Happy Cinco de Mayo! According to Wikipedia, today generates beer sales on par with the super bowl, and it’s not a celebration of Mexican independence. It celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French empire on May 5, 1862, long after Mexican independence in 1810 and years before the French withdrew in 1867. According to history.com, the U.S. gave military and political support to Mexico to help rid it of the French invaders. The French, led by Napoleon III, initially arrived for repayment of debt and from there decided to take Mexico for themselves. It’s an interesting history in a week when the U.S. government borrowed $3 trillion. I’m not expecting our creditors to muscle over here in fighter jets and submarines, but I have to admit history is telling. It’s interesting. And, as we all have heard before, it repeats itself.
When I was a kid, I was never very interested in history. Every story I heard sounded old and boring. I couldn’t relate. I think part of the problem was that the history I was taught in school wasn’t honest, and it definitely wasn’t inclusive of me as a black woman of Caribbean descent. Nothing beats authentic, intense drama for keeping folks engaged. Unfortunately, our history books told the stories that our government wanted us to believe with cavernous gaps between fact and fact-like statements. What John Colbert coined as “truthiness” at its finest. And yes, that word is now in the official lexicon. I love the way language morphs and changes. Oxford defines it as “the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.” From where I sit, truthiness is everywhere.
Now that I’ve lived through so much history of my own, from 9/11 to COVID-19, reading history has so much more context for me. I find myself wondering about the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. I have a broader perspective and know better than to depend on a single source for just about anything, even if it is a textbook. I’ve often heard stories about how people in other countries teach their citizens what they want them to know. It’s accurate for other countries and also for the U.S. Of course we’re taught what the government wants us to know. If you want to know more, you’re on your own.
As a writer, I know language matters. Subtle word changes shift meaning. You make a choice when you call someone a “settler,” “pilgrim,” “colonist,” or “conqueror” instead of “war-monger,” “land-thief” or “murderer.” It matters when you call someone a “slave” or “savage,” rather than “enslaved person” or “culturally different.” (The use of the word “slave” is one of my pet peeves. When someone is raped, murdered or maimed we call them a victim. We don’t call them a rapee, murderee or maimee. The violence against them doesn’t become their identity.)
I bought the book, A People’s History of the United States after it was recommended by John Leguizamo during his stand-up comedy film, Latin History for Morons. (It’s hilarious and available on Netflix.) It’s been sitting comfortably on my bookshelf for at least two years. At the time I wanted my daughter to read it. I was tired of hearing her tell me she was studying the Civil War for the eighth time. The reality is, I need to read it, children model what they see, and there’s no better time than the present.
What are you reading lately? I just finished Deepak Chopra’s, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I’m in the middle of Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza and just started Universal Compassion by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso with my study group. Next up in my book club, “Cocoa Risers Reading,” is Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m adding A People’s History of the United States to my list. I’d like to learn a more honest and inclusive history.
While we can’t travel too far nowadays, I encourage you to travel with your mind. There are so many doors out there waiting to be opened. My book list may not be your thing, but I’m a firm believer that we should all be reading or listening to something that broadens our horizons and opens our awareness.
I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. The photo is my copy of A People’s History of the United States. If you want to discuss a book with me, check out my book club: https://www.meetup.com/Cocoa-Risers-Reading/ We’re discussing Who Fears Death on Zoom on Sunday, May 17th @ 1pm. It’s available on Amazon and Audible.