Sunday, June 14, 2009


Am I American? she asked me over dinner.

Yes, I replied.

Why am I American?

Funny that this is such a hard question, but Dave and I both looked at each other stumped. Is there a clearcut answer to this?

Because you were born in America, we replied. And although it is true, it doesn't hold water. Her friend Xavier was born in Shanghai, and he is American. And Mei Mei will be born in China, but she will be American.

Because your Mommy and Daddy are American, we replied. And this is true also, but does it really sum up the answer? Besides naturalization, these are the two ways to become American - by birth. But when asked in China, does the answer do the question justice?

Because your favorite food is macaroni & cheese seems like a more reasonable answer for a 3-year-old. As I've thought about this over the last day, and as I'm reading a book by Chinese-American author Amy Tan, my best answer is this.

Because we believe in freedom - freedom of movement; freedom of speech; freedom of religion; freedom of thought; freedom of choice.

I'm not going for profundity here, but can you come up with a better answer?

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