Nigerian Ancestry in America | What my DNA reveals about the U.S.

two Nigerian women in traditional dress, representing the topic of Nigerian ancestry in America
.

The craze of ancestry testing has swept the globe. Organizations like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have been on the receiving end of millions of spit samples for a time now. I sent mine in, you can believe. One of the most interesting parts of doing a test like this is learning your backstory. Not just of a family, but of an entire world. There was a whole global exchange that happened, something never seen before.

Now, I know these tests aren’t perfectly accurate and they might misrepresent ethnicities and countries. But my question is: What does our ancestry reveal about American history and identity? I mean Nigerian ancestry, in this case.

Before we get started, I just want to lay out a disclaimer; I am not a geneticist or DNA expert. Besides the science or validity of testing, I want to look more at context. How did Nigerian ancestry even get to America? And why is there so much Nigerian ancestry in so many black people? The focus today will not be about DNA itself, but about the story that ancestry tells about American history and identity. That’s because the story of my ancestry is the story of many people. Let’s take a look, shalt we?!

Sorry, that was oldschool.


How did Nigerian ancestry get to America?

Well, that one’s quite obvious isn’t it? Unless you’re living on an alternate time plane, we trust that most African heritage in the New World was brought under terms of slavery. Now, slavery was already being practiced in West Africa before Europeans showed up. 

I only mention that because when the Portuguese arrived at what is now Nigeria, they initially set up contracts with local African leaders to trade slaves across the region. (BTW, where’d you think the name “Lagos” came from? Portuguese!) That is to say, traders already had a system set up with regional leaders. Soon after, they began to take some of those slaves for themselves to Brazil, and of course, England followed suit. 

Nigerian ancestry (in America and elsewhere) comes mostly from a few groups, either Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, or Fulani, despite being home to over 250 ethnic groups. The Hausa are a very large group too, but they weren’t sent as much to the Americas. Throughout the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, most of those sent to the 13 Colonies (baby USA) were of Yoruba and Igbo origin. The Igbo captives, in particular, were known for being rebellious, violent, and even suicidal in revolt against slavery. This bad rep probably led to less of them being brought to the country over time. The ones that did make it were mostly held around the Mid-Atlantic colonies (Virginia, Maryland), according to records.

People of West African origin, including today’s Nigeria, would make a profound impact on the musical and culinary styles of the places they were sent to. In the United States, these manifested into ragtime, jazz, soul, funk, blues, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and more. Think of them as intensely Americanized versions of African music. Remember, Nigeria was not a country at the time of American colonialism and many West African cultures extended beyond their present borders.

It’s important to note that there have been a couple of waves of Nigerian immigration to the U.S., especially Igbo, since the times of abolition. One of those immigration spikes is happening right now, actually. Nigeria today is the most populous nation in Africa, and its ancestry is highly present in many black Americans, whether for recent or historical reasons. But there’s just one problem: Many black people have too much Nigerian ancestry.

Nigeria’s overrepresentation in black American DNA

So, there’s a bit of a mystery when it comes to black American ancestry — well, a lot actually, but let’s look at this one thing. I’m what most people call “mixed” or “light-skinned(ed),” but the African ancestry I do have is mostly Nigerian. By now we understand how arbitrary that is. I mean, how much of that is Yoruba, or Edo, or any of those other 250? The point is, this scenario seems to be similar for many Americans with African ancestry — at least those that have been here for several generations. 

What happened was that most slaves from today’s Nigeria were sent to the Caribbean or South America. North America … not so much. Those brought to today’s U.S. were mostly from Senegambia (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea) or Central Africa (the Congo, Angola, Cameroon), so the records say. If that’s true, then where did all these Nigerians come from?

There are a couple of theories and explanations for that. One is that Nigerian ancestry shows up more on DNA tests because a higher proportion of Nigerians partake in DNA studies compared to other African nations. So, that might boost your Nigeria score. 

Another motive could stem from the abolition of Trans-Atlantic slave trading when it became illegal to capture and bring slaves from Africa anymore. That happened in 1808 in the USA. The weird part is that part of the pressure to do this, beside moral and economic, was to put a hold on the black population which actually outnumbered whites in the South. In order to get more black slaves later on, the U.S. had to import them from other New World colonies, particularly those in the Caribbean. This continued to happen even after all slavery was abolished in America.

It seems that there was a much higher death rate among the Senegambia slaves since they were among the first to arrive. It’s like the Europeans didn’t really know what they were doing yet, and so a lot of the slaves ended up dead. There were higher death rates in the Caribbean and South American slaves, but once brought to the U.S. they usually did a little better. 

Many were probably second-generation and were already used to the hard life on plantations. It’s thought that they intermarried with the established black population or even outnumbered them in places, enough so that their gene pool would become dominant. In reality, it could be due to a mixture of reasons. 

In Conclusion

As a black-ish American, it is fascinating to me to learn more about my African heritage. There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to feel bad about. The idea that Nigerian ancestry is likely so dominant due to Caribbean slaves being brought into the States really demonstrates how linked together black people of the New World are. We don’t have our old languages, customs, or religions, but we do have our own new dialect, our own new customs, and a rich culture that has taken the world by storm! 

As I said, I am mixed, so I’ll be going over the different white, black, and whatever else ancestry I have over the coming weeks / months. It is all a part of a quest to understand the history of this country. What shows up on our DNA tests, whether exact or not, reveals not only how America was made. It reveals how the world made America.

Thanks for reading! As always, take care out there. 😉  

Further Reading and Resources

Abolishing African Slave Trade

African American Music

Nigeria Country Profile

So Much Nigerian Ancestry

Lots of Americans with Nigerian Ancestry

Overrepresentation of Nigerian Genes

Ancestry Profile of Nigeria

Nigerian Americans

Beautiful Places in Alaska 🇺🇸 – Gallery Images, Videos, & Profile | Earth’s Face

What is there to see in Alaska?


state Flag of Alaska
.

ALASKA

Alax̂sxax̂ – Alaasikaq – Alas’kaaq – Alaskaq – Anáaski

Map of the United States with Alaska highlighted
.
satellite map of Alaska with major ecoregions and capital city labeled

English: /uh-LAS-kuh/ * /a-LAS-kuh/

Listen

Name Origin

from the term used by Russians to name the Alaska Peninsula, from the Aleut and Yupik languages for “object to which the sea’s action is directed” or “great land

Population

< 736,000

Main Languages

Predominantly English (~ 83%). The next most-spoken language is Spanish (~ 3%), though there are many native languages that are official in the state: Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, Alutiiq, Aleut, Dena’ina, Deng Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich’in, Lower Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. All indigenous languages are spoken by small percentages of the population.

Capital

*Juneau

Largest City

Anchorage

Location

Northwestern United States, a partial exclave state separated from the contiguous U.S., in the general Pacific Northwest and Arctic regions. The largest U.S. state, it is mostly on the mainland with many islands, including the Aleutian Islands. It borders Canada to the east / northeast, has Arctic coastline to the north, and Pacific coastline, including the Bering Sea, to the south and west.

Biogeography

Nearctic Realm (a small part in the East Palearctic)

Part of the United States’ Arctic tundra, Boreal forests / taiga, Pacific Range mountains, Arctic Range mountains, Pacific Marine Forests, and Pacific Marine lowlands. Home to North America’s highest mountain, Denali (Mt. McKinley).


Gallery Images & Videos: Places in Alaska

glacier in the woods within Tongass National Forest, Alaska
Tongass National Forest – Matt Artz
iceberg in the water at Tongass National Forest, place in Alaska
Steve Corey
aerial view of large glacier in Chugach National Forest, USA

Chugach National Forest – Izzy Majcher
man walking inside a glacier in Chugach National Forest, Alaska
Paxson Woelber
Alpenglow in the snowy mountains of Chugach National Forest, a place in Alaska
Paxson Woelber
humpback whale leaping from the water in Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park – jdegenhardt
opening to a fjord with cliffs and snowy mountains in the distance, Kenai Fjords National Park
CMy23
rocky island ahead of the fjords and snowy mountains of Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
lwtt93
forested rocks jutting out from the sea on the south coast of Alaska, USA
jdegenhardt
trail leading to a large distant mountain in Denali National Park and Preserve, place in Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve – Alex Proimos
bright fall colors in a valley in Denali National Park and Preserve, United States
Arthur T. LaBar
running A dog sled in the snow near Denali, Alaska
GPA Photo Archive
flowery garden in front of a white steeple in Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks – kinglear55
aurora borealis (northern lights) above a forest near Fairbanks
Kodachron
view of Attu Island from the sea, Aleutian Islands
Attu Island – Alaska Region U.S. Fish & W
view of towering volcano from the sea on a cloudy day, Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Aleutian Islands – naql
bright blue sea on the jagged coast of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, place in Alaska, USA
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve – Arthur T. LaBar
rugged glacier in the mountains of Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Don & Suzan Weller
boat sailing below the white mountains of southeastern Alaska
NOAA’s National Ocean Se
small shed in the forested foothills of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Reserve
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Reserve – NPS CulturalLandscapes
wide landscape in the fall of a town and distant mountains in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Reserve
JLS Photography – Alaska
twilight in the city of Anchorage, city in Alaska, USA
Anchorage – marco antonio torres
autumn forest landscape near the mountains and river near Anchorage
Zetong Li
blue lakes in the forests of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, place in Alaska
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve – GPA Photo Archive
young brown bears wrestling in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Katmai National Park and Preserve – cheryl strahl
caribou crossing a river in Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, place in Alaska
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servi
green wetlands in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge – Alaska Region U.S. Fish & W
sunrise in the snowy hills of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, place in Alaska
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Bering Land Bridge Nation
cabins at the foot of a rocky hill in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska, USA
Bering Land Bridge Nation
yellow hills and valley of Noatak National Preserve, United States
Noatak National Preserve – Western Arctic National Pa
fall colors near a snowcapped mountain in Noatak National Preserve, place in Alaska
Western Arctic National Pa
sand dunes and evergreens in Kobuk Valley National Park
Kobuk Valley National Park – Western Arctic National Pa
camping in the fields near stony mountains at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve – National Park Service, Alas
yellow flowers on the grassy hills above a river valley in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servic
a seaplane landing on the waters near Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, place in Alaska
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge – Alaska Region U.S. Fish & 
temperate rainforest in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
Arthur T. LaBar
mountains mirrored by the water on Kodiak Island
Kodiak Island – naql
herd of bison in the grasslands on coastal Kodiak Island, Alaska
James Brooks
on the Alaska Highway leading to a snowy mountain
Alaska Highway – JLS Photography – Alaska
a polar bear walking on the graveled Arctic coast near the town of Kaktovik, Alaska
town of Kaktovik – Arthur T. LaBar
totem pole closeup near Ketchikan, place in Alaska
town of Ketchikan – Ben Rogers
harbor of the town of Ketchikan, USA
ThreeIfByBike
large spikey rock formation in the snow near Coldfoot, Alaska
Anita Ritenour
rushing rapids along the stony shores of a forest along the Chilkoot Trail
Chilkoot Trail – Joseph
totem pole ahead of the harbor in the town of Haines, Alaska
town of Haines – dancingnomad3
tawny brown mountains and forest near the town of Talkeetna, USA
Talkeetna – JLS Photography – Alaska
a white Russian Orthodox church in the town of Sitka, place in Alaska
town of Sitka – Jeremy Keith
a graveyard in the dense forests near Sitka, Alaska
Melinda Shelton
harbor and docks of Valdez below snowy mountains, Alaska
town of Valdez –-Eric
waterfall on green hills near Valdez, town in Alaska, USA
FairbanksMike
docks below the green and white mountains of Seward, town and place in Alaska state
town of Seward – CMy23
glaciers and iceberg in the Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
Tracy Arm Fjord – Alexander Shchukin
view of a lighted cruise ship in the fjords of Juneau at dusk
Juneau – Peter Scholten
a Russian Orthodox church top covered in snow on a clear day in Juneau, capital of Alaska
Brett Johnson
people standing on the sand near a waterfall ahead of a glacier and mountains near the town of Juneau, USA
Rod Ramsell
view from a cable car looking down at other cable car and a cruise ship in the harbor of Juneau, place in Alaska
Fernando Jorge
stream falling through a green valley before cascading into a green lake, scene in Alaska
Rich Manalang

About the Nearctic Realm – What is it? | Culture & Biogeography

world map with question marks on it, related to biogeography and the nearctic realm
.

Realm? What are we, crossing through the wardrobe of Narnia? It sounds a bit fancy, but Biogeographic (or Zoogeographic) Realms are a way that scientists have divided the world to connect its main biological and geographic features. The continents in all their glory can be a confusing and misrepresentative way to look at the world. We’ve discussed if Bio-Realms might be a better way to divide our planet before. Here, I want to go deeper into one realm in particular, including some of its main physical and cultural features. Don’t mind me, I just love geography–and biogeography, apparently.

world map highlighting the nearctic realm in green
.

What is the Nearctic?

The Nearctic Realm is a part of the wider “Arctic” Biogeographical Realm that stretches across much of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s Ne-arctic, as in “New,” because it’s in the New World. That is, the world that was unknown by Eurasians and Africans up until a recent point. That is, the Americas. Put together with the Palearctic (“Old World” Arctic), they can be called the Holarctic (or the whole Arctic!). The Nearctic happens to coincide with what most people think of when they picture “North America.” It includes everything in that continent starting from the Arctic — including Greenland — and goes down until we reach the tropics. In the Southwest, this cutoff is somewhere in the middle of Mexico, while in the Southeast, the cutoff is Central Florida. 

Since we’re talking about the limitations of the realm, let’s look at the political geography. Only two countries take up the bulk of the Nearctic:

  • Canada
  • the United States

A good chunk of Mexico is in the Nearctic, though most of the country probably isn’t (it depends on definitions). Nearctic Mexico would be the deserts, shrublands, and temperate mountains in the north. The Kingdom of Denmark sneaks its way in by way of the massive constituent country, Greenland. France also has a piece by way of a tiny territory off the coast of Newfoundland called St. Pierre & Miquelon. Otherwise, that’s it!

Geography of the Nearctic

The Nearctic is known for having large, somewhat continuous biome types. Some major ones to remember are the Arctic tundra, Boreal forests / taiga, the Great Plains, the Nearctic (or North American) deserts, and the Eastern temperate forests. Much of those forests have been heavily urbanized or used for agriculture, but there are still some trees if you look. Oh, it’s not that bad.

cacti and flora in the sonora desert, southwestern nearctic realm
Sonora Desert – Brian Henderson

The realm is home to tons of lakes, big and small, with the largest (Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, etc.) being in the Great Lakes region. There are also some seriously long rivers here too, with some notable mentions being the Missouri, the Mississippi, the Yukon, and the Rio Grande.

forest, lake, and mountain scene in the rocky mountains, a major feature of the nearctic realm
Rocky Mountains – G. Lamar

Major mountain systems include the famous Rockies, the Pacific Ranges (or Cordillera), the East and West Sierra Madres, and the Appalachians. They are all very extensive too. The Rockies stretch from the Southwest United States up into Northern Canada. The Pacific Ranges basically run up the entire Pacific Coast. Depending on definition, the Appalachians go from the hills of Mississippi to the rocky shores of Newfoundland. Another big one is the Arctic Cordillera, a set of rugged mountains that stretch from Northern Labrador and Quebec all the way up to Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. 

unique temperate rainforest in the pacific northwest region of north america
Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Northwest – Tjflex2

There are a couple of biomes that stand out from the rest of the realm. The Pacific Northwest is home to the biggest — or longest — temperate rainforest in the world. On the other end, Appalachia is home to pockets of temperate rain and cloud forests. A large section of the Gulf Coast, especially around Louisiana, is home to vast wetlands and swamps called bayous. 

ice cap in the arctic tundra of canada
Ice cap in Canadian Arctic – NASA ICE

Another distinct area is Greenland’s Arctic desert (that’s right, they can be cold). That biome is a dry, snowy wilderness covered in snow year-round. Since we’re in the “Ne-Arctic,” the weather is just about everything but tropical. As we saw, it ranges from moist forests to dry prairies and arid deserts. Mediterranean climate is common in the matorral and chaparral shrublands of the West. Parts of the southeastern Nearctic aren’t quite tropical, but do have a humid subtropical climate. The main ecoregions include subtropical forests, temperate mixed and conifer forests, boreal forests, temperate and subtropical grasslands and plains, tundra, Mediterranean wood and shrublands, deserts, and even mangroves off the coast of Northwestern Mexico.

Ecology of the Nearctic

The Nearctic is home to many plants and animals. Some of the common big fauna are antelope (pronghorns), bison, wolves, foxes, bobcats, lynx, cougars (or mountain lions), deer, bighorn sheep, moose, bears, and musk oxen. There are also tons of rodents like rabbits, gophers, and squirrels, as well as beavers and porcupines. Armadillos, peccaries, and opossums came from further south. There are lots of bovids (cows) and horses too, but those were mostly introduced later. Camels, horses, and even a kind of cheetah were native to this region but endemic species have all died out.

turkey, an endemic and common fowl in the nearctic zone
Turkey – Tim Lumley

Alligators are common in some parts, as are many other reptiles, amphibians, and everything else. Major birds are crows, cardinals, turkeys, and hummingbirds, as well as many owls, hawks, eagles, ducks, geese, condors, and pelicans. Different berries and flowers, as well as specialized desert, tundra, and temperate zone plants are also found here. See this article for some interesting flora in North America.

Let’s Get Some Culture … of the Nearctic

As I mentioned before, one of the cool things about Bio-Realms is how they kind of coincide with human cultural interactions too. The dominating cultures in this realm tend to be this “Neo-Anglo” culture of the North American variety (it’s quite different from Neo-Anglo culture in the Caribbean, for example), and a Latin American culture, also of the North American variety. Neo-Anglo culture is strongest throughout, especially in much of the U.S. and Canada. Still, Latino culture is strong in the Southwest of the region. This is mostly in Mexico (duh!), but also in bordering U.S. states and several urban areas throughout the realm. 

“Neo-Franco” culture is strong in some areas like Canada, especially in Quebec province. It also has some influence in parts of Louisiana or St. Pierre & Miquelon, of course. Besides being a part of the same three countries, these areas are heavily influential in each other’s history and contemporary identities. They receive many immigrants amongst one another and share languages, slang, music, and cuisine across borders. 

Indigenous cultures are also still around, though much subtler than in the Neotropical Realm. Their cultures are more visible in the Western United States and Mexico or rural Canada. This is also true of the Arctic where the many Inuit peoples have a distinct culture and identity. Match that with Greenland where there’s this funky mix of Inuit and Danish cultural cues. 


We’ve come to the end of the Nearctic Realm, but there’s so much more to explore. What other cultural ties do the people of this realm share? Are there any other cool animals, plants, or geographic features you can think of in this realm? Had you heard about the Nearctic before? Tell us in the comments!

Follow if you enjoyed the article and feel free to read more posts. Thanks as always for stopping by. Sending you good vibrations. Peace!

**Ask me more or collaborate with CulSurf: tietewaller@gmail.com; Give Me a Shout!

Places in the Northwest Territories | Gallery, Videos, & Profile 🇨🇦

Flag of Northwest Territories, Canada
.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

les Territoires du Nord-Ouest

Canadian Provinces and Territories
.
.

Name Origin

when Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory were joined, they became the North-West Territories, describes their geographic location in Canada

Population

~ 45,000

Main Languages

Predominantly English (~ 78%). Dogrib or Tłı̨chǫ is the most prevalent indigenous language (~ 4%). Other official languages are: Chipewyan, Cree, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, and South Slavey. Mostly spoken by small portions of the population.

Capital & Largest City

Yellowknife

Location

Northwestern Canada, a federal territory in the general Arctic region. Mostly located on the mainland with some territory on large islands in the Arctic Archipelago. Has coastline on the Arctic Ocean.

Biogeography

Nearctic Realm

Parts of Canada’s taiga (mostly plains and shield forests), Taiga Cordillera mountains, and Arctic tundra. Major lakes include Great Slave Lake (deepest in North America) and Great Bear Lake (largest lake fully within Canada).


Gallery Images & Videos: Places in the Northwest Territories

northern lights (aurora borealis) in the snowy forests near Yellowknife, Canada
Yellowknife – kwan fung
.
Great Slave Lake shores and blue skies in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Jack L
Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve, place in the Northwest Territories, Canada
Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve – Mike Beauregard
.
exterior Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, Inuvik, on a snowy day
Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, Inuvik – dawn
.
Nionep'ene Lake in Naats'ihch'oh National Park, place in Northwest Territories, Canada
Nááts’įhch’oh National Park – Paul Gierszewski
Hornaday River and canyon in Tuktut Nogait National Park, place in the Northwest Territories
Tuktut Nogait National Park – Paul Gierszewski
jagged ice patterns on the frozen surface of Great Slave Lake, Northern Canada
Great Slave Lake – Phillip Grondin
a sunset / sunrise over the frozen expanse of Great Slave Lake, place in the Northwest Territories
buck82
landscape of scattered forest and plains in the taiga of Northwest Territories, Canada, Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park – Dru!
autumn colors and forests along the banks of a river in Northwest Territories, Canada, Wood Buffalo National Park
Scott Lough
taiga plains of the Northwest Territories, with flooded sections and lakes, near the Dempster Highway
Tania Liu
falls colors of grasses and lichens on the rolling hills of Northwestern Canada near the Dempster Highway
near the Dempster Highway – Tania Liu
bison walking near the water and a forest in Fort Providence, town in the Northwest Territories
Scott Lough
town of Fort Providence covered in snow with a church on the side, place in Northwestern Territories, Canada
Fort Providence – Leslie Philipp
tepees on the snow-covered shores of Great Bear Lake, northwestern Canada
Great Bear Lake – Sahtu Wildlife
rushing waterfall at Twin Gorges Territorial Park, Hay River, a place in the Northwest Territories
Twin Gorges Territorial Park, Hay River – Mike Tidd
an iceberg with ship remains ahead of it in the Northwest Passage of Arctic Canada
Northwest Passage – Roderick Eime
icebreaker ships sailing through the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, a section of the Northwest Territories, Canada
Coast Guard News
a colorful purple and pink sunset over the Mackenzie River near Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories
Mackenzie River – Fort Simpson Chamber of C
Church of Our Lady of Good Hope - interior, a place in Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories of Canada
Church of Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Good Hope – mattcatpurple

Does America have a cuisine? I mean, really? | Doubts about Americans

The USA? A cuisine? You’re kidding. This place definitely does have its own set of culinary forms and contributions. Or … The U.S. just steals its culinary forms from other traditions. Well, we’ve heard many sides of the argument before, and there’s a little bit of truth to either. Many travelers to the United States, foreigners watching American TV shows, and our very own U.S. citizens often get confused as to what the “cuisine” even is (if there is such a thing, of course). Here, I want to explore with you a bit of the influences behind American cuisine, and how that became a thing. Then we can take a brief — I do mean brief — look at the major cuisines-zzz of the United States. Ready to go?

See more

Influences on “American” Cuisine

The trouble with defining a uniquely American cuisine for most people is the fact that the country itself is literally a land of immigrants. There has been so much influence from other places that one might be inclined to think that the US just borrows its recipes from other countries, tweaking them slightly to appeal to American tongues. While that may be the case, this is typically what has happened in all world cuisines. For example, many European dishes rely heavily on potatoes and tomatoes, two ingredients originally from the Americas. Most of the world eats chicken, a fowl originally from South Asia. You start to get my point.

Specifically, for the United States as we know it (or them?), the cuisine was influenced by different waves of settlement. The Native Americans would be the first up. Known as the “three sisters,” indigenous diets were stapled by beans, maize, and squash. Add in the native turkey and you’ve almost got yourself a Thanksgiving dinner! Lots of other animals were consumed that aren’t such popular options nowadays like deer, elk, bison, rabbits, ducks, snakes, squirrels, turtles, possums, and alligators. Still, these animals are consumed in modern times, even if it gives me the creeps to think so. One group of native critters that have stood the test of time are crustaceans and shellfish. Mmm-hmm. 

Europeans in general immediately made their impact on the local dishes. They would eventually introduce the meats that we know and love like chicken, pork, beef, and sheep (for those that like to eat Mary’s little lambs). With these creatures also came dairy and eggs, and subsequently every great dessert ever made! Grapes and wine were also a neat contribution. Throughout settlement, American colonists had a sweet spot for France and French culinary styles which they drew much inspiration. The Jewish communities and pretty much every other European community brought with them their own styles that would influence cuisine in the new country.

Upon arriving in the colonies, many people realized a greater need to hunt than on the typical European farms. They would also come to use more fats, oils, and butter than was customary (this explains a lot, actually). Colonists also brought grains with them that could be used to bake bread or make the popular whiskeys and beers. Molasses and syrup also became common, along with a sort-of-famous drink imported from the Caribbean: rum.

In the Southern states especially, African influences would hit even harder. Imports like okra, sorghum, sesame seeds, eggplant, watermelon, rice, and yams are just some of what was brought along with the early slaves. (*Some of these foods were also found in Asia but were imported first from Africa). Black cooks would also play a major role in the national cuisine since they were serving some of the best dishes available to the elites of the time. 

All of these influences and more would go on to mix and shape a unique culinary style all to its own in the United States. As we said, the country is home to many regional cuisines within its borders. So, what are some of America’s cuisines?

Types of American Cuisine

New England

lobster roll, part of New England cuisine
lobster roll – Sharon McCutcheon

New England is a section of the Northeast United States with a long, rugged coastline. The food there is most famous for its use of seafood, especially for having some of the best lobster anywhere. Clam chowder and lobster dishes like the lobster roll are considered originals from this region. Succotash is another original consisting mostly of lima beans and corn, both native ingredients.

New England cuisine is also known for its use of fruits and berries, with many popular sweets like pies, juices, and jellies being derived from both imported (strawberries, apples) and native produce (elderberries, cranberries). Muffins, specialized types of bread, and cookies (looking at you, chocolate chip!) were also popularized here before spreading to the rest of the country.

Mid-Atlantic

Spaghetti and meatballs, and Italian-American dish
spaghetti & meatballs – jeffreyw

The Mid-Atlantic has undoubtedly had one of the biggest impacts on all American cuisine since some of the largest cities and cultural centers are here. In New York alone, Jewish and Italian influence would introduce many New World concepts like spaghetti and meatballs, American-style pizza, crab cakes, eggs benedict, the Reuben sandwich, and pastrami on rye.

Besides keeping it kosher, this region loved its sweets, with many concoctions such as the New York cheesecake, American-style donuts, and milkshakes owing their births to this region. There’s also Philadelphia which most notably contributed cream cheese and the Philly cheesesteak, but also played a major role in the westward expansion of New York dishes. We can’t forget that Upstate New York would make one of the most beloved American dishes known to man: buffalo wings

Mid-West

hot dogs with different styles of sausage and baked beans pickels and lettuce, other with onions, bbq sauce and blue cheese, with sauces and fries on the side
some variations of hot dog – Victoria Shes

Staying on the “Middle” route, the Mid-West is a region that was settled by lots of Europeans. This might explain why German, Scandinavian, and Eastern Block influences are so strong there. Aside from the many dishes brought over from those European tables, one that seemed to stand out was the sausage.

Polish and German sausages (especially Bratwurst) take the cake in this part of America, and they have gone to take many shapes and sizes. Adding pickled veggies will get you the hot dogs so popular in these parts. The major cities here have their own unique styles of pizza (most famously Chicago deep dish) and barbeque (most famously Kansas CitySt. Louis). Oh, and brownies apparently came from America’s wonderful heartland.

Southern

grits and greens, two classics of southern cuisine in America
grits & greens – Kim Daniels

When referring to “the South” in any case, especially when it comes to food, there is no umbrella that can cover it all. The South is one of the richest and most diverse culinary regions in America, many claiming it is the only part of the U.S. that gives the country a unique culinary style. Still, they learned a lot from the Natives and Africans. Corn dishes like succotash, corn of the cob, cornbread, and grits all have their origins down here. As we saw earlier, melons, yams, okra, black-eyed peas, and rice also get the highlight from Africa.

Barbeque is a key style of food with famous contributors in Tennessee and the Carolinas.. Buttermilk biscuits, country ham, and fried chicken are dishes that developed in the South, along with popular deserts like sweet potato pie, pecan pie, and peach cobbler. Oh, and sweet tea which is practically a dessert. Many fried classics like fried chicken, country fried steak, and fried pork chops would get their call to fame in the south. And don’t forget to throw some gravy on it!

Cajun & Creole

Gumbo, a classic Louisiana dish, cajun/creole cuisine
gumbo – Amadscientist

Throughout the coastal South such as the Carolinas, seafood is considered a staple in the cuisine. But nowhere else, I dare to say, does seafood play a bigger role in the culinary ID than in Louisiana. Cajun and Creole traditions took heavily from French-Acadian, Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, and indigenous foods to make it its own unique thing.

There are way too many specialized dishes to name here, but many of them take advantage of the prevalent shellfish, crawfish, and regular fish of the region. The food is known for being one of the most flavorful and spiciest in all of the U.S. Cajuns love their cayenne pepper. Some of the most-known dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, boudin sausage, red beans and rice, and po’boys

Florida & the Caribbean

jerk chicken grilling with a Heineken beer, part of Caribbean cuisine
jerk grilled chicken – S kelly

Anyone who’s ever been to Florida knows how nice (or chaotic) the weather can be. It’s known as the only part of the contiguous United States with a tropical climate. This plus its proximity to the Caribbean has brought many fruits that simply can’t grow in other states. Immigrants have brought culinary styles from Cuba, the DR, and Haiti, among other flavors such as allspice, coconut, oranges, banana (plantains), Jerk, and curry.

Some of the tropical fruits available like soursop and mangoes are almost unheard of in other parts of the South, making Florida a standout. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico also add their own twist of flavors, being U.S. territories with tons of Spanish, African, and French influences too. The region is also a key location for seafood and for peppers like bell and habanero. It’s said the famous key lime pie was invented (or at least inspired) in the Florida Keys.

Northwest

sesame chicken, an Americanized dish of Chinese food, popularized in the American West
sesame chicken (I couldn’t find moose sausage) – Israel Albornoz

The American Northwest has two standout factors in its culinary styles. For one, the proximity to the Pacific gives it some unique fish and seafood not available in the East. The other is due to the fact that most of this region is wilderness, allowing for access to more big game. This is especially true for Alaska where animals like the ptarmigan, moose, and bison can be consumed more regularly than in other parts of the U.S.

I was also thinking bears and beavers, but I don’t know how often those get eaten. The Pacific Northwest is also famous for its extensive berry and hazelnut harvesting. And not to mention the major cities like Seattle and San Francisco that created many of the Asian-American dishes beloved around the country.

Southwest

Tex-Mex dishes including rice, tortilla chips, fajitas and tacos, part of American cuisine
Tex-Mex dishes – Scott Bauer

The Southwest is a huge area with tons of culinary styles and influences. The most prevalent of these is probably American Mexican food. From Tex-Mex to SoCal to New Mexico, each place has its own unique turn. Notably from Texans, we get iconic dishes like beef chili, queso dip, American nachos, taco bowls, and holiest of all, Fritos. Chimichangas are reportedly from Arizona, and New Mexico has lots of traditional dishes that put an American twist to north Mexican fare.

A constant in many of these is the use of tomatoes, peppers like chiles and jalapeños, cheese, corn, and beans. Salsa, tortillas, and guacamole are also part of the staple dishes. With influences like the Native American horno, a type of oven, other animals such as elk and even rattlesnake are consumed, likely in the boonies.

Still, beef and barbeque hold a special place here, with Texas having some of the most famous BBQ in the world. Burgers are also an important feature, the Southwest being home to the cheeseburger and many types of Mexicanized and Asianized burgers following soon after. California was pivotal in introducing many Asian foods to the country (as well as the concept of fast food). From Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, to Korean and more, these foods have gone to shapeshift into something truly American.

Pacific

Spam musubi, a Hawaiian / pacific dish in American cuisine
SPAM musubi – bandita

The Pacific Islands take up a special portion of American cuisine. Due to tropical weather and an abundance of seafood, this region has access to many foods otherwise not available in the rest of the country. Regional natives and tropical fruits like bananas, papayas, lemongrass, and sweet potatoes have all contributed. Alongside Samoan and Mariana traditions, Hawaiian food is of the most beloved in America as well.

Also paying due to imports like chicken and pigs, pork and ham are heavily associated with this region, as are pineapples. Asian foods and styles like poke (Hawaii original), tofu, soy, sushi, teriyaki, kimchi, and noodles like ramen are all part of the cuisine. Many American troops were sent to the Pacific during wartime as well, and canned foods like beans, meat, and SPAM are derived from those army rations. 

Other Food

lamb kebab with pita bread, a popular mediterranean dish in America
lamb kebab – Lesya Dolyk

One of the most popular cuisines not owing to a particular region of the U.S. is Mediterranean food. This is usually with a Middle Eastern flare and includes things like kebabs, hummus, shwarma, falafel, pita bread, and creamy salads. Desserts like rice pudding and baklava also have an impact on this food. Ethiopian and other African styles are on the rise due to increased immigration.

Indian food has been popular for a while with tikka masala, naan bread, lentils, and curry being some of the most popular items. South American barbeque styles like Brazilian churrasco and gaucho asado are gaining in popularity, as are exotic fruits like “acai” (açaí) or tubers like cassava (think tapioca). Pretty much everyone’s got a hand in this American pie. 


**That’s it for now! I look forward to going more in depth with the distinct American cuisines in the future. What do you think? Were any of these shocking to you? Still don’t think the U.S. has its own cuisine? Let us know! And take care, as always. Peace 😉

“Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo – Lyrics for English Students

Flag of Sweden
.
Tove Lo album cover, Queen of the Clouds, album of the song Habits (Stay High)
.

Going to the club and watching strangers have a go at each other isn’t a habit that most people have, I’d feel pretty safe to say. But most of us do have a bad habit that we’re trying to kick, which made this song more relatable in the end. Maybe you’re an English student or English learner. Maybe you heard this song and loved it, but didn’t understand some parts. Maybe you understand all the lyrics and just wanted to hear it again. Whatever brought you here, welcome! These lyrics are meant to help those who are learning English and may not have picked up on certain expressions or grammar, but anyone is welcome to read.

To read the lyrics without my explanations: Genius Lyrics

Challenge for better practice:

1) listen to the song and try to pay attention to the words, 2) read the lyrics with the explanations below, then, 3) listen to the song again to check your comprehension.

Warning!

The video and the lyrics have some slightly inappropriate content. It may not be good for kids, and parents might have to use discretion on this one. Everyone’s taste is different so, you know … enjoy!

.

Read more: Lyrics “Explained”


Habits (Stay High) – Lyrics & Explanations

I eat my dinner in my bathtub, then I go to sex clubs

Watchin’ freaky people gettin’ it on

  • Slang / Informal Expressions: “Freaky” in this sense means to be very sexually open, promiscuous, and adventurous. Or, it’s just someone who likes sex a lot. To “get it on” means to get physical, have intimate relations with someone.

It doesn’t make me nervous, if anything, I’m restless

Yeah, I’ve been around and I’ve seen it all

  • Expressions / Idioms: Saying “I’ve been around” is like saying that the person has experience, has lived through many situations, and some things that are shocking to most seem normal to her. An extended way to say the same thing is, “I’ve been around the block.”

I get home, I got the munchies

  • Slang / Informal Speech: “The munchies” is being hungry or having a craving for certain types of food. It usually is an abnormal hunger, persistent and won’t go away. I think it was popularized with cannabis culture since people often get the munchies after smoking.

Binge on all my Twinkies

  • Common Speech: To “binge” is to consume a lot of something in a short amount of time, often to the point of getting sick from it. It’s often used to talk about food, but nowadays people also “binge-watch” a TV show or series.
  • Snacks: I’ll post a picture of a Twinkie for those that don’t know.

Throw up in the tub, then I go to sleep

And I drank up all my money, dazed and kinda lonely

  • Casual Speech: To “drink up” something means to drink it all. She is referring to drinking alcohol, or spending all her money on liquor.
  • Common Speech: “Dazed” means to be in a weird mental state of numbness and confusion, almost like being in a trance.

You’re gone and I gotta stay high

  • Grammar: *”And I’ve got to stay high …” also, “and I have to stay high …”
  • Slang: “High” is being under the influence of drugs, probably cannabis in Tove Lo’s case.

All the time to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

High, all the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Spend my days locked in a haze tryna forget you, babe

  • Grammar: *”I spend my days … trying to forget you babe …”
  • Common Speech: “Haze” is like a fuzzy, thick smoke or pollution in the air. When talking about a mental state, it relates to being in a fuzzy, clouded state of mind where things don’t really make sense. It also could just mean that she smokes every day trying to forget her ex or whoever.

I fall back down

Gotta stay high, all my life, to forget I’m missin’ you

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Other lyrics you might like: After the Storm, (Kali Uchis); Pleasure, (Feist); What Goes Around …/… Comes Around, (Justin Timberlake); i like the devil, (Purity Ring); Cameo Lover, (Kimbra); Don’t Start, (Dua Lipa); Dani California, (Red Hot Chili Peppers); Colorado, (Kota the Friend); Day N Nite, (Kid Cudi)

Pick up daddies at the playground, how I spend my daytime

Loosen up their frown, make ’em feel alive

  • Casual Expressions: To “loosen up” something is to undo it, unwind it, or put it in a relaxed state.
  • Grammar: *”Make them feel alive …”

I make it fast and greasy, I’m numb and way too easy

  • Informal / Casual Speech: “Greasy” is usually used to describe food that is oily and bad for you, as well as car parts that are dirty and covered in sticky oil, which we would call “grease.” By saying it’s “fast and greasy,” it’s as if she is relating the situation to fast food, food that is quick and tastes good at the moment but leaves you feeling bad or dirty afterward. By saying her encounters were greasy, they were probably dirty, oily, sticky, and sort of uncomfortable. When someone is referred to as “easy,” it usually means they are easy to get with or sleep with. In less explicit contexts, it means that the person is really easy-going and isn’t very demanding. Saying “way too” is like adding emphasis to the “too.” It just means very very very. “It is way too hot outside.”

You’re gone and I gotta stay high

All the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

High, all the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Spend my days locked in a haze, tryna forget you, babe

I fall back down

Gotta stay high, all my life, to forget I’m missin’ you

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

  • Expressions: “Play-pretend” is kind of like the world of “make-believe,” like the world of a child’s fantasy.
  • Grammar: *”Where the fun doesn’t have an / any end …”

Oh, can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain

  • Grammar: *”I can’t go home … I need someone to numb …”

Oh, staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

Oh, can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain

Then it repeats.

**Do you have a song suggestion you’d like me to explain the lyrics for? Want more songs by Tove Lo? Contact me with a one-to-one message or for collaboration at tietewaller@gmail.com (also on my contact page). Thanks again for stopping by. Peace to you!

Do Americans have a culture? – Doubts about the U.S.A.

A Culture? Please …

I know, I know. This might seem like an odd question, but many out there wonder whether or not the U.S. really does have a culture. It’s debated by researchers and academics, even questioned by many Americans themselves. Well, you know I’m going to give you my opinion. But, what is culture in the first place?

Read more: Doubts About Americans

All countries have one (there goes your answer right there), and most countries have specific regional cultures within them. Even many cities have different “cultures” depending on the side of town. This usually happens in a north-south and east-west frame. Think of, say, Eastern and Western China, East and West Russia, North and South Italy, or North and South India. The same differences happen in the U.S., where you get different cultures from north to south and east to west and diagonal and so forth.

Probably the reason many would question whether America or Americans have any culture has more to do with having a culture of their own. Since everybody knows it’s a nation composed almost entirely of immigrants, it’s easy to see why people might question whether the U.S. even has a culture in the first place. Especially for visitors, often the first things they see are Uber and Lyft drivers that can hardly speak English, a Chinese restaurant on the left, a Mexican restaurant on the right, an Indian bazaar, a building that looks just like any other in Europe or somewhere else.

Read more: American ethnicity, American languages

Culture(s) of the U.S.

A lot of that is just on the surface, though. First and foremost, we just need to look at the first nations within our nation. Native Americans were here before “America” was even a thing. They have used hundreds of languages to express their many musical styles, customs, dressing traditions, and cuisines. Many of the food items common in current American cuisines like corn, turkey, different berries, and tomatoes are homegrown, original to the continent. And indigenous art and design are still highly influential, especially in regions like the Southwest and parts of the Midwest.

The Anglos and other British settlers also had a chunk of influence. They brought their heritage, sure, but established a distinct set of folklore, musical styles, attire, and identity altogether. Generally those identities differed from North to South and urban to rural too, where differences in lifestyle, accent, and ideology would diverge those two parts of the country even more. Besides setting the foundation for the United States as we know it, they also gave the nation its main language, now the most prominent and influential version of English on the planet. (Brits, please don’t get mad at me!)

With all that going on, others from Europe like the French, Dutch, Swedes, and Spanish were all pushing their own traditions and styles onto the locations they’d settled. This left Dutch architecture in New York, Spanish architecture in California and Texas, and French architecture in Louisiana. It also gave way to celebrations like Mardi Gras, and the establishment of some of America’s greatest and most iconic cities.

The Africans that were brought over to the New World also made their cultural impact. From their influence on cuisine, especially in the South and Mid-Atlantic, they helped to produce and invent many of the nation’s most iconic and preferred dishes, several with ingredients from the ancestral continent. Lyrical storytelling and passing down vocal history allowed many to preserve their musical traditions. This continues to impact American and World music in a huge way till this day. With some of the most important black social leaders and intellects, African Americans have become some of the most recognizable and admired black individuals known all over the world. Many black people from other countries and colonies also had a huge impact on the nation’s ID. And America’s obsession with athletics, TV, and movies have helped to solidify that role.

Oh, and let’s not forget the many immigrants that came to establish their own unique cultures in the U.S. different from their home lands. I mean, Chicano isn’t quite Mexican, and Nuyorican isn’t quite Puerto Rican (even though Puerto Rican is still American, as much as Guamanian, American Samoan, Mariana, or Virgin Islander is). Just name all the religious sects and denominations that sought refuge here. Heck, many still were persecuted when they got here. Many of their traditional cuisines and customs have been modified to U.S.-style, but there are still places where their customs have been preserved like in their ancestral countries.

Just the Beginning

And that’s just looking at individual groups. I haven’t even begun to talk about consumerism and capitalism, the phenomenon of malls and suburbs, movie culture and car culture, skateboarding and surfing, baseball and basketball, football and the bashing of any other sport that claims to be football, Americana and jukebox nostalgia, hostility and hospitality, Broadway and Hollywood, Main Street and Middle America, country living and the urban rush, the woes of yards and pounds, love-hate feels about war and the admiration of military, the superiority complex and the self-loathing, “pulling up your bootstraps” and the mental health crisis, ranches and rodeos, guns and cowboys, hippies and hipsters, donators and volunteers, scammers and schemers, big enterprise and social media craze, an app for everything and a distrust in politics, religious fundamentalists and homegrown extremists, luaus and hula dancers, freezer food and barbecues, bison and bald eagles, conservative rules, and the sex, swearing, and drugs that never seem to get ruled out.

Read more: American religion, Black Americans

There’s a lot that makes America what it is, but one thing’s for certain; Americans do have a culture … but I’ll let others figure out what that culture actually is.


Thank you for reading! Follow the site or subscribe to receive updates as they happen. You can contact me at tietewaller@gmail.com or Give Me a Shout to collaborate and one-to-one messages. Stay tuned for further posts on this topic!

Lead fame hit | What is ‘Clout’? – with dialogue

a businessman and his colleagues in the office, resembling the meaning of clout in business, politics, etc.
Yan Krukov

Meanings of Clout

Welcome to another post and yet another word explanation … sort of. Today’s focus is on “clout,” a word that has resurged up into popularity lately. Clout in normal situations has a couple of different meanings already. It can be a hit or a strike, and also some kind of cloth.

But we don’t want to focus on those definitions. If you’re looking this up, you’re likely searching for the most common use for this word in — American English, anyway — which is having strong influence either in business, politics, or some field related to these.

Read more: Clout in the learner’s dictionary

This meaning, though, has slightly changed in recent times. In some casual or slang contexts, usually in music or on social media, clout refers to general fame or recognition. Someone with clout is in control, calls the shots, and makes the decisions. It’s pretty much the same as being popular.

Read: Clout in the Urban Dictionary

Also, having clout on social media is having lots of popularity (on those media platforms), having lots of followers, getting lots of attention, and so on. Sometimes people who are looking to be more popular or chasing after fame and influence are called clout chasers.

Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard of this?

.

Like I said, these meanings are all pretty close to the same thing. Still, informally, clout is more about having fame online or being popular when you go places. The traditional meaning is less about having showy popularity where everybody knows you and more about having real power and leverage to make big changes. This is often in an elite field like politics or business.

Below is a short story featuring the characters from Adventures of Charles. Here, clout is explored with some more or less realistic examples, if you care to see that. Either way, thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your English studies!

‘Lead fame hit’

clout used in sentences

.

What a weird story! I can’t believe you and Jonah saw all of those crystals, though. That must have been amazing. You’ll have to take me on your next trip.

Read previous story: Depth trap dive

Charles looked over at his friend, Sheila, with a smile as she steered the wheel. She had a way of making everything seem exciting. Oh, and she made driving look so cool.

–I know, it was amazing! The crystals were just beyond belief.

I guess Charles was also good at that.

Sheila thought for a moment, then decided to say, –I just don’t know how you guys afford these elaborate vacations. Are you guys, like, secretly rich or something? ‘Cus you need to tell me if you are.

Charles laughed and decided to tell the truth.

–Well, you know, I have nothing to do with it. Jonah is the one with all the connections. I think he has some clout with the airlines because of his cousin, so they let him travel when he wants.

  • He has some influence or leverage with this company, he has a certain amount of power and freedom with them.

–That’s dope! she responded enthusiastically, paying closer attention to the street signs now. Charles watched as the red and green streetlights skimmed over her face. –It must be good to have a friend like that.

–Well, I’m sure you have clout too in the music world. You could probably walk into a club and everybody would know who are. And want to buy a drink for you, too.

  • I’m sure you have influence, I’m sure that you are popular in the music world.

Sheila laughed.

–Hey! I ain’t that famous. Not yet, anyway. But I do wish I could get some of that clout on Instagram or something. My songs aren’t reaching the right audiences yet.

  • Get some popularity, more attention, influence on Instagram.

Charles placed a hand on her shoulder, about to say, “Don’t worry, grasshopper. Your time will come,” or something like that. But before he could shed his words, Sheila jerked her neck and turned to the side, pointing her finger at a dark corner building.

–Oh my God! That’s the old studio, she said.

–Really? Charles replied. –It looks barren.

–I know, huh? Let’s go record something! I bet you they still have all the old equipment.

As he undid his seatbelt, Charles nodded and replied, –Old equipment? Look out! Now you’ll really be famous.

Sheila parked the car at the corner by the dark-looking ruin of a building. Charles then took a deep breath, and they went in.

To be continued …

‘OCD’ – Visual / Audible Poem (‘TOC’ Legenda em português)

A film projector in the dark, representing a short video about the use of the expression "wild"
.

In the video below is a poem. It was inspired by a strange time in my teens when I was struggling with obsessive anxiety. I know some of the words are weird, but I tried to express my reality and my real thoughts from that time. This is not what everybody who experiences OCD feels. This was an artistic take on my personal view of the condition at the time. Okay, hope you enjoy it. You can also read the poem by itself at the link below. Thanks!

.

Have you or someone you know ever dealt with OCD or another psychiatric condition? If you feel up to it, please share about it here. It’s a safe place and it’s you may inspire someone with your testimony. You never know 😉 Thanks for supporting and I appreciate your courage.

You can check out some other videos like this one in the Videos section.

Read on Inkspired

‘Django Unchained’ & American Society- What’s it say about us?

movie poster cover for Django Unchained
.
.

Django Unchained was a 2012 American movie by Quentin Tarantino that shook up so many of its viewers. With references to Spaghetti Westerns, Southern epics, and slavery pieces to name a few, this movie also had a lot to say about American society overall. Down below are a few of the points about our society, past and present, that were referenced in Django Unchained.

That’s Racist

The most obvious thing that Django Unchained tells us about America is slavery and racism. We all know about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the nation’s history of African enslavement. In the movie, we see how pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific concepts were used in those days to justify slavery.

You remember the whole scene where Mr. Candie (DiCaprio’s character) uses one of his former slave’s skulls to demonstrate how black people are anatomically inferior to whites. Or that scene where the slaver uses the Bible to justify his whipping and punishing of the “sub-human” slaves.

The cold part is that this stuff really happened, and a lot. It seems like every five words in Django is the “n-word,” and this is more for a shock effect than anything. I mean, I’m sure white people in those days called black people nigger a lot, but not like every five seconds. Still, the use of this word and other racial slurs in the movie shows us how language has been used throughout our country’s history to uplift certain groups and diminish others. And that goes both ways.

Read more: Are there many interracial couples in America?

Okay, so we saw whips and chains, physical representations of bondage and dominance — not to get freaky. Oh, and we saw a glimpse of a pre-Ku Klux Klan group in one of the funniest scenes of the entire movie. The KKK really formed after abolition as a kind of retaliation against blacks gaining equality. Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Schultz (Cristoph Waltz) later in the movie start to be treated with a bit of respect when they are presumed to have money and status. This shows how even racism can be curbed when there are benefits involved.

Frontier Living

Django Unchained at its heart is a Western, so the usual gun-slinging and street shootouts had to be a part of it. The characters throughout most of the movie are riding horses and carriages across open landscapes, mountains, and everything we associate with the Old West. We even see the classic cowboy stand-offs in the small frontier town, people running to get the sheriff, and a saloon fight.

The Antebellum South is also represented when they get to Mississippi. There we see big plantations and plantation homes being worked by slaves. Besides that, we get a look at some slave quarters, those common oak and poplar trees of the South, and big fields of cotton to be picked. And of course, all around is the sense of white dominance and complacency for being in control of that crazy world they’d created.

Read more: Isn’t America all cold and snowy?

The Outlaw is B(l)ack!

Another thing this movie does is show audiences how black outlaws and bounty hunters did exist in the Old Western days. I feel like this movie opened up in many ways for people to learn about such figures as black cowboys and bounty hunters, a subject that was not really touched on before in movies or TV (at least to this extent).

Django shows in part the presence of these lesser-known historic black figures of that time, informing that they were also a part of the development of the country. There’s also something many people forget, that some slaves were able to buy their freedom and lead interesting lives outside of the establishment.

Read more: Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on TV?

Reparations … or Revenge?

Since the times of slavery in America, there has been a sense of black people recovering some kind of dignity, strength, even ranging into dominance. It’s important to remember that not all people in any group will want the same things, which is normal. Still, when Django goes and kills all of the slavers that did him wrong, there’s this sense of “justice served cold” that reverberates off of every gunshot and explosion.

There’s a constant debate in the USA of whether there should be reparations or compensation given to black Americans for the terrible deeds taken against their ancestors. There is this underlying feeling of getting revenge on these racist actions, which is completely exploited in this movie. Let me also remind you that the German’s full name is Dr. “King” Schultz, likely a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King as a kind of liberator and symbol for good.

Through all the killing that Django does, we also get an idea of the violent nature of rebellions in general, especially as it deals with the black-led ones. There was many a violent uprising in America’s past, and this movie plays a bit on such true historic bloodbaths.

And the White Director

So Quentin Tarantino doesn’t look very black, as far as most of us can tell. The fact that a white guy had directed a movie like this did conjure up some backlash for the film. Django Unchained touches on some pretty sensitive subject matter, particularly concerning black Americans. So one might imagine how some people felt uncomfortable with it.

Tarantino movies aren’t for everyone and lots of people are already uneased by the cartoonish violence in them. Put that together with about a thousand “n-bombs” and you’ve got a sure recipe for retaliation. Even though many people thought he had no business making a movie about slavery, there were still those that enjoyed Django Unchained regardless of its crazy subject matter. Q. T. does actually have a cameo in the movie and gets blown up, which shows that even the director wasn’t safe from Django’s vengeful rage.

Boy, I Swear

Another common feature in Tarantino’s movies is the liberal and consistent tendency of his characters to swear. This is just his style, and it comes more so from this culture surrounding Hollywood or Southern California — where almost everyone I know curses. Some are offended by this constant use of bad words, and others could care less.

One thing that’s funny about this, though, is that people back in those times (early-mid 1800s) definitely did not curse as much as in the movie. Sure, there was cursing, but people back in those days were generally pretty conservative and religious by today’s standards. I had this same thought watching The Hateful Eight which had a similar amount of cussing in a time period that people probably didn’t have such dirty mouths.

Read more: The Wolf of Wall Street

This feature of the movie was likely used to connect modern audiences to this past period in time, similar to how the score contained some rap songs. It also reminds audiences that this story is fictional and for entertainment purposes, so don’t be taking it all so seriously.

America, the Beautiful Mixed Baby

In Django Unchained are black people (obviously), Germans, Australians, other Americans, and Mr. Candie who loves French — even though he can’t speak or understand it. Some aspects of the culture, especially on the German side, are explored a bit deeper. With all of this, we get reminded of America’s very mixed heritage.

Germans at a certain point in the U.S. interior were very prevalent and made up a large part of the immigration there. All these different people of varying backgrounds remind us of this uncommon origin we share that turned the U.S. into a land of immigrants. It also reminds us that a large part of the country, like the West, was built by outlaws, runaways, and people seeking the thrill of adventure until turning it into what it is today.

Read more: Aren’t Americans white?

**What did you think of this movie? Are you fond of Tarantino or do you avoid his movies at all costs? If you can, share what else Django Unchained showed us about American or world society. Also, feel free to check out similar posts on At the Movies. Message me at tietewaller@gmail.com for direct contact or to collaborate on something! Thank you for reading and peace to you.