My sister recently returned from studying abroad in Columbia. She had a great time, learned a lot, and is now one step closer to graduation! (Cue big sister cheers)
While in Columbia she met a Marxist Mexican student (quite the mouthful, I know) and they had a conversation about politics. During the conversation she talked about American politics and at somepoint she got distracted. She asked her friend remind about what they were talking about and her friend replied, “you were talking about politics in the U.S.”
We then talked about being inclusive and how “America” is comprised of more than the United States. Honestly, it really hit me thinking. There’s Canada, Mexico, South America, Latin America, all the people who live on the North and South American continents can honestly say they are in fact American because of the continent they live on.
So why did a title this post the burden of inclusivity? When my sister first told me the story I got a little annoyed. This is just people majoring in minors and being difficult. You know what I mean when I say “American” however, I think she’s right. Even though I’m aware of the other countries that comprise the Americas I’ve never thought of them as “Americans”.
Now that I’ve thought about it for a couple hours, I can see the point. I personally don’t want any ideology that ties in with “manifest destiny” a mindset that led to a lot of suffering and degradation of native peoples added to that with globalization comes exposure to different mindsets and points of view. While the idea that I could sound like the stereotypical “self centered American” is annoying what interests me more is the idea that this simple thing never crossed my mind.
I’ve always identified myself as American. I was born here. That said, the term American is much broader than we think. It incompasses more than just the United States, it also includes the countries that also occupy this continent. If that’s true how does that change how I view my neighbors? How does that change how I define an “American”? Something to think about the next time you say “America” or “I’m an America”.