Tag Archives: history

Missed it by *that* much…

I work in the public school system. (I know, I know…). In the People’s Republic of New England, as well as across the United States, there is apparently a new thing this year that requires schools to collect racial and ethnic data on every student in the building. This is not optional. Don’t worry, assures the paper, all information will be kept confidential.

Given the current flux of people moving around in this country, legal or not, I suppose I can see why, from a statistical standpoint, why that data might be wanted now rather than waiting until the next census is taken. Here’s my problem, though. In post-racial America*, the only racial/ethnic data that the government is interested in is whether or not a student is or is not Hispanic. If the student is not Hispanic, they would like to know if he is of Asian, African-American, American-Indian or Alaskan Native, or Pacific Islander descent. For all others, please just check “white”, because, well, screw you, Europe. As I’m going through these sheets, some parents have checked off multiple ethnicities and races because, well, again, post-racial America, y’all. The problem is that the computer only accepts one answer for each student. So when I’m staring at a kid’s sheet that looks like a multiple choice test, it’s been suggested that I look at the kid’s picture, decide what race/ethnicity he best represents, and go with that. (Though being the federal government, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it turns out the schools get more money for having more minority students.)

Here’s the kicker. Go back to the “about” page and take a good look at that photograph. Blonde hair, hazel eyes… gotta be some brand of European, right? certainly couldn’t check off any of those boxes indicating I was a racial minority. Well, except, I could. Enter Exhibits A and B:

emma and molly

These are my cousins, and for privacy’s sake, even though they gave me permission to use this photo and I blocked their faces, we’ll call them Sandy and Olivia. Sandy and Olivia are sisters, and they are the closest thing to blood sisters that I have. Our fathers are brothers, and our mothers are sisters. Yes, brothers married sisters. It’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds. We’re talking pretty much same exact gene pool. Anyway, Sandy looks like me, with the blonde hair and dark eyes. Just like our mothers’ side of the family. Olivia on the other hand… well, face it. Anyone could, and understandably would, look at her and think she’s Latina. Nope. Half-Polish, quarter Slovak, and a quarter Scots and Irish. Ever hear of the black Irish? Yup. Bunch of Spanish traders come up the western European coast, decide Ireland is as nice a place as any to settle down (or at least find a warm bed on land for a night or two), and voila! The black Irish are born. You can find us in Scotland, too. Olivia is living proof of that.

Technically, then, I could just as easily mark “Hispanic” on my own theoretical ethnic/racial sheet as I can “white”. Not even “Caucasian”. Just “white”. I have Spanish ancestry, after all. We melanin-challenged individuals are so discriminated against.

 

*If we’re in a “post-racial America” as was much hailed with the election of the first half-black president, why are we even wasting trees on all this? And trust me, it’s a lot of trees, judging by the stacks of paper on my desk.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under politics

A New Era of Revolution

Seeing my own country’s flag: the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star Spangled Banner – the American flag- always fills me with a sort of quiet pride, knowing the history of our nation. Knowing, academically in many cases, the many men and women that fought the world over to keep that flag flying. The more famous photographs and paintings – the original Old Glory, waving o’er Ft. McHenry, black-and-flag draped coffin of Abraham Lincoln, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, on the moon, at the rubble of the World Trade Center. Heck, even on the cover of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” album.

Fighting for independence, one country breaking ties from another, is oft seen as an American venture. Far from it. Today, that notion of sovereignty is as important as it was in 1776.

Today, Scotland is voting on a referendum that will tie or sever its 307-year union with Great Britain.

2014 less 307 is 1707.

Those who have watched “Braveheart” know the the part William Wallace, the Highland laird who first led resistance to English rule in the 1300s after the original Royal Scottish line died out. After some success, he was captured, hanged, drawn, and quartered. In 1306, after Wallace’s death, the throne was taken by the eighth Robert the Bruce (Generally just known as “Robert the Bruce”). England met Bruce with no mercy and the two countries fought a series of battles which culminated in 1314 when the troops of Edward II were crushed.

In 1320, a letter, written in Latin and addressed to the Pope, was sent to declare Scotland’s independence as a sovereign state and confirm its right to defend itself when unjustly attacked.

…as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Sound a bit familiar? The American Declaration of Independence wasn’t written, of course, until 1776. This, the Declaration of Arbroath, was written in 1325. In 1328, England renounced overlordship Scotland and confirmed Robert the Bruce as King.

Things were tentatively okay with Scotland’s southern neighbors until the death of James IV at the Battle of Flodden. His granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, was sent to be reared in France with her mother’s family (Mary was twice-royal; her mother was Marie de Guise.) Problems arose when she became of age and returned to Scotland – a 15 year old Catholic girl suddenly had the Protestant Reformation on her hands. That very schism of religions, Catholic Mary in the north and Protestant Elizabeth I in the south had the British Islands in an uproar. Elizabeth, seeing her cousin Mary as her rival, had her imprisoned in the Tower and as plots swirled on both sides, Mary was executed in 1586.

Elizabeth died in 1607, and the crown went by default to Mary’s son, King James VI of Scotland, who was now also James I of England, thus uniting the two crowns after centuries of just-barely contained hostilities. A century later in 1707, Acts of Union formally joined Scotland to Great Britain. This came after a brief period of upheaval between the parliaments of Scotland and England. Following this, James II of Scotland was exiled, and the nations were linked. This did not stop periodic revolutions such as the one in 1715, an ill-gained attempted at regaining Scottish independence, nor the famed ’45, with James II son, Charles, (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”), which although saw initial strong success, ended in slaughter on Culloden Field. So angered were the English troops that for years they ravaged the Highlands, killing and imprisoning. Famine struck the land, and many chose to leave their homes for new lives in France or the colonies.

Despite atrocities against Scottish culture in the years that followed including the Diskilting Act of 1746 which made ownership of arms and the wearing of Highland dress illegal, the Scots have never given up on hopes of one day regaining national sovereignty. In 1934, the Scottish National Party (SNP) was formed and made an Independent Scotland its primary goal. 1997 saw a referendum that kept Scotland part of the United Kingdom, but gave it control over its own education, health care, and finally, a Parliament.

Seven years ago, the SNP won a brilliant upset against the incumbant Labour Party. This exchange in party power led to the vote we are seeing today.

It is this writer’s opinion that despite the official documentation, Scotland’s independence died with the Stuart cause on Drumossie moor that cold, raining, awful April morning in 1746. The spirit of Scotland never did.

scotpols.net_

Alba gu bràth.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under current events, politics