russia, France, Africa, Greece, Poland. Oh yeah - like everyone else from KY, TN, NC, and GA, we are also part Cherokee. Frankly, I don't have enough time to hyphenate.

I grew up in KY, and my family has been there since the 1770s and 1780s. I didn't know too many people who could definitively nail down ancestral specifics until I moved to New England, where it seems there are a lot of families that immigrated here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here the whole "whatever-American" thing is much more prevalent.
 
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Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
It seemed to be more important to my grandparents' and great-grandparents' generations. They were the ones who were new to America, and wanted to still remember their cultural heritage while embracing a new one. They could speak the language, remember the places, and keep the customs. That began to erode even among my grandparents, but much more so in my parents' generation. Mine is so far the last generation to remain 100% German, itself pretty remarkable since my ancestors have not lived in Germany since the late 1700's to early 1800's.

I am American. My ancestry is German (and Canadian). That is the way I think of it.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Nothing is wrong with being American, but people sure think there is.

Like El Feo I am a mix of sorts, as I believe most people are. I would highly doubt that the people Grassroots heard proclaiming to being Irish-American are from pure Irish decent. Even if the are, so what. If you are born, raised and live in America you are American.

OT: I get a little bothered when people drive around with front licensee plates and stickers of flags of other countries. You live in America; your flag is the American flag. All of these types of identification behaviors just perpetuate segregation, racism and discrimination.

It is healthy to celebrate your ancestry and culture, but not healthy to identify yourself that way.
 

El Feo

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
19
In my mind, "being American" is about allegiance to an ideal. Of course, we all quibble - sometimes heatedly - about specifics of how to aspire to living the ideal, but I generally believe my fellow-citizens all ultimately want good things for their neighbors.

Like H, I think it's great to celebrate your heritage, but I also think it can be carried so far sometimes that allegiance to ideal is subverted by allegiance to tribe (in the small "t" generic sense). And if that's carried far enough, our nationhood is threatened.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I think a lot of it is trying to hold on to some ethnic identity that with most european-americans is mostly gone. I can parade my ethnic identity all I want but already my kids are 3 ethnicities I'm not, and who knows who they'll marry someday (hopefully doctors). As the US becomes more multi-national and less White it matters less and less in the long run whether you're Irish, German or whatever.

I hate those gag gifts that say things like "Italian parking only" and "Swedes do it better."

I think its interesting when neighborhoods push an ethnic identity that isn't really there anymore. Providence's Federal Hill and Boston's North End have become tourist destinations as "little Italys" even as they have been de-Italianizing (my new word) - Federal Hill becoming hispanic and the North End becoming yuppified. In Federal Hill's case the fancy Italian restaurants and Italian streetscape improvements came and the actual Italians left for the suburbs.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
I, too am a "mutt." I do occasionally brag up my Puritan ancestry (William Bradford, a Governor of the Mass. Bay Colony, was an ancestor), but otherwise I'm a mix of German and English and who knows what else.

I don't lose too much sleep of people who choose to culturally identify with ancestry, but I dislike people who place too much importance on it.
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
SlaveToTheGrind said:
Maybe BEK or Planderella can shed some light on the issue.
It doesn't bother me when people identify their culture or whatever. I know what I am. I was born in America and am essentially American, more American than say the governor-elect of California.

Personally, "African American" is more acceptable to me than the descriptions of the past. I certainly don't care for the N-words - "Negro," "Negroid," etc. - and I find the term "Colored" equally offensive. "Black" is a word that does not describe the color of my skin and whose defintion does nothing for one's self-esteem.

From Websters:
1. Being the darkest achromatic visual value. 2. Having little or no light. 4. Cheerless and depressing. 5. Wicked and evil. 6. Angry:sullen. 7. Soiled:dirty.
Unfortunately, I, like many others of my race, can't trace my family ties back to the "Motherland" thus making the personal description of "African American" both a dubious and nebulous term. It's a Catch-22.
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
23
SlaveToTheGrind said:
Maybe BEK or Planderella can shed some light on the issue.
I am damn proud to be an American because I am blessed to have been born a citizen of this GREAT country, a melting pot of all races, creeds, and cultures, and to experience its great ideals of freedom, etc. This country has its ills, but I'd rather be here than anywhere else.

With that said, I can't deny my culture. My pride as an American is simply more heartfelt when I refer to myself or others refer to me as African-American. We are proud to be Americans, no matter what your ethnicity may be, but it's more special to me when your ethnicity is outwardly recognized and appreciated along with the general American reference...makes that melting pot, or gumbo in The Big Easy, more special. :)
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
1. Being the darkest achromatic visual value. 2. Having little or no light. 4. Cheerless and depressing. 5. Wicked and evil. 6. Angry:sullen. 7. Soiled:dirty.
Geez, I see your point.

African American is more of an ethnic and cultural difference than the [European ethnic]-Americans Grassroots mentioned in the original post. I assume to a lot of non-white people it doesn't matter if your 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Irish, etc. I grew up in a mostly minority neighborhood but in such a multicultural context I was just a whiteboy not any particular ethnicity that would have stood out in a white neighborhood.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,374
Points
38
I do not refer to myself as a "Danish-American" although my mom is still a Danish national (and has the green card to prove it). Until I was 18, I could have applied for dual citizenship through a petition to Queen Margrethe II, but I never sought it. I am an American, plain and simple.

(I just happen to be one of about 6.5 million people in the world that can read and speak Danish, and who knows that what Americans call "Danish Pastries" are anything but! Du forstaar?)

In my travels to Europe, I have witnessed what Twain considered the Innocents Abroad and what others have termed the "ugly Americans".
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
I do agree that perhaps it is people just longing for some sort of identity, heritage and culutral connection in these days of television, long commutes, and wal-mart.


I also wonder, that if you heard it more often when overseas, if it was a reaction to America's relation to the rest of the world. For instance, in many parts of Europe and a lot of the thrid world, someone may be categorically despised by being american, because of the foreign policies of this administration, our economically- or militarily-backed bullying of much of the world, or just as a jealous reaction to our general wealth and opulence (i.e. "priveledged b*tches"). There's an awful lot of anti-american sentiment out there, particularly so in the last year.

Saying "I'm African-American" or "I'm Franco-American" might be sort of a way for those folks to say "Yes, I'm an american, but I'm not some bullying, selfish, consumptive American pig, my blood comes from europe!" or "yes, I'm an American, but only because my forefathers were forced to got to America and toil for the rich, bullying, selfish, consumptive American pigs. I'm on your side!"

Anyway, just thoughts. I know that when I was in Portugal about a month ago, we tried to keep the fact that we were Americans on the down-low. Most people thought we were brits or canadians anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
If I were to go to Ireland and say I'm Irish, the overwhelming response would be -no you're not, you're American. And it's true.

Ahh, the browning of the United States is to say the least a very exciting and positively transforming moment in our history but, all of the problems of race relations will still exist. Duh.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,198
Points
28
Grassroots said:
I constantly hear people try to associate themselves with some ethnic group as apart of making them feel better about themselves in some way. For example..."i am Irish-American" or "Italian-American".
Yeah, I constantly tell everyone I met that I am a "Franco-Germanic-Scottish-Quebecois-American." You should see the looks I get.

But seriously, all I've ever called myself was a "Michigander." I don't think I refer to myself as an "American." That's because I've yet to meet a Canadian or Mexican that calls him or herself an "American." Oh, I'm sure they are out there, but I think it's pompous to call myself "American" just because I come from the greatest country in whole wide world. Oftentimes, I hear this guy...



...referred to as the "American" president. Huh. I wonder what Chretien and Fox think about that?
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
HOLY SH*T - are you kidding me?! They have a Dubya Action figure now? And in his flight suit even!

Where can I get me one of them things? Wal-Mart?
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
This is a good topic. What would you call yourself if you had to identify as a citizen of the USA? I say American all of the time in the USA. People from other places around the world call me American. Last night in a Thai restaurant a Thai lady asked a question of me, "you Americans....." I suppose she could have said "you North Americans" but to say "youUnited States Citizens" would have sounded akward.
!!Generalization!! Mexicans love to call themselves Mexican, they're very proud of they're Mexican heritage, some if not many, might be offended by the term American -given its Spanish colonizing roots. !!Generalization!! If I was in another country I would refer to myself as North American, just as many of my amigos from Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela say they're South American. Slowly but surely, I believe, America's continent (Tierra del Fuego to Alaska) is melting into itself.
 
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H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
The Irish One said:
Slowly but surely, I believe, America's continent (Tierra del Fuego to Alaska) is melting into itself.
This is absolutely happening, for better or worse (and probably a little of both)

Living in Miami and continually working on a project in South America, sometimes I forget that it has not already melted. :p
 

plankton

Cyburbian
Messages
751
Points
21
That Dubya doll is, um, how shall we say......worth it's weight in blood maybe...

Anyway, chalk up another cyburbian as being a straight up Michigander.

My mother's family spent several generations in New England (Providence/Newport, RI area) and my Dad's family spent several generations in the coal mines of western PA (Indiana area).

Thanks to a few indiscretions by a couple of former Northwest Airline employees in an airplane hangar at Detroit Metro Airport; Viola, here I am. TMI alert!

I like the idea of being from a state (or a goegraphic region of the USA, like the Midwest, New England, Southeast, etc.) as opposed to saying xyz-american. But then again, I'm probably as anglo as you can get, so of course I'd say that. One thing's for sure, no matter how long I live in Oregon, I'll never be an Oregonian.....

Interesting thread.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
I almost posted one of those no-longer in favor unworksafe replys to this thread. Thank goodness those days are over. 12 easy steps to civility. I think I can...I think I can...
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
el Guapo said:
I almost posted one of those no-longer in favor unworksafe replys to this thread. Thank goodness those days are over. 12 easy steps to civility. I think I can...I think I can...
Ah yes... Your on the 12 easy steps to freedom too...

-BOT, there is nothing wrong with being an American!! This is where you were born, (sorry all other people in other countries who weren't born here, but I'm glad your a patriot to your country, as I am mine), so this is your country. Stop acting likes its not.
-Yeah people might say that our market system sux. People might say that our foriegn policy sucks. People might say that our whole political system is a mess and you know what?
-I'll agree, but there is something that I'll always adhere to, I was born in this country and I will always defend it and try make it a better place for everyone to live in.. reguardless where your are from.....
-From a thread I saw earlier, I am a mutt, 50% alcohol and 50% moltov cocktail...Its all our unmixable chemistry and potent agree-ance that makes this country bearable.... If that is a viable phrase.
 
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