The Exact Moment I became an American (rev.)

The Booker T. Washington Society

By Ronald Court (nee, Courtemanche)

In just two days on September 11, 2010 I will observe the exact moment I realized I was an American and not a multi-hyphenated French-Canadian-American whose grandparents came down from Quebec in search of a living-any living.

It was 11:35am on that fateful day nine years ago in 2001. I had been teaching at Champlain College but as the planes stuck the towers, classes were cancelled. I drove home, but found myself turning off toward the local flag shop. As the realization of what happened set in, that America, our country… my country, me was attacked. I heard myself declare, “I am an American.” I am not French-Canadian. I am an American … of French-Canadian descent.

Today, it makes me ponder why some Americans descended from several generations of American-born ancestors still refer to themselves as African-Americans.

Sure, there’s an obvious answer. But can you tell me who the real African-American in this picture is?

(Hint: Actress Charleze Theron (above) was born in South Africa; Will Smith in Philadelphia.)

2 thoughts on “The Exact Moment I became an American (rev.)

  1. DM

    Great Post. I’m an American. My color is white, but my color isn’t what makes me an American. My ancestry isn’t really that important to me (in terms of which country I came from) either. I’m an “AMERICAN”.

    Booker T. Washington was a GREAT AMERICAN. We need more like him, black or white or Hispanic or Korean or whatever ethnic background.

    I don’t care what color someone is, we’re all AMERICANS.

  2. Judy M.

    Mr. Court,

    your words are so inspiring. I believe that as long as we continue to define ourselves by our ethnicities, there will continue to be racial barriers, stereotypes, etc. The idea that we are all ‘Americans’ should depict a people of unity. However, one feels that they have to distinct themselves from the general population by adding the cultural aspect (African, German, Irish, Asian, etc) of their ethnicity in front of the -American. If you are living in the country and you plan to stay, then you are defined as an American. I think that until people grasp hold of that revelation, we will continue to have a wayward country.

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