Silent Generation Speaks, Listen Up!
Since our country was first formed in 1776, America was largely a country of immigrants from the four corners of the globe, but predominantly of European descent. Like my grandparents, they came with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a small suitcase or kit, leaving behind their families, homes and country to become Americans. They wove their way into cities and towns across the country, integrated themselves into our culture, studied in different schools, learned our English language, and ultimately took their places in every conceivable type of work from shoe repair to banking. And since that very first day, until recent years, we have proudly called ourselves AMERICANS. Yes, Americans, period. That’s who and what we are. It’s our nationality on our passports, without indication of which country we or our ancestors came from. This same point was emphatically made recently by Brigitte Gabriel, who was born in Lebanon. She is the founder and current President of ACT (American Congress for Truth).
The first diminishing of our name arrived with the Cuban boatlifts from Mariel Harbor, Cuba in 1980. They left the great country of Cuba seeking political asylum, in search of freedom, and a better way of life. What was different and still different today, they and their children and grandchildren, many born in the United States, refer to themselves as Cuban or Cuban American. One can’t be both. It is a confusion of national origin with nationality. We Americans are all proud of the country where we or our ancestors came from, but we are now simply and correctly identified as Americans.
Since 1980, there has been a growing number of Americans believing they to should recognize their national origin as their nationality (example, Chinese or Japanese American), none more so than the term African American being substituted for one’s nationality and even race. Some years back a TV magazine show asked a group of well-educated middle-class Black Americans if they preferred being referred to as African Americans. To a person they said no. In the 1960s the federal government changed the racial identifications of Caucasian to White and Negro to Black. Incidentally, in Spanish and Portuguese, Negro means Black. But then in the 1980s the term African American crept into our language. The intent is to identify one has having coming from, or having ancestry from Sub Saharan Africa, which is mostly Black. But there are sizeable populations of Europeans, Asians and Whites who are citizens of Sub Saharan countries living there for generations. Recognizing those facts, African American does not solely identify Black Americans.
Latin, Hispanic, Asian and Arab are all capitalized. So if White and Black are the new Caucasian and Negro, they to should be capitalized. The Census Bureau, our dictionaries and schools should soon rectify the incorrect teachings of the above information.