Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From estadounidense to US-American

I have struggled with my geographical self-definition for many years now. Ever since I learned the word “estadounidense” in Spanish.


Finally, I had evidence that there could be a word to replace “American” as a descriptor for a person from the United States. After all, it seems usurping to describe ourselves as Americans, when we are hardly the only nation in THE AMERICAS. Nor are we the largest. Sadly, being the richest seems to make us entitled to taking what we want, at least it has in the past, and so we came to describe ourselves as “Americans,” forcing all the other americans to define themselves differently.

But “unitedstatesian” hardly rolls off the tongue.

I’ve tried a lot of different phrases.

North American. But we aren’t the only North Americans. It could make sense to the extent that Canada and the U.S. are very similar, but there are also vital differences between us. Canadians (and Mexicans, especially) might resent my describing myself and my values and culture as North American.

[Brief geography lesson: Here in the US we teach that there are 7 continents, and Central America is technically part of North America. In Honduras, they teach that there are 6 continents, with the Americas being one continent split into three regions: north, central, and south.]

I didn’t give up. I tried “US Citizen”…but there are many who aren’t citizens who do identify as residents of the U.S.

US Resident…but there are many who reside here without feeling cultural ties here.

And, finally I hit on it. US-AMERICAN. So simple. So clear. Borrowing from the way we structure our self definitions within the US (African American, Irish American, Native American, Latin American, etc.)

I am US-American.

In English.

But in Spanish I am still estadounidense.

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