Hyphenated Americans

By the way, when are we going to start hearing about Arab-Americans? Frankly I'm sick of phrases like African Americans, because the only way to be consistent is to call myself a European American. With the exception of the Indians, we are all immigrants. So there is no need to make a distinction on the continent of origin—all in order to avoid actually talking about skin color. This is all bs.

I will come out of the closet here: I am German-American, French-American, Irish-American, English-American, and Scot-American. What about my French forbears that immigrated to England for several generations before moving west? Does that make me also French-English-American? And many of my relatives entered North America through Canada, so does that make me Irish-Canadian-American?

Where does this absurdity end?

And let's not forget that "country of origin" is only useful when you put a time limit on it. Migration and colonization have been happening throughout human existence. Each new tribe in an area either displaces or merges with the ones there before. Continual movement tends to blend racial and ethnic characteristics, producing people who are a little of this and a little of that. Can I call myself Celtic because some of my ancestors came from modern countries colonized by Celts?

Another complaint: "Indigenous" means having originated in a particular region. "Aboriginal" means being the first of its kind present in a region, in contrast with an invading or colonizing people. The word "native" has several meanings, one of which is synonymous with both "indigenous" and "aboriginal." So, while I will always call American Indians just plain "Indians," I also think of them as indigenous and aboriginal. And I accept their being called "Native Americans." Is there some squeamishness about using the word aborigine?

Revision: 1-14-2006.