The canvas of our dreams
Writ deep in hazy memories
Unfurls a Master Narrative
Embraced with godly fervor
Layer upon layer added thereto
Fills in once empty gaps
With stuff of dreams and whiffs of smoke
The snake oil of deceivers
Here, drink to this and drink to that!
We’ve always been the greatest
Just raise your glass and repeat with me
Our mantra of salvation –
Then head right to your voting booth
And punch for victory!
In the opening pages of his monumental history of multicultural America, Ronald Takaki defines what he calls “the Master Narrative of American History.”
According to this powerful and popular but inaccurate story, our country was settled by European immigrants, and Americans are white. ‘Race,’ observed Toni Morrison, has functioned as a ‘metaphor’ necessary to the ‘construction of Americanness’: in the creation of our national identity, ‘American’ has been defined as ‘white.’ Not to be ‘white’ is to be designated as the ‘Other’ – different, inferior, and unassimilable.
Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Little, Brown and Company, 2008 edition, p. 4)
Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness in the Literary Imagination (Cambridge, Mass., 1992, p. 47)
This rules out groups such as those Takaki focuses on in his book: Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, and Muslim Americans.
The only way to fight surreal snake oil is with knowledge and committed resistance to the purveyors of snake oil.
As a highly persistent woman, I am yet again highly recommending this book. Even though you may not make it through all 445 pages, you’ll find a goldmine of correctives to our current misguided, surreal national obsession with who’s really ‘American.’
Cheers to all my neighbors, near and far. We’re in this together–even when it seems we’re not.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2017
Image found at hallidaysutherland.files.wordpress.com
Daily Prompt: Surreal