Nov 192002
 
Authors: Ken Hamner

I know this guy by the name of Jose who is really pissed off. I don’t blame him, really. See, Jose is an American, and proud to be one.

The problem is, in the United States, he is not an American at all. He’s “Puerto Rican.” Does he have “American citizenship?” Hell yeah. He’s a citizen of Puerto Rico, which is a part of the “Americas” encompassing North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. But, even though Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, he’s asked everywhere he goes to show his passport because of his look and accent. This means bars, hotels, etc.

This is stupid. Because of Puerto Rico’s territory status, he doesn’t even need a passport to enter America…er…the United States. But folks in the United States are arrogant and ignorant – an effective combination for incompetency.

When a Cuban travels abroad, he can easily say he’s Cuban when some French dude asks him where he’s from. When a United States citizen travels abroad, when he’s asked where he’s from, he’ll say he’s an American and people will understand that he means the United States of America and not Cuba, Columbia, Canada, etc. I suppose in these instances, it’s a matter of convenience. It’s much easier to say “American” than United States citizen or something. The problem is, years of convenience have led to pretentiousness.

Consider the following: should a Bolivian travel to the States, he has just as much of a right to say, “I’m an American” as we do, but instead he says he’s Bolivian. Why? Several reasons. For one, he’s proud of his heritage and cultural identity. Second, people would look at him like he’s nuts. Lastly, he doesn’t want to call himself an American because he’s not pompous enough to believe all cultures and people in the Americas are the same and deserve to be under one label. As Jose told me, he isn’t aware of any Americans who calls the U.S.A. “America,” and whenever they hear any U.S. citizen refer to their nation as America, they find it rather insulting, if not lame and silly.

But we in the United States, even when we are not traveling abroad, refer to ourselves as America all the time. Take last year, where we kept hearing terms like, “America Under Attack,” and “Terror Strikes America.” Uh, hello, terror strikes Columbia all the time. But it isn’t until we are under attack that we hear such terms, as if “Terror Strikes America” isn’t important unless it is the US who is hit. For folks in the US, we are America, and all those other little nations encompassing the Americas, while we acknowledge their existence, really don’t matter much at all.

What’s the solution to this problem? I think we need a term for a U.S. citizen that is specific towards the USA and not “America.” The name, United States of America, is long, but not horribly so. Back when we had the USSR, we called them “Soviets,” (calling them Republicans would have been too much, I guess). There are lots of other nations that have “United” in the name (ever hear of a Scotsman refer to himself as a Kingdomite? I don’t think so), so we can’t use that. I therefore think we should be Statesicans. Yes. I am a Statesican and I am proud of my heritage. I respect my fellow Americans, be they from Puerto Rico or Argentina or wherever. I believe that, in time, Statesicans and Puerto Ricans, and, hell, even those wacky Cubans can live together in a harmonious relationship, one forged out of respect and understanding. Together, we will make America great.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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