What do you call someone from the United States? In Spanish, the word is ‘estadounidense.’ Literally, United States-ian. In English, there is no word for this. Some of you are now thinking that certainly there exists a word for this – American. But keep in mind that America simply refers to one of two continents – North America or South America. I’ll concede that indeed in Mexico I have been referred to as ‘un Americano,’ but the word isn’t entirely true. Our country has no name. It would be like calling Canada the United Provinces of America. What does it really mean?
America. Vast. Patriotic. Hardworking. To most of us, this makes sense. We identify our melting pot of heritages as being of those qualities fairly easily.
America. Rainy. Mild. Seafood. Catch my drift? It may certainly be indicative of life in a certain region but of course it is not representative of our homeland as a whole.
Now let me put it in context.
Mexico. Resorts. Poverty. Drug cartels. See where I’m going with this?
When we believe a singular story, we fall into the trap of thinking that one source, one experience, or even one accurate account epitomizes the whole. It’s a trap we can’t always avoid falling into. And of course Mexicans do it to U.S. Americans too. But it is still important to remember not to extrapolate what we know into what we might assume. As my time in Mexico continues, it is my goal not to pass judgment on Mexico or the U.S. but to merely serve as a conduit for storytelling.