I never owned slaves. Neither did my parents. As far as I can tell no one in my family ever owned slaves but I guess if you go back far enough everyone has some slave owners in their family tree. But all the ancestors I have been able to trace came to the United States after the Civil War.
That includes my great-great-grandfather who settled in Missouri when he arrived from England in 1894. He married a woman from Indiana. Their second child (my great-grandfather) was born in Missouri but moved to Oklahoma as a boy.
My mom’s side traces back to England via Kansas. To be honest there are a lot of blank spots on my genealogical chart and it doesn’t go back very far. Poor white dirt farmers generally don’t keep a lot of records so I guess there could be some Confederate blood in there somewhere.
To the best of my knowledge none of my relatives or ancestors were members of the Klan. I grew up in California which wasn’t exactly on the front-lines of the Civil Rights Movement. Our regular mailman was also a city councilman and later became elected mayor. He was black.
Since my mom was secretary to the city manager she was well acquainted with Sam Pipes. He was a family friend. He was a deeply religious man and a helluva gospel singer. He performed at my first wedding. I miss Sam.
All my life I have lived around “people of color”. Most of them around here were brown but there are lots of different shades of skin. I have gone to school with, worked with, worked for, and shared housing with people of color.
I believe everyone is equal but that people are different. Some are bigger, smaller, faster, smarter and/or stronger than others. We all have different gifts, and some people have more gifts than others. That is just the way it is.
Equality is a legal concept. Under the law we all have equal rights, equal opportunity and equal duty. But the law cannot make us identical.
We are all products of nature and nurture. As humans we all share some genes. According to the science classes I took we are all the same in more ways than we are different. But DNA is not destiny.
Not all cultures are created equal. I am the product of the American branch of Western Civilization. That is my cultural history. It traces back to the Fertile Crescent via Europe. It includes Greek and Roman philosophy, Christianity (which includes Judaism and Zoroastrianism) as well as principles of science, industrial capitalism and something called “democracy”.
I like my culture. It’s not perfect but it has been more successful than any other culture in history. Maybe some day someone will come up with a better one but until then I’ll keep this one.
I believe in the “melting pot” rather than multiculturalism. What made this country the exceptional place it is is the idea of people from all over the world becoming fused into a single new nation. E pluribus unum – “out of many, one”.
That’s why I feel a connection to the men who stood at Concord, Lexington and Gettysburg. That’s why George Washington is the father of my country. That’s why we are called the United States.
There are some dark chapters in our nation’s history, but there were some pretty good ones as well. Yes, slavery was one of the dark chapters. But we also fought a bloody war to close that chapter.
All over the world we see people hating each other over ancient grievances. When you come to America you need to leave those grievances at the door. We live in the present, not the past.
I didn’t inherit any grievances. I’m sure some of my ancestors got a raw deal but I don’t care. On the other hand I didn’t inherit any guilt either.
That includes white guilt.
I want to live in a country where jobs, promotions and college admissions go to the best qualified person regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. No special privileges for anyone. I’ll take my chances on a level playing field.
I want to live in a country where people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. A place where each one of us is obligated to do the best we can with what we have. A place that rewards effort and accepts no excuses.
I want to live in that exceptional country called the United States of America.
If you think that’s racist then you’re fucked in the head.