Monday, October 7, 2013

Come and take it

I couldn’t help but notice the irony while attending this year’s Come and take it celebration at Gonzales: people of pure white background were a small minority in the crowds I saw. I’d guess at least half of the attendees were Hispanic; a sizable number were black or exhibiting various shades of cross breeding.
Come and take it celebrates an event that began Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico; the story goes that Mexico demanded that Tejanos in Gonzales surrender a small cannon—they refused—Mexican soldiers were dispatched to retrieve the cannon, and the first shots of the revolution were fired as the soldiers arrived.

As commonly told, you’d think the battle pitted white Americans against brown Mexicans, but that story proves inaccurate under scrutiny. Many people of Hispanic origin, Norteños, also fought for independence from the Mexican government alongside their white neighbors. And settlers of African origin that arrived as slaves were represented as well.

To be sure, after the revolution, wars along racial lines did occur in Texas; lands and properties were appropriated and both blacks and hispanics were treated as second class citizens by people of European origin.
Many from blue Northern States harbor misconceptions about Texas and the rest of the South in general due to our less than equitable history along racial lines; the assumption is made that we’re all racists. While there are those among us harboring such prejudices, they’re losing the battle.

I am one of five children. I am married to a white woman with a tiny but genetically provable portion of African breeding. My first wife, the mother of my children, is white. My brother Bill is married to a New Mexican Hispanic, half Spaniard and half American Indian. Pat, the third child, is married to a woman born a Mexican national and has two children. Kyle was married to a white woman.

My grandchildren present the full spectrum of modern Texas. Some are pure white. Latino blood from both Mexico and Colombia appears, and now, Dusty, my second son has chosen a black woman with black children from a previous marriage as his second mate.
I’d met Morgan, Dusty’s significant other, about a year ago, but this weekend was the first time I’d met her children. During Come and take it, we went to a barbecue restaurant in Luling. While I waited in line behind a black man, Morgan took a seat at a table with her daughters, reserving a place for us. I saw the black man check her out. Dusty arrived, red headed and so white it hurts the eyes. The black man did a double take. You could almost hear the thoughts going through his head as he weighed the situation, struggling, I think, with prejudices of his own. Morgan is a beautiful woman.

I retrieved our food and we took our seats. As the line meandered by, one older black woman after another spoke to us, in a way voicing approval, without actually addressing the issue.
Later, Dusty took Morgan to meet my parents: I haven’t heard how that went, but I suspect it probably went well.

The reconquista is over, the battle won without a single shot. The results are not what any proud national would have expected.
This is not the new Europe. Not Mexico. Barely even part of the United States. We’re a multicultural community, with citizens of a number of various ethnic backgrounds. South Texans. A hybrid, unique in many ways: tacos, barbecue, turnip greens, chicken fried steaks and mashed potatoes all on the same plate. A young generation is laying down prejudices of old, creating a new world as they do.

Somehow this feels right to me, like we’ve crossed some invisible barrier. The battles are not over, but times they are a changing and outcome is clear: the bad guys lost.






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