Didn’t You Know That Hyphenated-Americans ARE Immigrants Too?

The New York Times newspaper publishes a series of articles called, “Race/Related”, and the latest article from the series discusses the hyphenated American.  It is so appropriate and timely that I, just yesterday, posted an image of recent protests underscored by a comment  that referenced hyphenated Americans in this nation of immigrants.

The latest policy of the new Trump administration is currently demanding the deportation of illegal immigrants. Specifically, the executive order calls for the immediate removal of Mexicans who are in this country without the proper documentation. By the way, aren’t they still Americans if they have lived and worked in this country for many years? Sidebar-I wonder whether, if this were 1620, would those pilgrim immigrants bring in Africans to help build the country’s infrastructure!

Before he became our President, Trump campaigned under that platform, along with building this GIANT WALL.  An inappropriate response to the narrowly perceived global political climate is the banning of immigration by  Arab/Muslim ex-pats, refugees, and individuals from Mexico for fear of allowing those damned terrorists, rapists and drug dealers to cross our borders.

Terrorists? Most acts of ‘terrorism’ committed on our soil are at the hands of home-grown, hyphenated Americans.

Rape and drug dealing? Are they exclusively Mexican crimes?[rhetorical]

I don’t want to sound absurd, but this country has become more and more ‘brown’ and people of color are increasing becoming the majority. Hence, the term minority in a few years, will be irrelevant. And who gets to decide which groups are majority or ‘dominant’ culture and minority?

Recently,  ‘A Day Without Immigrants’, was a demonstration of solidarity in protest against this new policy and an illustration of how dependent certain industries are on an immigrant workforce in this country. Funny it is, that this country which was  founded by immigrants, once represented an open-door to opportunity for other immigrants who hailed from any place on the globe. Now that the latest waves of people coming into the country are identified as ‘undesirable’, of deeper and brown hues, and non-Christian worshippers, they are not welcome here.

This is like a group of kids who stole this tree-house, stole people to build upon and decorate it. The doors were always open to newcomers, but once they feel the house is just fine, and no more help is needed, they then want to put a wall around it and keep people out. Certain people!

Immigrants who may have been here for a few generations, none any longer than African-Americans, now assign labels to themselves. They become hyphenated Americans: Italian, Irish, etc…

The truly non-immigrant groups have been squeezed
into tiny pockets of a vast nation once their own alone, also happen to be ‘brown’ people of color. The minority became the majority, and it is being reversed- the meek shall inherit the earth.

Am I being paranoid, or does this speak to a much larger issue? Also, do we not know that the agricultural/food industry relies heavily on immigrant workers? Who is going to harvest the fruit-grapes for wine, lettuce for salads, oranges for juice, and so forth? Don’t we know that when we go out to eat, and order salads, that there would be a major shortage if there are no more ‘illegal’ immigrants working outside our view? Just ‘food for thought’!


In his 1903 book, “Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois states that the problem of the 20th century is “the problem of the color line.” Seventeen years into the next century and after eight years of a black man serving as president of the United States, this insight is still relevant. The difference today is that the color line manifests itself in a variety of ways, often more insidious than those of Du Bois’s era.
At its best, the United States today resembles the global ideal of a multicultural, inclusive and equitable society. At its worst, it represents a hypocritical empire steeped in white supremacy.

Hyphen-Nation — the video, art and interactive project we published this week as part of our Race/Related collaboration with the documentary showcase POV — explores this duality.
[WATCH: Hyphen Nation: Exploring What it Means to be American]
We asked nine Americans of varied backgrounds a series of questions centered around the idea of when they have felt most and least American. What we ended up with are interviews and artwork (by Josh Cochran) that examines and scrutinizes what an American citizen looks like, where they come from, and who gets to determine who belongs. (A selection of them, with excerpts, are below.)

When it comes to many of our country’s greatest achievements and contributions to human progress, we see people of different races/ethnicities, religions, genders and cultural perspectives playing a role. Non-white people have contributed in large numbers to what has become the United States throughout its history, from serving in our military in every major war and conflict, to major contributions to science, art, and the overall cultural fabric of our society.

And yet, for so many people, American identity still seems intrinsically tied to the idea of “whiteness.” Americans who do not clearly fit that description often feel as though they are not embraced as fully American, simply because of what they look like.
We’ve seen a resurgence of this recently both explicitly and implicitly, through the presidential campaign and into the first few weeks of the Trump era. But Hyphen Nation aims to reveal the more personal side of what that means.

The people in these videos are all United States citizens, who grew up in areas as wide ranging as Denver, St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta, Nashville, and Washington. They discuss their experiences of feeling connected to their country and of feeling pushed away. Many of them discuss how their American identity is perceived outside of the U.S. as well.



“Our American society has forced the prefix…It has forced the hyphen in response to modern geopolitical borders and a concept of whiteness being the norm in America.”


 “The question I most often get is ‘where are you from?’ It’s never, ‘I’m curious.’ It’s ‘I demand to know, where are you from, because you most definitely are not from here.’ ”


“I don’t like the term Indian-American. I don’t like the hyphenations because I am American.”


“I think America was an idea sold to different groups of people and rebranded multiple times.”


 “Why would I want to be white, when my ancestors came through immeasurable fear and terror to be here. You tried everything to destroy them. And they didn’t. They didn’t. They couldn’t. You can’t crush them.”

What do you think  about this Hyphen-Nation? Leave your thoughts  here. It may be Race/Related!


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