American Owned

best sign american owned

Code for Whites Only

Somewhere between here and Gallup is a Raffi musical tape by the road, thrown overboard after too many renditions of Baby Beluga.

During my graduate school years we travelled across the USA by car, loaded with two wee lassies, fruit juice and car games.

We zig-zagged to Ithaca and Madison, visiting relatives and stopping by pow-wows during summer months.

While driving down Route 66 past cactus and lizards, we’d look for hotels with air conditioning and swimming pools.

During our travels we noticed signs on hotels and motels that read, “American Owned,” “American Hospitality,” and “Genuine American.”

As a member of the Osage Tribe, I figured the hotels must be owned by Native American business-folk.

Fat chance.

Turns out the signs were code for whites only: something I learned after talking with local residents.

“Whites only” takes several forms.

For example, “American owned” is business code for motel proprietors who didn’t emigrate here from the Middle East, China and Africa.

The coded language welcomes folks with fair skin to “Genuine American” motels.

Today’s New York Times reminds me of the “whites only” coded language in an article that announced the Trump family is investing in a new chain of hotels swathed in American values and dripping with a press agent’s shellac.

The Times reported plans for a “three-star” hotel chain “with a patriotic flair” echoing the president’s slogan that puts “America first.”

The red-white-and-blue hotel chain is referred to as the “American Idea” and departs from the luxury pretense of the president’s so-called empire.

Trump will remain “financially invested in the family business,” the Times reported.

The empire’s hotel partner, Suresh Chawla—son of immigrants to the US—donated $50,000 to the Trump campaign, according to the Times.

5 June 2017

(Uncredited photo found online)








About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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1 Response to American Owned

  1. Arrgh…..I so just want the US to wake up and grow up…..


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