Why do they call you Red?... It must be because I am Irish.
September 26, 2010 1:14 PM Subscribe
Why do many Americans seem reluctant to define themselves as "American"?
posted by Spamfactor to society & culture (128 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I wasn't quite sure how to phrase the question, but what I mean is why do so many Americans define themselves based on their immigrant cultural heritage as opposed to their American heritage? For example someone who was born and raised in Texas and who has parents and grandparents who were born and raised in Texas might say "I'm Irish" or "I'm Italian" or a similar statement. It seems odd that someone who may never have been outside of the United States can feel so comfortable describing themselves this way.
Obviously I realise that when a New Yorker says "I'm Irish" they are simply stating that they are of Irish descent, but how did this racially conscious attitude develop? Are Americans particularly aware of their immigrant roots? If so is this because America has a relatively short history as a country?
I'm partly of Norwegian descent, but I would never think to tell someone I was Norwegian. I think of myself as Scottish, because this is where I was born and raised, and so were my parents. To tell someone I was Norwegian would surely be a lie, if what I mean to say is I'm of Norwegian descent.
So why is it that so many Americans seemingly avoid defining themselves as "American" instead of whatever their great-great-grandfather was? Surely using this logic we could all say "I'm African".