Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stolen Words Wednesday: "I am not American."

(Actually, I am American. I am Chilean and USian, and both those countries are in America. Which is a continent, not a country. Go look at a globe.)

But I like how The Arrogant Worms say it:

Now go read Chally's post at Feministe: Dear USians On The Internet. It's a good read.

(Oh, and please don't bother USsplaining. Keep your privilege to yourself. Thanks.)

Two quick things that came to mind when reading this:
  • filling out our school paperwork when we arrived in the US from Chile, and having to mark our ethnicity. We'd never had a race/ethnicity before. My brother and I (who were old enough to fill out our own forms, while Mom filled out my sisters') asked Mom, who thought for a minute then said, "Put 'Hispanic.' You'll be eligible for more scholarships that way."
  • explaning to my Spanish II students why they couldn't say "americano" in Spanish to refer to someone from the US, that the vocabulary word was "estadounidense." They could not understand the concept of AMERICA IS A CONTINENT, like, say, Europe is a continent, and people who lived in France were French AND European... so someone who lives in Chile is Chilean and "americano," but only someone who lives in the US is "estadounidense." They became enraged when I tried to explain how the word did not solely belong to them.


  1. The USA actually has the word "America" in the name of the country, unlike the rest of the countries on the continent. As such, it's become a shorthand for referring to US citizens simply because it's less awkward to say than "USian" (which should really be "USAian"). I understand the frustration though since many people are mislead by it. The country should have been called something different from the start... Oh and please pardon my USsplaining... (ow that burns)

  2. Yes, I get that "United States of America" has the word "America" in it. So?

    "U.S." is two syllables, "America" is three. If we're looking for shorthand, why not go for the short one? Which, bonus! actually refers to your country, instead of appropriating the entire continent?

    "USian" is only "awkward" to say because it's a new word (to you). If it were the word we used, it would be completely normal after, what, a week of use? At most?

    That you took time out of your day to write this, forcing me to take time out of my day to read it, clearly shows you don't "understand" my "frustration." You just like to hear your privileged self talk.