Friday, October 12, 2007

Catalan American

At the beginning of this year, 2007, I decided to apply for American citizenship. I have lived in the States for almost a decade, I have American children and we like the country and the people. It was then when I created the entry Catalan American at Wikipedia. Periodically I have to go back and re-do it because some people change it, but that's OK. This is the definition as it appeared today at Wikipedia:

"Catalan Americans are residents of the United States who acknowledge Catalan ancestry and self-identify with it. The group is formed by Catalonia born (Spain or France) naturalized citizens, their descendants and, to a lesser extent, citizens of Catalan descent who came from Latin America and still acknowledge Catalan ancestry.
The Catalan or Catalonian ancestry is identified with the code 204 in the 2000 US census, with the name Catalonian. According to the census, the number of Catalan Americans is 1738 individuals. The census also indicates that in USA the Catalan language is spoken by 1660 people older than 5 years old.
In the US census, People of Catalonian ancestry are listed in a group called «Hispanic (Including Spain)», however most of them do not agree with this classification, since they do not consider themselves as Hispanic. Only Catalans of Latin American origin and few of Spanish origin call themselves Hispanic.

2000 US Census ethnicity
2000 US Census Languages "

The vast majority of Catalan Americans I know, do not consider themselves Hispanic. Unfortunately Catalans are cataloged as Hispanic in the US census, unlike the Basques who are Western European. So if you are French Catalan, Andorran, Portuguese, Gibraltarian or Basque, you are Western European, if you are a Spanish Catalan, you are Hispanic. The fact that our mother tongue is Catalan and not Spanish, and that Catalans were not allowed to go to America until the XVIII century, seems to be irrelevant for those who created the categories in the census. It is clear that the Basque shepherds who migrated to Montana were able to lobby their way out of the Hispanic bucket.

It is always good to go back to history to understand our culture. Let me quote a paragraph of Queen Isabel of Castile's testament where she clearly states that only her kingdoms of Castile and Leon will benefit from the newly discovered world, America.

"OTROSÍ, por quanto las Yslas e Tierra Firme del Mar Oçéano, e Yslas de Canaria, fueron descubiertas e conquistadas a costa destos mis reynos e con los naturales dellos, e por esto es rasón quel trato e prouecho dellas se aya e trate e negoçie destos mis reynos de Castilla e León, e en ellos e a ellos venga todo lo que de allá se traxiere."

Anyway, this week I became an America citizen and I am really happy about it. It took place in one of the most historic venues in the United States, most probably the best. Now I am a citizen of a country I chose, a country that treated me well and where people respect me. I am now officially an American of Catalan ancestry, a Catalan American, proud of my American citizenship and proud of my Catalan ancestry.

I was moved by the judge who held the oath ceremony. She said: "many of you come from countries with long history and rich culture. Do not forget it, do not forget your language either and teach it to your children, but embrace wholeheartedly our country, our values and our language, English.


Johnny Tastavins said...

I would like to cry while reading the words of the judge. That would be impossible to be heard in Spain. Congratulations, good job. Be proud of both nationalities, the american one and also about your old origin.

See you!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. I look forward to reading your new blog.

Congratulations on our American citizenship. As an American of Catalan descent, I liked your analysis of the census categories. I've always felt that Hispanic didn't fit me very well, but neither did the other options.

-- Carles

Uri said...

Ian, I'm glad to see you're back. I'm a Catalan who married a lovely girl from California, resident in the US. You wrote somewhere that you didn't like Carod-Rovira, and I wonder what exactly you dislike about him. Also, who do you think could lead Catalonia to independence? What about Joan Laporta, Barça's president? Have you read Alfons López Tena? What about Joan Carretero? Thanks!

Helen Palmer said...

Hello Ian

I like your writing and I very much like what the judge said on your American citizenship day. Wise words! I wish more people in England who moved there would abide by them.


ian llorens said...

Thank you Johnny, Carles, Uri and Helen for passing by.
Regarding Carod-Rovira, I think that he is not a smart politician. I would prefer someone with more intellectual power, who would speak several languages, especially perfect English and could represent properly the Catalan cause.
We need a person who gets support from all parts of society, left, center and right, Catalan speaking and Spanish speaking, and not only from the nationalist left.
The only thing that would lead to independece is to have a group of leaders who perform, who are able to develop Catalonia in such a way that the gap with Spain gets bigger and bigger, who can make most of our society trilingual to attract foreign investments that cannot be outsourced, who create an all inclusive environment who will not discriminate those who have difficulties to become fluent in Catalan, but who will put all means so that their children master all three languages (Catalan, Spanish and English), etc.

This is the type of high level politician that I would support, and we have none of those. Lopez Tena and Laporta? Interesting guys, not sure about their capabilities. Carretero, no way!

Uri said...

Ian, thank you for your response. With regards to López Tena, apart from recommending you his book (Catalunya sota Espanya) if you have not read it, take a look at the two interviews linked at the end of his entry in Wikipedia (Catalan edition), especially the one at the COPE radio station:

Garci said...

Hi, Ian!

Back with your blog! I wondered what made you abandon the other one! Anyway, wellcome back. As usual I'll say my opinion regarding a detail: Basques were one of the main peoples leading to the Americas. Remember they were not only allowed to travel but actually represented the second ports after the ones in Cadiz and Seville to send ships. So you can't use the same reasons to deny the term Hispanics to the Basques. If that was the reason, Basques and Castilians (Old Castile) would probably have the same chances to be called Hispanics. Personally I never knew what is the US official perception about Hispanics, so when I was living in the States I'd put whatever was convenient for me at that moment. Hispanic should actually, in my view, refer to all individuals born and grown up in Hispania, that is the Iberian Peninsula. However, since the term, today, is mostly used in the US for citizens from either Spanish- or Spanish and Portuguese territories in the Americas, I also tend to not consider myself as Hispanic.

Oriol Vidal-Aparicio said...

Ian, I wanted to personally invite you to follow the blog I recently created about the U.S. 2008 Presidential Election, in Catalan:

I think it will be a good way to bring America closer to the Catalan community around the world (and I'm proud of it, why not).

Una abraçada des de Phoenix, AZ.

Oriol Vidal-Aparicio

carlessants said...

Hugs from a Catalan, born in the Catalonia occupied by spain, and not dealing with being an slave of the non democratic spanish governments.

I felt strong emotions when I read your text talking about that you have been able to chose your country and about their respect.
I sincerely appreciate the way Americans think about many things (not everything, but most).

If I could I would like to live there.

Well, you made me feel happy for a while. :-)

If you miss earing Catalan, you can have some funny time with my youtube videos. :-)


Anonymous said...


Out of curiosity, do you know where most 1st general Catalan immigrants live?
I'd guess Southern Florida, but NYC and LA are the other possibilities.


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