Texas is a really big state with a lot of different people in it, duh

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 20:31 EDT
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Since Rick Perry seems determined to play the "I'm a Real Texan" card—and a whole lot of the mainstream media is willing to play along—I expect that I'll be spending the next few months, and god forbid year, hopping mad.  Not because I think Perry's an "inauthentic" Texan, but because I dislike the concept of "authentic", which, as I note below, is ironically based more in myth-making than in our complex realities. I mean, Perry is playing the not-a-Real-Texan card against George Bush, who I recall I had to defend a few times (much to my dismay) from liberals in the past  who wanted to take away your Texan card because you were born somewhere else, even if you were raised Texan, identified as a Texan, ran the state, and retired there.  I felt if Bush doesn't get to be a Texan, anyone's card can be yanked on the basis of some arbitrary bullshit.  I take this stuff personally, because I've often felt the not-a-Real-Texan play being used against me, because I don't fit the narrow mold of "ignorant, mean-spirited yahoo" that is heralded by wingnuts, exoticized by the Village, and loathed by decent people who know damn well that there's no honor in willfull ignorance and spiteful reactionary politics.  

On our Bloggingheads discussion, Josh Treviño suggested that it would be impossible to separate attacks on Rick Perry, a Texan, from attacks on Texas and Texas culture.  I strongly disagreed, and feel it's a simple as launching an attack on, say, John McCain without claiming that all Americans are grouchy, pandering assholes.  Rick Perry may claim that he's the only kind of Texan that counts, but I humbly disagree.

With that in mind, I put together a far-from-complete list of famous Texans that are nothing like Rick Perry, and can be printed out and mailed to any media organization that suggests that Rick Perry=all Texans, or that Rick Perry is somehow an "authentic" Texan, like the rest of us don't count.  To avoid confusing the issue, I left off most overtly commercial country-western musicians, unless they are quite obviously not like Rick Perry, and I left off all Republican political figures.  I also left off anyone born in Texas but not raised there, because I wanted this to be a list of people we can be reasonably certain thought of themselves as Texans, especially while they were forming as human beings. The point is to illustrate that there's a lot of ways to be a for-real Texan that don't involve being a conservative yahoo.  Feel free to add more in comments. 

Janis Joplin, singer

Ornette Coleman, innovative jazz musician

Patrick Swayze, actor

Roky Erickson, musician and founder of the original psychedelic rock band, the 13th Floor Elevators

Beyonce Knowles, R&B singer, current unofficial queen of New York, and  her sister Solange Knowles

Molly Ivins, political writer, humorist

Lee Trevino, golfer

Wes Anderson, director

Dewey Redman, jazz musician

Katherine Anne Porter, novelist

Ann Richards, former governor 

Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood

Erykah Badu, R&B singer, disrober around JFK assassination site

Bill Hicks, comedian

Van Cliburn, classical pianist

Buddy Holly, lead of The Crickets

William Butler of The Arcade Fire

St. Vincent, indie rock musician

Annise Parker, mayor of Houston, first gay mayor of a major city

Bill Moyers, journalist

Shelley Duvall, actress

Mike Judge, director of "Office Space", creator of "Beavis and Butthead" and "King of the Hill"

Babe Didrickson, golfer and Olympian

Eva Longoria, actress

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, founders and members of The Mars Volta

The Dixie Chicks, of course

Selena, Tejano superstar murdered in her prime

Barbara Jordan, first Southern black woman elected to the House of Representatives

Renee Zellweger, actress

Steve Earle, musician

Lupe Ontiveros, actress

Richard Linklater, director of "Dazed and Confused", "Before Sunrise" and "School of Rock"

Melinda Gates, philanthropist

Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers

Lance Armstrong, bicyclist

T-Bone Burnett, musician and producer

Lyle Lovett, musician

Phylicia Rashād, actress

Robert Rodriguez, director of "El Mariachi", "Spy Kids", and "Sin City"

Britt Daniel, lead singer of Spoon

Jamie Foxx, actor

The members of ZZ Top

Dennis and Randy Quaid, actors

Sarah Weddington, law professor and the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade

F. Murray Abraham, actor

Isaiah Washington, actor

Alexis Biedel, actress

Vicki Carr, singer

Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys

Gloria Feldt, former head of Planned Parenthood (where would reproductive rights be without Texas women?)

Matthew McConaughey, actor

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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