Last semester in my expos class while talking about the issue of race, a white boy in my class raised his hand and asked the professor if he would've to guess that he had (very distant) ethnic ties to other countries. He then proceeded to complain about how people automatically assume that he is merely just American rather than think he had some roots in different countries.
Well, white boy in expos, do I have some things to say to you, my friend.
Being able to walk into a restaurant in places like Utah and not being stared at as if you're a specimen that they have never seen before is a privilege. Not being asked where you're actually from is a privilege. Not being told to go back to "your country" is a privilege. Not being accused of coming to this country to steal jobs is a privilege.
Being automatically recognized as American is not a problem, it's a privilege.
I have seen many people of color put in their fullest efforts to become more "American." I've seen people change, their names to something more western to fit in. I've seen people reject their culture to fit the part of an "American." I have seen people who are embarrassed by their immigrant parents who struggle to speak English in fear that they seem less "American." I have seen people try to change the way they look to more "American."
These are struggles that as a white boy in America you will never face.
As a first generation American I can say that I have witnessed the consequences that others have faced from trying to distance themselves from their cultures. Their attempt to validate their "Americanness" has caused an irreparable amount of distance from their parents. As a child of immigrants, I have seen how important culture is for my parents. If I were to reject their culture, I would have ideally been rejecting them. The amount of pain that I would have caused my parents hurts even to imagine, but these are the great lengths that my colored skinned brothers and sisters are willing to go, white boy, to be recognized as "American," a title that was given to you on a silver platter.