Again and Still

There seems to be some sort of miscommunication that happens occasionally. I know I’ve posted about this before and I’ve linked to that post in this one. I was going to try to make this one shorter, more to the point, and easier to read, but I failed. Here is some pretty music to make up for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi8vJ_lMxQI

When people from America who have ancestors from Europe say they’re European, these people do not claim to be themselves born in Europe and to have an automatic right to citizenship somewhere in Europe just because their relatives live there. These people are talking about their blood. When people who were born in Europe hear or overhear this they tend to respond with an awkward look, which some would describe as “the deer in the headlights look”. They don’t know what to say.

I try to make it easy on everyone by calling myself “an American of European descent” so everyone knows both my citizenship and ancestry. I get the least amount of resistance using this phrase, which is convenient for me because I’m not a fighter.

It’s still not accurate though. Having this European ancestry, I am still a European by blood (I went over this here: https://frozenotterblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/citizenship-does-not-equal-race/ so I’m not going to go over it very much here). When people who were born in America say they’re European, they aren’t talking about citizenship. They’re talking about blood.

A lot of people are familiar with the “Out of Africa” theory, so on the internet they are more likely to say that the person is also African by this logic. Even if I put enough stock in the “Out of Africa” theory to care ( http://atala.fr/chapter-1/ ), the hypothetical person claiming that the person is African is still missing the point. They don’t seem to have thought to themselves about why the person born in America says this (or in Australia for that matter. I know I don’t give them as much attention as they deserve).

Our ancestors were from there, sure, but that isn’t all of it. We still have relatives there and that isn’t all of it either. (Maybe with me having some second or third (I forget which, but probably both) cousins in Germany and having my relatives still going over there to visit and my family still learning the language makes me not the best person to defend the people who have almost no ties with Europe, but I’m doing it anyway.)

The question I’d like to ask in return is, “have you seen America lately?”

People in First World countries and states usually know where they were born, so obviously no one is claiming to be just as close to Europe as the people who were born there. But we’re even less tied to this place with no roots that makes political decisions that we hate. And everyone hates us for being born here.

Our families were in Europe longer than they were in America. Europe is beautiful, and was probably even more-so when our ancestors still lived there. We still have families there. When people visit Europe and come back they usually tell everyone how great it is.

And people who weren’t born in America have this discomforting habit of yelling at people born in America, calling us stupid, telling us we’re all fat and ugly, thinking that we all start our day with a shot of bourbon and a cigar… And then they’re surprised when we feel terrible and don’t respond kindly to them. We spend all this time trying to explain the blood relation between us, trying to make people understand there’s something wrong with this whole situation with the unfairness, assumptions, and homesickness for places we’ve never been. Still people don’t understand that we people of European descent are all brothers and sisters no matter how distant. Still they don’t understand that we don’t want to be here. Plenty of our ancestors were here because they were forced to leave and we still want to be in Europe.

If this is still too difficult to understand, imagine that the states of Europe are a person and the people living in America and Australia are someone who decided to leave this person and go travel for a long time. They were deeply in love before this, but the traveler goes away for some reason or another anyway. After many many years of being away, the Europe-person pretty much forgets about the traveler and their relationship. Then one day the traveler sends back a single message that reads “I STILL LOVE YOU”. At this point the Europe-person is supposed to have a flood of memories come rushing back and maybe get all nostalgic and fall in love all over again. When the person born in Europe tells the person born in America that they’re really African, it’s like the Europe-person looking at the love note and saying, “Who is this person? I hate you.”

At the very least it should feel flattering when someone born outside of Europe calls themselves a European. It is impolite to respond to a compliment like this by insulting a person. A much nicer response would involve sympathy, either feigned or real. Our ancestors were from there. We’d rather be there than here. And the response we get in return is to be yelled at or to have someone stare awkwardly at us.

 

You could’ve at least been nice about it.

 

Is a simple ,,Es tut mir leid” too much to ask for?

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