“The Bee-uhls or the Stones?”
The question caught me by surprise for two reasons.
I didn’t realize this middle-aged woman was talking to me…
And I didn’t realize she was sporting a British accent.
“The Beatles.” I said.
“No waaaaay…. The Stones.” She sneered.
Intrigued by her Britishness, I asked a few cultural questions.
A nice discussion was underway until this escaped her lips:
“After we kicked you Americans out of Britain….”
“What did you say?” I asked.
“Did you say you kicked out the early Americans?”
“Yeah that’s right. We kicked you out.”
Struggling to recall accurate historical details regarding King What’shisface and religious persecution, I said, “Didn’t they leave voluntarily because life kinda sucked in Britain? Isn’t that the basis for most immigration?”
“Nope. Life was pretty good then. We kicked you out.”
“I don’t think so….” I trailed off.
“Fine.” she said. “You write your history books and we’ll write ours.”
They say history books are written by the winners.
The winners of what?
What spin does Great Britain put on the whole 1776 kerfuffle?
How do you define “spin” ?
History is largely fiction.
It depends on your point of view.
Literary beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Listen to this beauty: The Texas Board of Education recently approved the development of a Mexican-American History course.
Given the lack of cultural understanding among English-speaking construction managers who oversee an ever-increasing Mexican workforce – this should be seen as a positive step forward.
But it probably won’t.
This idea will threaten some people.
When the conversation turns to President Polk antagonizing the Mexicans and then stealing what is now the Southwestern United States… well, there may be multiple sides to that story.
Understanding differing points of view in light of your own is a good skill to have.
As managers struggle with leading the diverse workforce, remember the Mexican mentality: “So far from God… so close to the United States.”
Understanding history from different points of view can only help us bridge the language and cultural gaps on our jobsites.
Want to know what shaped this Mexican mentality?
You do if you want to get the most out of the workers on your site.
The Texas Observer spoke with University of Texas history professor Emilio Zamora on the issue.
Along with its relevance to the millions of Hispanic students in Texas schools, Zamora says, a Mexican-American history course is a good way for students to develop a better understanding of broader themes in U.S. history and understand “that our national history includes multiple histories,” he says. “I think that’s an important justification that people don’t really talk about.”
I say Polk stole the Southwest, you say Mexico crossed the Río Grande and fired the first shot.
I choose The Beatles, you choose the Stones.
You write your history, I’ll write mine.
The important thing is we read them both.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.
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Categories: Jobsite Leadership