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Pet Sins September 1999

Asian woman's definition of the 'default' American - Americans of color don't count

I recall a conversation with a Chinese woman about "exotic" foods. She commented that unlike the Chinese, Americans don't eat pigs' trotters or the innards of animals. I remarked such foods weren't unheard of in the South, especially in African American cuisine. Therefore, the consumption of pig's trotters or animal innards isn't necessarily "exotic" for Americans. To which she replied, "I don't mean THEM ('them', presumably referring to African Americans?); I mean the more mainstream Americans."

I notice that many times, foreigners regard the European American as the "mainstream" American, when actually many of their families have been here for fewer generations than African Americans in general, not to mention the First Nations people. It is so ironic the predecessors of white gained this country by the mass rape and murder of Native Americans, and built it by the slave labor of Native and African Americans when they white people who call black people lazy are too lazy to get off their own ass to pick their own cotton. And newcomers unthinkingly acknowledge the Euro-Americans as the "default" American, when European Americans really don't have any more claim to being American than any other immigrant community, including Asian Americans.

Yet many Asians use the word "American" as a 'racial' term, and refer only to whites with it.