Ethnic minorities face many challenges in their quest to become “American” here in the United States. For immigrants especially, issues such as assimilation, developing a new identity, finding a support system, and learning a new language are long-standing facets they have to contend with.
But that begs the question, what is assimilation? Is it speaking English? Is it dissociating yourself from your ethnic foods? Does this mean you can not join or be associated with minority clubs or associations? I wrote this in response to having to defend my own patriotism as an American.
I also met a native white New Zealander who shared there are a lot of Chinese in New Zealand both new immigrants and old but when he looks at them all he sees a New Zealander so he was shocked when I told him in America many Asians and other ethnic minorities are seen by whites as not truly being American.
The irony is growing up as a Chinese-American, I was considered too American by ethnic Chinese to fit in with the Chinese based on my ways of thinking and following American cultural values yet viewed by white Americans I was just too Chinese because of my skin tone and now because of how I identify myself as an Asian-American.
What is American? Is it apple pie or is it egg tarts too?
What is American? Is it civil disobedience or blatant disregard for civility?
What is American? Is it green eggs and ham? Or can it be rice, seaweed, and spam?
What is American? Is it jeans, jerseys, and jackets? Or can it be sombreros, silk, and scarves?
What is American? Is it blonde hair and blue eyes or can I be black, beige, or brown?
What is American? Is it English-only or will Spanish-speakers get a crackdown?
What is American? Is it seeing others as equal or telling them they’re a freak show?
What is American? Is it George Washington the president or the peanuts of George Washington Carver?
What is American? Is it “made in the USA” or made in a place far away?
What is American? Is it a ban on religion or freedom of religion?
What is American? Is it “Make America great again” or “Immigrants Make America Great”?
What is American? Is it oppressing others or fighting oppression?
What is American? Is it “love thy neighbor as yourself” or “love thy neighbor who’s like yourself”?
What is American, I’m still not sure but changing who I am is definitely not the cure.