Post Card To America
Greetings from Australia. It’s only been a week, but I have already experienced so much in the great down under: I’ve taken a train over the harbor bridge, went for a bush walk, patted a koala, and swam in the Pacific. I have also taken the time to learn more about your younger sister’s origins and have found that her adoption story isn’t too different from your own. Your sister did depart from Mother Britain, though a bit less rebelliously and decided to keep close ties with her through the Commonwealth of Nations. Anyway, your sister has been a great host and we’ve had many interesting discussions concerning politics, racial equality, and the comparison of culture. While sifting through similarities and variances, I noticed how Australia is not as organized as you are– not in a bad way though. I mean, you chose to split your land up into fifty states while your sister only split her’s into six. Not only has she chosen to sort and label less of her land, but also her inhabitants.
Yesterday I was telling her all about my position at DAY and what the organization works toward. She thought it was so cool how there are all these young people working towards diversity and proper representation. We discussed the pandemic and I informed her of the increase in Asian hate crimes due to it. She found it very strange how Asians were scapegoated for the worldwide pandemic– the same strangeness I felt when I first arrived at the airport:
After getting through customs and collecting my baggage, I headed toward the trains. Seeing that all the signs were in both English and Mandarin, for a second I thought I was in Asia. Little did I know that Mandarin was the second most spoken language in Australia, just like Spanish is in the US.
“So is there such a thing as a Chinese-Australian?” I asked.
Australia looked at me as if I were making a joke.
“No. Why? Do they do that in America?” She replied. I explained this foreign concept of identification– how America uses African-American, Latin-American, and Asian-American to identify people of color, but doesn’t apply a prefix for caucasians.
“That’s a bit ridiculous. But no, here we are all Australian. No prefixes.”
My America, I include this conversation in this postcard because it made me realize how you love labels and how these labels affect how we view each other. The creation of subsections is a subtle way of ghettoizing. My America, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” and therefore, are all simply and explicitly American. White people are assumed to be American without a prefix. In contrast, non-whites are assumed more than American, producing the familiar pry asking, "Where are you really from?" When in actuality almost all Americans had come from overseas– even our own Lady Liberty is an immigrant from France.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed of my prefix— that is not the case at all. It just crossed my mind how a prefix can act as a further divider between racial groups.
In the land of the free, we all have foreign origins, and we are all considered equal, yet, we aren’t called so.
To my America, from your American.
Editor(s): Rachel C., Cathay L., Joyce P., Erika Y.
Photo Credits: Zazzle