[subtitle: reading about these cases made me think of giving up who you are to be considered white or American; this one is going to be brief because I’m writing this out right before I have to leave]
[see my #citizenship and being ‘white enough’ tag to see what I’m talking about]
I think both Ozawa’s and Singh’s cases show something about how we have to give up our heritage and backgrounds to try to convince people that we fit in. Ozawa’s brief, that he wrote himself, talked about how he was just like a white man, he described the lengths he’d gone through to make sure his children spoke English and not Japanese, and how he was 100% Americanized. For Ozawa and Singh, it was to be considered “white enough” to be granted naturalization or citizenship.
And for us now, I think, it’s to be considered American. Because anything you do wrong is anti-American, right? If you have too much of your heritage showing, not only do white people look at you weird, other people from your country (who live in the U.S. now and probably longer than you have) look at you weird, too. To want to go back home to your home country is not American enough. To wear your country’s clothing is not American enough, unless it’s for multicultural day at school or people are able to commodify it or exotify you. To criticize the United States is not American enough.
I think it’s sad that to be safe and to be accepted we have to give up so much of ourselves (if we don’t want to). To not learn your language? This was no fault of my parents, they tried to teach me lol, but I don’t know my own language that well and that makes me really sad. And to think that there were times (and is some cases, I’m thinking it’s still a thing that people do) that parents wouldn’t speak their native tongue to their children so that they could be 100% American.
Assimilation means being acceptably white. It means getting rid of anything about you that reminds people of where you are from, because no one wants to have their white worldview challenged.