Before We Were White – Episode 18: New, Improved, and Super-Sanctified, Part 1

America is easily the most religious country among the wealthy western democracies.

In almost every other nation, greater wealth and educational levels correlate with a drop-off in levels of religiosity.

The USA remains a conspicuous outlier in this regard.

Why?

Episode 18 of Before We Were White – “New, Improved, and Super-Sanctified, Part 1” is out now.

An exploration of the curious synergy between God and Mammon in American history, from Canaan to Corporation, from Pilgrims to Pentacostalism, from Jamestown to Jonestown.

Part 1 goes right back to the source, tracing the line between Bronze Age storm gods and the medieval Catholic church.

Part 3 of 3

#beforewewerewhite #history #religion

Before We Were White – Episode 17: Pre-Deliverance, Part 3

Part Three of “Pre-Deliverance” continues our exploration of some of the forgotten roots of American culture and ethnicity.

How did a musical instrument which started off hundreds of years ago in Africa end-up becoming a symbol of “white” American country music?

Was this a case of simple cultural appropriation, or is there another story waiting to be told?

When it comes to American history, nothing is ever as black and white as people think…

Part 3 of 3

#beforewewerewhite #history #countrymusic #hillbillies #jewish

Before We Were White – Episode 16: Pre-Deliverance, Part 2

Part Two of “Pre-Deliverance” continues our exploration of some of the forgotten roots of American culture and ethnicity.

In this episode, we get closer to understanding the origins of “Hillbilly Jews”.

Part 2 of 3

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #countrymusic #hillbillies #jewish

Before We Were White – Episode 15: Pre-Deliverance, Part 1

Play a game of word association with the average American.

Say “banjo”.

Chances are, a great many would reply with words like “hillbilly” or “redneck”.

Some might venture to mention bluegrass music.

How did a musical instrument which started off hundreds of years ago in Africa end-up becoming a symbol of “white” American music culture?

And what if some of the earliest people of non-African ancestry to take-up the banjo were actually…Appalachian Jews?

Join us for another winding trek through the hidden history of heartland America.

Part 1 of 3

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #music #hillbillies #jewish

Before We Were White – Episode 14: Black Paddywhackery, Part 2

In Part 1 of “Black Paddywhackery”, we learned about the origins of the Irish people, and asked why so many Americans self-identify as “Black Irish”, believing themselves descended from survivors of the Spanish Armada which wrecked off the west coast of Ireland.

Having shown the flaws in this folk history, in Part 2 of “Black Paddywhackery” we explore the true origins of those who call themselves “Black Irish”.

Part 2 of 2

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #BlackIrish #melungeons #genealogy

Before We Were White – Episode 13: Black Paddywhackery, Part 1

A curious number of Southern Appalachians like to refer to themselves or extended family members as being “Black Irish”.

There are Facebook discussion groups catering to Appalachian Americans (with tens of thousands of members), and almost weekly an “expert” pops up assuring other members that the “Black Irish” are a thing, and that thing is usually this:

“Loads of Irish people have black eyes, dark hair and skin. They come from Spanish sailors stranded on Irish coasts during the naval retreat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. These sailors intermarried with local Irish girls.”

This oft-repeated folk history – and the assertion that large sections of the native Irish population are dark in complexion due to this – is utter claptrap.

Part 1 of 2

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #BlackIrish #melungeons #genealogy

Before We Were White – Episode 12: No Safe Harbor, Part 3

The eastern half of the continental USA is dotted with places inaccurately described as “tri-racial isolate communities”.

One of the largest such population groups can be found spread over Eastern Kentucky, the western parts of Virginia, East Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Widely known as “Melungeons”, few Americans have been the subject of such intense scrutiny and curiosity.

Who are these people?  And why are they called “Melungeons”?

In this third and final installment of a three-part episode, we complete our exploration of this Appalachian and American enigma.

Is this a story about weirdly exotic or isolated people – or is it a story about the lies and myths at the heart of American identity itself?

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #melungeons #genealogy #GeneticGenealogy

Before We Were White – Episode 11: No Safe Harbor, Part 2

The eastern half of the continental USA is dotted with places often described as “tri-racial isolate communities”.

One of the largest such population groups can be found spread over Eastern Kentucky, the western parts of Virginia, East Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Widely known as “Melungeons”, few Americans have been the subject of such intense scrutiny and curiosity.

Who are these people? Where did they come from?

In this episode, we continue our exploration of an Appalachian enigma – asking why so many of these mountain people always claimed Portuguese ancestry, even while outsiders dismissed such folk memory.

Is this a story about weirdly exotic or isolated people – or is it a story about the lies and myths at the heart of American identity itself?

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #melungeons #genealogy #GeneticGenealogy

Before We Were White – Episode 10: No Safe Harbor, Part 1

The eastern half of the continental USA is dotted with places often described as “tri-racial isolate communities”.

One of the largest such population groups can be found spread over Eastern Kentucky, the western parts of Virginia, East Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Widely known as “Melungeons“, few Americans have been the subject of such intense scrutiny and curiosity.

Who are these people? Where did they come from?

Are they really a mix of Northern European settlers, African Americans, and indigenous peoples?

Or is there something more complicated and deeply hidden in Melungeon history?

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #melungeons #genealogy #GeneticGenealogy

Before We Were White – Episode 9: How Lovely Are Thy Branches

Do the mass media and film industry reflect popular culture, or create it?

Where do we get our shared history, our national story, our traditions and identity?

Follow us as we explore the origins of Christmas in America, while attempting to discover what connects Hollywood, Abraham Lincoln, and, um, Lebanon?

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #hollywood #christmas #SantaClaus #BingCrosby

Before We Were White – Episode 8: The Witch in the Tent Grave

Appalachia has no shortage of murder ballads and murder tales.

And Appalachia certainly has no shortage of folklore dealing with “haints” and witches.

But sometimes all of it becomes so entangled that separating folklore from fact is almost impossible.

Why are so many Appalachian “witches” buried under strange “tent graves”?

Did the old-time communities of Middle Tennessee harbor secrets now lost in the mists of time?

Follow us into a dark, moss-covered tent grave cemetery to find out…

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #appalachia #witch #folklore #murder #graveyard

Before We Were White – Episode 7: My Little Runaway

Josie and Celia both ran away from home as teenagers – one before the age of 15.

Between them, these girls would travel thousands of miles to meet their similar destinies.

Both would end up working as underage “sporting girls” on the 19th century American frontier, and both would become consort to a man still celebrated today in American film and folklore.

One would survive her ordeals by forgetting.

The other could never forget..

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #WildWest #WyattEarp #prostitution

Before We Were White – Episode 6: Sun Bonnets and Bootstraps

It is often said that we live in “post-truth” times, as if misinformation and disinformation are an innovation of the internet age.

The people who bend reality to fit ideology have been around for decades – for centuries – and they play the long game.

One of the most popular and long-running TV series in US history premiered in 1974.

Little House on the Prairie was a big slice of sweet American apple pie.

But sometimes sugar is for covering-up something rotten…

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #LittleHouseOnThePrairie #whitewashing #libertarianism

Before We Were White – Episode 5: Charleston Reshuffle

On 4 April 2015, an unarmed man was unlawfully shot dead on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a police officer.

The local chief of police would be called to testify in the subsequent murder trial, amid national media interest and widespread community unrest.

The public interpretation of events was largely divided along the usual American socio-ethnic and political faultlines.

But Charleston is one of the oldest towns in the American South, with many secrets buried deep underneath the weight of centuries – and nothing is ever quite as it seems.

And the people now living on different sides of the tracks might have a lot more in common than they could possibly imagine…

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #LatinxAmericanHistory #PoliceShootings

Before We Were White – Episode 4: Strangers for Dinner

November 1620.

Aboard a freezing ship anchored off Cape Cod, Massachusetts…

A mutual cooperation agreement is signed by a group of men representing 101 passengers who had survived a perilous north Atlantic crossing, hoping to found a colony in the “New World”.

This agreement would be important, because some of these passengers were members of a religious sect calling themselves “Saints”.

The other two-thirds of the Mayflower passengers were not self-declared “Saints”.

These “Saints” – later known to history as “The Pilgrims” – called the people who outnumbered them “Strangers”.

Take a deep dive into America’s forgotten history with this special length post-pandemic episode.

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #thanksgiving #pilgrims #mayflower

Before We Were White – Episode 3: Matrimony and Mayhem

Between the founding of Jamestown in 1607, and the end of the Anglo-Powhatan Wars in 1644, there were a mere eight years of relative peace between the rightful inhabitants of Tsenacomoco and English colonisers.

Those few years of peace were largely the result of one marriage between two people from utterly different worlds.

The descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe are still here today, like seeds scattered before a whirlwind.

#BeforeWeWereWhite #history #pocahontas #jamestown