I am an American

I am an American.

Yes, you say, you were born in the United States and that makes you an American. While this is technically true, there is more to it. There is actually an ethnicity called “American” and I don’t mean the so-called “Native Americans.” An American is one who identifies themselves as an American rather than with some prefix, such as Irish-American, Italian-American, Polish-American, African-American, Mexican-American etc. and etc. In the 2000 Census more than 7.2% of respondents, almost 70 million people, identified their ethnicity as Americans. The majority of those who did were, not surprisingly, in the South, particularly Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. There is a good reason for this – those four states, and other Southern states, are populated largely by people whose ancestry dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who assimilated into the population as a whole while the population of the rest of the country is made up of more recent immigrants and their descendants who continue to identify with their country of origin. Those who identify as American are those who either don’t know where their ancestors came from or who have a myriad of ancestors from diverse countries. Such is my case.

Until recently, I thought my surname was Irish and that I have Cherokee ancestry. While it is, it is also a Scottish name and my ancestors actually were Scottish. It turns out I also have German blood, as well as English, Welsh and Irish and that the most recent of my ancestors to arrive in America  were here at least by 1842. That’s when one set of my great-great grandparents, both Irish immigrants, were married in Georgia. I do have Cherokee ancestry. In fact, I’m at least 1/16th, which is enough to be considered “Native American” (a term I hate) and probably more. I also have learned that with one exception, all of my ancestors originally settled in the South, mostly in Virginia. The exception is my German ancestor, an Anabaptist who fled Germany in 1721 with a group of Anabaptists who came to America to get away from Papist persecution. He settled initially in Pennsylvania but migrated south to what is now South Carolina. Many of his descendants moved to West Tennessee in the 1820s-30s.

Although there had been some Germans and Irish in America since the early 1600s, it was in the mid-nineteenth century that large numbers of mostly Catholic Irish and Germans started arriving. While the Irish tended to stay in the northeast, Germans continued to settle in the Midwest. Instead of assimilating into the society of their new land, they tended to stick to themselves and formed communities of people from “the old country” and their descendants tend to identify themselves by their parents and grandparents’ nationality. This is not true of those who came to the South, where new immigrants tended to assimilate as my German ancestor did. His daughter married a Scotsman and over time the German ancestry was forgotten except, perhaps, by those descendants who carried his name. He changed the spelling from Kolb to Culp so they may not have realized it was German. German and Czech communities were established in Texas in the 1840s but even though they still recognize their German heritage, they are as Texan as the descendants of those who came to Texas from elsewhere in the United States. For many, their ancestry is not exclusively German. The same is true of Texans with Hispanic surnames, many of whom are of mixed ancestry. Other Germans established communities in the Midwest. Immigration from Eastern Europe started around the turn of the twentieth century and continued until the 1940s. Most of them settled in Northern cities, particularly New York, Boston,Cleveland and Chicago.

In the mid-nineteenth century, native Americans became concerned about the influx of German and Irish immigrants, many of whom were Catholic. Due to their numbers, German and Irish Catholics, in particular, were gaining political power in the North. “Nativist” political parties were formed in opposition to immigration, mostly in the North, but they fell apart when slavery became an issue, or perhaps because of it because German immigrants were closely allied with New England abolitionists, not for moral reasons but because slavery reduced their employment opportunities. They had no opportunity in the South so they stayed in the North and took jobs in cotton mills and foundries where they were paid little and were treated as badly, or worse, than the slaves in the South. The Union Army depended heavily on German and Irish immigrants during the Civil War. Immigrants who came to the United States from eastern Europe in the early twentieth century stayed in the North because the South was still suffering economic devastation from the war. They tended to settle in urban areas because the land that attracted Germans in the mid-nineteenth century was no longer available.

Now, being an ethnic American does not mean that a person has to be descended from the early settlers even though most who identify as American are. It’s really more of a state of mind, an identification with North America rather than a European country or even Mexico. (Incidentally, the majority of those who identify as Mexican-American are mostly first and second generation Americans whose families immigrated to the United States in the early Twentieth Century. When the United States purchased what is now known as the Louisiana Purchase, the land was sparsely populated, as was Texas prior to the establishment of the Austin Colony in the early nineteenth century. Yes, cities such as El Paso, Santa Fe and border towns such as Presidio date back to the seventeenth century,  but most of the American Southwest was lightly populated and the population was mostly American Indian, who are themselves descended from people who migrated to the Americas at some point in history. Tennessee was more populous than California as late as 1909.) Thousands of early German, Irish and other immigrants threw away the trappings of the land they left and immersed themselves in their new land. For instance, although Jews are now associated primarily with New York City, the earliest Jewish settlers were in the South, with the largest concentration being in Charleston, South Carolina until large numbers of Jews began arriving in New York – and staying. However, later immigrants retained their previous national identity – or their descendants resurrected it in the 1960s after the civil rights movement made it politically expedient to do so.

Being an ethnic American is not exclusive to whites. The African-American identification that has become so popular since the 1990s is actually a misnomer that’s based more on skin color than actual ancestry. Large numbers of Americans who identify as African-American actually have more European ancestry than African. In fact, this may be true of the majority, particularly the more affluent. It’s not because of the “master raping the slave” myth either. There have been mixed-race children born of white women and black men since very early in this country’s history. In fact, there is a group in Appalachia that some researchers believe are descendants of mixed-race unions from the seventeenth century Virginia Tidewater.( No one actually knows where the people, who call themselves “Melungeon” actually came from. Melungeons themselves believe they are descendants of North Africans who were deposited in North Carolina in the sixteenth century and eventually made their way inland. I’ll say this much – one of my ancestral names is found among Melungeons and a recent DNA test showed that while my DNA is primarily found in Scotland and northern Europe, it is also found in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Turkey. That same test showed that my DNA is “weakest” in sub-Saharan Africa. Except for South Africa; the African countries where my DNA is found is in North Africa.) African historian Henry Gates Lewis discovered that his ancestry is more than 51% European.

It is those of us whose ancestors came here in the seventeenth to early nineteenth century that are descended from those who actually founded the United States of America (and Canada.) My family goes back at least ten generations in America with the most “recent” arrival, my great-great-grandparents, being five generations ago (or it is six?). It is also we whose ancestors assimilated into the population of their new country and became one. It is also we who are the most conservative while the descendants of those who came to America in the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries are more likely to be “progressive.” In short, there are millions of Americans who cannot identify with any specific nationality or culture other than American because our ancestors came from a multitude of nations rather than one. We are not Irish-American, German-American (or German) Dutch-American, Italian-American, Polish-American, Lithuanian-American, Jewish-American, Mexican-American, Spanish-American, Portuguese-American, Hispanic-American, Latino-American, Turkish-American, Hawaiian-American, Asian-American Chinese-American, Japanese-American or any of the other “Americans” with a prefix that sociologists, politicians and activists have come up with for those who came to take advantage of what our ancestors established. We are American, native Americans, and not because we have “Native American” blood, (hich most all of us probably do) although we are native Americans because we and our ancestors for generations were born here. We are ethnic American because our ancestors have been in America for generations, unlike Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump whose American ancestry only goes back a generation or two.

Sandra Bland and Race in General

The controversy over the death of a young woman named Sandra Bland in the Waller County, Texas jail concerns me greatly. You see, Waller County and the town of Hempstead is only about an hour’s drive from our home. My wife was living off of Texas 290 a few miles southeast of there when we met. She enjoyed the drive to Hempstead and after we met, she took me out there to visit an open-air market. We’ve been there a number of times since then. Hempstead is a typical small Southern town with a diverse residency. Just east of town, which lies just under 50 miles northwest of downtown Houston, is Prairie View A&M University, a historically black school that is part of the Texas A&M system. Sandra Bland, a Chicago-area native, graduated from Prairie View in 2009. She returned to Texas in July of this year to interview for a job with a connection to the school. On the afternoon of July 10 she was pulled over by Texas State Trooper Brian T. Encinia for failing to signal a lane change. The complete dashcam video of the incident is available and it shows beyond a doubt that Ms. Bland failed to signal. It also shows that she failed to stop at a stop sign when she was pulling onto the road where she was pulled over. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaW09Ymr2BA Trooper Encinia pulled her over with, as he stated, the intention of giving her a warning. He was courteous and attentive, and noticed that Ms. Bland seemed to be agitated. When he went back to her car to give her the warning, Ms. Bland became visibly upset and started berating the trooper after he told her to put out a cigarette. She mouthed off and he told her she was under arrest and to get out of the car, but she refused. He opened the door and threatened to pull her out then pulled out his taser and told her he was going to “light you up” at which point she got out of the car. He directed her to the side of the road where he apparently attempted to handcuff her. Ms. Bland fought him until another officer, a black female, arrived and helped Trooper Encinia subdue her. She was then transported to the Waller County jail in Hempstead where she was booked for assaulting an officer of the law and went before a judge who set bail at $5,000. The following Monday morning she was discovered dead in her cell, after strangling herself using a plastic trash can liner. Two woman in the cell next to her said that she seemed despondent and they heard no struggle or anything from Bland’s cell to indicate  that anyone was trying to harm her. They said that she was very emotional and was An autopsy performed by the Harris County pathologist found that the marks on her neck were consistent with a suicide.

Now, there were no racial overtones in this case – until black activists and members of the media invented them. The facts of the case are out there. Granted, the officer became upset when she verbally assaulted him, which is normal. However, the arrest is not the issue. The issue is that black activists and members of her family, including an attorney they hired, claimed that her death was not a suicide but that someone murdered her. There were claims that Waller County is “the most racist county in Texas” and other such proclamations by people who have never set foot in the place and by certain black agitators, particularly one Quanell X, a Black Muslim who misses no opportunity to get before the television cameras. http://www.houstonpress.com/news/would-you-buy-a-revolution-from-this-man-6574627 In short order, a tragedy became a national issue as members of the black press and others ranted about how Ms. Bland had not committed suicide and the real cause of her death was being covered up.

Actually, it is not surprising that certain people decided to make Sandra Bland’s suicide a racial issue. After all, that is what they do. It started with the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, when he was shot by a mixed-race neighbor of his father, whom he was visiting, after he apparently attacked the man and somehow knocked him to the ground. Witnesses told police that Martin was on top of George Zimmerman when he was shot. Local authorities determined that there was no reason to charge Zimmerman in a case that witnesses said was self-defense. However, the family hired a lawyer and began a national campaign to have Zimmerman arrested, tried and convicted. The Florida governor got into the act an appointed a politically ambitious district attorney from out of the area as a special prosecutor. Instead or presenting evidence to a grand jury, she decided she would indict Zimmerman herself. The case went to trial and the jury found that the evidence indicated that Zimmerman had acted in self-defense. Martin’s family and their lawyer caused millions to be spent on an investigation and trial and ruined Zimmerman’s life. Then there was the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, who was found to have been high on pot at the time, attacked a young police officer who shot and killed him. A grand jury and the FBI investigated the case and found that there was no evidence to indict the police officer, although he resigned from the Ferguson police department and left the area. Then there was the case in Baltimore where a young black man was arrested and died in a police transport (driven by a black officer.) There were also a couple of cases in New York where black men died in altercations with police. (Actually, black men die in altercations with police practically every day but only a handful of the cases attract national attention.)

Believe it or not, race has become an industry. Dozens of black journalists and media figures devote their full energies to racial issues – and little else. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was started by white political progressives in the Northeast, and the Southern Poverty Law Center exist solely for the perpetration of issues pertaining to race as does the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the B’Nai B’rith and the Jewish Defense League. Take away race and these organization’s reason for existence vanishes, thus it is in their best interests to keep racial issues alive, even if they have to invent them. Each of these organizations takes in millions of dollars each year in dues, grants and donations. The NAACP collects close to $9 million  a year in dues from its members, not to mention the millions it generates through donations. It’s no wonder that they seek to keep the issue of race alive.

When it comes to blacks, there has been a concerted effort since early in the Twentieth Century to convince young blacks people that all of their problems are caused by whites. The Nation of Islam, which was founded by a mysterious white man who was last heard from in 1934, teaches that the human race was originally black until an evil scientist started breeding out the blackness and created a race of whites, an evil race. People such as Quanell X teach this to impressionable young blacks in urban areas such as Chicago, Detroit and Houston. http://www.houstonpress.com/news/would-you-buy-a-revolution-from-this-man-6574627  They hold that whites brought blacks to America as slaves without acknowledging that the people who went out into the African interior and captured the tribesmen who were then sold to masters of slave ships were themselves African. To do so would take away from their philosophy of blaming whites for everything. The story of the Atlantic slave trade glosses over the fact that it was Hispanics who started it, Spaniards and Portuguese who needed laborers for their sugar plantations in the Caribbean and South America. Black activists – and many whites in the North – blame slavery on the Southern cotton planters, whose dependence on slavery was confined to a period of roughly half a century after the cotton gin was invented and a market for American cotton developed both in England and New England. They also conveniently leave out that slavery was legal in all of the northern states except Rhode Island and that slave owners in the North took their slaves to the South and sold them when their states abolished slavery. They act as if modern Americans, or our immediate ancestors at least, owned slaves when in fact slavery was abolished 150 years or almost four generations ago. Not a single white (or black) person has owned another person in America since 1865.The slave-owning ancestors of the oldest Americans living today would  be great-great grandparents. Incidentally, some of those slave-owning ancestors had African blood, and not all of it was due to masters having children with slave women. Many blacks, particularly in Louisiana and South Carolina, owned slaves. Some of them owned large numbers of slaves.

There is only one way to do away with racial issues and that is to forget about race. So what that Africans were brought to America as slaves? Tens of thousands of Africans died of disease and in tribal wars during that same period. In fact, the descendants of those slaves are better off in most respects than modern Africans. There’s a good reason that so many Africans today seek new lives elsewhere, particularly in Europe. Africa is still plagued by disease such as AIDS and Ebola while war between rival warlords and political factions is constant. Slavery is still practiced in Africa and in coastal Africa, piracy is rampant. South Africa has the highest murder rate in the world. As far as American negroes are concerned – their only connection to Africa is that some of their ancestors were brought to America, or came voluntarily, some 400 years ago – they need to stop thinking of themselves as African-Americans but as Americans. Booker T. Washington believed that the only way negroes could become productive citizens was through education and that integration should be gradual to avoid problems with whites. He was opposed by W.E.B. Du Bois, who believed in political power. While Washington was from the South and had been born into slavery, Dubois was from Massachusetts and wasn’t born until 1868. Dubois eventually became a socialist and flirted with communism. Du Bois and other black and white political progressives advocated activism as the vehicle for blacks to attain social equality.  Du Bois eventually prevailed and the NAACP, of which he was a founder, became the primary “voice” for American blacks. Perhaps its time for blacks to return to Booker T. Washington’s philosophy.

According to her mother, Sandra Bland came to Texas with a mission – to stop social injustice in the South. If she truly believed she was on a mission, she must have been confounded when she found herself spending a weekend in jail for an altercation that started because she failed to signal a lane change. (So far, no attention has been paid to her having failed to stop when she pulled out from a side road.) If she believed such a thing, and there is evidence that she did, she may have had a martyr complex. She apparently ranted on social media about injustice, particularly on the part of police against blacks. It turns out that she had a history with police in both her home state of Illinois and Texas, including having pled guilty to drug charges in Texas. At the time of her death, she owed over $7,500 in fines in Illinois – http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Suburban-Woman-Found-Dead-in-Jail-Had-Previous-Encounters-With-Police-316025661.html In short, Ms. Bland was not the model citizen her fans have tried to paint her to be.

The most disturbing aspect of the Bland case is that so many were so quick to rush to judgment. Thanks to social media, a movement quickly began to protest her “murder” by “the racists of Waller County.” Never mind that the mayor of Hempstead, where she was held in jail, is black as are at least two members of the city council. Hempstead elected its first black mayor in 1984. One of Waller County’s justices of the peace is a black woman. Yet article after article talked about the “racism” in the county, pointing to how the Waller County sheriff was fired from his job as chief of police “for racism” when in fact the conflict was due to his having used profanity during an arrest which led to a court case back in 2007. One article claims that Waller County was once predominantly black but no mention of this is made in the Handbook of Texas or the Hempstead history. The implication that Sandra Bland’s arrest and subsequent death was all due to racism without offering one shred of proof. I saw Quanell X ranting about how “blacks of Waller County are treated” this week on TV. Actually, Quanell X is from Houston and his pronouncements are just that, pronouncements. Yes, there is a high incident of traffic stops involving blacks but this is due to the large number of black college students at Prairie View.

Yes, the death of Sandra Bland is sad, but in many respects its even sadder at the way her death has been depicted by those who are using it for their own agenda.

Not all blacks are buying the propaganda being put out about how Bland was a victim – http://thyblackman.com/2015/07/24/the-black-womans-mouth-and-sandra-bland/