Feature photo by Señor Codo
Who are we? Some say that we are the new Americans , and others say we’ve been here all along . Being born in the United States is a privilege that our parents bestowed upon us, along with their hopes and dreams. It seems as if we are always fighting for our place in this country, this fact evident in the recent march on the capital. It’s easy to dismiss the recent struggles for immigration reform as a problem for recent immigrants only, who somehow missed the boat and simply have to deal with the ramifications of their actions . To think this is not only pig headed, but makes you come across as deaf to the reality of the situation. Every day thousands of immigrants come into the United States. After reading this last line you more than likely thought of Mexicans walking through the desert escorted by schiesty coyotes. Not all of these people make it. Many die in the desert. But to immigrate is not only a Mexican phenomena. For instance, recently there was a crackdown on sex workers being imported from Eastern Europe via shipping containers.
What makes people risk life and limb simply for a chance at something better? I feel someone who takes such huge risks deserves citizenship or at least legal acknowledgment more than someone born here, smugly entitled (myself included). What have they done to deserve the privilege to work and live in the only country in the world where anyone still has a fighting chance to determine his or her own future? Meritocratic ideals aside, it is the opinion of this writer that all people living in the United States should have to test for their citizenship like any other paisa.
There is a statue in New York City that carries a placard stating “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Some even go so far as to say that this statue is the quintessential symbol of America. Are we becoming like the cultural-purity-obsessed French? Being a Chicagoan, some right wingers don’t even consider me a “real” American, so I pose this question to any real American, what does it mean to be American? I have always assumed that to be a real American you had to be a WASP (suburban white Anglo-Saxon Protestant), so where does that leave the rest of us urbanite, non-Anglo, non-proddies ?
As a Hispanic-American, I admit that I am one of the aforementioned privileged smug Americans born here. Unlike my WASP counterparts, I have knowledge of my cultural roots, and this means a great deal to me. But as far as I can tell, all that being American means is being a good consumer. So should I define myself as a culturally conscious consumer?
I would like the opinions of others on this topic. Please let us know what you feel it means to be a (Insert title)-American