I came across an interesting image on facebook today (click on the image to the left to enlarge). It was a picture of a hideous looking eagle with an American Flag waving over its eye, and the creator of the picture had captioned it,
Fact: No British-Americans signed the Declaration of Independence! They were AMERICANS! Take your hyphenated-butt back to your mutherland!
Oh, patriotism. You continue to manifest yourself in embarassingly idiotic ways. The creator of this image clearly has not considered it is probably because of people like him that hyphenations of ethnicity exist. He is likely of the type of American who would ask me where I am "really from" and not be satisfied when I say Orange County, or Virginia. Or New Jersey before that. Or even that I was born in Ohio. I have actually encountered a man who asked me whether I was an American citizen three times after I told him I was born in Ohio. The creator of this tacky image is also likely the type of kid on the playground who was always telling me to "go back where I came from." Again - where would that be? New Jersey? Ohio? Clearly that's not what they mean. Obviously, what they mean is, your skin color is different, therefore you are not like the rest of us, and you require a different title/label/name. So "Asian-American" was developed as a way to convey, "hey, yeah I look different, but I'm American."
And actually, that's fine. Many, if not all people are naturally compelled to label and categorize. I don't mind being described as a variety of things. I feel "American." I consider myself "American." Yet, I am sure people may frequently refer to me as an "Asian" or "Asian-American," which is fine too. My old roommate calls me "Crazy Asian Jenn." Also fine. For godsakes, my dad refers to me as an "Oriental" which also does not bother me in the least bit. Now, the political correctness police have decided "person of color" also applies to me. This is a name I dislike because it sounds stupid and strangely similar to nasty names given to black people back in the day - but again, this is not something I pay too much attention to, and certainly not something I take offense to. I have a great degree of flexibility with regard to being labeled, titled or categorized as long as it is not done in a malicious manner.
I am American. I am Asian. I am Asian-American. Whatever. I don't care. But to say that I am somehow responsible for this labeling, that it is something I developed or perpetuated, and that I should take it and (here it comes again) go back to where I came from, is just downright absurd. These labels were created because society cannot and will not handle color-blindness. These categories arose because people who are not white can never escape, in some sense, being seen as "foreign" or "other." This is not to mean that discrimination is rampant or that people are evil; it simply means that labels were created because people (all races) cannot comprehend a colorblind society. So to further imply that because the label "Asian-American" is used on me for reasons beyond my control, that I am somehow less American, unpatriotic, or otherwise suspect, is utterly infuriating.
To make this artistic genius's point really clear, we should extend his logic. There were no black people who signed the Declaration of Independence, so they should go back to their "mutherland." No women signed it either, but at this point it's not clear where women should be deported to. I suppose it's only fair that America be reserved for people of similar demographic/status as the Declaration of Independence signers?
I did not hyphenate myself. People like this guy hyphenated me. Then told me that if I didn't like it, I should go back to the "mutherland." Hey, well f*ck you too. At any rate, I prefer Asian-American to his hyphenation - "self-righteous."