Why does it matter what box I choose? Do you realize that box makes me feel less American? Like I am an “other” that doesn’t really count as American. I was born and raised in America. My heritage began in Puerto Rico but my roots are grounded in America. It does not matter what box I check! We are all Americans.
With our different backgrounds we are not statistics, we are people. We are not African-Americans, Indian, American Indian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White (non-Hispanic), Black (non-Hispanic), Multiracial, etc. we are all AMERICANS. We are Americans divided by labels, we are Americans that are categorized and grouped according to our race, but we are all AMERICANS.
My daughter came home one day and said “Mommy we have to do a project on our culture, I chose a Thanksgiving feast because we are American.” This made me think about how we classify and divide. I am a third generation Puerto Rican, my children are fourth generations, and they are in the categories of multi-racial, they are Black and Puerto Rican. Why does that matter? What box should they chose? My children are being taught to categorize their lives into silly boxes of classification when they don’t see themselves as a box, they see themselves as American. Our children are being taught that they have to divide themselves into categories, I ask myself “Why?”and think I never liked those boxes.
My taste buds have long evolved past rice and beans and I am not “typical” at all (whatever that means).
I am an amalgamation of island beats infused with rap rock country twang. I am an American influenced by a multitude of cultures that have morphed over time creating a blend of everything producing a human being.
Nothing more than that, a human being, an AMERICAN. Labels divide us and we accept that division, we adhere to the categories. We should be just one thing, a people united as a nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (If you don’t already know that comes from the Declaration of Independence, that little document that changed the course of history and led to the creation of this nation); “We the People of the United States” ( Preamble of the Constitution) two documents talk about people, not individual groups of people. ( Albeit, that the founding father’s idea of equality differed but that is not what this is about.)
Our nation has a turbulent past riddled with injustice and division, but isn’t it time to move beyond that and apply these words to our lives as humans. Americans come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and yet we still have not evolved to a place where we can look at each other and say “that’s my fellow American.” Gabriel Iglesia makes a statement in one of his stand-up comedy shows that got me thinking about this issue, he states “I had to travel half way across the world to be called an American.” WE ARE NOT MINORITIES because WE ARE ALL APART OF THE SAME COUNTRY. So I am writing this as an AMERICAN. Don’t ask me what I am because I am an American. I will not check a box because it simply doesn’t matter.