So what’s wrong with conversations like these?
- They happen way too often.
- They are contradictions.
- They undermine our future.
They Happen Way Too Often
It some parts, I suspect the “they are not American like us” conversation happens rather openly. In places where “political correctness” is observed, I suspect it happens just as much, just not as loud. My name can easily switch from “Alberto” to “Al” and I can go from Spanish to Spanglish to non-accent-North American-English within the same conversation. As such, access to a broad spectrum of sub-groups and related social attitudes is part of my reality. Granted, my testimony is anecdotal; I find it troubling how often I hear folks express this viewpoint of “we’re more American” vs. “they are not American like me” based on the artificial qualifiers of “funny names” and/or “funny accents.” And yes, the way you look factors in as well.
They Are Contradictions
The same folks who claim to be more American than most too often express an attitude of exclusion towards those amongst us with so-called funny names and accents (social inequality..anyone? anyone?). Last I recall, this idea of the United States of America as this “shiny city atop a hill” and so-called “American Exceptionalism” is, in part, rooted in the vision of a place where diversity is one of our nation’s core strengths. The poem engraved in the Statue of Liberty declares, “”Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” What makes us Americans is our yearning for freedom. Period.
They Undermine Our Future
Today, our economy is fragile. Our currency is relatively weak. Our future is nebulous. The only certainty is this: the nations with the smartest, most hardworking and innovative minds will win the future. For those of us who grew up here, we believed that the smartest, most hardworking and innovative minds gathered here, in the United States of America. Looking forward, do you feel assured that this will remain the case? As it has always been, our ability to attract and keep immigrants will be our competitive advantage in an intensely competitive global-market arena…our ability to attract and keep folks with so-called “funny names” and “funny accents” is how we win.
I am grateful for this list of “Funny Americans” who currently contribute to our nation’s well-being (in no particular order):
So no matter if your name is John, Juan, Juanita, Joshua, or Jamal, I hope you and your families never stop pursuing your freedom here, in (the United States of) America.