I was in college and I was walking to a fraternity where a party was going to be held….
I was walking with my roommate, who was Indian and this dude who was Costa Rican…
Anyway, as we are heading to this place, I got talking with the Costa Rican dude about whatever….
It’s been years so forgive me for not remembering the topic that started this…
But anyway, whatever the topic was, it ended up with the Costa Rican dude basically going….
“Oh my god bro, Costa Rica is America too!”
And keep in mind I studied at some liberal arts college so the guy was a little more to the left than a typical college student…
“That’s imperialist!” was an accusation that followed shortly…
In that moment, I didn’t really have much to say because I never spent any time in Latin America if I remember correctly.
And so this claim that “I am imperialist, how dare I use the word American to describe myself?” was new to me.
But I didn’t really care.
I felt the dude was tripping and I was just looking to get drunk and maybe get laid that night.
So an academic topic on the use of the word “American” was not up for the itinerary that night by my plans.
But, many years later, I have about 5 years now as of this writing on July 7, 2020 in living in Latin America.
And, suffice to say, I have seen the occasional moment where this argument gets brought up again.
Granted, it’s always by someone who is either…
- A non-Latino (American, Canadian, etc).
- Or a rich as fuck Latino who comes from an upper class family that could afford to send their kid to a liberal arts college in the US.
A bit similar to the Costa Rican dude brought up in this story….
So what’s the scoop on this?
Is using the word “American” such a bad thing?
In my opinion, the answer is a definitive no.
The anger over this is honestly a bit stupid and the people who get angry over it obviously haven’t put much thought into their anger.
So let’s go into some of the reasons for why I think their argument against Americans using the word “American” to describe themselves is idiotic.
And keep in mind, this article was, in part, inspired by this recent article I saw on centralamerica.com here.
Granted, I probably would have written about it at some point given that there’s always the occasional expat on a Facebook group page that wants to be a bit of a cunt about this issue.
But since July 4th has passed only a few days ago…
I suppose it would be the right time to discuss this issue in greater detail.
So let’s begin!
Reason 1: Poor Education?
Given that I currently, as of this writing, live in Mexico City….
I am part of some expat group for foreigners living in Mexico City.
Anyway, some person posted a picture of the map above describing the difference between the US and America.
The same post you can find below here…
Anyway, in a few of the comments, people made the claim that they were taught that basically North and South America are the same.
They are not – as you can see here.
But here is a comment one person made to illustrate what I am saying:
“We are thought different. For us Mexicans, America is ONE large continent only. In the USA, they teach there are 2 continents, South America and North America. (Missing the central America part) for most of the world Mexico is South America, why? Because of the culture. Continents are also divided culturally, like Europe-Asia. But we don't seem to agree on a universal concept for this. Some countries will teach there are 9 continents, others say seven, for the Mexicans there are 5. Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Oceania. (We don't count Antarctica, and I don't know why)
Unfortunately, I suppose, the education system in Mexico is a bit biased and doesn’t properly teach geography everywhere.
Now I’m sure they have some good schools that do teach proper geography about continents.
But supposedly the difference between North and South America is a bit difficult to understand.
Fair enough – it is a bit complicated given that we are talking about something as complex as continents on an entire planet.
But I suppose this might be one source for why some people have an issue with the term “America” for the US.
Because maybe they had a poor education in the Geography department!
I can’t blame them.
Back when I was in middle school, I had a real bitch of a teacher who would teach us literature.
And her way of teaching was punishing me for very minor things like taking too long to sharpen my pencil.
What a fucking bitch.
No wonder she got divorced…..(just sayin…)
So I can relate here – not all teachers do their job well and it might be the case that there’s plenty of misinformed people out there as well that don’t understand the geographic difference between North and South America.
In the same way that literature teacher failed to teach me properly “Of Mice and Men.”
Fucking Ms. Hanson….
Reason 2: America vs. Americas
The last issue basically mixes into this issue…
Which is that by the image above…
And I will re-post here as you can see below…
But basically a certain amount of people will go “look the US is the US and America is all of North, Central and South America!”
That’s not true.
Again, you can check this source here for looking into the difference between North and South America.
But also keep in mind that when you put all of those together (North, Central and South), you get “’the Americas.”
Where North and South America are the continents and Central America is a subregion of the Americas between the two.
Where also Central America is the subregion of the North American continent...
Of course, if someone from Colombia wants to claim to be American in this case…
Well, American may not be the appropriate word.
But in all seriousness, this is a point that seems to go over the heads of many as they cannot distinguish between America (the US) and the Americas.
Reason 3: So What’s the Alternative?
When people bitch about Americans using the word “American…”
The logical thinkers will ask “Ok, so what do we call ourselves?”
Now looking through this thread on an expat forum for foreigners living in Mexico City…
Some of the responses were…
Those were the only alternatives proposed.
So let’s dig into that.
First, gringo can be an insulting term.
I personally don’t find it insulting but it depends on the context.
If an American were to say to a Mexican, “Que onda, soy un gringo.”
Ok, seems alright to me.
But then if that Mexican were to respond, “Pinche sucio gringo"
Now the way he says “pinche sucio gringo” sounds a bit offensive or maybe xenophobic.
And truthufully, while most people in Mexico and Latin America seem chill with gringos and extranjeros…
There are some who simply have an issue with foreigners in general out of some insecurity or whatever…
Either way, from my experience, I know some gringos are not a fan of the word “gringo.”
I personally don’t mind it but I feel it depends on the context on how it is used.
Then you have “North American.”
Which is just stupid.
Canadians and Mexicans are North Americans.
And if you look at this source here, technically all of Central America is part of the North American continent.
So calling us “North Americans” doesn’t solve much.
Then you have “United Statians.”
Which, ok, is getting us closer to a real alternative…
But there is an issue with it…
Outside of the fact that it sounds stupid and nobody would use it…
There’s one issue we will look into in the next reason…
Reason 4: Taking Official Country Names Very Literally…
OK, so you somehow managed to convince all of Americans that the term “American” is imperialistic and we should all go by the term “United Statians.”
And as you can see by this tweet here…
Right away, all Mexicans will get offended as they ALSO are United Statians.
Because, Mexico is technically the “United Mexican States” as the official name of its country.
So are they not United Statians also?
I guarantee you that if somehow all of America was convinced to use the term “United Statians.”
Some folks of the upper class elite in Mexico would trip over themselves to bitch about this new “imperial US that claims to be United Statians when we are United Statians also!”
GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! HOW DARE THEY!
And of course, if Americans now have to call themselves by the first half of their country’s official name…
Then I’d expect, if we are being fair here…
For Venezuelans to call themselves the “Bolivarian Republicans.”
And the Bolivians to call themselves the “Plurinational Republicans.”
While the Uruguayans can be the “Oriental Republicans.”
You see how stupid this all sound?
But don’t worry – as I hinted at before a few times, it’s only the privileged who worry most about this.
Which brings us to the next point….
Reason 5: The Angry Elite
One day out of the blue I was walking in Mexico City near the Angel of Independence Statue…
I lived a little bit close to the area at the time and I had a date set up…
But in typical Mexican girl fashion, she shows up late by about 10 minutes.
So I’m walking to Metro Insurgentes where we are supposed to meet up…
When this random dude calls out to me…
“Friend, hOw ArE yOuuuuuuuuu”
Basically he was a dude working on the street trying to make his money by shining shoes for people.
And he noticed my shoes and claimed they were very dirty!
Anyway, he won’t leave me alone despite I am in a hurry and I am not rude enough to tell him to leave me alone.
I mean, he seemed like a nice guy.
He asked me “de donde eres” when he realized I speak Spanish sufficiently enough.
And then he responds “oh, un Americano!”
Suffice to say, that’s not an unusual experience.
Most Latinos I have met – almost 99% of them in Latin America – do not have a stick up their ass about the term “Americano” or “American” being used for Americans.
It’s literally only the groups I have mentioned above….
- Self-proclaimed “woke” gringos who want to stand up for Latinos when most Latinos don’t give a shit
- Or the very few Latinos who are from the upper class of Latin America and are so influenced by identity politics of the US that they feel to somehow get angry about this term of the word “American” for those born in the US.
Either way, most people in Latin America honestly do not care about this issue and it is basically a non-topic…
But what about people in other countries?
Reason 6: The Rest of the World
Going from the last issue…
The only people who get angry about Americans using the term “American” are basically very privileged Latinos or a few folks from “developed” countries in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zeeland, etc…
And when I mean a few…
I mean a few…
Especially when you are not in Latin America or any of those places mentioned above, then literally nobody knows this is an issue.
But even in those areas mentioned above, most people don’t have a stick up in their ass about the use of the term American for Americans.
So here’s the thing…
If most people in the world don’t care about it, why should this be the hill you want to die on?
It is really that important?
Maybe….If you are insecure.
Reason 7: Insecurity
The truth is that when certain folks from Latin America complain about this issue, it makes me feel that they are being insecure.
Which isn’t much of a surprise.
In the same way that I have noticed that some Latinos have a beef with Argentina over Argentinos being “elitist” or “snobby” as I have heard a few say.
And while that might be the case…
Is it also because maybe Argentina does relatively well economically compared to a handful of other Latin countries?
In a way, like a jealousy?
Personally, I feel some Latinos are as insecure about that as the US doing very well economically.
Either way, I’m going to leave this note in the words of James Dyde who summarized well what I was going to say here at his website, centralamerica.com.
Which you can find the original article here but I will include the quote that I think best fits this specific reason to consider:
“Latin America has nothing to be jealous of the United States about, success or no success. In recent years, Latin America has come on leaps and bounds. Sure, we’re on our knees at the moment, but so’s everyone, including the USA. Especially the USA.
But here’s the thing. It’s only a name. Throwing your toys out of your pram over a name makes you look petty. It makes you look insecure. And if you’re an American expat in Central America doing that, it makes you look pathetic.”
Reason 8: Just Short for the USA….
I will keep this reason very simple and brief.
And in this case, it is also another reason that I give credit to centralamerica.com for writing about it here.
Which is that literally “America” is just a short term for “United States of America.”
That seems obvious and shouldn’t need to be said…
But I guess it is ignored by the raging cunts that get offended over the term “America” when referring to the US.
It’s simply people shortening “United States of America” to “America.”
In the same way that Venezuelans are Venezuelans and not Bolivarian Republicans.
In the same way that British people are known as British and not “The Official Kings of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Reason 9: Waste of Time
At the end of the day….
Much of this debate is idiotic…
In fact, the only reason I am spending two hours to write about this is because I am drunk on vodka right now and dishing out my thoughts I’ve had about this for a while.
Plus I need more articles for this website since it is new and I guess this is what people spend their time talking about while living in Latin America.
So I might as well cover my bases and go over the popular topics first before getting deeper into the topics that actually matter for expats.
Like information regarding taxation, residency programs, etc…
You know, not what idiotic SJW’s piss themselves talking about.
Which, by the way, it is only them talking about it.
The reason why this is a waste of time is because literally nobody else is talking about it.
I promise to you…
If I were to ask anyone I know from my hometown in Iowa “what are you?”
And they responded….
And then I starting tripping about “omg, that’s imperialistic!! Fascist! Nazi! Hitler! ALFREDO STROESSNER MATIAUDA!!!!11!!!1!!!1!!”
Literally all of them would stare at me like this here below…
Because nobody in the US (let alone 90% of the world) care about this issue.
So it’s a waste of time because you will never convince most Americans to not use the word “American.”
Yet alone everyone else in the world.
Reason 10: “So What Part of America You From?”
This is where the logic of these idiots really comes into play….
Because let’s think about this logically..
Let’s say I ask Vance of MyLatinLife here where he is from…
And the guy goes “omg dude, I’m American!”
Like, ok, so from the US?”
“NO! I’m, like, from the Americas…”
Or, shit, like Canada maybe?
Where in the Americas are you from?!?!
Because if someone asks you “Where are you from?”
And you respond “America” as to mean “the Americas.”
That's literally dumb as fuck.
That’d be like if I was Ethiopian
And an American (shit, did I say that word?) asked me where I am from.
And I go “man, I’m African!”
Like, ok, but what part of Africa?
Kenya to South Africa to Egypt to Morocco to where the fuck where?!
In the same way someone says Europe…
And you go “so Poland, France, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Germany, Italy, or where?!
Same with Asia…
“Yo man, I’m from Asia.”
“Ok….So like South Korea or North Korea?”
You get what I am saying.
Let me turn down my smartass levels a bit here…
If someone asks you where you are from, you say either a specific country or a state or city of that country in case you happen to be talking to someone of the same country as you.
Anyway, you get the idea.
To say “I am American” when you are from Colombia is not only useless….
It’s stupid because most people on the planet will assume you mean the US and also most Colombians don’t say that.
Like most Latinos don’t either.
Just the more privileged ones.
Reason 11: Copyright
This reason I will keep very simple.
But unless someone can prove to me that another country in Latin America tried to jump on the title of being “America…”
Then what can you even complain about?
If the US was the first country to jump on that issue, then we got copyright on the name, pendejos.
Because it’s literally stupid to complain about how America took the name of America when literally nobody else wanted to take it…
If you have evidence otherwise, let me know!
Give me your academic sources.
Most likely it will be some archival research if you do have something.
And if you do have something like that – fucking awesome!
I love academic research and can dig into that shit for hours as I have before!
So bring it to me.
But otherwise, if you don’t have proof of anyone else trying to claim the name of America…
Then it’s a bit stupid to complain about it, no?
If, let’s say, you are a Latino from Uruguay.
And nobody in the history of Uruguay has tried to claim to be American and change the name of Uruguay to something like “los estados unidos de America en Uruguay”
Then you sound a bit stupid, in my honest opinion, because you are literally arguing for something that nobody in the history of your country has ever argued for.
That you are somehow American (meaning from the US) when you are not.
And when nobody in the history of your country has tried to take the name either.
And if that’s the case…
Well, tough shit, loser.
We, the US, got ownership of the name first because we claimed it first.
And as of now, literally no other country in the Americas is trying to take the name.
Reason 12: Issues with the Names of Other Countries.
So if we are going to critique the name of America so much...
Because it is apparently so imperialistic to claim the name of America..
Then let's look into the history of the names of other Latin countries.
For example, you have some countries that were named in honor of Christopher Columbus or the origin of their names is somehow tied to him.
First, the origin of the name Colombia is derived from Christopher Columbus as you can see here.
Then you have Costa Rica, which apparently got its name from Christopher Columbus when he was sailing by the shores of Costa Rica as you can see here.
Next, you have Honduras, which apparently could have got its name from Christopher Columbus as you can read about here.
Now if we are all going to get angry about the US calling itself "America" because it comes across as imperialistic or something...
Then shouldn't we also get angry about the names of countries above that either honor or come from an actual imperialist who killed a lot of people in the Americas?
And it doesn't stop there....
The name Ecuador apparently came from Spanish colonists and it means "the equator" as you can see here.
Next you have Brazil, which got its name as a reference to Brazilwood.
A resource often exploited by Portuguese explorers like Fernão de Loronha back when Brazil was a colony (source here).
How imperialistic of a name!
And finally, we have Paraguay...
Now what could be wrong with the name of Paraguay?!?
If America can't call itself America because there are two continents with the name "America" in them...
Then Paraguay can't call itself Paraguay!
Because it is named after the Paraguay River!
Now where is the Paraguay River?
It goes through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.
So 3 other countries that are not Paraguay?!
How dare Paraguay commit this injustice!
Are they really claiming ownership of a river that goes into 3 other countries?
Of course, there are other countries as well that we could look into.
But we will leave it at that...
I think you get the idea -- that if people want to express fake outrage over the name America and claiming some terrible injustice from it..
Well, we can do mental gymnastics as well to express fake outrage about the names of Latin countries.
Reason 13: Where the Hell did the Rest of America Go?
In the map that you saw at the very top of this article…
And which I post below here…
You see what they call “the USA.”
These SJWs try to be experts on geography…
But they can’t even include all of the US in their very sophisticated research on what is America vs. the US?
Where the hell is Hawaii?!?!
Other imperialistic territories of the US?!?!
I mean, if you are going to include a map of the US to show us how much of a geography expert you are…
At least include a full damn picture of all the territory of the US.
Including Hawaii and all of our territories.
I’m just as surprised that they included Alaska given their ignorance about the US…
As surprised by the fact that they included Texas, California and other territories we took from Mexico a long time ago…
Because the typical types that would complain about the Americans using the term “America” would probably complain about that too.
But that’s a topic for another day.
To summarize this point here…
If these folks wanted to show how great their geography knowledge was…
You’d think, at the very least, they wouldn’t fuck up the geography of the US.
Or, in other words, the geography of America.
Shit, did I just say that?
Reason 14: Imperialism!
This is another common argument that some will say about the US using the term “American” for those from the US.
Which basically translates to “the US has been an imperialistic power dominating other countries in Latin America and the use of the term America is imperialistic as Americans assume they are the key representatives of the Americas.”
First, as said before, most Americans are not trying to overshadow the rest of Latin America by calling themselves American.
In large part because there is a notable cultural difference between the US and Latin America in such a way that 99% of Americans don’t think about Latin America when they call themselves American.
Mostly because of the significant cultural difference.
It has nothing to do with trying to put some imperialistic boot on the rest of Latin America.
Get over yourselves.
Most Americans don’t give a fuck about Latin America because they have their own issues in day to day life to worry about.
And because of that cultural difference I mentioned that, in a way, makes the US and Canada bit culturally different from the rest of Latin America.
Though, as a side point, that’s not a very nuanced statement since there are parts of the US that have more Latin influence like Texas, Miami, etc.
But going further into this topic…
It should also be noted that the US isn’t the only country known for imperialism.
This is funny to me because most of these activists who get angry over the term “American” fail to recognize in the heat of this debate that literally every country on this planet has imperialistic ambitions.
It just happens to be that some states have more resources and capability to expand their imperialistic ambitions than others.
Such as Brazil taking up territory from its nearby South American countries.
Or Chile stealing land from Bolivia.
Or Bolivia and Paraguay getting into a conflict in the Chaco War.
Or how Simon Bolivar – the “liberator” of South America – had ambitions to include all of Spanish speaking America of South America into one big country?
The fact is that just about (or all) of Latin American countries have had elites running their countries that have aspired to imperialistic goals to expand the territory, control and power of their respective countries in my opinion…
But some countries were more prepared for that than others.
Like how the US was more equipped to be a more superior power dominating the Americas than say Guatemala or Paraguay.
Granted, if Paraguay wasn’t wrecked in the War of the Triple Alliance as you can read here…
Maybe Paraguay would be a nuclear super imperialistic power…
Anything is possible!
But don’t try to speak from a moralistic high chair when just about every country in the world is run by elites who aspire to imperialistic means.
Which brings us to the next point…
Reason 15: The Most Advanced Country
If Europe had to decide on which country would best fit to be labeled “the United States of Europe,” it might end up being Germany.
If Asia had to decide as well on this topic for their own region, it would probably be “the United States of Asia” for China.
In the same way Saudi Arabia could label themselves as “the United States of the Middle East.”
I’m less informed on Africa as a region but I know Egypt is relatively strong as a country in that region.
So “the United States of Africa” for Egypt?”
In the same way that the United States of America is the most powerful country in the Americas in terms of economy, military, cultural influence, diplomacy, etc…
So why shouldn’t it be able to claim the title of “United States of America” where people from that country can call themselves Americans.
Hell, if the US were to become a shithole and Bolivia were to rise to the top and become the next super power of the world…
Then I will eat my hat and be as nuanced and fair here…
And say that the US can give up its title of being “the United States of America” to Bolivia.
And Bolivia can be the “United Bolivian States of America” and Bolivians can call themselves American.
But until that happens…
The US is not only the only country that I know of that has tried to claim official ownership of the name America…
But it is also the most powerful and influential country of the Americas.
So why shouldn’t it claim to be America?
In the same way China is more than free to claim to be the United States of Asia.
If you are the most powerful country in your respective region, you get free dibs on the title of your country and region.
Call it imperialistic – I call it free market competition.
And I’m being fair here – if Bolivia can outcompete the US on a economic, military, cultural and diplomatic matter…
It can be America and we will call ourselves…
Well shit, I’m not sure.
Maybe United Statians is what we would have to go with.
Or the “Superior Canadians of the South.”
I’m working on new names as we speak in case those Bolivians can outcompete the US and have the right to ownership of the name “America.”
Hopefully it won’t happen because the names I am coming up with sound like shit…
Anyway, those are all the reasons I have against those who take issue with Americans using the name “American.”
And if you have a reason of your own that you think should be included in this list..
Or if you are someone who has a good point against my list for why Americans should not use the term American.
Then for either of you, mention it in the comment section below!
And I will try to respond!
Granted, the time it will take for me to respond will depend on how quickly I can put the bottle of Oso Negro down and look down at my keyboard to type out a coherent response.
But I promise it would be within a month!
Anyway, hope you liked this article and thanks for reading!