How often have I wondered about the American obsesson with race. It would seem as of a great divide between black people and white even with their laws of equality. How it would be so good if both would simply accept the other as people for each are as American as the other.
Maybe Europe due to millenia, centuries and decades of war, civil war, Feudalism (with it's class racist system in the sense of a ruling class and a serf class of slaves), colonialism, slave trade and destructuve totalitarian regimes with certain racist elements. The German Imperial Nationalism before, during and just after the First World war with German colonies in Africa, and the Herero and Nama genocide in Namibia in an African colony. And in the same time the abuses of Black Africans in the Belgian Congo and in British, French and Portuguese colonies (Angola and Mozambique) in Africa, there is a sort of shame of Europeans for racism. Ofcourse I also add the racist, colonialist policies of the Europeans in Eastern-Asia, in Southern-America, Middle/Central America and in North-America (Canada and the USA).
The Americans were pioneers who struggled to survive and maybe had less guilt feelings than the Europeans, who have more layers of guilt and history. North-America has not the heavy layers of the First and Second World War massacres, the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor, the Holocaust, the decades long communist (first Leninist and later Stalinist) purges and terror. The Americans have the 19th century bloody Civil war, the terrible poverty of immigrants who entered the USA and struggled to survive and sometimes only in 2 or 3 generations reached a standard or basic working class or middle class American level.
I sometimes noticed that American family and friends didn't fully understood the heavy European history, the multi facetted or multi-layered complicated European history. They were polite American tourists who had respect for the European history they saw, but it was not their history directly. It was and is their history indirectly. The history of their grandparents and parents and theur Polish and Dutch family. But not their history, because they are fully assimilated and integrated Americans with an American pragmatic (practical and realistic) mindset and mentality. They speak American, feel American, ar American and live American lives. They were born and raised in America, eventhough (in the case of my cousins) their parents (Polish immigrants) spoke Polish at home in Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin. They don't understand the hierarchy amongst European peoples, and the suffering of some European peoples and the dominance of other European peoples. Dominant peoples in Europe were the British English people (who dominated and dominate the Welsh, Scottish and Irish Celtic peoples and the peoples in their many colonies. Canada, USA -before the American revolution-, Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana in Southern America, Kennya, Nigeria, Rhodesia [Zimbabwe today], South-Africa, Ethiopia, India and large parts of the Middle east.), the German people (with their centuries of 'Drang nach Osten', 'the Urge for the East', which caused the Poles, Czechs, the exterminated Prussian people and the Baltic peoples some suffering) and the always dominant French, Spanish and Portuguese people with their destructive Inquisition and oppression and extermination of the Cathars in Southern France and later the French Calvinist Huguenots. With for instance the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants (1572). That was one of the causes of mass immigration of Huguenots to the Netherlands and Germany and one of the reasons that many Dutch and German people have French names. For instance in Berlin and East-Germany like the last East-German prime minister Lothar de Maizière. De Maizière belongs to a noble family originally from Maizières-lès-Metz who, as Huguenots, fled France for asylum in Prussia in the late 17th century. The Maizière family still attended French-language schools and Huguenot churches in Berlin until the beginning of the 20th century.
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants (1572). It was the climax of the French Wars of Religion, which were brought to an end by the Edict of Nantes (1598). In 1620, persecution was renewed and continued until the French Revolution in 1789.
Often I witnessed with American and South-African family that they don't gasp, fully understand, feel and aren't connected to the European history when they visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, Check Point Charlie on the Border of East- and West Berlin. I don't blame them, because it is not their history, not their direct heritage, not their direct connection, not their history. A Dutch friend of mine became nearly ill at Auschwizt concentration camp, because he considered the 'mass tourism' around the camp as disgraceful and considered American and European visitors not propperly dressed. The European history is for Americans often history of Great-Great-Great Grandparents or at least great grandparents. Their life was focussed, based on and concentrated on America, being American, built on a new culture, based on European values, but in the mix of Pan-Europeanism, Native American influences, climational, financial-economical, cultural, linguistic (American English in staid of British -read European English-), African-American, Hispanic, French, Russian, various Slavic, Italian, Irish, German-American, Scandinavian and Jewish influences.
Being in Europe I was constantly confronted with the scars of various wars, about the tensions between ideologies, subcultures, European peoples and tribes (in the sense of local and regional poeple with their local strong dialects and identities and regional languages and identities), social classes (Europea is based on a maybe millenia or centuries old class system which goes back to the time of the collapse of the Roman empire and the split up in the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire). The emergence of the Roman Catholic clergy class and hierarchy in the early middle ages and next to that the formation of the high and lower nobility (Magnates and Schlachta in Poland) and the rule of the dukes, earls, counts, barons, Prince Bisshops, Princes, Kings, Queens and Kaisers (Emperors) in Europe. In a very refined manner the old aristocracy of Monarchs, dukes, earls, counts, barons, knights, Lords, Princes (Fursten), Kings, Queens and Kaisers still exists in Europe and in countries which are allies of the European West. For instance the Emperor of Japan, the American 'aristocracy' of 'Old rich families', Manhattan's aristocracy "in the early days" (Knickerbocker), American political royalty like the Kennedy, Clinton, Bush families and maybe the Trump family in the near future. Also belong to the American aristocracy is the Old New England Protestant elite of Bankers, business families, philantropes, multi national family firms, and rich West Coast Media and Film Industry moguls, Texan Oil oligarchs, and the class of Universitity professors and administrators, Horeca families, the political elite of senators and governors and the military, industrial and scientific and medical elites.
Many Americans weren't confronted with Holocaust, Holodomor, Spanish Civil war, European Interbellum tension (authorarian regimes after the First world war and before the war crimes of the Nazi's, fascists and Stalinist Sovjets during the Second World War), and the constant and always existing differences between the European countries and peoples. Europeans are constantly reminded that they are different when they cross the border. I am not complaining here, but it is a fact that when you cross the border and are in another country you are different and get confronted with stereotypes about you and your people. I even experienced that in the USA on a mild manner.
Last but not least I don't want to insult or label my American friends as insenstive. That is not the case. Intelligent Americans know what happened in Europe, respect European history and people. I have met incredible informed, extremely intelligent and very smart Americans who nearly with a European mindset like an European history expert can identify and be empathic in a very refined and far reaching way into the depth of European history. They understant their connection to this European history as White Americans of European heritage. But also African American and Hispanic (Latino) Americans can understand European history.
I have learned from the Dutch and Polish family history, the history of my Polish-American and South-African family. Further away there are Belgian, French and Danish (Polish-Danish) branches I don't know. Being European I met Jewish, Gypsy and Polish Holocaust victims who survived the camps, but witnessed the systematic killing, torture and hunger. Auschwitz-Birkenau (a Warsaw aunt) and Mauthausen (my babcia) and Katyn (Polish family members that were killed there as Polish officers). My Polish American uncles were Polish boys and soldiers who first survived the second world war deporation of Poles to Siberia, than the harsh journey from Siberia through the SovjetUnion to Iran and from Iran to Palestine with the Anders army, and from there to Egypt, North-Africa, Great-Britain (combat training in Scotland) and combat in Monte Casino and in the Dutch Province of Gelderland during Market Garden in Driel and Oosterbeek near Arnhem. These Polish lads fought hard against the Germans and saved many British soldiers and officers lives by creating a safe corridor for many to retreat from the superior combat hardened and well equipped German and Dutch Waffen-SS forces in and around Arnhem.
I saw and spoke with heavily traumatized Dutch jewish Holocaust survivors, Dutch Hungarian Sinti Gypsies of the Mirando family in Arnhem. Spoke with Communist and Socialist resistance members in the Amsterdam resistance museum. They lost a lot of comrades due to arrests, betrayal, operations that failed and just because if you resist you take risks. I am tahnknful that I was able to experience communist East-Germany and Communist Poland to experience communism as a child and teenager. A total collectivist socialist society with total state control, a state run economy, the Warsaw Pact and the Comecon. I have to say that in my experience the Polish communism was more mild than the strict, Prussian and typical German state socialism and communism of the DRR, the German Democratic Republic in East-Germany. I wonder if the harsh pre war Weimar republic with the fighting communist party with it's Red Front militia against Nazi's and the Social Democratic militia Reichsbanner Schwarz Rot Gold, had to do with that and the fact that former Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS, Ordnungspolizei, and probably Abwehr, Gestapo and SD people played a role in the new Socialist East-Germany?
From the other side it is for us Europeans difficult to understand the American history, states and regions fully. Do we understand the American West-coast and East-coast, the American North and South, and do we understand the largest part of America, the Mid-West? Do we see the Americans as one people, and do we form our opinions about America from Netflix series, American cinema, Fox News, CBS, ABC and CNN and the coloured distorted image the European press and media give of the USA. Why do I say that? Whel, because European foreign correspondents aren't Americans and look at the USA with an often European liberal mindset. You have to travel the USA extensively and have the possibility to speak with a lot of Americans and live, eat and travel with them to be able to understand them. I have been to little in the USA to be able to judge about the USA. But 'America to me' is an interesting tv serie for me.