View single post by CleburneFan
 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 01:04 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 30th, 2006
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 1021

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Here's a hyphenated name to consider. My elder son was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Hubby and I are American citizens. At eighteen, my son had to declare somewhere whether he was Kenyan citizen or United States citizen.  He chose US citizen and registered for the US draft. 

Nothing can take away the fact that he was born in Kenya.  My younger son was born in Portugal. My younger son has never, ever called himself a Portuguese-American nor has my elder son ever called himself African-American or Kenyan-American.

One time I did make a blunder of mentioning that my elder son is an African-American, but in a special sense. The person to whom I was speaking took great umbrage with me and said my remark was in very poor taste.  I asked why. She explained to me that an African-American is a person of African descent who is born in the United States and I was presumptuous, even racist to claim that because my son was born in Africa, but now lives in the US and is a US citizen that he is African-American. She was very angry with me and never spoke to me again.

I was not claiming for my son the rights or privileges of African-Americans in any way such as using his status to try to get him admitted to a university or any such thing. But what happened that time was to show me how sensitive the issue of claiming a hypenated status is. It also shows how complicated the issue is.

I find it too bad that my sons cannot make any claim whatsoever to having been born in another country. In fact, they do seldom tell anyone because it invariably involves long explanations. What this woman was trying to make clear to me is that my son does not claim the right to be African just because he was born there.

She probably meant  that those who claim a hypenated heritage are referring to the ethnic and even racial traits of those designations. Being born in a place isn't enough.

Still, I wish we in the US wouldn't hypenate our nationality. I think it is divisive.

Last edited on Thu Feb 7th, 2008 01:05 am by CleburneFan

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