The Most Annoying American on the Planet

I am the most annoying Jamaican on the planet — unless you’re Jamaican yourself, of course. I never shut up about Jamaica. I have a whole category on my blog, dedicated to Jamaica. I tweet about Jamaica. I have the flag in all my social media handles that allow special characters. Everything I experience in America, I draw a parallel with my homeland to see how that experience may have differed there. And, nothing gives me greater joy than making fun of my own culture, the things we say, the things we do, and why, as I did in:

THE 3 REAL PURPOSES OF A FAN IN JAMAICA

and

15 ENGLISH WORDS JAMAICANS JUST CAN’T SEEM TO GET RIGHT!

Even so, I don’t just shout how amazing Jamaica is from the roof tops. I have been as open about our economic struggles as our culture of inclusiveness. Sometimes I am praising feminism in our culture and other times I am calling us out on our homophobia. That is real, unconditional love and patriotism. It is loving your country for what it is, not what it pretends to be.

Making a Tough Call

When I first came here, living in America and being American was not my intention. I had given up my life as I knew it to pursue a dream of vagrancy and glamourous homelessness.

Even after I began my paperwork for residency, citizenship was never on my mind. At my interview, the officer who handled my case told me:

You have the same rights as an American citizen, except for the fact that you cannot vote and will not receive a U.S. passport. However, your green card acts as a U.S. passport in the sense that it provides access to the same countries our passport does.

This was my status under the Obama administration. A lot has changed since then. At the time, I laughed it off and decided I wasn’t too keen on voting anyway, so I would skip the citizenship and enjoy the travel freedom. Residency was fine by me.

Then came the next administration, and a lot of the rights I had were stripped away from me. Immigrants across America feared losing their legal status and pursued citizenship in droves. I had family members and friends among them. Some successfully completed the process before the new president took office, while others did not.

I remained on the fence and since I wouldn’t be elligible until June 2019, I didn’t see why I needed to make any rushed decisions. Still, my husband repeatedly asked me if I didn’t plan to apply for citizenship. I fielded his questions with everything from a shrug to I’m thinking about it. Then one day, I told him, I would.

For Love or Fear

Even up until February of this year, I remained hesitant about applying for citizenship. After attending my mother’s naturalisation ceremony, I left with more doubts than answers. The oaths were very serious words.

There were promises in that oath that unsettled me. I spoke to a U.S.-born family member about it. “I don’t know if I can take that oath,” I told him. “I don’t know if I can say those words.”

The family member laughed. “They are just words,” he said. “Everybody has to say them.”

But, I didn’t think of them as just words. They were big, powerful, strong words and I wasn’t sure I could mean them. I thought about those words for days, but I spoke to no one else about it. I started to question whether I would go through with applying for citizenship after all.

Why not just wait on the new green card and remain a resident? So, I changed my mind again. The next time my husband asked when I was going to apply for citizenship, I told him I didn’t know and that I felt more motivated by fear than patriotism.

Immigration is one of those topics we don’t discuss beyond the bare minimums. In the early stages of marriage, he used to ride my nerves by giving me unsolicited advice for a siuation he has never been in and does not understand. Now, he is content to ask questions, make a face, and leave the “immigranting” to me.

Still, he said, “I really think you should apply.”

The Turning Point

During this time of the year, I had also been looking into purchasing property. As I searched in Georgia, I became more and more frustrated. If we moved closer to the city, the houses became too expensive. If we moved too far from the city, I might just get lynched.

While I fussed over properties, other issues arose. Anti-immigration policies, gun laws and women’s rights took the forefront in the news and everyday conversations. Georgia brought things to a head when it introduced the Heartbeat bill. Put simply, I began to feel unsafe.

Around this time, I also took on a new client that needed content written for law firms all across the United States and even in Canada. I mostly wrote on new developments in governmental policies and their effects on individuals.

Over time, I started to receive more and more assignments for law firms in New York and out west. While other law firms were more focused on family law and car crashes, the firms I wrote for in these states focused on issues like immigration policies, LGBTQ rights, racial discrimmination, gender biases and maternal rights.

A pattern then emerged and I began to look more closely at America from the state-level. I also shifted my focus outside of Georgia. There are few things in Georgia I can be proud of, but there are parts of America that are consistently doing great things.

That was the turning point for me. That was the point when I began to see America as I had seen it when I first came here: a country full of promise and opportunity and freedom — if you choose where you live wisely.

“I’m going to apply for my citizenship,” I told my family without fear or reservation this time. “I made up my mind.”

Completing the Deed

When I became elligible for a citizenship application in June, I contacted my lawyer and told him I was ready to begin the process. Two days later, I submitted all requested documents. 

“I have the money set aside for this already,” I told him, “so I would rather get it out of the way, even though it won’t make a difference until they renew my green card in 2020.”

He told me he understood, but shelved my request. Meanwhile, a friend of mine filed her citizenship paperwork at the exact time of her eligibility. Four months later, she received her green card and citizenship interview requests in one. Apparently, in Georgia, they are now processing the requests simultaneously.

Armed with this information, I texted him to let him know that I wanted to go ahead and file everything now. A month and a half had passed by then. I expected another delay, but he stayed up until 3AM, ensuring everything was filed and submitted accurately on August 13th.

The Most Annoying American

Yesterday, I received an important letter in the mail from USCIS. It was not the letter I would have liked to receive, but it nonetheless confirmed that the ball was rolling again. It was my receipt for the $725 filing fee for my citizenship paperwork. Yes; this very annoying Jamaican is about to become American — I think.

I don’t know that my request will be accepted. I have no idea if the green card renewal I applied for more than a year ago will be accepted either. Immigrants now live in a time where we have no faith in the system and these fees we pay are just a gamble to see what happens next.

What I do know is that if I receive citizenship, I will be the most annoying American on the planet. As I’ve said before, true love and patriotism requires loving your country for what it is, not what it pretends to be. It also requires you to be a voluntary spokesperson for your nation, and Jamaicans have this down pat.

Having lost so many rights as a resident under the new administration, I know my life will change drastically. This is not just a card or a piece of paper. These are privileges and rights of which I can currently claim no part. I also realise that there are some states where this is worse than others.

That said, while I look forward to becoming an American citizen, I don’t want to be one in a state where venturing an hour from the city in the wrong direction could make me a target based on the colour of my skin. I want to be in a state that embraces America’s original motto, E pluribus unum. Ironically, the meaning is almost identical to Jamaica’s national mottoOut of many, one.

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28 thoughts on “The Most Annoying American on the Planet

  1. I feel exactly the same as you about the citizenship application and the words of the oaths – just translated to a British naturalisation from being European, following the Brexit events.

    1. That sounds a lot more complicated for you. I’m so sorry you had to be sworn in now of all times. What do you plan to do?

      1. Many thanks for your kind words. I think your time and situation was at least as hard. I hope your efforts, now that you took the decisions, will come to fruition.
        I’m still undecided but possibly I will go for the application at some point soon… all the best

  2. i see nothing wrong with being an american and still be proud or ashamed of your “roots” from another country and to compare the places. some may say, “if you like it so much there, then go back.” but that is them being idiots.
    you are taking big and scary steps but i feel you are not doing so blindly.
    yes, be the annoying american or jamacian or just be the annoying person, period. someone has to be or we are all in deep shit. you are doing so not to be a jerk, but to be a positive voice in this currently insane world.

    1. Thanks, Buddy!! I’ll get to maintain my pride by being in a place that holds similar values to where I’m from. The West’s general commitment to inclusiveness and women’s rights really pulls me. I’m tired of the segregation in the southeast. It’s madness over here.

      The people who believe we should never criticise our countries have no idea what true patriotism is. You don’t help anything by giving it continuous praise. You have to see what ways it erred and help it back on track, or, as you said, we’re all in deep shit…

  3. That’s great, I hope the process runs quickly and smoothly. Any ideas of where you want to go outside of Georgia? I assume still more towards the south (um, winters….) but a lot of the south isn’t much better than Georgia…

    1. Thanks, Trent! I don’t think it will be smooth or quick, but fingers crossed. We’ve been looking out west, which is a whole different kind of south, particularly California. Even my parents have been thinking of moving. They considered Colorado.

      1. The west is very different. I love Colorado and have visited it many times, but I don’t know if I’d want to live there… Parts of California, though, might be nice. Being from Jamaica I’m sure you understand I want to be close to a large body of water.

      2. The west is a whole different side of America, literally and figuratively. I love it out there. That’s where I’ve spent most of my travel time, from Juneau, Alaska down to San Diego, California.

        I’m not a huge fan of Colorado. I had my fair share of racist encounters there in the south part of Grand Junction. It was way worse than being in Utah. I actually felt Utah was more liberal.

      3. I do know that a big segment of Colorado is very (violently) conservative, but the people I’ve visited (I know people in Boulder, Denver and Aurora), of course, aren’t – it is a very “purple” state with extremes each way. And being a white guy I don’t see that ugly side you do – everyone is friendly to me. The big thing, though, is what I like about the state has little to do with people or politics but that it is gorgeous. I love spending time in the high mountains, and I’ve never seen mountains I like more than the mountains there.

        I haven’t been to California since I was a kid, but I know a lot of people who live there or have lived there, from one end of the state to the other, and they all say it is a fantastic place to live… if you can afford it.

      4. Colorado and Nevada are very purple, which is why I crossed them off my list. There are many affordable places in California. Most people are just focused on living in the city. We’re not, so we can luck out on some really inexpensive living costs. Where we’re going is cheaper to live in than Atlanta.

        All of out west is beautiful. That’s the main thing that drew me out there. 🙂

      5. I don’t know much about the northern prices, to be honest, as I only looked in the Sunbelt. But I do know for sure that anything near a city in Cali may cost a few limbs and a liver.

  4. There’s nothing wrong with being “An annoying American . ” Get those papers and that green card that allows you to become a naturalized citizen. Above all please get out in vote in all or any elections. My grandparents and couldn’t vote and my parents couldn’t until they moved up to New York . They were born in those “foreign cities” of Sumpter , South Carolina and Oxford , Waxhaw County, North Carolina . Be an annoying American, that’s okay. Just please don’t be an “Ugly American ” . We have too many of those.

    1. There are cities in the south east where people can’t vote?? What was the restriction placed on them? That’s terrible! Kudos to NY for changing that for them.

      It’s just a waiting game now with USCIS. Literally nothing else I can do anymore. All paperwork has been submitted and all fees paid. It’s entirely up to Uncle Sam.

      The ability to vote in the 2020 elections was definitely one of the big reasons that convinced me too. I’m tired of having the policies that affect me decided entirely by the people they don’t affect.

    1. Haha, these days I’ve been focusing on the positives in particular states. Without their rays of hope, I might have been on the fence a while longer.

      1. New York has definitely done quite a bit to maintain liberal values, but it still comes second to California. Cali pursues freedom to the point of absolute madness and it is as admirable as it is amusing. That governor and his wife are two very amazing people. I respect them immensely.

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