It’s a good question really. A matter of language and identity. What is your nationality if you are from the United States of America? Most of us from the good ‘ol u s of a would say, “I’m an American.” From young ages we are socialized to sing, “I’m proud to be an American” and we are indoctrinated with the idea of the “American Dream.” However, what happens when you live in another country, another country in the Americas?
What happens when you begin to realize that actually “America” is a continent divided into three parts: North, Central and South. Then, what do you say?
In Spanish there is a word for someone from the United States. They’re called an estadounidense (or sometimes more commonly referred to as a gringo). If you’re from Germany, you’re an aleman. If you’re from Mexico, you’re a mexicano. For someone who likes words and language and how these very two things are often a deep reflection of a culture, it’s interesting that we, too have names for someone from Germany (a German) and someone from Mexico is a Mexican. But yet we don’t have a name for someone who is from the United States?
Proud to be an America (sometimes)
There are many things that I am proud of about my country. It is a land where our founding fathers fought for the freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. A land where humble farmers and wealthy business, men and women, rich and poor have the right to vote, attend public school and own property. A land where “I can do anything” is embedded in the very fiber of our country and “the American Dream” runs deep through our veins. The United States has thrived because we have been encouraged to create, to change and to empower.
However, there are more times then I’d care to admit that I am embarrassed by my country. I often feel the need to apologize for the actions we have taken. I get angry that we strive for equality and a land of freedom, but we abuse and exploit our own workers. We consume absurd amounts of energy, gas and natural resources without acknowledging the effect on the rest of the world. We often use our power and force in unnecessary ways. It makes me ashamed that we claim to be united, but we still judge and divide people based on the color of their skin. I get frustrated when we, The United States of America, take advantage of others. We misuse our power, our influence and maybe our name, to do what we want to do.
Where Are You From?
So here I am. Living in a new pais. Where the most common question I get asked is, “De donde eres?” Where are you from? I usually respond, “de los estados.” From the States. Yes, I am from the States. And I am thankful and grateful for where I was born and how I grew up. Are there changes we can make, of course. Maybe the first one being… I ask you, Dear Citizen of the U S of A, What do we call someone from The United States of America? Do we have a name that is our own? A name besides an American? An United Statesian, perhaps?
If you have lived or traveled abroad where do you say you’re from?