John Wayne Outlines Problem of Hyphenated Americans as Opposed To Americans

In his short spoken poem "The Hyphen," John Wayne addressed the problems a simple little line — the hyphen — can make in someone's identity, especially when it comes to hyphenated Americans (e.g. Afro-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Italian-Americans, etc.). Do you agree with his message? Or would you say it differently?

The Hyphen, Webster's Dictionary defines, is a symbol used to divide a compound word or a single word.

So it seems to me that when a man calls himself an "Afro-American," a "Mexican-American," "Italian-American," an "Irish-American," "Jewish-American,"
What he's saying is, "I'm a divided American."

Well, we all came from other places, different creeds, different races,
To form a nation...to become as one.
Yet look at the harm a line has done

A simple little line, and yet…as divisive as a line can get.
A crooked cross the Nazis flew…and the Russian hammer and sickle too
Time bombs in the lives of Man; but none of these could ever fan
The flames of hatred faster than…The Hyphen.

The Russian hammer built a wall that locks men's hearts from freedom's call.
A crooked cross flew overhead above twenty million tragic dead
Among them men from this great nation, who died for freedom's preservation.

A hyphen is a line that's small; It can be a bridge, or be a wall.
A bridge can save you lots of time; a wall you always have to climb.
The road to liberty lies true…The Hyphen's use is up to you.

Used as a bridge, it can span all the differences of Man.
Being free in mind and soul should be our most important goal.
If you use The Hyphen as a wall, you'll make your life mean...and small.

An American is a special breed, whose people came to her in need.
They came to her that they might find a world where they'd have peace of mind,
Where men are equal...and something more…stand taller than they stood before.

So you be wise in your decision, and that little line won't cause division.
Let's join hands with one another...for in this land, each man's your brother.

United we stand, divided we fall…
We're Americans...and that says it all.

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