Social Question

rojo's avatar

Why do minorities in the US refer to themselves as a hyphenated American?

Asked by rojo (24179points) December 28th, 2018
8 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

Or do they? Perhaps I am mislead by the media but I see the term African-American, Mexican-American, Iraqi-American etc. Personal opinion sure but I don’t refer to myself and an English-American. I call myself American dammit. What about you?

I know in the past that we had Irish-Americans and Norwegian-Americans but we no longer differentiate.
Is that all it takes, time? Or do you have to demand and force the nomenclature?

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ragingloli's avatar

If they do, they do it to preserve their cultural identity.
For example, I am a proud member of the Anti.

filmfann's avatar

Majority too. I’m a proud Cracker-American.

Irukandji's avatar

Historically, hyphenation was foisted upon minority groups to highlight their differentness and delay their assimilation. Then, after these groups decided to embrace the labels they had been given and celebrate their cultural heritage, the dominant culture started complaining about minority groups using hyphenation to keep themselves separate from everyone else. It’s almost like the majority has some sort of vested interest in perpetuating attitudes of suspicion towards minorities and has manipulated the rhetorical landscape to make sure that minorities are in a no-win situation no matter how they refer to themselves.

Nah, that can’t be it. I mean, when has the US ever dealt unfairly with minorities?~

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I do hyphenate my ethnicity, but not as [fill in the blank]-American. I describe myself as a Euro-Mutt.

josie's avatar

My girlfriend was born in Africa
She is a naturalized citizen
She is not white

She would be more likely to shoot herself than call herself African-American.

Until I met her I never gave it much thought
Now I think it is sort of bullshit and I wonder what good it does

stanleybmanly's avatar

It is almost certainly a habit adopted by such charming institutions as law enforcement agencies. The majority population understands the “signals”, but usually adapts even the derisive references to terms of pride or endearment.

kritiper's avatar

They want to be seen as extra special individuals. I do it, too. I’m Scotch Irish Native American. But you wouldn’t know it to look at me, so I’m just American, just like all the others.

JLeslie's avatar

In my experience people in America rarely use Italian-American or Irish-American, when it’s very obvious they are American. They just say, “I’m Irish” or “I’m Italian.”

In writing I see it more. Still, not that often.

When I describe my ex-BIL I say he’s “Italian—from Italy not Brooklyn.” He isn’t American, but even if he was I would say the same.

One of my friends who is American I describe her as Chinese-Peruvian. I have other friends who are Italian-Venezuelans, and they are now Americans. They were only one generation in the second country, so the first country still has a lot of influence.

Some groups I think do it more than others, and some regions of the country are more interested in national background. Italians often identify themselves as Italian without even being asked. In some parts of the country it doesn’t occur to people to ask national original.

@josie Is it because she doesn’t feel part of that group? Or, doesn’t want to be lumped in with American black people? Or, she just objects to the term.

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