I live in California, where Cesar Chavez Day is a state holiday, and you can’t walk a mile without glimpsing a sign of the region’s strong Latino history and culture.
But most states are not California.
For example, I grew up in Wisconsin, and at the time, there were so few Hispanics around that my family supplied most of the Latino culture, and whatever I did on the weekend instantly became the state’s Latino history (hey, at least it felt that way).
The point is that despite the many contributions that Hispanics have made to America, and our current status as the largest ethnic minority in the nation, running into public displays of our heritage is about as common as meeting a bilingual Trump supporter who listens to NPR.
In fact, a report last year by the University of California, Los Angeles “concluded that not enough is being done to recognize and include Hispanic contributions, with the report going as far as labeling it ‘a pattern of willful neglect’ toward the Latino population in the United States.”
Hopefully, that is about to change. You see, this month, a group of bipartisan legislators reintroduced a bill in Congress to create a national Latino museum in Washington, D.C.
The building would be located near Smithsonian museums devoted to the history of African Americans and Native Americans. This, of course, would give us a tightly packed trifecta of museums about ethnic groups that this country has just loved, loved, loved nonstop.
In any case, legislation to create a national Latino museum has been introduced in the past, but the bills have died in Congress. One congressman has said that the proposal “is not a partisan issue, and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” which would be cute in its naivety if it weren’t so sad.
Because the truth is that everything is partisan in Trump’s government. These are the same people who see glaciers melting as a partisan issue.
So will we live long enough to see a national Latino museum? Well, America’s attitude toward Hispanic history has not been encouraging thus far.
Many historians say that the few sites marking Latino history are often “shabby, largely unknown and at risk of disappearing.”
In addition, many of the historical sites dedicated to Hispanic influence “usually center around the Spanish exploration era, colonial times and Old West settlement periods” because these are regarded as “safe” sites that downplay the racism and segregation Latinos had to overcome.
Yeah — who wants to learn about all that icky racism and segregation? Talk about a buzzkill.
But if you despair that there may never be a national museum dedicated to the history of Latinos in this country, cheer up.
Because you can always road trip to the National Mustard Museum. It’s right there in my home state of Wisconsin.
Wait… I can’t tell if you’re laughing or crying.
Featured image: The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (Mobilus In Mobili/Flickr)