The Duality of Being
You do know that there are 3rd generations or more, who still identify their citizenship is American but their nationality is something else? In America, we celebrate that. Some may have dropped the O’ prefix or the “stein” from the suffix of their names over the generations, but it does not cut off ties from your nationality. Where your ancestors came from. On St Patty’s Day we are all Irish. Easter, we are all buying marshmallow bunnies and dying eggs (even though most don’t know what that means). In the summer in NYC we have Puerto Rican Day, the St Genaro Festival, Yom Kippur/Rosh Hoshanah, Columbus day, the Parade of Nations and Chinese New Year. Then NYC becomes so beautiful around Thanksgiving Day (started by religious refugees having dinner with Native Americans), the City turns into a Winter Wonderland with Christmas decorations everywhere.
What is nationality then? It is a sense of belonging to a particular group through shared language, dialects, history, culture, ethnicity, tribal and sometimes religious ties.
This does not call into question one’s loyalty to the place of their citizenship. I cannot tell you how many citizens I see crying at their swearing in ceremony when they renounce allegiance to the monarchy in their native country.
For some that sense of belonging can call to you in two separate ways. Being an American and, for example, being something else like me…Puerto Rican.
Being born and raised in NYC doesn’t make me less Puerto Rican. I didn’t speak English until I went to public school, although I spent my pre-school years in Brooklyn. My kids were born and raised in Tampa and I raised them knowing that they are Puerto Rican. They speak command Spanish (sientate, callate, haz tu tarea), and eat arroz con gandules, drink cafe con leche and don’t you dare eat Abuela’s pasteles without ketchup.
A lot of people have lost track of their nationality through the years as the family nucleus has changed. Moving around a lot. Divorces. Adoptions. Wars. Deaths of family members. You’ve lost touch with your nationality and are seeking it when you go hunting in Ancestry.Com or the DNA testing 23.
Its a hard concept for me to understand that for a lot of people they perceive America as having to be a homogeneous nation. But it can’t be, even though there are things inherently American (pizza is not big in Italy dude, Egg Foo Young is from San Francisco, and don’t get me started on what you call Mexican food, no one in Tamaulipas would eat it), America has never been homogeneous, it doesn’t have to be and I wouldn’t want it any other way.