My state is getting press lately for a variety of things.
This makes me happy. Why not?
Good press. Bad press. Whatever. As long as mass shootings aren’t the topic, I’m enjoying the energy.
Even attempts to revise the American History curriculum in the Jefferson County Schools—I hate this on one level, but the overall response by students and concerned parents has been liberating.
If people weren’t standing up to this, I’d be scared.
But nope. America and the First Amendment are still America and the First Amendment.
People are talking. This is good.
The folks who are trying to revise the History curriculum, they got me thinking.
(Quick background: I grew up in this state. Besides four years in New York City, this is where I’ve lived and where I hope to continue living.)
Thing is: I’m a Coloradan who likes all the people moving here.
I like meeting people who don’t remind me of the xenophobic hate-filled white people in this state.
The narrow-minded, racist, tiny-minded folk. Those people.
The Buffalo Billicans.
For you non-Coloradans, no: my term isn’t a reference to Silence of the Lambs. As far as I know, the Buffalo Billicans of Colorado aren’t making skin suits or dancing naked in front of the mirror to that song.
The name comes from William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
If you grew up in Colorado near the Denver Metro area, chances are you took a class field trip or day camp trek up to Lookout Mountain to see Buffalo Bill’s grave. At least once you did this.
No reason for visiting his grave exists. It is just the way the Universe works. If you’re a child growing up in the Denver Metro area, sooner or later you travel to the final resting place of a man who is one of our state’s icons.
“Buffalo Bill” Cody is an embodiment of the Colorado pioneer spirit. A symbol of The Wild West and the forces that tamed it.
A settler of the Centennial State.
He also signifies what is messed up about Colorado. A man whose nickname and claim to fame come from destroying the food source of the Native Americans who lived around this area, yeah, he’s cool.
That spirit of the West? He was the living proof that it was fostered via genocide. Not violent genocide—okay, except for those few instances—no, violent genocide would have been cruel. Conquering the West was about starving women and children to death by killing off the buffalo.
(When we weren’t giving them blankets and clothes covered in diseases like smallpox, that is.)
I just keep connecting Buffalo Bill’s exploits to the people who lament this state’s changes and pine for the old days.
The hate these people have, you read it in their responses to news stories.
Their disdain for blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Indians from India, Native American Indians, women, lesbian women, gay men, Muslims, Buddhists, longhairs, Democrats, Californians, environmentalists, single moms, women who have had abortions, women who have had children and given them up for adoption, women who think sex with condoms is okay, punk rockers, people with tattoos, vegetarians—Buffalo Billicans and xenophobic fear go together like Joe Biden and media gaffes.
Yes, Buffalo Billicans, the whiteness of Colorado is not nearly as white as it once was.
My heart doesn’t and never will weep for you.
Back to what’s going on in the Jefferson County schools and the desire to rewrite what is taught about slavery:
My state wasn’t a state until after slavery was abolished, so we didn’t have plantations. But our racial ugliness towards blacks is there. The state’s black population is relatively small because the settlers of this state had no problem telling newly-freed slaves that they weren’t welcome. In places like St. Louis and Kansas City, black people were told to not even think of trekking across the prairie. In no uncertain terms, they were told to not settle in Colorado. As this state came to life, the Five Points area of Denver was the anchor of the black population and those first settlers were brave souls. They were surrounded by hateful white people.
Men who were like Buffalo Bill Cody.
And today the spiritual descendants of these hateful white Coloradans, The Buffalo Billicans of Jefferson County, want the schools’ AP History classes to revise what they teach about the Civil War. They want to—pun intended—whitewash away the ugly, yet true, facts about America.
Extending this logic, we could teach the kids that Buffalo Bill was a peach of a guy, too.
Oh, you Buffalo Billicans.
We won’t tell the kids that Buffalo Bill led excursions of vacationers from the East across the prairie, where they shot herds of buffalo, kept a few skins for souvenirs, but left the carcasses of the animals to rot. The kids won’t know that this was a deliberate act to terrify the Indians so they felt no hope for survival as they and their children starved to death. We won’t tell them that.
As much as the Buffalo Billicans complain about others moving to Colorado, believe me, there are still plenty of those people left in this state.
Buffalo Billicans: if you think you’re being pushed out, no. You’re still here. You and your two-centuries-ago worldview are still here.
In fact, at least one or two of you are probably writing letters to editors of media publications right now, pining away for the good old days of Colorado and its varying hue of whiteness.
I will sign off by asking all of you Coloradans who are reading this to please vote for Senator Mark Udall and Governor John Hickenlooper.
As an added bonus to the fact that they are both good at their jobs and re-electing them would be positive for our state, re-electing them will also piss off many Buffalo Billicans.