Sometimes, when I hear a word, images and stories immediately come rushing into my head.
Betsy Ross sewing stars and stripes. Laura Ingalls running across the prairie. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids watching fireworks. The Oregon Trail. Hands on hearts screeching out the Star-Spangled Banner. A picture of Uncle Sam.
“Hey, you!” Uncle Sam says.
I look around.
“You!” He barks. “I want you!”
“Me?” I ask nervously. “For what?”
His index finger points at me accusingly, even though in my culture pointing is a gesture for dogs. I imagine he’s calling me out, saying: “You don’t belong here.” I look into Sam’s eyes at his white hair and beard and creamy skin and realize he’s right. As a mixed race, Chinese-American woman, these stories of America, quite literally, don’t know the half of it.
This entry also appears on the Minnesota Humanities Center blog.