Pet Peeve Wednesday: Hyphenated-Americans

My father is half black and half Irish. My mom is pretty much 100% English. That makes me half black Irish and half English. But my dad grew up in Cleveland, and my mom grew up in the boondocks of New York on a dairy farm. So, basically, I’m 100% American, but half rural and half urban.

America is supposedly the melting pot of societies. It’s where distinct, individual cultures go to die and melt into cheesy goodness, whereupon other societies dip apples and bread into our economic pot of whatever. I totally got lost in that train of thought, because cheese is my favorite food. So we’ll just let that metaphor die, shall we?

Anyway, for a country that used to be so “WE’RE ALL ONE,” things are getting increasingly polarized. Rick Santorum is campaigning on the concept that President Obama forgot about “real Americans.” Um… I have a feeling that Mr. Santorum is one of those annoying people who is positive that Obama was born in Kenya, is Muslim, a socialist, and secretly wears his wife’s clothing in the Oval Office. (Here I would insert a photo-shopped picture of Obama wearing one of Michelle’s sleeveless dresses, but I’m too lazy and I rather like the First Couple… Plus, I don’t particularly see anything wrong with those things)

Let me get one thing clear: there is no “real” or “fake” American. There are real or fake people, and you tend to notice more fake ones the more time you spend near sororities/fraternities, country clubs, plastic surgery clinics, and Hollywood nightclubs. If you’re born in the United States, have dual citizenship, or are Superman, congratulations! You are an American.

But there is a fake aspect to being an American. And here’s where I’m going to offend people, so if you’re easily offended… I’m kind of sorry. Not not. Not. And this fake classification annoys me so much that I’ve developed a tic on the right side of my face just thinking about it.

This is an alternate crop of an image already ...
The poster child for political idiocy. And, hey! She's white! Bonus!

This fake aspect comes when we hyphenate ourselves. What do I mean, hyphenate? Well, the media likes to refer to people as “African-American” or “Mexican-American” or “Chinese-American,” but for the purposes of this entry, we’re going to focus on the first term. Which is entirely bullshit. We think it’s politically correct to call someone that, but in fact, it’s politically idiotic, as with most things political these days. “Politically correct” is just another fancy term for “biased”.

Back in the days of slavery up until the sixties (probably), there was this “one drop” rule. If you had “one drop” of black blood in you, then you were considered black. You were shunned, denied rights, and discriminated against. Even if you looked like me, and people only knew when you showed them a picture of your father. In fact, there’s a whole book about what I would’ve had to do back in the day. It’s a novel called Passing and it’s pretty depressing. Mixed women pretending to be white (even though they looked white), because if they owned up to their black heritage, they would be forced into the ghettos and lose all their rich-lady privileges. Back then, people were definitely, violently racist–and some still definitely are–and the hyphenated system came about as a way to try and be friendlier to people with beautiful skin tones. It was more like, “Hey, let’s try and make up for all that slavery, lynching, and bias stuff by being biased and calling you something a lot nicerΒ sounding than n****r, but with all the remaining pretentiousness that comes with having pale skin.”

Ah, the joys of being politically correct.

For instance, people like to call President Obama an African-American. He’s not. His father qualifies, but he is American. He’s half white and half black. And from Hawaii. So if you want to get really, really politically correct, you should refer to him as an Asian Pacific-Hawaiian-Caucasian-African-American. But he only holds one citizenship, and that’s to the United States. So just cut the crap and say he’s half black. I won’t be offended.

I think people who hesitate to refer to someone as “Black” or “Hispanic” are probably racists. Not that they harbor any ill will to people blessed with darker skin and the ability to tan (Damn you! I got all the pasty white genes), but because of the trepidation that’s

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
A Buttface-American. Probably

built into our society. A lot of people feel like they have to tip-toe around issues like color, and that’s crap. Who cares what color you are? Seriously. It’s 2012. Get over it. All I care about is whether or not you give good hugs, if you like Disney movies, dogs, books, and dessert. If you don’t, you’re a buttface and I want nothing to do with you (Should we call those people Buttface-Americans?).

Let me give you an example for why hyphenating everyone of color is the dumbest thing ever. A few years ago, a kid was suspended from school for applying for an honor award. Why was he suspended? Because the honor award was for African-Americans. What was the problem? He was white. Oh, you say, well that makes sense. Except for the fact that he was born in South Africa and moved to Omaha (what a poor choice in relocation) when he was six, making him a legitimate African-American. There was a big hullabaloo, with a court case and everything.

And why do only people whose skin looks so much better than mine get to be hyphenated? Why isn’t everyone a Caucasian-American, or, as I am, an English-Irish-African-American? Or an English-Irish-African-Rural-Urban-American? Because that’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever had to type, and America only cares what your ethnicity is if it’s not European.

America should not care at all, is what I’m getting at. Whitney presents: Equality! In the weirdest way ever!

Writer’s note: I apologize if now anything written with hyphens makes you want to gouge out your eyes. I definitely over-used them (See what I did there?). To make a point.

25 thoughts on “Pet Peeve Wednesday: Hyphenated-Americans

    1. Funny, I also hate when any politician (liberal or conservative) says that about any person of color. Oh, Colin Powell… he’s so well-spoken. NO, SHIT THE GUY IS A GENIUS. Oh, President Obama, he sure can give a good speech. OF COURSE HE CAN. You don’t hear any politician say that about a white person in power (though people should have said it in surprise whenever George W. Bush gave a speech without some terrible oopsy in the word department).

      Sorry for the delayed response to this very kind comment of yours, Sarah. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

  1. I have found that thanks to my name most people put me into little boxes of “Irish-American” or “Jewish-American”. It’s odd. Everyone always wants to know what nationality one is, and if you answer American, people get all up in your buisness like you said the most offending thing possible. It’s a bit funny.
    Great article though, couldn’t agree more!

  2. Yes, this puzzles me, much like the Americans who say “I’m Irish!” and it turns out their gret-great-great-great-great grandfather was Irish. er…sorry darling but that doesn’t make YOU Irish. It makes you of Irish descent.

    I’m not particularly picking on the Irish-Americans…I’m only mentioning that as an example since it was St. Patrick’s Day a few days ago lol

    I think it all has to do with people wanting to feel as if they belong somewhere, but what’s wrong with just calling yourself American? Nothing wrong with that…

    I’m Heinz 57 myself…English, Irish, German, Spanish, Portuguese…etc lol

  3. Great blog entry Whitters. Olympic Gold Medal common sense!
    Well said.
    If you have, or are eligible for, an American passport then you are an American. I might also add that unless you have redskin blood on your past then at some point in your past your forebears were immigrants! Shock horror.

  4. One of the things that’s always bugged me to no end when I’m filling out questionnaires is that on the “race” section they always have an extensive list of all these different ethnicities and then they’ll just slap “white” on at the end. Last time I checked, white was a color, not an ethnic group.

  5. πŸ™‚ Why would I want to call my self a Dutch-Swedish-Norwegian-American? I only have one citizenship, American. I wrote a blog in similar fashion about my ethics class and all the racism our government is throwing in our faces with segregation.

    Thank you for going a little deeper into the subject than I did. πŸ™‚

  6. My name is John-Jo. I am not from the southern states, or in fact, from the US of A at all. I just wanted to see what you had against hyphens as I clearly have a hyphenated first name. I agree with what you are getting at in your post. I like your style of writing and the ranting etc etc πŸ˜‰ keep it up.

    My Granny once worked out my heritage for me when I was a kid, it was a mix of English, Scottish, Welsh and all I can remember was her saying “and your 1/16th Irish – but don’t tell anybody that.”. Not that she was a racist as such, just a very proud Scottish / English Granny and the United Kingdom & Northern have this lovely interwoven rivalry mixed with undertones of oppressions and violent history which bonds us together against any and all others.

    1. The only thing I hate about hyphens is their use in classifying and segregating Americans from one another in the most annoyingly pretentious way possible. In all other scenarios, I am quite fond of hyphens.

  7. Ah! That is good to hear! I am in a bit of a pickle as I do not seem to like hyphens in last names… double standards I know, still, you can not change how you feel about something, only how you act on those feelings.
    .I do not seem to have to deal with the segregation of society that often which can only be a good thing. To be honest though, my current location is very mixed in terms of nationality and there is constant banter about origin and culture. Seems to work quite well. πŸ™‚

  8. To the rest of the world (hyphen) yes, there is a world outside of the USA, even if most Americans pretend it doesn’t really exist (hyphen) all Americans are classified as borderline lunatics, irrespective of their skin colour or ethnic background. Just balmy Americans, no hyphen needed…meant in the nicest possible way, of course.

      1. “huwt” must be an American English expression…the rest of the world’s “feewings” are “huwt” when American bombs drop on our heads…or when Americans open friendly fire on us…mean, but also true.

      2. What this thread has to do with my post on race relations in the United States, I don’t know. But okay, yes, the United States hasn’t had a grand military policy since before I was born. But I am only 21. And also, I don’t believe we have bombed the Welsh lately, but if so, I sure hope the Corgis got out okay.

  9. Great post !
    As a Filipino-American ^o^, I can understand exactly what you’re saying here. Do you know whom I feel don’t need to have their identity hyphernated? White Americans. I can’t help it. They are the Americans. All the rest need to be hyphernated. I really need to change this mindset, I know. It’s sad, isn’t it ?


  11. I would just like to point out that there is a great difference between nationality and race. Yes, my nationality is American. However, I’m proud of my mix of races, and I enjoy checking the little boxes that differentiate me from other races that I am not. Saying we are all Americans is not exactly true when you want to discuss race. “American” is not a true race, unless you are a descendent of the people who were original inhabitants of America.

    In addition, I’d like to note that you cannot and will never be able to say President Obama is Hawaiian. He is from Hawaii, but he is not Hawaiian. Hawaiian is a Polynesian race. People from Hawaii are simply, “people from Hawaii.”

    1. I am proud of my races, too, but I don’t hyphenate my races. You hyphenate nationality. Which means that my statement stands, as people who claim they are “African-Americans” are only such if they have an African nationality as well.

      I can and do say that Obama is Hawaiian. I appreciate your rationalization, but that does not limit me from being able to qualify him. Am I not a “Coloradan” since I am from Colorado? Or am I simply a “person from Colorado.” I understand the difference, as there is a native race to Hawaii, but I believe he can claim himself as Hawaiian, as the Hawaiians do, because that is where he is from.

      1. Ahh..yes, I see what you mean about hyphenating nationality. I wouldn’t hyphenate my nationality either.

        About the whole Hawaiian thing, it’s just a personal pet peeve of mine, since many people do fail to see the difference between the race and being from the state. It is, after all, one of the only states, if not the only, that can get confusing when it comes to differentiating between having Hawaiian blood, and living in the state.

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