Try, Try Again

Okay, as most of you know by now, my son took it upon himself to Google me, and, bless his pointed little head, he found his way to my site. Great. I don’t want him here. I don’t want my daughter there, nor my husband. I just want to communicate with select friends and the anonymous internet in general, without the unsolicited commentary of any 12-year-old child. Is that so much to ask?

He was pretty damn smug about it too.

So, I had this “Vaporback Writer” site several years ago. It was pretty cool, but it was spawned at a time when I was pretty dissatisfied with life in general, and my husband in specific. So, despite the fact that Hoss (remember Hoss? Gosh, I miss him!) had helped me obtain a really cool template for the thing, I eventually abandoned it and went on to more positive pursuits (Ed Troyer love poems and associated stalking, etc.). Unfortunately, that template seems to have evaporated into the atmosphere, so here I have found alternate arrangements template-wise. Not sure if I like this look or not. Feel free to chime in with an opinion.

Those old era posts are still here. Mostly. But it looks like the dates have dropped off of them. That’s not such a big deal though. We’ll see if I get an actual date on this post.

The big problem is that I’m still listed here as “XXXX Panda.” That phrase has got to go. That’s how the nefarious boy found my secret lair in the first place. Unfortunately, I may not be able to divorce this particular site from that identity (black-hearted Google bastards!). So, to make a long story short, I may have to start over from scratch yet again.

Who’s ready to follow? Anybody? Anybody?

Hello?

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A New Era

We have entered a new era here at the Panda compound: My daughter obtained her learner’s permit today. At age 15 3/4, she is ready to get behind the wheel of a car for the first time. And she designated herself an organ donor (which makes we terribly proud).

More 15-year-old Wisdom…

We interrupt our Black History Month ruminations to bring you more teen wisdom. My daughter on travel:

Her: I don’t want to go to California.

Me: Why not?

Her: I’ve seen COPS.

Well, enough said.

Kristy Celebrates Black History Month

I read a post at Mrs. G’s place today regarding celebrating Black History Month, and reminding us that we white folks can celebrate too. So I’ve decided to paste up a few posts about how my family’s long American history intersects with black American history. Why the hell not?

Slavery. That, of course, is where it starts.

In 1685, my first American ancestor was back home in Scotland, persisting in his Presbyterian ways despite instructions from the British Crown to convert. He treacherously felt a greater allegiance to his God than to his king. And he certainly wasn’t alone in holding these treasonous ideals. He was one of many Scots who became known as the Covenanters. (By the way, there is a Covenanter cemetery in Scotland that is notoriously haunted by famous spooks—but that’s a story for another day).

Along with several of his countrymen, he was loaded onto a British convict ship bound for the “American Plantations” (Australia had not yet been opened for the purpose of disposing of undesirables). The idea was to land in New Jersey and to sell the Covenanters into indentured servitude. The proceeds of their labor over the next several years would be collected to pay for their passage, after which time they would be forbidden to return to civilized Britain, but would otherwise live as they might in the far off colonies.

In the course of the Atlantic crossing, fever broke out on board. As many as half of the passengers perished, including the man who had been charged with the supervision of the Covenanters. In his absence, the ship’s captain attempted to negotiate a “deal” with the son-in-law (and evident heir) of the deceased supervisor. Wouldn’t it be better, he proposed, to change course slightly and dock in Virginia? There, they could sell the surviving covenanters into outright slavery. The higher price they would realize from the sale could then be split in some amicable fashion between the ship’s captain and the son-in-law. A deal with struck.

This story, when I discovered it, astounded me. Slavery was something I always associated with black Americans exclusively. I think it comes as a surprise to most of us that it could, and did, happen to any number of undesirable white people too. In the earliest days of America’s settlement, landowners were in no way picky about whom they bought to accomplish forced labor.

In the case of my unfortunate ancestor, a vagary of the weather decided his fate. As the ship approached the Virginia shore, a storm blew up and pushed the ship up the coast, forcing it to dock first in New Jersey as originally planned. The Covenanters, upon arrival, protested that neither the Captain nor the son-in-law had authorization from the Crown to negotiate their indentures. In the ensuing confusion, sympathetic colonists agreed to billet them until the matter could be heard by the court. And once the court decided in their favor, they quickly made an escape into the western wilderness before the case could be reconsidered, thereafter avoiding any populated British settlements.

This story has led me to wonder why it is that we think of slavery only in terms of African Americans. Is it simply because the numbers made them such an obvious majority? That slavery, as it impacted other races, amounted to occasional anomalous footnotes to our shared history? Or is there a subtle racism at work here too? That, by persisting in the belief that only black people were victims, that the white majority can maintain the notion that slavery could only happen to an “inferior” race of people—not us. And, therefore, believing that slave=negro helped prevent us from feeling any empathy for the early plight of Africans in this county. What would have been the history of slavery in this country if it had happened regularly to other races? How would the history of slavery turned out differently if my ancestor (and many more like him) had been auctioned on arrival at a Virginia dock?