Have you ever looked at old census records? Researched your ancestry? Have you ever noticed how ethnic classifications have changed over the years?
In my own geneology research, I discovered some of my relatives game from Prussia. When some demographics collection form asks me to fill in my ethnicity/race, there is no box to check that says, “Prussian-American.” Prussia no longer exists, and I am willing to bet many Americans today could not even tell you where Prussia was. So, dutifully, I check the box for Caucasian. I suppose Caucasian is now my identity. Can they at least give me the option to say mutt? I have so many different cultures in my heritage, I really am… a mutt. When it comes to preserving our heritage, which of my 15 different heritages do I preserve and celebrate? There is no day for white American mutt. Have white people lost our identity? There is no white American mutt heritage month. Is my heritage less important?
I don’t see it that way. I am an American, I was born in the United States after 1776. I can trace the ships that came from Europe to America. My ancestors were not revolutionaries and they were not Native Americans. My ancestors came to the States in search of the Great American melting pot. A place where it isn’t supposed to matter where you came from or what you believed in. They came in search of prosperity and a dream. I can piece things together, through the years they travelled, history and census records, but really, what is the point? They came. I am an American! I was born in the United States and I can trace my ancestry back to the 1800’s in this country. If I had never done the research, I wouldn’t even know what part of Europe I came from, frankly, family tales have it wrong, the proof is in the documents.
My point is this, does it really matter where my ancestors came from? I was born here. Sixth or Seventh generation… it really doesn’t matter. In our current politically charged culture, overly sensitive of our differences, we have lost sight of the fact that all of us are Americans. Many of us don’t even know our true ancestry. We are Americans. We were born in this country, we live here, we work here, we vote here, we raise our children here.. we are all Americans. Does it really matter anymore from where our ships sailed, two, three or more generations ago?
By perpetuating racial and ethnic classification, are we only perpetuating our differences? We add more and more categories, yet our blood lines are getting more and more diluted. After seven generations, can I really claim anything other than, American? We continue adding heritage celebrations: African American Heritage month, Asian American heritage month, Mexican American Heritage month… Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we can celebrate our differences, but we spend so much time recognizing them, pointing them out, celebrating them… we forget that the majority of us are multi-generational Americans. We have more in common than we have different.
In order for us to be a true melting pot, don’t we actually have to melt first? Why is assimilation such a bad thing? The more we celebrate our differences, hold so tightly to our traditions, the more we perpetuate our own racism. When we all start to recognize one another as Americans, regardless of how many generations ago we arrived, we are Americans. Our blood lines are diluted. It’s part of evolution. If there truly were only two humans on this earth, we all came from the same place. Isn’t it time we start celebrating our similarities? We are a mixed race, we are Americans. Generations ago, mixed race meant Germans and Irish or French and Italian. More and more we continue to dilute our blood lines, White and Black, Black and Hispanic, Hispanic and Black, Asian and White, the list goes on, the categories get broader. Several generations from now, the world will be brown, as we further grow as a global society and become one human race.
The more we celebrate our differences, the more attention we draw to them. History has shown, time and again, differences cause hate and hate causes war. We have the technology to end the human race… yet we continue to celebrate and perpetuate our differences.
In order to fulfill the dream of ancestors, the American Dream, we truly need to believe that all men are created equal. Isn’t it a mistake to continue pointing out our differences? Heritage and Culture are the things of our ancestors… isn’t it time we start celebrating what makes us the same?
We are all on this one earth together, it is our responsibility to take care of it, yet we continue allowing our differences to destroy it.