Why don't most people understand that in every country everyone came from somewhere else?? ?

I have been working with people on the Census and have been helping them fill out the form. The main questions about origin are....

1. Hispanic or Not-Hispanic

2. Race: White, Black, Asian, Native American, etc 

3. Ancestry: American, French, German, Navajo, African-American, etc 

Many people put "American" as their ancestry and the amount of people putting their ancestry as American has increased with each census. These people have assimilated into American culture and have no ties to any other language or culture. And usually people whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago do have some Native American ancestry.

But it seems some people who decide to write in an ethnicity other than "American" such as Irish, German, Polish, Mexican, Korean, etc get offended and claim there is no such thing as an "American" ethnicity. My response is to put what they want but that they have no right to tell someone else what to put.

Their main argument is that everyone here came from somewhere else. But that's the case for every country in the world. Mexico was colonized by people from Spanish yet we acknowledge a Mexican ethnicity. In Canada over 50% of the people claim Canadian ancestry.

In Eastern Poland people are descendants of Lithuanians and Ukrainians. Genetically, the average Italian person in Italy is only about 40% Italian with Greek, Spanish, Arab, French and African ancestry. So I don't get it. Why the double standard? And why the agitation and offense?

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3 Answers

  • 10 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    First, one has to recognize that "American" is simply a declared nationality. Just like Italian, Asian, German, or even African, these are various nationalities. A nationality just means that a person was born in a specific country or continent. They can either be a naturalized citizen or a citizen by birth. Where things get interesting is when we start talking about ethnicity and race. Ethnicity is simply defined as belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition. This is not the same as race or even nationality, because it is tied to a person's culture or tradition/s within that culture. 

    Race however, it is a classification system (and a myth) that was created in North America that has resulted in a hierarchy between various groups. The reason why those who declared themselves not to be American find it offensive, is because they are viewing their own identity through the lens of their ancestry and not their nationality or where they were born. It is true that everyone who is living in America now, it is the result of their ancestors migrating (or being forced through the event of slavery) from their native country to America. However, it wouldn't be accurate to shun the term "American" if the person was born here in America. 

    So, all of us who are in United States now are considered American, but to be a bit more granular our society has created the hyphenated version of American. (e.g. African-American, Asian-American) which is done for the purposes of classification. However, that aside, all of us have an ancestry to those who came to America through migration and otherwise. 

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Black Americans have been here before America was even a country. There's no way I'm going to sit around claiming that I am Ghanaian when I am hundreds of years removed from there and Africa period. 

    Most immigrants hate America/Americans and want everything it has to offer while speaking down on us. They can all go back to where they came from, I don't care. 

  • 10 months ago

    For some strange reason Americans are literally obsessed with "race".

    With a single exception, census forms in European countries do NOT include a "race" category.

    The United Kingdom is the ONLY "European" country to include ethnic categories on its census form. This is not surprising considering the classist, racist nature of British society. Fortunately they have finally left the European Union. Good riddance. 🇪🇺

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