The finding that respondents who have experienced discrimination are less likely to self-identify as American indicates that the decision of people born in the United States not to describe themselves as American is a decision made in light of experiences of exclusion here in the United States. I have argued that this exclusion is part of racism in U.S. society, and is due to the implicit whiteness in the label American. (Golash-Boza 51)
The racism, discrimination, or “exclusion” as Golash-Boza calls it is what influences Americans born within the hyphen to identify more with their ethnic origins. Their experiences determine how they self-identify and Latino-Americans may equate their negative experiences with the American identity. By rejecting that identity, it may serve as a defense mechanism or a reaction against their abusers—much like the defense of one’s ethnic origin . They reject the pain they endured as “the other” for if mainstream “American”-ness entails such racial prejudice then this identity becomes undesirable based on personal experience.