Who is America?

Of America in 1890, Walt Whitman said we are a “Centre of equal daughters, / equal sons, / All, all alike endear’d…” 

Who are we post Civil Rights? Who are we post 9/11? Who is America, professor of communication Frank Klapak likes to ask. Anyone who has had a communication or journalism class, a “defining target audience” class with him knows he drills the mixed and missing cultural identity of Americans.

We are multicultural; the clichéd melting pot. Others wail “No! We are a mixed salad” because we do not enjoy actually mixing our differences. We tolerate the separate pieces that make a whole.

We stem from a white Puritan, a Christian faith background, but that does not nearly make up the whole. We are also Jewish, Muslim and atheist. We are black and burgundy, yellow and brown.

Because as kevjumba from YouTube says, “Girls are like M&Ms,” and if we like one then we should like them all. I mean, essentially we are all the same thing; carbon gelatinous blobs composed mostly of water.

But now I have gotten away from the topic and I seem all free love. In America, we are separated by race, which is a human construct created to put one person above another. Why do we do that when we already have classicism? When something goes wrong, we blame differences, give them a face, and apply them so liberally that we devalue whole groups.

FYI: You might want to hold on to your butts because I’m bringing out our tainted past. When the English first came to America, they took the land from those red-skinned savages because, you know, the whites needed it more. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we took all those squinty-eyed people and put them in camps for our safety. Who cared really that they were Korean, right?

When terrorists hit the World Trade Center, we said, “Damn you Muslims!” and gave the stink eye to everyone with a turban and brown skin. Never mind that the five pillars, the main tenets, are of peaceful prayer, fasting, giving to those in need and believing in God. Like anyone in the Bible ever fasted.

You want an equivalent? It’s like the extreme rightist Tea Party bombing some country and the citizens (of the bombed country) being like, “It was those pale-skinned, rich bastards in North America,” and then attacking Canadians.

If you really want to divide and conquer in the world, you should first focus on bringing together a nation with something other than tragedy. Who makes up America? I know we don’t like immigrants anymore, but I think we can learn from the Latino population.

The Latino nations are unified. They are not fixated on race. In fact, they are multiracial, having mixed with European settlers, slaves, and natives centuries ago. In Mexico, they are Catholic, but they’ve integrated native traditions and made religion specific to their nation. They have a unified language, Spanish, with inflections in dialect that connects them no matter the distance or change in face.

My fiancé overheard a few men shopping near Pittsburgh. They spoke Spanish with a Mexican lilt and my guy instantly connected to them. It didn’t matter what they looked like, just that they spoke his language. They were his nationality.

Would an American care the same way? Would an American even be able to find common ground to do so? Because in Mexico, they aren’t “African-Mexicans” or “Spanish-Mexicans.” They are unified. They are mestizo.

Just be happy I didn’t talk about slavery and how even after years of being free and “equal,” the persecution that was constructed by facial differences ran so deep that they had to fight for basic civil liberties and get shot with fire hoses to do it.

Peace, Love
And All that Jazz

For more information on race relations, visit:
Read the Racialicious.com article: The Wormiest of Cans: who gets to be “mixed race”?
isteve.com’s three part article Race Now, specifically Part 3: “Where Did Mexico’s Blacks Go?”
Diaries of a Mixed (Up) Kid
Multicultural Familia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *