"Physical Characteristics of True Americans"

In the eyes of "2nd-generation Americans" [1]:
The final sample consisted of 10 participants (5 men and 5 women) who were second-generation graduate students from a predominantly White, midsized urban university in the Northeast. This sample size corresponds to the CQR method of recruiting between 8 and 12 participants (Hill et al., 1997). Regarding racial background, 5 identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, 3 identified as Hispanic, 1 identified as Caribbean, and 1 identified as White/Hispanic.

[. . .]

Physical Characteristics of True Americans

Seven participants reported that white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes were the physical characteristics of a true American. Among these 7 participants, 6 participants mentioned White (n = 2), Caucasian (n = 3), or light skin (n = 1); 4 participants mentioned blonde hair (n = 2) or light hair (n = 2); and 4 participants mentioned blue eyes (n = 2) or light eyes (n = 2). For example, 1 Asian American male participant strongly associated being American with being White and believed that skin color was more important than other characteristics. He stated, “Being White is like a trump card, you can be like ignorant in politics and be White but more American than like a Black or Asian person.” Only 1 of the 7 participants who described White features also included gender. This Caribbean American man stated, “Definitely male, White umm, definitely male and White.” Only 2 of the 7 participants spoke of these features being part of a cookie-cutter or stereotypical American view of what is considered American.

[. . .]

These findings should be considered in light of recent research in the area of American identity. For example, Cheryan and Monin (2005) found that although Asian Americans felt as American as their White American counterparts, they also recognized that they were not perceived as such by other Americans. Thus, it is possible that although our participants may have felt American, as second-generation Americans and racial/ethnic minorities, they may also have recognized that they were not perceived to be as American as White European Americans and thus described features such as blonde hair and blue eyes.

[. . .]

Collectively, the results of our study indicated that being and feeling like a true American was complex and related to a number of individual and contextual factors. The complexity of participants' American identity definitions and negotiations is clearly evident in the results, in which four out of the six domains included categories that could be considered conceptual opposites: physical characteristics (White with blonde hair and blue eyes vs. diverse); beliefs and values (ethnocentrism vs. multiculturalism); impact of 9/11 (us-vs.-them mentality vs. greater unity); and participants' American identity (felt like a true American vs. did not feel like a true American). In addition, our results highlight the potential impact of sociopolitical forces in determining individuals' definitions and feelings of inclusion within a superordinate national identity.

[1] Park-Taylor et al. What It Means to Be and Feel Like a “True” American: Perceptions and Experiences of Second-Generation Americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. April 2008, Vol. 14, No. 2, p 128-137

7 comments:

Lucy W said...

That guy that made the comment about blacks and Asians being less American is a dumb turd BUT it's so true to a certain extent. I am Asian American and was speaking to a Trinidadian American and noticed she kept on referring to White people as "Americans". I had to interrupt her and say, "Aren't you American too".

Rassenhygieniker said...

"Lucy W said...

That guy that made the comment about blacks and Asians being less American is a dumb turd BUT it's so true to a certain extent."


How can he be a "dumb turd" for saying something that as you put it, is "so true"?

Would a White person from Europe living in Korea, Japan or China, ever be considered to be something such a "European Korean", "European Japanese" or a "European Chinese"?

Of course not, such individual would not be considered "less Chinese/Korean or Japanese", because such person won't be even be considered "Chinese/Korean or Japanese", such indvidual would be considered as a foreigner living on Japanese/Korean/Chinese soil and unlike in America and Europe, do not expect any of the Asians to come and preach liberal non-sense to the crowds about how "White people can be as Asian as everybody else."

Anonymous said...

Nicely put, but consider this in your view.

If you say that a European living in foreign land even if they are a citizen of such country, then an American can not be defined as a "white, blonde haired, light eyed" individual. Instead they should be classified as European. As the only unforeign race in America are Native Americans. Soo would you consider a Caucasian American a European American?

Chances are not. Americans typically have no stereotype to a different country in a physical perspective. Instead Americans are generally pointed out by their "expectations of freedom in another country", or "crude loudness". Things like wanting to be catered to in places or speaking loudly in a bad accent without attempting to try the local language/accent is what usually sticks out as being "an American". Past that, looking naively innocent or wearing outrageous clothing not worn in the area is also a large stereotype.

Truth being, Americans are really the only country who puts that label on themselves. Part of which might be due to some discrimination still held by certain individuals. Historical standpoints and the increasing numbers of true foreigners in America(mostly if different ethnic cultures, Indians, Middle East, Orientals)which do not include Europeans are beginning to create more separation and confusion on what Americans classify as "being American".

Point is, if you were raised in a country that belief and culture is going to influence who you are as an individual. Habits, likes, morals, etc. from that country are engrained in you from a young age. That is what will determine whether or not a person is "American", "European", "Korean", etc. Not your skin type!

Its silly to call a person born and raised in Japan a "Russian" because that's their ethnic culture. They wouldn't even speak Russian! Nor have a clue in regards to that life.

Ben Kehler said...

Nationality and race are different!

Ben Kehler said...

America by its very nature is so diverse that to identify someone as an american cannot be based on genetic characteristics unless you are referring to naitive people. Its the same as calling chinese asian but forgetting people from india are asians too!

Ben Kehler said...

Nationality and race are different!

Anonymous said...

Looks like eventually all 400 Richest Americans will be Jewish within the next two decades. We will be a nation of Rich Jews, and everybody else will be poor.