The Insidious Damage Behind “Being Just American”

I don’t normally comment when I see posts like this on social media—and I see them frequently originally hailing from the Midwest.

🚩Statements like this are not helpful or unifying. They are harmful.

🚩Firstly, people of color erasing their ethnicity and identity doesn’t work.

🚩Next, is the act “American,” speak “American,” think “American.” Those with the most power defines what is acceptably “American.”

🚩History has a lot to say on this matter, and spoiler alert: unless you’re homogeneous, white, heterosexual, middle to upper class, you don’t measure up and you’ll always have another step to be “American.”

🚩Secondly, statements like these adds to the trauma narrative most people of color already live with: cultural genocide.

🚩Did you know that according to the UN, cultural genocide is a component of ethnic genocide? This is what the US government has done literally since Its inception to indigenous tribes. Ethnical cleansing through mass murder, or if a treaty was signed, ethnic cleansing through cultural genocide. Less than 100 years ago, this was very explicitly stated US government policy.

🚩Many Africans have also experienced a similar form of culture genocide through their history of enslavement and the policies of the time to erase African identity apart from slave property.

🚩Fourthly, the assumed choice to simply “be American” is rooted in white western ethnocentrism.

🚩And finally, the term “American” and its connotations in this context, ignores and erases the actual First Nation Peoples of America. #WeAreStillHere

Thank you for coming to my #TEDTalk

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