About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What US Students Should Know, or, What the "Area" People Have to Say

Ok, another incredibly frustrating conversation with a colleague over people of the Americas in the United States. When I asked her what she taught about Latin Americans in the US, she responded that she taught about Coronado, Cortes, Zoot Suit Riots, and the UFW. I was floored. So, here are a few books I think US historians need to read and incorporate into their survey US history courses.

- Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Say no to white gods that show up with no context and kill all the Indians.

- Empires of the Atlantic World. Say no to the ANGLO/franco focus of the imperial projects of the Americas.

- Ecological Imperialism or The Columbian Exchange. Say no to teaching kids that the "Columbian Exchange" is the old "triangular trade" of third grade, just with a new name.

- Neither Enemies nor Friends. Problematic at times, but helps say no to the 50s notion of simplistic racial US.

- Empire's Workshop and Empire and Revolution. Say no to US imperialism starting in 1898.

- True Tales and Delfino's Gun. Say no to simplistic ideas on immigration.

- Barrios Nortenos and Chicanos. Say no to lectures on Latino-free labor movements.

- Captives and Cousins and Comanche Empire. Say no to a West devoid of Mexico and Spain.

- Whitewashed Adobe. Say no to a California absent Mexicans until the summer of 1943.

- Tree of Hate. Say no to the reasons Latin America and Latinos disappear from US history survey courses.

Ok, so there are ten of my entries. For the three people that follow this blog and the two that will stumble on to it from google: What would you want a US historian to read and incorporate into their courses? Martinez? Anzaldua? M.T. Garcia? Who do you think they should be reading?

Final note: This frustrating conversation came just two days after a student came up to me after we did civil rights and thanked me because she thought only African Americans had a civil rights movement. She'd never heard of LULAC, AGIF, Bert Corona, Dolores Huerta...nada. Crazy, man.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, you know what I'd recommend from THIS side of the border when it comes to history, but one that comes to mind for NoB readers -- and an odd choice, is John Rechy's novel "Amelia Garcia" or perhaps his memoir, "About my life and the kept woman". Maybe it's his "Anglo" family name (though his dad was in Porfirio Diaz' personal orchestra)or because he's better known as a gay novelist, we overlook how well he has written on the Mexican-American family.