Balancing History: Mob Rules by the Month

Here it is, the kind of obligatory Black history month blog post. The month was proposed by in 1926 by black historian, Carter G Woodson; since then, like with everything else black, the idea gets copied. More than a half century later, we have, March – Women’s History month established in 1988, May – Asian American/Pacific Islander Month established in 2009, October – Hispanic Heritage month, established in 1988, November – Native American month established in 2019 … ok, you get the gist. The point is none of these should be relegated to a month.

What passes for history now is a photoshopped edited point in time. It’s more like the family photo album, snapshots from a timeline of bereft of any dysfunction, discord and less than stellar behavior. If this were May, we could discuss Asian history in America which would feature the largest mass lynching in the US. Fourteen years after the end of the civil war, in 1871, 18 Chinese Americans were hung and tortured to cheering crowds in Los Angeles California. If this were October, part of the discussion would be about the 1850’s (before the end of the civil war) when there was fear that Mexican Americans would aid the African Americans and Austin Texas expelled all those of Mexican descent unless a white person could “vouch” for them. But wait, there is more.

The Mexican Repatriation was a mass deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the United States between 1929 and 1936. Estimates of how many were repatriated range from 400,000 to 2,000,000. An estimated sixty percent of those deported were birthright citizens of the United States. Because the forced movement was based on ethnicity, and frequently ignored citizenship, some scholars argue the process meets modern legal definitions of ethnic cleansing.

Mexican Repatriation

If this were November, we could discuss the treatment of Native Americans. During the Dakota Wars of 1862, during the civil war, 302 Native Americans were charged with revolting. President Lincoln commuted the sentence of 264 of them and as a result 38 were hung, the largest mass execution in the US. The trigger for the uprising was the refusal of the US to make annuity payments promised to the tribes who were starving. The response of Andrew Myrick was “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.” Hence, there was a Sioux uprising. Surely, this would be the time to dismiss the idea that the Native Americans had no concept of land ownership. You know that convenient mythology the allowed the Europeans to steal land and commit mass genocide.

Look, all of this isn’t to vilify, it is to add context.  When you go to the doctor, there is a history, not just of you but also your family if possible. This lends itself to possible scenarios of your future. Or you break your leg; it gets set, you do rehab so the bone sets and heals. This week consider history, the whole of history, not just the highlight reel. Question if there is information missing that would provide the full context. Finally, what’s your position, how would you have reacted?

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