#WeDoBelongHere: Why I’m Still Proud To Be American, Despite Stereotypes

Every Fourth of July, when the Internet (or at least my corner) is abuzz about the hypocrisy of the United States celebrating a history of violence, war, and discrimination, I feel a little guilty for enjoying the day.

Like so many second-generation immigrant children I know, I came of age in the 90′s when multiculturalism was celebrated before immigrants became a cultural and political enemy. Unlike many of my South Asian peers, my mom, a public school teacher, embraced the superficial parts of American culture while remaining conservative in most other ways. She always made sure we had a Christmas tree, an Easter basket, a Halloween costume. She helped our family turn traditionally religious holidays into cultural ones. We left kulfi and cookies for Santa Claus, I once wore a sari for Halloween, and she came to my school every year to teach my classmates about Indian culture.

As I grew older, I learned more about problems with U.S. history —of genocide, civil rights battles, and internment camps. But I couldn’t shake that American part of myself. While I love visiting India, where I am surrounded by people who look like me, I always feel a little out of place. I always knew I could never be with someone who wasn’t South Asian and who didn’t understand being “othered.” My partner speaks fluent Bengali and is a strict vegetarian, but also embraces this country’s entrepreneurial spirit.

So on this coming fourth day in July, I will wear red, white, and blue, I attend a barbecue and I sing “Proud to be an American.” Because I am one and will always be.

This post was originally published on Brown Girl Magazine. Click here to read more!

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