Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 29, 2013

We the People: Becoming the Land of Opportunity

By Bob Hoyt
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Many thousands of years ago, primordial humans migrated across a land bridge between what is now Russia (on the Asian Continent) and our state of Alaska. Part of North America was covered by melting glacial ice.  That may be why the immigrants turned south. 

The lines of descent are unclear, but there may be a link between those who crossed the Bering Strait many millennia ago and the Anasazi (the Ancient Ones) who once lived in the area of the present southwest United States near where four state corners meet. When the Anasazi disappeared, they left abandoned cliff dwellings clinging to the canyon walls of Mesa Verde. The Bering immigrants perhaps blended into extant tribes. Or, maybe, they fought with the Native Americans and lost.

The history of humanity is noted for fighting more than for Elysian accommodations. When the Europeans began taking over the “new land,” Native Americans were soon wishing the whites would go home. Instead, immigrants came in larger numbers and from more countries. They kidnapped and imported black men and women from Africa as slaves to do the heavy labor in cotton, sugar cane, rice and tobacco fields. The land became a patchwork of escapees from economic depravity and harsh religious oppression. 

Native Americans were killed or put on reservations. They couldn’t go home. This was their home.

Millions of Mexicans and Central Americans have fled to the U.S. over the past few decades in search of better lives for themselves and their children. They found freedom and made homes. But hatred has greeted the many waves of immigrants. Every migrant influx faced hatred from earlier migrants. Hatred for blacks was not confined to the South after our Civil War. Hatred became a norm during both black and white northward migrations. But, at least, many northerners loved the music and food of migrants who filled the demand for wartime workers.

The U.S. is still  dominated by Caucasians, but population growth is fastest among minorities. As change continues, it is important for children to learn how to think instead of how to hate. Not all parents today teach equality to their children, who may one day work for someone of a different color. According to the Census Bureau’s estimate for 2012, 50.4 percent of American children under the age of one year were in“minority” groups.

Census data summarized in the New York Times show that the population of the United States includes 30 million Blacks; 22.4 million Hispanics; 7.3million Asians; 2.0 million American Indians; and 9.8 million classified as “other race.” Migration and immigration have always been and will continue to be a heavy influence on what the nation is and what it becomes.

Many modern Caucasian families have extended members of other colors. Good parents today educate their children against racial hatred as the world becomes smaller.

Not all will willingly accommodate such change — especially elders whose attitudes are ossified. But we are all here only temporarily. The USA, as our founders understood, is always a work in progress. Today, nobody has the right to purposely hide a fighting chance for a better tomorrow from a child of any color.

It’s not always easy to break from a past when hatred for skin color was acceptable. Yesterday was not a far better place where everyone was more comfortable and more “American.”  Tomorrow, we could become what we pretend to be, the Land of opportunity for all. But we need to understand our real history and our responsibility to our own children in a rapidly evolving world.  It is up to us to not repeat mistakes of the past. 

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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at jwund@frontiernet.net.