Birther: A person who states that a political candidate is not qualified to run for public office because they believe that that candidate was born in a foreign country.
Thanks to Donald Trump we now have a new word in the English language;birther.
That word first emerged in 2008 when Trump made a half assed run for the presidency, saying that candidate Obama was born in Kenya. I’ve never heard Trump acknowledge that Obama was born in Hawaii, nor have I heard Trump say that Hawaii is a U.S. state.
Right about that time I was friended on my Facebook page by an acquaintance I had met eighteen years prior when I was still a student at the University of Hawaii-Hilo (UH-Hilo). I met this young man, a summer missionary from Mississippi, while attending summer camp on Oahu. I had no idea what possessed me to accept his invitation since I really didn’t know him too well.
Over the weeks I read some of his posts on my wall. He was very anti-Obama and claiming that Obama was from Kenya. Needless to say most of his friends were also birthers and posted agreeing remarks. I chuckled and thought it safe to post a different opinion. He’s a Christian after all and this is America. I’m entitled to have my own opinion. So I posted that Obama was born in Hawaii, a U.S. state. Therefore he is an American.
The next day I got an e-mail:
“I’m sorry, but I have to un-friend you.”
Wow. I’ve never been un-friended before. I wrote back saying, “You’re very narrow-minded.”
I never got a response. I wasn’t expecting one.
What could birthers like Mr. Red Neck accuse me of if I ran for president?
I should clarify a few things. I am a U.S. citizen. I was born in Hilo Hospital May 16th, 1970. I have a birth certificate to confirm that. I was raised in Hawaii. My childhood friends on Facebook will tell you that. I graduated from UH-Hilo. I have a diploma and transcripts on record. I have a social security number. And yes, I have a card to confirm that. In addition I have a State of Hawaii drivers license and a U.S. passport confirming that I am a U.S. citizen and that I am qualified to be president of the United States.
What could birthers accuse me of?
If they did a Google search they would find that I have lived in China for fourteen years as an English teacher. If they looked through my current passport they would find several Chinese visas and residence permits from various provinces. If they searched the State Department data base they will find that I have had three passports filled with Chinese visas and that one of those passports was stolen from me in a mugging.
They will also discover that I am ethnically half Chinese and that I do have family in China.
I’m too Chinese. I’m not American enough.
The irony behind that statement is that the Chinese might agree with it. I’ve had potential Chinese employers say to my face that I look Chinese. I don’t look foreign enough.
Again, I’m not American enough.
Great. I get countrymen saying that I’m not American enough. I also get Chinese nationals who believe that only Caucasians can teach English, telling me I’m not American enough. What is this hybrid to do? My paperwork just doesn’t seem to cut it.
I once tried to show my American passport to a potential Chinese employer to prove that I am an American but he wanted a Caucasian face to be the poster child for his school. Having a Caucasian brings more students, more prestige, and most importantly, more money. I show my birth certificate to my friends in America but because I speak so glowingly of my overseas experience and celebrate Chinese New Year more fervently than any Caucasian American I’m seen as being too Chinese. And yes, I have been called a traitor.
What the fuck?
How should we define a person’s identity? Should we define their identity by their paperwork? Or should a person’s identity be defined by bloodlines? Perhaps it should be defined by the society and culture that person grew up in. Who is to tell me that I’m not an American or that I’m not American enough?
Incidentally I have yet to hear an African, an Asian, or a Latino boss say to a Caucasian applicant, “Sorry, but you are too white.”
In any case saying that I’m not an American or that I’m not American enough when I am one, is just another way of making me less human. It is rude and it hurts. I remember when that Chinese boss I mentioned earlier said that I “look like a Chinese” to my face. I felt the blood drain from my face in disbelief. I was shocked. Although I had my passport with me, he refused to see it. It stung. It stung so much that I remember it even to this day, long enough to blog about it.
If being an American means I have to be born on the U.S. mainland and look like a Barbie doll, then I’m sorry that I don’t meet any birther’s standards.