Latin History for Morons
John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons, a one-man comedic Broadway dives into Latin history to a Latin leader for his son's "hero" project. Although, the whitewashing of textbooks and cover up cover-up of Latin contributions to America impede Leguizamo's research.
Such sentiments are expressed through a brief introduction video of a grainy black and white television set with a broadcaster announcing that,
“There are people out there trying to rewrite our history, these are a dangerous people. They’ll say anything to be legitimized. Someday some little Latino with a big mouth is going to read a few books, and convince themselves they contributed to our country. I pray that those falsehoods don’t seep into the fabric of this fine nation, because if they do, god help us all.”
Lequizamo is that little Latino with a big mouth, a self proclaimed. "ghetto scholar".
To help his son find a hero of Latino descent, Leguizamo attained a copy of his son's eighth grade history textbook, but was devastated when he discovered no mention of Latino history. America's educational system's historical textbooks speak of a predominantly white history.
This underrepresentation of minorities in textbooks , movies, television and media make it difficult for Latinos to feel valued in society.
So, Leguizamo questions:
"What happened in the three thousand years between our great indigenous civilizations and us? How did we become so god damn goddamn nonexistent? Because if you do not see yourself represented outside of yourself, you just feel fucking invisible".
Leguizamo explores Latin history and recalls the1,000-year-old peace that was held by three million Taino in the Caribbean, seven million Apache, Comanche and Navajo Indians in the west, 30 million Aztecs in Mexico, and 33million Incas in South America. Latino heritage includes and derives from all these cultures.
The 1,000-year-peace lasted into Christopher Columbus, "'The Donald Trump of the new world', and his crew committed what is known as the ‘Caribbean Holocaust’, in which three millionTaino's were murdered, causing the extinction of Taino’s.
As a person of Latin heritage, Leguizamo is not very fond of Christopher Columbus and the glory he receives for "discovering" new world. According to Leguizamo, Columbus is a genocidal, pedophilic rapist and him getting credit for finding America is like Leguizamo finding your wallet in your back pocket then saying it's mine, because I ‘discovered’ it.
Leguizamo turns his attention to Aztec history and is fascinated by their infamous warriors, unique pyramids and remarkably accurate calendars.
The Aztec empire flourished between 1345-1521, until the betrayal by their King Montezuma. Montezuma quickly surrendered to Cortes of Spain, opening the front gate to the conquistadors which led to war, and although the conquistadors had "superior" weapons such as muskets and cannons, The Aztecs suffered a marginal loss after fighting until the bitter end.
Leguizamo also touches on the great Inca Empire, who, in their time, were three times bigger than any other empire. The Incas were also academically advanced and even pioneered the concept of socialism beforeKarl Marx, and had a binary code that predated computers. The Inca Empire reigned for about 100 years and was comprised of five countries: Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
Leguizamo passionately states:
“The Incans were a foundation of our own Latin people who authored our own mythology, pioneered math, astronomy, excelled in sports, built aqueducts and pyramids which put us on the same level as all other great civilizations.”
Leguizamo ultimately speaks of General Bernardo Galves, who donated $70,000 worth of weapons to George Washington during the American Revolution.There were 10,000 Latino people involved in the American Revolution, while20,000 Latin people fought in the Civil War. In fact,Latinos are the only ethnic group that fought in every single war America participated in.
Although, Leguizamo first began his research to find his son a Latin hero, the overlying message of the show was about all the Latin contributions he was actually able to find. Despite the fact that there is little mention of our culture and contributions in school textbooks, America greatly benefited from Latinos. Between the Aztecs, Incas, Tainos and Indian tribes, Latino people should be proud and deserve to know of our history.
Textbooks, such as Howard Zinn’s 'People History of the United States',should be "required" reading material for every middle school. Zinn’s book speaks upon the many contributions that Latino people gave to the world which include tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate, canoes, chili peppers, tobacco,anesthesia, brain surgery, hockey, tango, cumbia, mambo and samba.
Through comedic entertainment, Leguizamo tackles an important topic, the whitewashing of American history, introducing the educational system, media and television. By speaking of Latin historical contribution, Leguizamo is highlighting the fact that this country was partly founded by immigrants and our contributions and diversity should be celebrated, not hidden.