There is a great deal of evidence that indicates mixed racial and cultural groups are increasing throughout the United States. This is one of the most diversified countries in the world, and there seems to be no shortage of varying immigrants or intermingling and intermarrying with others once they are in this nation. The U.S. was initially based upon the ‘melting pot motif’, in which a blend of varying cultures and ethnicities comprised the citizens within the country (Branigin, 1998). Therefore, people of mixed heritage should certainly be treated as Americans—and not as some hyphenated subset of Americans.
One of the primary reasons why citizens within this country should simply be considered and treated as Americans and not as distinct categories of Americans pertains to the nature of naturalized citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that anyone born on American soil is an American citizen (Rodriguez, 2009, p. 1363). Although this is certainly one of the foremost laws championing the viewpoint that there should be American citizens without any sort of hyphenated subsets, this concept makes sense on a practical level too. In the event that someone’s parents were citizens of Romania before immigrating to the U.S. and they birthed their son or daughter in, say, Texas, there is no other place that child can claim for citizenship, for the simple fact that he or she has never even been to another country. Thus, people should consider all American citizens equal, and treat them as such, regardless of the ancestry of their parents.
Another reason why people should treat all citizens as Americans is because there are far too many sub-categories of heritages, cultures, and ethnicities within this country. Consider all of the various races and identities that currently reside in some part of the U.S. Then also think about the varying nationalities (which is not always the same thing as a race), and cultural differences including religions. There would simply be too many different nominations if citizens in the U.S. were to be stratified by some sort hyphenated system instead of simply as Americans. This fact is especially true when one considers the degree to which intermarrying and producing offspring from all of these different categories exacerbates, or rather complicates and multiplies (quite literally) all of these different categories (Saulny, 2011). There would be too many hyphens to describe a person if people were not simply referred to as Americans, which is the best way of labeling citizens in this country.
Lastly, the most important reason that all Americans should simply be considered American citizens and not get categorized into some obscure stratification is due to the issue regarding the difference in treatment each of those categories would receive. One of the principle reasons people desire to immigrate to this country is because of there is supposed to be equity in how all people are treated—regardless of money, social status, and ancestry. From a systematic, governmental perspective, how would one treat the different sort of groups of citizens if the hyphenated approach were adopted? In the conflict theory of sociology, such a system would eventually create favoritism and discrimination. This issue was largely cleared up with the Supreme Court Decision in Brown v. Board of Education in which separate and equal facilities and treatment of people was fundamentally ruled unequal (Williams, 2007). This ruling overturned the previous precedent Plessy v. Ferguson in which distinct treatment of people was lawful (Wolff, 1997). Thus, there should only be American citizens treated as such with equality.
It is very important in these days and times to treat all American citizens as though they are the same. Other than a language spoken at home or a religious preference behind closed doors, most Americans are the same, anyways. Therefore, they deserve to be treated as such.
Branigan, W. (1998). “Immigrants shunning idea of assimilation.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/meltingpot.htm
Rodriguez, C. (2009). “The citizenship clause, original meaning, and the egalitarian unity of the Fourteenth Amendment”. Journal of Constitutional Law. 11 (5): 1363-1371.
Saulny, S. (2011). “Black? White? Asian? More young Americans choose all of the above.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/us/30mixed.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Williams, J. (2007). “Don’t mourn Brown v. Board of Education”. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/opinion/29williams.html
Wolff, K. (1997). “From Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education: The Supreme Court rules on school desegregation”. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Retrieved from http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/pubs/A5/wolff.html#f