This book is about her insights, and experience of being treated as an American, rather than a hyphenated one. — Hyphened-Nation by Nicole Draffen @HyphenedNationTweet
Hyphened-Nation was inspired by the author’s travels overseas, and time spent living in the United Kingdom. Living abroad was an eye-opening experience, she grew to understand certain aspects of American culture better, the longer she lived overseas. This book is about her insights, and experience of being treated as an American, rather than a hyphenated one.
The difference was startling and lead her on a journey to understand why The United States is one of the only, if not the only country, that hyphenates its citizens by ethnicity before nationality.
It is a journey of discovery in understanding that those same boxes we allow ourselves to be placed into as hyphenated-Americans, limit economic, educational, societal, and cultural growth. Her story focuses on ways the United States and our global community differ culturally, and steps citizens can take to create a non-hyphenated coalitional nation.
Nicole Draffen, author of “Hyphened-Nation”. She shares how she grew to understand certain aspects of American culture better, the longer she lived overseas, particularly how The US is one of the only, if not the only country, that hyphenates its citizens by ethnicity before nationality. Nicole’s book sparked a social movement, “Don’t Check the Box”, that encourages Americans to address why we are allowing ourselves to be defined by the boxes we are forced to check, and how it limits self definition.
“I am a builder, a fixer and a challenger. I love tearing things apart to understand them, and then try to prove or disprove their merit. This allows me to move through life with an air of certainty about what I know, and also what I don’t know. So naturally when I lived abroad, the social and cultural consciousness of the people I met, and the things I observed inspired my natural inclination to understand and study the value of cultural norms. The more I traveled overseas, the more I grew to understand certain aspects of the American perception of culture. My journeys inspired me to write a book.
However, when I’m not making plans on how to change the world, you can find me in my garden tending to a vast variety of plants, Feng Shui-ing everything in sight, pursuing my passion of collecting old paintings, attending jazz festivals, antiquing and running. I truly believe each of us can achieve whatever we set out to do, if we are determined, and remain positive.”
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My husband and I both grew up in families that were one generation removed from immigrants. Our parents were not taught their parents’ native tongues and the holidays and traditions of their new homeland were celebrated first, because the new generation had been born American and that is what was most important. While Hubby and I received the watered-down version of this attitude and have been able to enjoy more of a fusion of American traditions with those of our grandparent’s native countries and ethnicities, my son is growing up in a really different world. As he grows to adulthood, he and I have on more than one occasion had conversations about the irony that, these days, where my grandparents were born is far more important to perfect strangers than it ever was to them. He has been encouraged to change his name back to its ethnic spelling, to learn and speak only the language his great grandparents spoke and every form he fills out has him check a box to define where his great grandparents came from. While, he has enjoyed learning new words and new traditions, new to him anyway, he sees it as enrichment of who he is, not a definition of who he should be. He wants to know why he can’t just be an American.
While a hyphen is a part of our lives, I can honestly say that my experiences with the racial inequalities that often accompany a hyphenated nationality are vastly different from that of the author and she brings her experience to the table with a beautiful pathos and quiet confidence that this conversation of race and the sadly prevalent attitude of ‘separate but equal’ will benefit from.
This country NEEDS to open a dialogue on race. It needs to be unpoliticized, free from extreme agenda, and lacking in click-bait catchphrases and talking points. Draffen has opened that dialogue with this book. Her examination of American history and the constitution, her observations of the effects of this American mentality and the socio-economic ramifications for hyphenated Americans are spot on, offering the gravitas that this topic needs.
If reading/listening to this book causes one person to question what it means to be an American, then it has done its job.