The Problem With Theordore Roosevelt's American Speech

There is a difference between racism and heritage. There is a difference between unifying with out differences and causing separation by difference of opinion.

The fatal flaw in becoming just American was that many new immigrants had to shed where they came from in order to prove loyalty to their new homeland.

The assumption is that if you are hyphenated, you are disloyal to your country. The reflection of my eyes cannot lie. The blood that courses through these veins is the same as any person in this world. But my history is different as my birth was in America but my heart lies with all my homelands including America. My respect is in the unity these countries showed during the World Wars. Not just because they fought together but because they were liberated. They were not invaded by the American forces but liberated. In exchange, a military base was settled on those lands...there's much debate about that but that is another story.

Should I abandon this treasured part of where I was born as well as where my parents were born for an allegiance?

And at what cost if I don't drop the hyphen? See, it is simple to most to call it American because generations were born and raised here. But it is still not simple for even generations to call pride in living in America because of the torture and turmoil their own ancestors suffered.

Asian American. Asian Pacific Islander. It is not racism. It is where I come from. I have no problem being American. But to assume that I do because my parents come from some place other than America is wrong. I respect my duality with equal passion and loyalty.

Do not assume I am ashamed of America. Do not assume I have a problem being called American.

But never ever ask me to forget my family's history. Never ask me to forget those I love and hold dear to my heart. I carry it with me so I will always remember. I carry it as a hyphenated American.

Had I been ashamed, I would not carry the word American. Think about that.

Just because the majority of people who are for just "American" have been here for generations and have the argument that others despite their history is irrelevant because of how long ago it was, think about the rest of us. The ones who are still immigrating. The ones who still look at the flag with a profound silence and respect despite the fact that we, or our parents, were born somewhere else. As long as there are tests for citizenship and this land doesn't shut itself off for a hundred years in order to define a specific culture and label...we are mixed and different. We come from all different places and backgrounds.

The argument is not black and white. Just because you are just an American doesn't mean you have to exclude the rest of us out or claim un-American acts on our part by not living yours.

Tekkamaki Tekkamaki
8 Responses Feb 26, 2009 spits on the missing body of my dead grandfather. May he rest in peace. You are my friend so please stop.<br><br />
I did state I am an Asian Pacific Islander too in the story. Sorry you didn't catch that.<br><br />
You might have your opinions but we are friends and you are talking about my family here. Show some sensitivity in your difference of opinion. Furthermore, just because a few people are from the Caribbean and mislabel does not mean you should call pigeonholing for the rest of us that are ACCURATE with dual citizenship. Hello. Just because I was born here doesn't mean I don't have a dual citizenship. : /<br><br />
I also went to the Philippines to give up my own rights so that my family back there could have a life in their own land. I suffered and scraped and sacrificed for them. So they have their right to be called Filipino with pride. So they could get their education and freedoms in the Philippines that I've enjoyed here. Medical assistance and just knowing that someone is thinking of them and loves them. And this happened in less than ten years so I would say it's pretty current for me.<br><br />
I'm a Filipina. I'm a Chamorro. I am American. I'm sorry I can't just be one.<br><br />
Oh and by the way, my dad's pretty hard core sometimes. He made me scrape my own way through my own education. He wanted to baby me but I said no. He taught me to be self sufficient so I don't take handouts. What he suffered was for his own freedom. What I will suffer will be for mine. I will never take his suffering in vain or use it to my own advantage. So I have a right to call myself American because I earned it, not my father. My father earned the right himself for himself, I believe. But I am again...not just an American.

hhhmmm...The Japanese Interment. That was a shameful time here too. People justify it because it wasn't "as" cruel or harsh. But they did learn, thankfully. They avoided doing the same during the Iraq war though. I worked at a Hookah Lounge with a Palestinian owner and my boss was Lebanese Belly Dancer. This was right before the war started. We had this huge meeting over what to expect before hand. We were extremely nervous. Surprisingly everyone was open, welcome, respectful the whole time during the war. There were a few "citizens" that attempted to exercise rights of "finding terrorists" and tried to grab my dad but he's Filipino! Oy...some people...Thankfully people in the city knew him from his service in the Navy so thankfully he was not hurt.

i would never try to tell anyone to forget their families heritage but i still believe if you were born here you are simply an american no hyphens are necessary. furthermore many of the hyphenated americans are misnamed anyway. people will refer to any black person as an african-american but some of these people do not come from africa they come from the caribbean and it is possible for a white person to be of african descent but they would be called liars if they said they were african-american. these labels are just ways to try to pigeonhole people. yes i think you should be proud of your families heritage but you call yourself an asian-american well why not be more specific there are many asian cultures. <br />
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simple fact is you are an american. your family struggled through very difficult times and gave up a lot for you to have the right to call yourself an american shouldn't you be honoring that as well hun?<br />
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not trying to start a fight you know i love ya just some food for thought

Thanks ShinobiJoe! Your name is pretty fun to say...shiiinooobijoe!

Hi JP! You know, back in college a few years ago we were discussing the melting pot term. They were starting to call it a salad bowl. It made me laugh so hard because they were so serious about the dressing pulling all of the separate elements together. But it made sense.<br><br />
Oh right! French Canadians and the like. I'm not too well versed in it. But since I was in middle school I've been kind of been in love with all things Canada. : )<br><br />
You know what I feel, I feel there's a paranoia over his race being an issue or not an issue. Frankly, I think there is mass confusion over it. It's causing a lot of people to rethink and address their own feelings about it. The overreaction with all this hyphen stuff "could be" some people's response to erasing the uncomfortable feelings about race but it doesn't serve a real purpose.<br><br />
It's pretty much a logical fallacy. If x happens then y never existed...and we'll all hold hands and get along. : /

You should never feel bad about being proud of your heritage. It's good to preserve your culture so it doesn't get absorbed into everything else.

Thank you Adjyo. I was actually nervous of responses because I had seen this huge wave of "no hyphen". Sure, the hyphen is replacing the proper use of the colon, but I find the argument to be a little...hmm...out of date?<br />
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Initially the hyphen of dual citizenship was a racist label when it was first introduced with the immigrants over a hundred years ago. The speech given by Roosevelt was a response to drop the racist attitude of the hyphen and allow them to vote and live as other Americans. It was the racist attitude, not the hyphen. Relating that speech to today is completely irrelevant and actually offensive to new citizens of the United States.<br />
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Now that womens and equal rights have passed, the symbolism of being just American has changed. We have people traveling here from all over there world and people who apply for dual citizenship because they identify with their homeland and another country.<br />
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To relinquish it is a nonsensical overkill action. Embracing your culture isn't disrespectful. The true disrespect is in an action like burning the flag but taking the benefits it represents. You can do it and not be punished severely but it isn't very nice.<br />
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I don't know where these people come up with these "Un-American" movements and arguments. But they are becoming ridiculous and backwards in thought.

This is extremely well written, Tekkamaki, and a very convincing argument. I also think that people should respect the wishes of others when it comes to this sort of thing. It is your right to be proud of your heritage.