Why aren't Americans simply called "Americans"?

  • For example, people in the USA like dividing themselves up into groups such as "Country-of-Origin-American".

    • Irish-American
    • Swedish-American
    • African-American
    • Spanish-American
    • Chinese-American

    Why don't they simply call themselves "Americans"? No other people does this. Is this divisive or does it help establish comfortable groups for different ethnicities to reside in?

    EDIT: Many people have pointed out that the statement "no other people does this" is not accurate. However, I shall leave the statement in the original question to keep the answers relevant.

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    You guys missed the giant comment thread that has been moved to chat. People have already agreed that USA-ians are widely accepted as "Americans", while other groups do not call themselves "Americans" casually.

    Why don't people in the US call themselves American? Please listen to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and ask that question again...

    Just a side comment--Argentinians proudly call themselves Americans, but to call a Canadian an American is considered an insult. Go figure.

    It varies by region and by individual. It seems that on the east and west coast people are much more likely to call themselves hyphenated Americans, while in the center of the country people are more likely to just be "American".

    I think there's a sense of _wanting_ to be recognized for your hyphen. Most people are proud of their heritage and don't want to lose it.

    And why don't we all call ourselves humans? I guess we like segregating ourselves into labels.

    What about people outside USA (but on The Americas)? How are those related to this question? Should it be used some hyphenated American (such as latin-american), simply use American or use some other adjective?

    I use my state. Saying "American" because I'm in the USA is easily confused with the American continents. Just like if you're in the EU. "European" has the same confusion problem between the EU and the continent so using the member nation-state is most appropriate.

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's based on a false premise that people only identify as one *or* the other. Which is not true.

  • "...people in the USA like dividing themselves up into groups..."

    Not everybody in the US likes this or does this.

    Despite my heritage (there are many hyphenated identities I could apply), I am simply an American.

    There is a tendency, often seen in the news media and liberal interest groups, to categorize people into ethnic, racial, religious, gender-based or other sub-groups. However, many Americans reject this collectivist approach to identity, preferring instead to focus on the importance of each individual.

    So I would disagree with the premise of your question. Only some people in the US use hyphenated American identities. Others are proud to be simply American.

    As to the reasons why people use these terms, they vary wildly. In the early 20th century, referring to people as "German-American" or "Irish-American" was often meant to offend. In current day political campaigns, the terms "African-American", "Hispanic-American" and "Asian-American" are used to categorize electoral blocks. Ethnic pride is another reason. There are countless others.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM