Mapped by cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, the lands of the New World were named América in his honor. This is why historically anyone born in the Americas is considered American, especially in Spanish where the people of these continents are known as americanos. (When using slang, Spanish speakers call Americans from the USA gringos, not necessarily americanos but “americanos”.) I always wondered why the USA born don’t know this distinction is important to the hundreds of millions of people born in this continent. Canadians are American. Cubans are American. Chileans are American.
All these cultures, nations and/or countries are the product of the mix of African and Native American races with the Europeans under the oppression of slavery and colonial times. They all fought the conquistadors and colonials to earn their independence, giving their blood, sweat and tears to create free lands of opportunity for their families and descendants. All these countries share the same past and the same history. Why is there a need to keep those born in the USA oblivious to the fact that they belong to this diverse and selective ethnic group? When did América lose its accent? Just because it was translated to English and used to name the country it does not imply the accent is gone. You’d be surprised to know it never went away and if you don’t believe me, sit in a street corner and people watch for a few minutes. The accents will start to show…
Soon after the USA won their fight for independence in the late 1700s they began to annex, purchase or claim land to create a union of states that spanned from coast to coast. Florida, California, Arizona, and heck even Texas, were Spanish speaking republics with citizens that treasured their Mayan, Aztec and Native American heritage. Why these folk were forced to trade their language and heritage to accept English as their own is still a mystery to me. I think the forefathers lost an opportunity to adopt Spanish as a co-language and become doninant in two tongues. “En la unión está la fuerza.” To many locals the need to learn English was replaced with getting by on a few words and their hard labor. To this day those states are full of Spanish speakers that refuse to conform.
I’m glad many of the conquered and annexed kept their accents alive and well even though many would like you to believe ‘Murica is an English only country. It so isn’t. Pop culture wants to claim the word American as exclusive to the USA and its citizens but the rest of the continent refuses to take this lying down. It is about time everyone in this great nation called the United States knows and accepts that WE are all Americans.
There is no reason why we should shun the amalgamation of European, African and Native genetic make up and cultural patrimony we all share. No reason to erase the continent and prioritize the country above all. Once slaves, now freed from oppresion and colonial rule, the Americans redefined themselves as the protectors of peace, justice and freedom. All of them raged against the dying of the light and won! We are brothers and sisters in arms. One and the same. Good hard working citizens of this Earth, living lives of service dedicated to the greater good. There is no need to divide this beautiful continent into factions. There is no need to build walls to keep people out or to box them in. We all represent the best the great empires of the world once had to offer in an evolved and sophisticated package. We should be helping each other as Woodrow Wilson proclaimed: America for the Americans. Seeing each other as enemies or as lower class citizens needs to stop. This country was built by immigrants and will continue to build itself with the next wave of willing entrepreneurs.
Don’t let patriotism and the 2016 elections fool you. We are all immigrants, even those whose forefathers came on the Mayflower. Any campaign claim made that tells you immigration is to blame is preying on your fear and anxiety of the unknown. Stereotypes of lazy workers that want to live here illegally for the sake of mooching off the government are ludicrous! This ignorance is what keeps the poor souls oppressed and the middle class ignorant of the reality of the poor quality of life these undocumentes workers endure. Cheap labor at the cost of their dignity is something no one should ever agree to or sponsor. The next time you pick veggies or fruit at the supermarket take a moment to thank Jesús for farming your meal. It is América who provides for all of us. The accent makes a difference. It matters and makes us greater than ever before.