Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Eyes of Texas: Where the South Begins

Glen Sample Ely's Where the West Begins: Debating Texas Identity (Lubbock: Texas Tech University, 2011) -- as its full title suggests -- debates Texas identity. 

Which to emphasize?

Where the South Begins / Where the South Ends
Where the West Begins / Where the West Ends ?

Is Texas part of the American South, the American West, unto itself, or some other realm entirely?  All of the above. It is/was also First Nation country (Caddo, etc.) or passageway (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, Wild West, 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, determining where the West/South identity split ends or begins 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, which has its own characteristics.   

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. But why is it a Tea Party led "Red State" in 2014? Will it become a "Blue State" by 2020? How about "Purple" in between?  
The history of Texas has oft been violent and cruel and even downright stupid, but there is also a countercurrent of resilience, imagination, and adaptation to change. Plus good food and music, among other things. Some of Texas is Western, some is Southern, some is a mix or becoming very made over indeed, with a dramatically heterogenous inflow of new people.

Fort Worth, the place (or at least a place) "where the West begins" according to public relations efforts since the 1920s, is as good a place to point to the current diversity of Texas as any. According to the latest federal census reports (2010-2013), Fort Worth is (as of mid-2013) the 17th largest and most populated city in the USA -- one notch below Charlotte, North Carolina, and one above Detroit, Michigan. 

Demographics of Fort Worth as of 2010-2013 (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. 

Today's Rune: Partnership      

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I used to visit Cross Plains, Texas just about every year. Two big tall hills there called the Caddo Peaks.