We often hear identifiers such as Asian-American, African-American, Native American. In the United States, 'whiteness' is considered the default (see: Growing Up White and 'Normal') and so saying 'White-American' seems redundant. White people are presumed to be American, while others must reaffirm their citizenship against perpetual questioning.
|Asian Americans actors must often|
pretend to have poor English
As is so often the case, these sorts of comments come from well-intentioned people trying to spark conversation and show their interest (see post: 'Does Intent Matter?'). But such words betray the underlying otherization, and reveals our tendency to consider 'white' to be the American default. When we ask 'where are you from?' we imply 'because we know you couldn't be from here,' or worse 'you certainly don't belong here.'
Of course, it isn't just Asian-Americans that struggle against the 'perpetual foreigner' stereotype. It's because of our tenancy to grant assumed-citizenship only to white folks that the demands for Obama's birth certificate were so particularly hurtful (see post: Birthers, Trump, and Obama). As immigration debates escalate, those in the Latino community are constantly subject to assaults on their American identity, and are even required to carry proof! Indeed, Native Americans' history with the US government is almost entirely about this tension in one way or another.
Japanese American Internment). Beyond not being considered fully American, people of color can be otherized to the point of being not fully human. We see the manifestations of this tendency is their use as props in advertisements (links NSFW), as caricatured sports mascots, and as Halloween costumes (see posts: That Mascot Doesn't Honor Anyone and Halloween Costumes). When we lose our compassion for each other as fellow human beings, objectification and dehumanization facilitate violence and the devaluation of life.
What does this verse mean to you? Do you have to reaffirm your 'Americaness' because of repeated assumptions to the contrary? Or when people look at you, do they assume that you are a legal citizen?