Changing history?

By Nancy Black

“I’m so sick of everyone trying to change history,” one reader wrote in response to a post on Facebook. It announced the City of Dallas’ decision to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “Changing history?” I wrote back. It’s more like correcting it, in my book. Personally, I’m sick of all the lies. My bubble has been burst. So much of what I was taught when I was a child was fabricated.

It turns out, I wasn’t taught History in elementary school. I was taught Social Studies. “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 1494, Columbus knocked on America’s door.” I grew up thinking Christopher Columbus was a great guy who “discovered” America. The Indians were lost souls who desperately needed the help of Columbus.

Columbus did NOT “discover” America. It was already here AND inhabited by Native Americans who did not appreciate being driven off their homeland. We did not teach them how to hunt and fish and live off the land, as all my schoolbooks suggested. I grew up playing “Cowboys and Indians.” Cowboys were the good guys and Indians were the bad ones. I now know the truth about the slaughter of Native Americans, the Trail of Tears and the lasting devastation our original invasion of this country created.

Another lie? You have to be skinny to be beautiful. I grew up being told and shown, on TV and in movies, that only attractive, very thin women got the guy, landed the job or deserved to wear a bikini. The truth? You do NOT have to be skinny to be beautiful. I am so glad I finally realized that beauty comes from within, and beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Pablo Picasso, Woman Plaiting Her Hair, 1906
Photo by Nancy Black

Lie? All men are created equal. All men are NOT created equal. Yes, internally, we all have blood and veins and bones in our bodies. But we don’t all have equal opportunities. Some people are born rich, some poor. Some in worn torn countries, others with silver spoons in their mouths. And there are some men, and women, who believe they are created better than others. They are not. They are delusional. And racist. 

I’m ready for some truth moving forward. Columbus was NOT the hero I was taught to believe. Big IS beautiful. And racism IS wrong. We can’t change the past. But we CAN take actions now that create a world for future generations that they can actually read about proudly in their history books.