What is an American anyway?
I’ve always known that the late President George H.W. Bush was a good American and it is not because I necessarily agreed with his policies or politics.
Politics and policies are beyond the point when it comes to the question.
Apple pie is mighty good, but there is more than one kind of pie in this world.
Maybe it was Bush’s service to this nation that made me think of him as American, and a good one at that.
Or maybe it was that thing I felt when I walked through his presidential library in College Station, Texas.
The 41st president of the United States of America was a loyal husband to Barbara and loved his kids and nation.
That much was clear even to most who did not always agree with his politics or policies.
I remember chanting “Eat ‘em up U.S.A.!” at the TV while watching the Olympic games as a kid back in 1984 while Bush was vice president.
Kellogg’s put out bumper sticks with the slogans.
I felt it in my heart.
I also remember being crushed the first time people openly questioned if I was, in fact, American.
It happened the first time I went to Europe the year before 9/11.
I was guessed Jamaican in London, Canadian in France and generically African in Amsterdam.
Nope, born and bred in Ohio, a state that is often more American than America.
In retrospect, having my nationality misidentified by foreigners makes sense.
The world knows Texas.
The world knows New York.
The birth state of the airplane — arguably the most significant invention of modern history — falls off of most radars.
That said, my nationality has since been openly misidentified right here in the good old USA.
Sometimes it has literally been mislabeled, but mostly it gets back to subtle slights because certain people are only sort of American in some hearts.
I get it, to a point.
I do not now and never have fit the imaginary mold of an American.
My picket fence is made of black wrought iron and I don’t have three point whatever kids or a dog name Scout.
I like sweet potato pie far more than I like apple pie.
The melanin keeps me from sunburn for the most part and my hair is anything but straight or wavy.
Some people call it kinky, but I am happily nappy.
Yet, I am American as they come.
Having judged more than my fair share of National Anthem singing contests, I know the words better than most, not that that means anything.
>> President George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush had deep family ties to Ohio
Regardless, I am American and I am proud to be.
I know that “American” isn’t one thing and like Baby from “Dirty Dancing,” nobody puts it in a corner.
The world may think it is a Texan with a thick accent or a New Yorker making deals on Wall Street.
It is those things.
But “American” is also a WWII pilot who becomes president and a black girl from Ohio who screams “Eat ‘em up U.S.A.!”
Americans don’t fit a mold and some of us go off script and that is what makes us American.
So what is American?
There is a history and sensibility and so much more.
Only a fool would try to put Baby in a corner.