Victor the historian did not amuse us (well, some of us) any further.
He started off with some Cuban history a few of us already knew.
Or thought we did.
We knew it the way it was taught to us in the States…
…which becomes unrecognizable with all the holes filled in…
…and uncomfortably reminiscent of our own whitewashed but still celebrated Columbus-discovers-America fairy tales.
Turns out, Columbus ‘discovered‘ Cuba, too. 🙄
According to Victor, America uses the word ‘discover‘ to credit our “hero” Christopher Columbus with a supreme accomplishment. However, as it relates to Columbus, the true meaning of the word ‘discover‘ means committing mass genocide in order to render a land ‘discover‘-able, because the original inhabitants are no longer alive to contest the lie.
I know this from America’s true history of Columbus’ decimation of the Native American Indians. But hearing this same truth about the same ‘hero’ from a foreigner, in reference to his own country, adds another layer of verification about the kind of person Columbus was.
Victor told us that from the end of 1492 thru 1494, Columbus & his genocide gang killed nearly all of the 300,000 native Arawak (mostly Taíno) Indians on Cuba, leaving only 60,000 alive to use as slaves.
But by the time he left, only 500 native inhabitants were left alive.
We also learned that Columbus committed this same brand of genocide on the native inhabitants of the Bahamas, and Hispanola (now divided into Haiti, and the Dominican Republic).
This really left me speechless. I mean, I knew Columbus was a serial killer, but I didn’t know he island-hopped his genocides on such a massive scale.
Columbus is no hero in Cuba.
I can only imagine how history books in the Bahamas, Haiti and the D.R. portray him, but I’ll bet that only in the Western world is this mass murderer, rapist & thief credited with ‘discovering‘ anything. Only in America do we see him as a hero, celebrate his name as a national holiday, credit him with bringing innovation to so-called ‘primitive’ peoples.
Wow…we still have Native American Indians living back home. On little patches of Reservation land in a country that was originally theirs.
I wonder how they feel on Columbus Day?
Probably the same way the “brown people” in our group felt listening to Eleanor wax on about her “magical history“…
Maybe we see Columbus as we see our country: a benevolent hero charging in to fix the lives of backward foreigners.
I guess what we don’t see is our imperialism – both historical and modern day. But foreigners see it. They live under the devastating results of it. And we don’t get to see that either.
Not only don’t we see it, we get pissy & defensive when it’s pointed out to us – like the people in our group who felt it “inappropriate” for Victor to point out that Eleanor’s “magical history” was the real inappropriate element in a group which included those who would have been (and whose ancestors were) slaves during that “magical history.“
Those who still today live under widespread but scoffed at racism originating from that anything-but-magical, shameful time.
But we don’t like our carefully constructed fantasies to be challenged…
I’m guilty of this. I defend our delusion when I travel. But, I mean, it’s really hard hearing horrific things about my country and not defending it. Even when, no, especially when those things are true.
But I know that doesn’t make it right…
(Mental note: ask Karli & Dana how they feel about this. I can’t be the only one who feels this way…right?)
Back home in the bubble, I’m in like company; we all live contentedly within our imperialist version of things. But when I step outside the empire, the truth is everywhere.
In foreign countries, except for tourist areas where our delusion is coddled & catered to, no one bothers to hide America’s ugly truths…
Read All Excerpts
“Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land.”