Let’s get one thing straight: America is not a white country and never has been. In the first instance, it was settled by immigrants from Asia. We call these people “Native Americans” and they had established several thriving civilizations throughout the Americas long before Europeans ever set foot here. In the year of Columbus’ momentous “discovery”, the largest city in the world was Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital in central Mexico. There were also smaller cities across the North American Midwest, integrated with one another by extensive trade networks. Spanish explorers reported on these cities, most of which had disappeared by the time the English and French arrived, due to the spread of diseases brought in by the Spaniards.
When scores of disinherited younger sons of English lords came on the scene, seeking to establish their own lordships in the New World, they found the country very unlike the British Isles, so they began using slave labor to work their fields and herd their cattle. But the slaves were not just for labor. Have you ever asked yourself what a bunch of Englishmen knew about raising rice and cotton? The answer is clear: Absolutely nothing. The experts in raising rice and cotton – and also the experts in running cattle in open ranges – were the Africans. So it wasn’t just African labor that built this country: It was African agricultural experience and expertise. South Carolina itself – where the recent atrocities at Mother Emanuel Church were perpetrated – was a majority black state for decades (see below). Other regions of America – Texas, for example – were Hispanic before they were ever Anglo, and yet we express surprise that we have so many Spanish speakers and feel that this threatens “our” identity.
Seriously, people. We need to get over ourselves and make friends with the idea that “American” is a many-colored thing. Can we not just appreciate one another?