S is for Saxon

People hear Anglo Saxon and assume it means a genetically white person living in any time period from the end of the Roman occupation of Britain to our own. Some use the term Anglo Saxon as code for exclusive whiteness, very exclusive as in a whites only but only certain whites kind of way, but this was never true of the actual historical people who have been labeled the original Anglo Saxons. There was no such white homogeneity in the medieval world. Nor was there a population who thought of themselves as Anglo Saxon. Dig up the people who lived in Britain during and after the Romans and before the Norman invasion and ask them. They’ll tell you. The bones in the ground speak the truth: there was no population replacement, Romano Celts out and Germanic invaders in. There was no wave of mass immigration from an entirely white culture. This did not happen. What did happen is what happens to this day: go to Britain right now and look around. It’s diverse. People live there who come from all over the place. Go to Britain a millennium and a half ago to the time of the Rune Poem, before, and it is diverse. People living there who come from all over the place. What you dig up in Britain is a shared culture people call Anglo Saxon, that looks a lot less shared the closer you get to it. You will not dig up a shared genetics.

Where did people come from? Everywhere in Europe, yes plenty came from Germany and the Netherlands, but also from Spain in particular and from France, the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa. Everywhere. And let’s not leave out the indigenous people whose ancestors lived in the place going back to prehistory. They didn’t just leave to be replaced by a bunch of Germans from northern Europe.

Why do we think the population was replaced by people exclusively from Germanic territories? Because of a Germanic artistic style that became popular all over Europe, because the Tudors broke with Rome and enjoyed stories about local hero King Arthur whom they emulated and called Anglo Saxon, and most especially because Queen Victoria, German, and her German husband Albert found it politically expedient to English themselves up a bit with the idea that all the English were German first, except there is no first when talking about people. Not when people have been mixing all this time. Look at me. Dig me up and read the mixture in my bones. Like the rune carvers I come from more than one place, more than one race and I know it. I also know that by writing about a people considered by some to be not just white, but really really exclusively white, I wade into a world of racism, a place where runes and the people who carved them are claimed as fascist symbols for the exclusion of people like me, sitting to battle with my books and my computer, being creative about whatever I like and why shouldn’t I? I am not alone either. I was considered a rarity growing up, but there’s more and more of me every day, immigrants and half immigrants like me with a foot in two worlds, born in one and living in another, and people born in place, mixed and mixing. People just like the Anglo Saxons. My people. I have been waiting for you and here you are where you have always already been. Welcome home. You have always been here.