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American enough to Celebrate 4th of July?

I was checking my email when I saw that a professor from A&M wrote this piece on the NY Times.

Patriotism and Ambivalence

Rogelio Saenz

Rogelio Saenz is a professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University. He is the author of “Latinas/os in the United States: Changing
the Face of América.”


We are in the midst of major demographic transformations in this country. Latinos, now the nation’s largest minority group, make up about one of every six people in the United States. This reconfiguration has
raised concerns about how Latinos are integrating into
traditional American society. Since there’s great variation in
this population, it’s not surprising that there are as many responses
to the Fourth of July.

Some Latinos feel that they are not seen as real Americans.

Patriotic Latinos fire up the grill, cook fajitas and other delicacies, attend parades, and set off fireworks or attend firework displays. Though they embrace an American identity, many also continue
to celebrate and observe the independence day of their home countries,
such as el 16 de septiembre, Mexican Independence Day.

Other Latinos are ambivalent about the celebration of the Fourth of July. Some individuals fear losing the identity of their country of origin. Others also feel alienation from the United States.

A professional woman in her thirties who lives in the Midwest but who grew up in Mexico City told me that even though she has lived in the United States for fifteen years, she has never celebrated the Fourth of
July for fear of losing her Mexican — and more specifically Chilanga
(Mexico City) — identity. Nonetheless, her sense of herself has
changed somewhat within the last year, since she had a daughter who was
born in the United States and who is a U.S. citizen.

She now feels she has a true piece of her family who belongs here in the United States. Yet, she intimates that her American attachment still is fleeting, especially when she sees a suspicious, questioning,
or uninviting glance from some people reminding her once again that she
is not a real American. When such events happen, and sometimes they
happen daily, her sense of belonging in this country easily evaporates.
Laws, such as Arizona’s SB1070, serve as a constant reminder for Latino
undocumented immigrants — and by extension all Latinos — that they are
neither embraced nor seen as real Americans here.

Indeed, many other Latinos possess ancestors who have been in this country for many generations, yet they continue to feel isolated because they are not really seen by mainstream America as part of the national
fabric. Even though they may take a day off from work, do the cookout
thing, and view firework displays, they do not really feel American or
feel that other Americans do not see them as belonging to this country.

Then we have the many Latinos, especially among the immigrant population, who, even if they wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July, cannot because they are hard at work. For these individuals, the Fourth
is not a holiday. They are the very people, such as Olga and Pablo,
who provide both the services and the comfort so that everyone else can
celebrate the nation’s Independence Day. This reality, we need to
recognize, remains unacknowledged and unappreciated, and we’d do well
not to forget their many important contributions.


What do you think? Do you feel American enough to celebrate 4th of July? Do you agree or disagree with this professor? How did you celebrate your 4th of July? With Carne Asada listening to corridos? Or singing "Proud to be an American..." while watching firework displays?


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