Hyphenated Americans

“Well the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” stated Minority Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a few days ago.

Toni Morrison has said, “In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

This has been a pondering of mine for years. I’ve written before on how as a society, we have very little binding us together anymore, such as patriotic songs taught in music class at school, little to no actual civics being taught, not really even a common enemy, for lack of a better term, such as the U.S.S.R.

For some reason, politicians, the media (including social media), and pollsters have divided us as a nation, and we’ve allowed them to do so. Ms. Morrison is correct, when someone says American , there is a connotation it means white. I don’t think we have a common vision of our country as a melting pot anymore. We’ve heard African-American, Indian-American, Mexican-American, and so many other hyphenated-American that we have a hard time thinking of all citizens as just plain old Americans. The same goes for gay, straight, non-binary, trans, Black, Asian, LatinX, and all the other labels out there that also divides us rather than just thinking of people as people.

All of these labels help to create a hierarchy, which in turn allows some groups to have a misguided thought they are better than another group. Whereas if we thought of ourselves as Americans, meaning everyone being entangled with the other by virtue of living in the United States, many, but not all, of our problems might go by the wayside.

When we are not united, but divided, we fall. Unfortunately, I firmly believe politicians and the media want it that way. When we are distracted and distrustful of the other, then our energies go into “defending” what we have so no one else gets it, leaving no energy to fight common foes like white nationalists, domestic terrorists, oligarchs and authoritarian forces, or companies bent on destroying the planet for the own profit.

When we are divided, we become less powerful, which makes those working to keep us divided become more powerful and more wealthier, the rest of us don’t matter. We are either laborers or collateral damage, and it doesn’t really matter which as long as the dividers continue to get what they want.

I’m not sure what it will take to actually collectively wake us up to the dangers we are in as a nation, or even broader as humans living on a dying planet right before our eyes.

What I do know is, if we don’t wake up soon, unite to defeat the dividers, there will be nothing left and our quality of life will be no longer.

How do we wake up and smell the coffee, and then, do something about it?

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