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The Lockean Project

Cultural insecurities

“Cultural insecurities,” Monterey Herald – April 19, 2023

The recent commentary piece by Ruben Navarrette (April 13) disputing the need to speak Spanish in order to be considered “Mexican American” puzzled me. He mentions that “…so many members of my tribe consider language to be a touchy subject.” Why the distinction to begin with?

Although my mother immigrated here from Italy and my father from Poland, I have never considered myself “Italian American” or “Polish American.” They both only spoke English with me at home but of their own volition, not because they were pressured to do so. They were that proud of being American citizens and proud I was born here. Yes, I was exposed to their native cultures. I grew up eating lasagne and pierogi, but we also ate hot dogs and hamburgers. I actually did learn Italian and Polish, but I did so on my own, along with other languages.

Unlike Navarrette, who calls himself “Mexican American” by virtue of his Mexican grandparents, I have never identified myself as anything but American; not a “member” of any tribe but a member of the country I belong to. In fact, my Italian and Polish cousins do not consider me to be anything but American. No wonder Navarrette is “plagued by cultural insecurities,” he has allowed himself to believe in the divisive ideology of ethnicity over that of citizenship.

— Jane Ramirez, Salinas