I have been thinking about your prompt to distill my point down to a minute or two. I am going to give this a shot. Aww, it turned out three minutes, but pictures probably jacked up my time.
Who Are You, White Man?
Everyone values their roots. We take genetic tests to tell us what parts of the Earth our families come from. Many Americans like me find stories in their histories like the Deerfield Massacre that occurred on February 28, 1704 in Deerfield, Massachusetts during Queen Anne’s War. Wikipedia calls it a raid, but nine of my ancestors were killed including three grandparents alongside fifty other people. Plenty of Native Americans died with the colonists. It was a bloodbath. The word massacre is appropriate.
We can take several lessons from this event in the history of many American’s families. My ancestors have been described in the history books as brave, fiercely willing to defend their families. The Native Americans who attacked our family are described as savages and monsters.
They are depicted as brutal and unprovoked. The reality is that the people who attacked our family were provoked. They were doing the same thing our family was doing. Protecting their property and their way of life.
The Catlins and the Allens fought until they were slain against the Indians who carried off women and children in an unChristian manner.
The Native Americans had been mostly in conflict with European colonists who came to their land since the “lost colony” of Roanoke in 1586, the near wipeout of the Jamestown colony in 1622 by the Powhatan tribe, and the slaughter of the Pequot tribe in the Pequot Wars in 1636. As it happens, many of our family members were officers in the Pequot Wars, so our family had already killed a lot of Native Americans. Sure, there were a lot of attempts at treaties, but mostly, the Native Americans were trying to tell our family members, “Hey, you live on our land.” “Go away. Just go away.”
Our family was escaping a system. They were running like hell to get away from a way of life that threatened their freedom and their happiness. They were willing to risk their lives for that. Unfortunately, you cannot escape your problems by running away from them. These people imported an oppressive system of hierarchy about human life. It was a system that judged their religion, their social status, and their ethnicity. When searching for the Catlin origins in England, church records record only a “dumb Irishman” getting his child baptized in 1629. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how to escape that way of thinking.
They created a white supremacy. White people who can’t stop calling the police on black people for going about their daily lives. They created a place where Puritan religion oppressed Quakers, even sentencing them to slavery for the crime of practicing their religion. The Muslim ban reminds me of this era in our history. A willingness to separate parents from children is a legacy of this era.
Can we finally achieve the real dream our ancestors were attempting to achieve? True freedom from the oppressive systems they were trying to escape? This is not about a change in location. It is about a change of mind.