Sunday, April 29, 2012

Where the West Begins

Glen Sample Ely's Where the West Begins: Debating Texas Identity (Lubbock: Texas Tech University, 2011) does indeed debate Texas identity. Is Texas part of the American South, the American West, unto itself, or some other realm entirely?  All of the above. It is also First Nation country (think Caddo, etc.) or passageway (think Comanche, Kiowa, etc.), New Spain with a touch of New France, Mexico, Lone Star Republic, Annexed State, Slave State, Seceded State, Embattled State, Occupied State, cotton state, cattle state, oil and gas state, drought, fire and Dustbowl state, and in some areas emerging -- eco-preserve state. To a large extent, Ely shows, it depends on how much rainfall arrives: less than twenty inches per year west of the 100th meridan: the West. Transitional zone between the 100th and 98th meridian: Shatterbelt Region. Then transitioning to East Texas = Old South. Let's not forget South Texas, either.  

Upon closer inspection of Texas in its entirety, anyone and everyone would find a more complex milieu than that typically presented by either Texas promoters or detractors. It's a diverse place, with pockets not so diverse and other pockets more so. 

The history of Texas has oft been violent and cruel, but there is also a countercurrent of resilience, imagination, and adaptation to change. Plus good food and music, among other things. But some is Western, some is Southern, some is a mix or becoming very made over indeed.   

Fort Worth, the place (or at least a place) "where the West begins" according to some, is as good a place to point to the current diversity of Texas as any. According to the latest federal census reports (2010-2012), Fort Worth is now the 16th largest and most populated city in the USA -- one notch above Charlotte, North Carolina, and now two above Detroit, Michigan. 

Demographics of Fort Worth as of 2010 (rounded):

19% African American/Black
 3%  Multiracial
 1% American Indian/First Nation
34% Hispanic/Latino
41% Anglo/Non-Hispanic White
 4% Asian 

That's diverse by any standard. More to come on various aspects of this topic, no doubt.  

Today's Rune: Signals.      


Charles Gramlich said...

As someone who has often visited Texas and who has read much fiction set in the state, I'm curious about this book. I'm gonna have to give it a look.

Erik Donald France said...

Cool, Charles!

I should also add from Fort Worth, 2010: "foreign-born persons: 17.4%" which is also interesting.