After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the newly independent country organized itself into several states. In the northern Coahuila y Tejas, there were many Native peoples like the Alabama, Apache, Aranama, Atakapa, Caddo, Comanche, Coahuiltecan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa and Wichita that the nearly bankrupt Mexican government had little resources to subjugate. So they invited immigrants from the US, called Texians, to help keep down the aborigines.
Soon the immigrants outnumbered the Mexicans and Natives put together. These Texian immigrants made little to no effort to assimilate into their adopted country — they they self-segregated, carried guns everywhere, didn’t learn “the language” (Spanish) and wrote signs in English. Even though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the Texians (who numbered about 30,000) simply ignored Mexican law and brought 5,000 slaves. Before long, Mexican president Bustamante sought to restrict futher American immigration to Mexico, recognizing they were up to no good. Before long, the Texians took up arms and ultimately gained independence from Mexico.
By 1850, Texians started referring to themselves most commonly as Texans. The Texas Almanac of 1857 waxed purple about the mere dropping of the letter “i,” continuing the Texan tradition of making something out of nothing, moaning [in Chris Elliot‘s fancy lad voice] “Texian…has more euphony, and is better adapted to the conscience of poets who shall hereafter celebrate our deeds in sonorous strains than the harsh, abrupt, ungainly, appellation Texan — impossible to rhyme with anything but the merest doggerel.”
Ever since joining The USA, Texians have crafted a unique identity that seems to possibly stem from deep-seated phallic obsession coupled with a Texas-size inferiority complex. “Everything is bigger in Texas!” they brag incessantly. It is true that the size of their belt buckles and guts and insecurities are gargantuan, but in other areas, not so much. Their cry of “Don’t Mess with Texas” further reflects an endemic insecurity and defensiveness of greater degree than is found anywhere else in the country. But denial of reality and a steadfast clinging to ignorant blind faith in themselves seems to be a crucial aspect of being Texian as well. Just look at the Oklahoma panhandle, for instance. Obviously it’s named for its similarity to the shape of said object, but the Texas panhandle bears about as much resemblance to the the object in question as a pyramid does to a snowflake. No matter, try telling that to a Texian, where reality is always considered “fighting words.”
Another essential aspect of the Texian identity is the pronounced cultural cringe. Instead of embracing its unique character, most Texians will threaten to “kick the ass” of anyone who brings up cowboys or their posh, plantation southern accents. This, considering Tales of the Texas Rangers, is just about the greatest thing ever! No, Texians will passionately deny being country and instead point to things they wrongfully assume to be uniquely Texan, in the process revealing an ignorance about the rest of the country more often associated with the east and west coasts. Most Texian’s notions about the rest of the country seem to be based on their awareness of Oklahoma and exposure to television. Where Texas is first in many areas (obesity, capital punishment, smog, hate crimes &c), they brag about their kick ass county fairs, quality high school football, rapidly changing weather (“Don’t like it? Just wait five minutes”– *Yuck yuck*) and the fact that they used to be their own country. (Ever heard of Hawaii, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina or Vermont? No? Never mind.) They brag about their diversity in comically old-fashioned ways that sound like they’re actually complaining, e.g., “We’ve got tons of Hispanics and Orientals.” To make matters worse, they aren’t the biggest state either in terms of size or population. On the other hand, they did invent Dr. Pepper there and Dallas‘s involvement in the history of recreational ecstasy consumption is criminally overlooked.
They are proud of their food, so-called Tex-Mex. Usually Tex-Mex consists of taking a Mexican dish and making it taste like something from a cafeteria. Usually it can be as simple as replacing cotija with cojack and slapping on a new name. Even though this hardly seems worth fighting for, the states of Arizona, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Texas still routinely argue over who first dropped a burrito in deep fryer.
This blind faith in denial is also evinced on something Texas can claim to be number one in. They have the highest number of religious folks who pack megachurches to pay tithes in what amount to cult infomercials. If there was a lesson to be learned from David Koresh, it’s that he should’ve done his preaching in a behemoth class structure, not some flammable plywood Tuff Shed.
I don’t mean to suggest that nothing good ever came out of Texas. Far from it. It’s just that another big part of being Texian is ignoring everything that’s good about Texas. Texas has produced Blind Willie Johnson, Ronnie Dawson, Geto Boys, Ornette Coleman, 13th Floor Elevators, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, UGK, Buck Owens, Mike Jones, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Big Moe, Hank Thompson, Ray Price, Pantera, Selena Quintanilla, Bob Wills, DJ Screw, ZZ Top, Ernest Tubb, Slim Thug, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Chamillionaire, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes van Zandt, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Lightnin’ Hopkins, among too many others to name. But, aside from the rappers, most Texians give little love to their homegrown artists and their radio stations are the worst in the country, completely ignoring their own rich musical past and replacing it with Christian pap.
In keeping with Texians’ affinity for not appreciating what’s good about the state, instead of pointing to their rolling plains, piney woods, big cities and wide open country, they attempt to unify the large region by covering it in religious-themed billboards.
Texas has provided us with so many of our presidents (and taken the life of one) that one can only wonder where our country would be today if they remained their own nation. In typical Texian fashion, the mural suggests that Johnson and the Bushes were the latest presidents born in the Lone Star. Never mind the fact that HW was born in Massachusetts and Dubya in Connecticut.
The stars at night are big and bright!!!
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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