“Latin History for Morons”: Public History on Netflix

As I was looking for inspiration for my next blog, I found it in the most peculiar of places, “Netflix”.  I was truly in a slump due to the dreary “Winter is coming!” weather so decided to see if there was anything new and interesting for me to watch and dissect with whoever was willing to put up with me that moment.  That is when I found John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” comedy.  Let me just say this.  WOW just WOW.  Satirical comedy and hard truth all rolled into one and wonderfully executed.  His dramatic portrayals reminded me a bit of Dave Chappelle, a satirical image of preconceived ideas while highlighting the ignorance of stereotypes.

Leguizamo tells the story of his son’s struggles that his history teacher assigned and the lack of representation of the Latinx community in the classroom.  His goes on to joke, but not really, about Latinos bearing the unfaced trauma of colonization and that’s why they are always emotional and angry.  He speaks about the Colombus’s colonization (please watch on Netflix what he calls him lol) and the colonization of the Incans in South America and that somehow Latinxs today carry these burdens.  He explains this is why he is struggling as a father to help his struggling son.

This is why we have Public History.  This is why we need to decolonize ourselves, our classrooms, our museums, our TV shows.  We need more of this.  It is so real and helps fill in the space of the empathy deficits that so many spaces face today.  Public History provides the tools to help do all of these things.  It provides a voice to those have been suppressed into being voiceless.  It revives the dead with social memories. It creates space for the histories that did not have a place once before.  Breaking down these barriers is SO IMPORTANT for those carry the burdens of oppression.  We work together to take off some of the weight of others.  We have a certain responsibility to act as agents of change with our positions of privilege to encourage a shift in our culture.

Even though older generations think of the millennials as the cry-babies and then gimme-gimmes.  We offer so much more than just being social media influencers, photographers by the dozen, and snowflakes.

We are the thinkers. We are the up and coming. We are the Revolutionaries. We are being taught that some change is definitely for the better.  We are creating the shift for others to learn from, for others to be released from the thousands of year old trauma.

Leguizamo ends his Netflix with the anecdote of his son’s eighth-grade graduation speech, “But the biggest thing that I  learned while I was failing outta school this year was, as one of my fellow classmates once said to me,  “You’re thing king of nothing.” But if the Mayans invented the concept of zero then nothing is not nothing. And if they can make something out of nothing then my hero is me.”

“But if the Mayans invented the concept of zero then nothing is not nothing and if they can make something out of nothing then my hero is me.”

This. Speaks. Levels.

3 Replies to ““Latin History for Morons”: Public History on Netflix”

  1. I’ve been a big fan of John Leguizamo for a long time. He has a great understanding of sarcasm and the struggles of Latinx in America. I really enjoyed the show he had on Fox many years ago. It contained the socially aware sarcasm that you find in many of his projects. He has been an entertaining personality while doing what he can to better his community. He is a talented actor and should better recognized for his talents.

  2. I saw this special on my Netflix feed and it made me smile. I really hope they do more specials like these! John Leguizamo is fantastic and a really underrated film actor. I really look forward to seeing this show. I think combining comedy and history is a really great medium to encourage new audiences to engage in history.

  3. Personally I have really been deciding if I wanted to watch this series or not and now i have been swayed. This article speaks volumes and I think it connects with an article I had wrote. An article that touched on Mexican representation in film. Many of the Mexicans portrayed in shows and movies are not of Mexican descent but Colombian, or Brazilian. This brings up the fact that all Latin countries are not the same. I enjoyed your article and believed it brought up a good point to think about in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *