Saturday, March 17, 2007


Happy St. Patrick's Day! The Limerick Festival ends at midnight tonight!

My parents immigrated to this country in the early 70s. I was born a year after they arrived, at St. Peter's Hospital in Olympia, Washington.

That makes my parents immigrants, and me, a first generation American. Because the word "generation" implies birth.

(But wait, JP, wasn't your mama born an American citizen in the Philippines? Yes, so technically she was the first generation of American citizens in the family, an American Filipina. So you can say I'm a second generation Amerian citizen, if you want. But I am the first generation of culturally Americans in my family. By the way, dad was born a Philippine citizen and naturalized in the 80s.)

I am not a "second generation Filipino immigrant" because I am not an immigrant. I was born here. Our Japanese friends have a tradition of counting the generations starting from immigrant (Issei, Nisei, Sansei...) , and certainlly I do not begrudge them for their tradition; however, I do not want to be counted that way.

Of course, people are, and should be proud of their immigrant heritage. I certainly admire my parents for having left everything they knew and making a life in a new, baffling country. And, yes, the culture that they brought with them is certainly part of the fabric of my own life.

However, I find it more useful to keep the term American on my ethnic label (Filipino American, first generation American) because it reminds people that I'm from here.

So am I trying distance myself from immigrants? No.

Granted, Americans have a long and storied history of treating immigrants like shit; right now, somewhere in this country, ICE is breaking apart a family and putting children at risk. And why, to protect us from.... ?

(If you just tried to use some kind of impact-on-economy argument to contradict me, go punch yourself in the neck.)

In fact, last year's Day without Immigrants was a day without me.

The truth is, lately, that the blunders and atrocities of the Bush Administration's war on Iraq, I've becoming increasingly ambivalent about being an American. Sing about that, Lee Greenwood.

No comments: