is the new york marathon winner "american" enough?

While the individual in question is not Asian American, I think this is a situation many of us can relate to... On Sunday, Mebrahtom Keflezighi, aka "Meb," won the New York City Marathon, and was widely celebrated as the first American to win the race since 1982.

Almost immediately, there were those who questioned whether Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea, really counted as an American runner. It's a debate fraught with racial and nationalistic components that confront the very notion of what it means to be "American": Is NYC marathon winner American enough?

Yes, let's get it out there -- this is very much about race. And this is very much about the narrow definition that many still hold in their minds about who or what America represents, and vice versa. Never mind the glaring, well-worn and basic fact that the United States is a nation built on immigrants.

Keflezighi immigrated to the United States at age 12. He is an American citizen, and is a product of American distance running programs at the youth, college and professional levels. He's called America is home for 22 years. To the naysayers, I have to ask, what is American enough? When do we get to call Meb an American?

Would we be having this conversation if Keflezighi had immigrated as a baby? If he was born in Ohio? If the winner had immigrated to America at age 12 from a European country? If the winner's name was something less "foreign" than Mebrahtom Keflezighi?

The circumstances are different, but I suspect this line of questioning feels pretty familiar to many of my fellow Asian Americans, whether you were born in the United States, or came as an immigrant. In the eyes of some, we'll just never be American enough.

It's worth noting that the last American to win the New York Marathon, Alberto Salazar, was also born in another country. He came to the United States from Cuba when he was two years old. No one seemed to care back then. Or did they?

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