Authenticity

I just finished reading White Trash by Nancy Isenberg. I feel like this woman gave me my whole life. It is very challenging to track down an email address for the author so I don’t know that I’ll be sending her fan mail. There is a phone number for a representative for media requests. I doubt I’ll trouble them.

This book is wonderful and talks about so much that people deny. We are waste people. Large swaths of society wishes the poor white trash would just… disappear.

And oh god. So much truth was dropped. Poor whites will empty their own pockets to fill the pockets of a charlatan who tells them they are better than someone else. SO. FUCKING. TRUE.

Enlightened self interest is… complicated.

I’m going to stop and say that I am so excited that I finally signed up for 23 & me. I don’t know who the fuck I am or where the fuck I came from. I have stories I was told that I can’t verify. Did one branch of my family come over on the god damn Mayflower? How the fuck do I know? (Yeah, I could dig around on ancestry.com…) What happened to the women who were supposedly in California for so many generations? Who did they have kids with? Where were they from to start with? I don’t know.

Are the Mennonites as German as they claim or is there a bunch of Russian mixed in as I’ve always wondered?

Who are you. Who am I?

What will these results teach me? Will they give me permission to be something other than what I have perceived myself to be? Rootless.

What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to exist? How many “Italian Americans” are actually staying true to the roots of Italian heritage? How many people who are proud of being… whatever they are… really know what they are?

There are so many lies we tell. So many convenient half truths.

I see the hostility thrown at American Blacks for mixing African cultures. That shit’s complicated and not my battle. But I see that authenticity is a fight that many people have to engage in. I’ve heard Asian Americans complain about dilution and mixing of cultures. It’s not just a white thing.

When Mexicans are *shocked* to find out that big chunks of their genetics come from Africa and Europe. Yup.

What is “realness”?

I read about First Nations people. Some groups are very worried about blood purity. Most of what I see is worry about cultural purity rather than blood purity. Who cares if white men polluted the blood line with their rape. Did you grow up like us? Are you like us? Ok. You count. But it varies so much and I don’t understand a lot of the nuance.

What will I do if my grandfather was right and there is a distinct African strain? Will I claim being biracial? Probably not. I completely lack the authenticity even if I have the blood line. What will I do if I find a streak of Indigenous blood? I will read more. Maybe I will ask permission to learn more from real people if I can do so in a way that isn’t exploitive.

But I won’t start decorating my house as if it is my culture. It may or may not be my blood line. My culture is white trash.

Smokey and the Bandit was serious fucking shit in my family. That stupidity is where I come from.

Waste people. Rednecks. My grandfather died with a red neck from working outside. He had a heart attack walking back to work from lunch. Like you do.

Breeding. My father told me that the only problem with incest is you shouldn’t make babies with family members because it enhances negative genetic traits.

That’s.The.Drawback.

What is authenticity? What does it mean to be real? What does it mean to have an identity?

Fuck if I know.

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