In my state college, I have several acquaintances who have been friends for several years. They all have a similar characteristic in that they are 2nd generation Americans. Their parents immigrated and met in the United States; having my friends as children psychologically “sealed the deal” of citizenship. Their child was guarantee that they were now Americans, and they subsequently sought to become nationalized to continue to support their child.
The phenomenon I want to point out is the way these families treated my friends. The parents specifically regard themselves as the old and cultural, and at the same time they specifically regard their children as new and American. Whereas the grandparents and parents respectably honor their Chinese, Vietnamese, and Honduran traditions, they just the same expect their children to 100% ingrate themselves with the best and worst of American culture, including pop culture. It is strange how both parents and children (my friends) believe in this bifurcation of children and parent.
However, my friends essentially despise the resulting gray zone dissonance of not being 100% Caucasian American yet not being expected to adhere to their own rich traditions. They want to be 100% American and their parents want them to be 100% American, but the parents want themselves to be culturally traditional. For example, one girl didn’t want nor have any desire to speak Chinese even at age 23 despite both her parents regularly speaking it at home. She absorbed some of it, but still doesn’t consider herself a Chinese speaker. Another girl speaks Spanish with her parents, but not with her siblings who all speak English.
My friends hate that they have the excess baggage of, you know, being another race with their own old culture. To even suggest that we are different automatically brands me a racist. But their own parents are the most racist.
What do you call it when you want to deny and shed your own culture to be American? Race denialism? As a white guy, I’m not racist and not trying to hold anyone down at all; yet they are in denial of themselves and are trying to overcome everything about themselves. Frankly, these parents are creating diabolical egos that cannot be satiated. My friends are all reflective of abandonment of religion, indulgence in Jersy-Shore type hedonism, and lack of interest in cultural heritage. “Being American” is their religion and what they honestly strive toward. Not being a better person, not being a better neighbor, not being honorable, moral, diverse, or culturally uplifting. Just being American.
We are not a country of racist bigots. I foist the argument back on these bipolar parents: we are increasingly becoming a country of race denialists.