Yes, I refer to myself as an ‘American’

Hello, friend! If I or someone else sent you a link to this blog post, you probably objected to the use of the term ‘American’ to refer to a citizen of the United States of America. If so, I just wanted you to know my thoughts on the matter:

First, I am fully aware that there are many people who live in ‘the Americas,’ who have, for that reason, just as much right to call themselves ‘Americans’ as I do. My wife is from Honduras (Central America), and I have lived in Ecuador (South America) and now in Mexico (North America). So I realize my use of the term is inaccurate, just as many terms I use are technically inaccurate, but I still use them anyway.

Second, I am not trying to be insensitive or imperialist by my use of the term. I am just conforming to what has been a fully entrenched use of the word for many, many years, a word used and recognized the world over. It is a term that communicates effectively, and rolls off the tongue much easier than “United States citizen” or even “U.S. citizen.” And in Spanish, americano is much easier to say than estadounidense and less offensive and/or ambiguous to me than gringo, gabacho, suco or güero. Also, if there are any non U.S. citizens trying to call themselves ‘American’ because they live in the Americas, I have never met or heard of any. So I don’t see any good reason not to use such a handy term.

Third, you would have much more justification if you were complaining about the terms I use to refer to groups you are a part of that I am not a part of. If you were an African-American, you would have every right to dictate to me the term I should use to refer to you. And out of courtesy I should abide by that. But by objecting to the word I use to refer to myself, you are interfering in my business with no right. People can call themselves what they want, and you just have to live with it. I may find “the n-word” so sensitive I can’t bring myself to type it out. But if African-Americans choose to call each other that, that is their right. And so I choose to call myself American and americano. And you are just going to need to accept it, rather than complaining and trying to correct me on it.

Finally, we Americans have plenty of flaws and sins worth criticizing. So criticize those, and leave our name alone. If you are the kind of person who feels the need to impose yourself as thought police for terms as innocuous as ‘American,’ you need to re-evaluate your priorities and find causes more substantial with which to occupy your time.  You may be using this issue to indirectly vent other frustrations of yours – anger, envy, resentment, or prejudice being potential candidates – and you should probably get those checked out and deal with them on a personal level.

Feel free to call me what you will. But as for me, yes, I will continue to refer to myself as an American.

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