I am a 1/2 first generation American. My Mother is American (Detroit) and my father is Dutch (Holland). He’s been here almost 60 years and he still speaks with a heavy Dutch accent and therefore I speak English with a bit of a Dutch accent.
When 9/11 happened I was in college in Newark, NJ. I remember talking about the events in class afterwards and getting yelled at by a Syrian girl during a class because I was talking about my fear of seeing backlash attacks in NJ. From her view I couldn’t know what it was like to be immigrant’s kid in America, because I was white, and could not have immigrant parents. A few days later cops pulled my father over on the highways with a bunch of other people because they were looking for terrorists driving mini-vans and he fit the description since he was tan and had an accent.
I have lost count of how many times I been told that being Dutch and being white is the same thing. That all of the western part of Europe is the same. I’ve been told being of European descent, especially being Dutch, automatically makes both racist and more at fault for slavery then other white people because of the Dutch slaves ships. Also, as I am constantly being mistaken for being German, I have been blamed for the Holocaust as well. I am not allowed to be a Dutch-American, or even a European-American. I don’t normally even see Caucasian listed anymore on forms. I am definitely not allowed to understand immigrant issues or what it’s like to be the first in your family to graduate college, or to have a family that overcame hardships and poverty to find the American Dream. I am not allowed to not be at fault for this country’s past (or Europe’s involvement) even though I learned in school along with all the other immigrants kids. I am part of the problem and at the same time, I’m told there’s nothing I can do help be part of the solution because as a white person, I am the problem.