Latin History for Morons: John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway (2018) – Transcript

Latin History for Morons: John Leguizamo's Road to Broadway captures John's quest to cram 3,000 years of history into 90 minutes of stage time and bring a whole new set of historical characters back to life as one man.

There are people out there trying to rewrite our history. These are a dangerous people. They’ll say anything to be legitimized. Someday, some little Latina with a big mouth is gonna read a few books and convince themselves they contributed to our country. Now pray that those falsehoods don’t seep into the fabric of this fine nation. Because if they do, God help us all. [man] Stand up, ladies and gentlemen. John Leguizamo!

[cheering and applause]

♪ Sister ♪

No, no, no, no, settle down. Settle down. No, no, settle down. Settle down. We got a lot of work to do here tonight, and I got very little time to do it ’cause I gotta undo your whole education… and the entire way you think, and it’s not gonna be easy ’cause that shit’s in there deep. The only reason I’m telling you this is because about a year ago, my life was going so goddamn great. I was on tour all summer, and I come home, and, uh… I get to my son’s room, and I hear the bed going… [makes creaking sounds] “Buddy, I’m coming in. I’m opening the door.” [imitates hinges creaking] And there he is, just jumping on the bed, playing some Western video game, going, “Yippee-ay-yay-ki-ay. Shoot those red bastards. Shoot those savages. Pow, pow.” And I’m like, “Whoa, Buddy. You can’t say that, man.” “But why not, Dad?” “‘Cause, honey, we’re those red bastards. We Latin people are mostly Indian, man.” “No, Dad, no. You’re the red bastard and the beaner, not me. That’s why I don’t let you pick me up from school anymore.”

So then I find out that my son is being bullied at school by one of his eighth-grade classmates. It starts in the schoolyard when they’re playing cops and robbers, and the little punk says to my son, “You beaners can’t be cops – I oughta know. I come from a long line of captains and generals from the Civil War – so you better start running away so I can shoot you in the back, beaner. Pow, pow.” So, that little shit… had the cojones to call my son a beaner. Now, this wasn’t supposed to happen to us because he goes to a very fancy private school, and I’ve worked hard to be respectable. [chuckling] Fuck you. [raucous laughter] So, yo, how is it that my son is going through the same racial rite of passages I did? So I go to my wife for advice, and my wife is Jewish, so she’s very intolerant of intolerance. So she makes me go talk to the little shit’s dad, so now I have to accidentally on purpose bump into him at drop-off. “Excuse me, Mr. Jackson. I didn’t see you standing there. Hey, look, while I have you, um… your kid called my son a name. If he’s gonna call my son names, he should at least call him by his proper slur ’cause beaners are for Mexicans. My son’s actually a spic-greaseball-hebe-kike, okay?” The little shit’s dad turns to me, “John, I’m terribly sorry. I had no idea my boy had called your son a beaner. But, hey, at least he didn’t call him a wetback, right, John? [chuckles] What, John? What? I’m not a racist, John. John, my family donates to the diversity program every year, John. I come from a long, long line of philanthropreneurs.” “Oh, yeah? I come from a long line, too. A long line of people who, um– You know, yo, diversity? Yo, how you sound, man? You know me, huh? You know me? Huh?” [applause] Oh, fuck, man. Fuck, man, I lost my shit. I didn’t even have a good goddamn comeback.

And, yo, I’m from the fucking ‘hood, baby. But not my son, no. My son is one of those super-super-sweet shy kids with an IQ seven points short of genius. He’s the first one they ask for homework and the last one they ask to the dance. And that’s why I felt extra-guilty I didn’t have a comeback to defend my son. But how could I, man? I didn’t have heros like captains or generals, growing up, from the Civil War. No Latin ones, anyway. And where should I have learned that shit? Holla, New York City public-school system. So, yo, in order to help my son… I realized that I was gonna have to get to the root of my problem – feeling like a second-class citizen, so… I started flashing back through my life, to my child– back in time.

♪ Tear the roof off ♪
♪ We’re gonna tear the roof off the mother, sucker ♪
♪ Tear the roof off the sucker ♪

And boom – I hit the ’70s. There I am coming home from school early one day, and there’s my mom masturbating in the tub. Oh, God! Too far back! Please play forward! [dance music plays] And boom – I hit the ’80s. Whoo! So much better. You don’t even know. There I am in my junior high school – IS 145. [bell rings] And, yo, we were 55 feral latchkey kids per class. It was like Lord of the Flies, but with a lot less adult supervision. And my history teacher, Mr. Flynn… was a mean, sadistic son of a bitch. And he had a rear-view mirror on the blackboard. [laughter] And, yo, he needed that shit. ‘Cause when he was writing with his back to us, he’d be like, “All right, Legizmo. All right, I see you standing there. Sit down before I staple your ass to the chair. What’d you have for breakfast, your Colombian mom’s illegal powdered cereal?” “All right, shut up, class. Open up your history textbooks to a chapter you will become familiar with in life – chapter 11. All right, shut up, class. Now, class, what did the Greeks contribute to the world besides feta cheese?” And, yo, my boy Crazy Legs was like, “Yo, they invented anal.” “No, Mr. Hernandez. That was your mother.” “Now sit down and shut up.” And, yo, the whole class was like, “You, man,” but not me. I was like, “Ooh. Ooh. Ooh, ooh. Oh. Ooh.” “All right, Legizmo, before you crap your pants.” “Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, Mr. Flynn. Mr. Flynn, what I really, really wanted to “ax” you, just wanna “ax” you why you always talk-ed about everybody else’s contributions to America but my peoples? ‘Cause, yo, my Uncle Sanny says that this whole thing about us being discovered-ed by this n i g g a Columbo…” “It’s, like, bullshit, yo. ‘Cause we was conquested-ed, man. ‘Cause, yo, that’s like me discovering your wallet in your back pocket and now it’s mine, right? Right?” [impish laugh] “Mr. Legizmo, you wanna know what these people have contributed to this country? Drugs and violence. Now sit your ignorant ass down.” “Yo, Mr. Flynn, why you gotta do me like that? You know me, huh? You know me? Huh? You know me?” I wasn’t very good at comebacks back then.

I don’t know about y’all… but I always felt my whole life, my history was being kept from me. History textbooks, movies, television, everywhere. Just like my mom was always keeping my father’s history from us ever since he abandoned our asses. My mother was always like, “Mijo, I never wanted to bad-mouth your father. No, because it would ruin the moment when you figure it out all by yourself.” So, all I knew about my history was what my Puerto Rican Uncle Sanny, who was deaf, would teach me, ’cause he was our expert on everything ’cause he was always watching PBS, way too fucking loud… and he’d always be like, “Mijo, don’t say that, pendejo.” “You have to know about yourself because, bebito, we had pyramids and calendars.” “And my great-great grandmother…” “was a Indian princess.” [imitates Indian war cry] “But, Uncle Sanny, my teacher don’t give a carajo!” “Jesus… mijo.” “Get… your shit together.” “Because Latin man…” “has to work twice as hard… to get half as far.” Now, it wasn’t… it wasn’t exactly a wealth of information. It was enough to get me in trouble at school, that’s for sure.

Luckily for me, my uncle did teach me about our Latin time line, which I wanna share with you, and that is Mayans at 1000 B.C., and then we have now. What is it, the age of Pitbull, right? [singing, indistinct] ♪ Get it, don’t stop… ♪ [gibberish] But, yo, what happened in the 3,000 years between our great indigenous civilizations and us? How did we become so goddamn nonexistent? Because if you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself, you just feel fucking invisible. So, yo, I had good reason to panic because as the great 20th-century Spanish philosopher Santana once said – oh, no, not Carlos – George – who said, “Those who cannot remember their past are doomed to repeat it.” Cono. [laughter]

So, yo, ever since my son got bulli– Yo, yo, yo, I put a fatwa on that bully, and I went on a intellectual jihad. So now I’m a self-professed ghetto scholar, holla. Coo-coo. So, people, tonight’s lesson is… Latin History For Fucking Morons. And that’s you. I’m sorry, but it’s true, okay? Tonight, I’m only gonna be talking about our founding forefathers and our empires, the kind of shit that they keep out of our history textbooks. So pay attention ’cause you’re gonna be quizzed. A’ight? A’ight. So let’s start by looking at Latin DNA. Now, I’ve done a lot of research to find out that we Latin people are all at least 40% Indian. And by Indian, I mean… [Native American Indian chant] [Indian accent] Not, “Please to be taking down your pants…” “so I can be examining your rectum.” We are also 25% black. That’s right, baby. After the conquistadors enslaved all the Indians, and they died off, they imported black people to fill in they vacancies. So we are definitely blackified. Shit, I bet you are, too. I bet you I could prove it. Come on.

♪ I said a-clap your hands now ♪
♪ I said a-stomp your feet ♪
♪ I said a-clap your hands now ♪
♪ I said a-oh-ah, ah-chi-ca ♪
♪ I said a-oh-ah, ah-chi-ca ♪
♪ I said a-oh-ah, ah-chi-ca ♪
♪ I said a-ooh-ah– ♪

Okay, maybe not so much. We’re also 25% white, 25% Jewish, 25% Lebanese and 40% I don’t know what the fuck. For a grand total of 180%. And that is us Latino people. And trust me, I know it’s confusing, I know it’s confusing… because we Latin people are a bastardly people, and the reason we’re such bastards is because those white European conquistadors came here in the 1500s without women. And these horny son of a bitches were sexing up all our fine native honies, and these conquistador would be like, “Gonzalo, psst. Gonzalo.” “I never thought I was going to say this, but can you fuck too much?” “‘Cause I think I’m sick of fucking. I don’t think I ever wanna fuck again. I’ve reached the fucking end.” These conquistadors were like NBA players at a Kardashian pool party.

So that’s how we Latin people became their bastard offspring. Now I’m-a be Bob Ross. Remember that cool white guy with the ‘fro? Eighth grade on cable TV? I love me that dude. “Let the lines breathe, let the lines do what they’re gonna do here. The Great Lakes arrived. There’s about five of them. I didn’t do the research. New York City’s like a little baby penis here and there. Florida’s like a rotten colon. And then Texas is like a dried-up udder.” “But California’s like a smelly rear end. But Mexico’s like a sexy lady with a big ass. So big. I like that. I could draw that ass all day.” “And then South America – well, it never fits. Nobody really cares.” And now for the rest of the so-called shithole countries. We have Cuba. -[cheering] -[man] Yeah. República Dominicana. And Haiti. Puerto Rico. [raucous cheer] Wepa. Then all these little islands here like little mojoncitos. And, yo, way back when, we were three million Taínos in the Caribbean… 33 million Incas in South America, 30 million Aztecs in Mexico, and seven million Apache, Comanche, and Navajo in the West for a grand total of… 73 million people. Until… the great… extermination. And then, yo, 95% of us vanished off the face of the fucking Earth. How many’s that left? Sir, you look very intelligent. What is it? No, you weren’t gonna say five percent. Anybody can say five– That’s one demerit. Let’s not get to three. Otherwise, you’re gonna have to get out. Ushers, ojo. Ojo. Ojo. That’s 3.65 million Indians left.

And, yo, this genocide really fucked me up, man. “Why, John?” you ask. You ask. [audience] Why, John? Thank you for asking. ‘Cause, yo, I’ve always had these… anger issues, man. But now I know why. Because of some unconscious conquest resentment I’ve been carrying all my life. But, yo, my resentment was not totally unjustified, because our ancestral wealth, our inheritance, our gold was stolen from us. And, yo, we had tons and tons of beautiful, sophisticated, museum-type treasures until they came here– Okay, time-out. Historic footnote time, people. Why is all our art called “folk art” and then all of European art is called “fine art,” and then modern art is just our folk art gentrified? You, sir. You trying to be sneaky by yessing me? He’s a “yes”man. That’s two demerits. You better shape up. Otherwise… I don’t have to stay late and tutor your ass. Now, for the rest of y’all, ’cause I like y’all… when these conquistadors – [speaks Spanish] came here, they melted all our golden masterpieces into coins. Yo, that’s like going into the museum in Florence and seeing the statue of David and going, “Larry, look at that statue. It would make a lovely marble kitchen counter.” Because this King Philip of Spain stole 500,000 tons of gold from us, and twice as much silver, by dismissing us as pagan savages. Yeah, I got your savage right here, buddy. And this King Philip of Spain… [laughter] No, this King Philip of– No, I’m– This K– People, I’m up here. Up here. So, yo… This King Philip of Spain was always shitting on us, man. Always trying to prove we weren’t human and didn’t have souls so they could keep robbing us through the centuries. And he was always… [speaks Spanish] “You bring me 500 of these savages, and I’m going to put them in my royal zoo, and you will see that they’re soulless animals. Who would have thought that colonization could be so much fun?”

♪ Oh, robbing, raping, pillaging, robbing, raping, raping ♪
♪ Pillaging, robbing, robbing, rape ♪
♪ Raping, raping, rape ♪

Put us in cages. Thank God that’s not happening to us anymore, huh? Hey, yo, I-I-I… This was the biggest theft in all of history. I want my reparations, motherfuckers. Because our gold not only funded the Spanish Empire, but also the British, French and Ottoman Empires of the 1600s. And just as I’m getting so turned on by all of my research… of course, that’s when my wife comes in all fakakta… That’s Yiddish for “boner-killer.” “John, I just got off the phone with Buddy’s history teacher. Look… he’s falling behind. Can you talk to him? I’m already overloaded helping Boo.” “Why can’t I help Boo with her homework?” “Okay, John, you can help her with her trigonometry.” “Okay, I’ll help Buddy.” “Thank you, John, and can you please get on it? Can you please not mess this up?” “Don’t worry, honey. I’m fucking things up as fast as I can, okay?” “I’m kidding. No, you do you. I’m cool. I got it. I got it. Go, go.”

So I wait for my wife to leave, and then I coach my son on my year-long project – getting even with that goddamn bully. “Buddy, honey, come on. We’re gonna practice. We’re gonna pretend I’m the bully, and I step up to you. No, you don’t gotta be afraid. We’re just pretending. And I say to you, ‘I come from a long line of Civil War…’ blah, blah, blah, whatever. You say to him, ‘It doesn’t matter because we were here first, we jump-started America even before Columbus, that genocidal, pedophilic rapist.'” “Buddy, it’s gonna shut the hell outta that bully, okay? All right? So we good? We good?” “No, Dad. We didn’t even go over my history homework, Dad.” “All right, honey, my bad. So what’s the assignment?” “Dad, I gotta do my project on heroes that I look up to.” “Dude, do it on some Latin heroes. Come on, man. Come on, it’s a great idea.” “We’ll talk about it later , but you got your marching orders, right? All right, so go play like a normal kid. No, man. You got this. Go play, go, go.” And I thought my son was gonna crush it in class, but he goes to present on Columbus Day in front of his class, and he’s all like, “Um… I know we’ve got lots of Latin heroes. I’m just working on getting their names and dates right now, but I do know for certain that Columbus was a genocidal, pedophilic rapist.” So of course the bully corners my son in the boys’ bathroom. He’s like, “Shut up. Your project sucks. Go back to your country, asswipe.” “Ow. Why don’t you go back? ‘Cause we were here first, stupid.” “Oh, yeah? Prove it, dickface.” “Ow. I will. I just got nothing on the facts right now.” “Damn straight you ain’t got nothing ’cause you’re the kings of nothing. Come here, King of Nothing, ’cause I’m gonna crown your ass. Come here. What, are you gonna run? Run home and kill yourself, little bitch.” So my poor little, broken man comes home, and he’s all like… “Dad, you just make up all this shit, Dad.” “I’m never gonna believe you again.” And he runs into his room. So… I put on my best dad hat. I go to him and I says, “Buddy, honey, I’m sorry but life is gonna fuck you sometimes. it just is. And you’re gonna have to, I don’t know, just keep changing positions until it feels good somehow.” That didn’t come out the way I meant it to come out. -No. What I’m trying to say to you– -[door slams] Buddy, honey. Honey, what I’m trying to say to you is I made sure you grew up better than me so you wouldn’t have to experience this. But in the streets, you can’t let nobody punk you, man, so you got my permission to sucker punch that bully’s ass. -My son opens the door and he’s like… -[imitates hinges creaking] “But, Dad, Gandhi said…” “Gandhi said that if we all took an eye for eye that the whole world would just be blind, Dad.” “Oh, but, Buddy, honey, Gandhi couldn’t think straight ’cause he was always hungry.” -[door slams] -You see– My son. My son doesn’t get it. He doesn’t know how the real world works. But I do. Hell, yeah. And as my father once said, and I wrote it down because… he never said anything else to me again. I was afraid I’d forget. Here, let me… “Every man has to measure himself in life. And how do you measure a man’s… value? By when he’s tested in battle.”

So, yo… I was gonna go to war on my son’s behalf and get him real facts on real Latin war heroes. So behind his back, I get a copy of his eighth-grade history textbook. I’m looking for Latin heroes, and I’m looking for Latin contributions, and I’m looking from cover to cover, and there is nothing. Nada. Culo. Dick. I mean, it’s unbelievable, man. Not one fucking sentence, not one fucking chapter, not a goddamn mention. As if we’ve been absent all these fucking centuries. And, yo, I gotta fess up. That shit started to get me down. That is… until I get turned on to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Which should be required reading for every kid in America because, yo, this book opened up the world to me, man. Because even in the first chapter, he proves that our contributions were even bigger than what I thought. Because we also gave you tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate – try living without that shit, man – hammocks, canoes, chili peppers, tobacco, anesthesia, brain surgery, and people from Jersey and Long Island? Fucking hockey. And it’s not like the Europeans didn’t give us anything, no, ’cause they gave us typhus, cholera, malaria, measles, tuberculosis, black plague, the common cold, diphtheria, chicken pox, whooping cough, leprosy, and don’t forget rats, roaches, and pigeons. Then after all the fucked-up shit they do to us, we gift you with some of the sexiest dances the world has ever seen.

Tango. [music playing]

Cumbia. iWepa! [music playing] iWepa! iWepa! Whoo.

♪ I like it like that ♪ -Cha-cha-cha. ♪ I said I like it like that ♪ ♪ Do it to me, give it to me ♪ ♪ I like it like ♪ Mambo. Huh. Huh. [mambo music playing]

Samba. [whistle blows] [samba music playing] Huh.

[applause and cheering]

So where was I? No. Mr. Obvious, I know I was dancing. So, long before… Columb-ass… yo, we were happy-go-lucky tribes living in what was called a thousand-year peace. And I know why those Taínos were so peaceful in the Caribbean, too, ’cause they’d be like…

♪ Ding-a-ling a-ling, hear them ring ♪
♪ Booyaka, booyaka ♪
♪ Booyaka, booyaka ♪

[Jamaican accent] “Hey, blood clot.” Batty-boo tell me something I don’t know? “Hey, man. Hey, man, you ever wonder…” “You ever wonder…” “what the speed of lightning would be if it didn’t…” “Yeah, man.” [normal voice]

Now, the Taínos were the gentlest people that the universe has ever seen because they would also fight their wars with wooden swords so as to not kill their enemy. Aw… Come on, that’s so fucking cute. Time-out. Historic footnote time. Let’s clarify some big-ass misconceptions about Columbus, okay? One – he never set foot in America. Just here. Two – he was sent by the Spanish, but he was actually I-talian. And three – when he first encounters the Taínos, he says to them in his own inimitable words, “Hey, you big brown mook, come here. [speaks Italian] Yeah, you, come here. You bring us tobacco, cotton, and gold, we’re gonna give you, oh, we’re gonna give you– Hey, excuse me. Guido, what are we gonna give these mulyans? We’re gonna give you these broken mirrors, and then we’re gonna rape you. We got grapes for you. Forget about it. Who said that? Hey, forget about it. Hey. Hey, forget about it.” Columbus was the Donald Trump of the New World, y’all.

[cheering and applause]

Even a old G like Mike Tyson would’ve been like, “Say what you wanna say about me, but that motherfucker’s crazy.” Because Columbus basically did a home invasion, man. And on top of that, on top of that, he gave them syph-i-lis. I gotta write that shit down. “Sifilis.” Of course I don’t know how to spell it. Only people who have had it know how to spell it. All right, extra-credit time. Extra credit for anybody here who can tell me how the Europeans got syphilis. [man bleats like a sheep] I’m not gonna ask you how you knew that, sir. I don’t really wanna know, but he’s right – from fucking sheep. Not “fucking” sheep. From fucking sheep. I mean, I like lamb, too, but I know where to draw the line. But not these Europeans. They’d be like, “Oh, Fluffy.” [Norwegian accent] “Your eyes are so pretty. You’re so fluffy.” “Can I call you Fluffy? Oh, I loves you. I loves you. Say my name, say my name.” Baa-aa-aa. Baa-aa-aa-aa-aa.

All right, let’s recap. So Columbus brings syphilis to the New World by raping nine-year-old Taíno girls, and then enslaves all the Taínos until he exterminates them. And that, my lovely morons, is called the Caribbean Holocaust. And that is the end of the Taínos and their time on Earth. Then what do we do? What do we do? We give Columbus a day to celebrate him for fucking people over. What were we thinking? “Yeah, let’s celebrate anybody who fucks people over. Next week, why don’t we have a holiday for my ex-wife’s divorce lawyer?” And I couldn’t stop, man. I couldn’t stop obsessing about these gentle Taínos. I kept thinking they’d be so perfect for my son’s history project, and for my son, ’cause my son was this gentle little creature. And so I present it to him, right? And he’s all like, “Dad, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Dad, but there’s this girl I really like, and she already thinks I’m a wuss ’cause I keep getting bullied all the time, so I can’t really do my project on wusses right now.” “Why don’t you impress her with some of the other facts I gave you?” “Oh, yeah, Dad, that’s a great idea. I’ll just tell her I come from sheep-fuckers who had syphilis.” “Thanks, Dad, but that’s why I don’t talk to you about this shit, Dad.” “Oh, come on, Buddy. Man, come on. That’s not fair, man. You know you can talk to me about anything, my little man. You know what? I wanna prove it to you. I’m gonna show you. I’ll show you that you could be a hero to your little girly friend, okay, my man? Because I’ve got a foolproof… hero test. Because in my book, you just need three things to be a hero, okay? One – don’t be a dick. Because heroes don’t discriminate. They sacrifice their lives to help everyone irregardless, okay? And two… don’t be an a-hole. ‘Cause heroes act up when they’re called upon to stand up for something or to take a knee against something. [cheering and applause] And three – don’t be a pussy. Because heroes never back down.

It looks something like this. I’m a married man, so it’s been a while. I know it’s got that little thingy right there…” “Buddy, honey, are you paying attention? Are you pay– Honey, this…” “goes in here.” “And sometimes on your birthday, in here.” “All right? This is our sex talk, okay? But don’t tell your mom. Don’t tell her.” Buddy. So let’s put all our guys through our hero filter. Let’s forget about the Taínos for now because they were too gentle, but what about using… the mighty Aztec warriors? Oh, come on, man, they were so badass, with those things through their noses, and they invented basketball and shit.” “But, Dad, as a virgin I can’t really support them cause they woulda sacrificed me, too.” “What? Where the hell did you learn that? In school?” “No, Dad, no, I watched Apocalypto the movie.” Oh, great. My son is learning our history from Mel Gibson. Holy fuck, how demented is that shit? So, yo, I had to double down and get it right for my son and, luckily for me, I find my ammunition in this mad, explicit book by this Spanish friar, Sahagún, who was writing at the time of the Aztecs and spoke the actual… [speaks gibberish sounding language names] All right, let me break it down for you. So, Sahagún says that in 1520, Spain sends Cortés to colonize Mexico. Now, back then, Mexico was called the Aztec Empire. And their capital city, Tenochtitlan, was right here. Oh, grow up. Now… when the conquistadors first saw this city, they said it looked like a dream. because it was so beautiful and pristine and white, and it had 45 public buildings, temples, marketplaces, aqueducts. The city was surrounded by a giant lake, so they were safe. So how the fuck did we lose? How could we fucking lose, man? Well, the going Eurocentric narrative, even in a progressive book like Guns, Germs, and Steel is that we natives lost because we were somehow inferior. Because the Europeans allegedly had superior weapons, genes, intellect, agriculture, blah, blah, blah, blah. Bullshit, because Eduardo Galeano in Open Veins, which should be every Latin parent’s bible, by the way, proves that the only thing superior that the Europeans really had were their germs. Because if the European colonizer attacked before his germs took hold, he always lost. That’s why Cortés didn’t beat the Aztecs the first time he attacked. No, he had to wait a whole fucking year till two thirds of the Aztec population died from European smallpox.

The other factor that undid the Aztecs was their infamous King Moctezuma, who was polling very low… so he colludes with Putin – I mean, Cortés – to set him up as the ancient Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. I’m not gonna even try to spell that. ‘Cause if Moctezuma could prove that Cortés was a god, the Aztec people were sure he was there to make the Aztecs great again. I’m glad you’re getting my meaning. But Moctezuma got played by Cortés, so we have a word in Spanish for Moctezuma. Un pendejo. So, Moctezuma goes up to Cortés and says, goes up to Cortés and says, [feminine voice] “Your Lord, you have finally come to your city, Mexico. Here, sit on thy throne, oh, Quetzalcoatl.” Cortés was like, “What did you call me? Quetza what? Quetza qué?” “Well, surely you jest. You’re our god of earth and water. Right, Quetzalcoatl?” “Play along, stupid. Everybody’s watching.” “Oh, yeah, for sure. My friends all call me Cortés for short.” “Okay, Cortés for short.” [giggles] Cortés seizes Moctezuma. “Shut up, you. We’re taking you prisoner unless you get your people to open up the city gates. I might let you live.” [sinister snicker] “Okay, you leave me no choice ’cause you’re so butch.” [applause] “So we’re gonna have to distract the masses with a sacrifice.” “Oh, shit, I know. Drop the beat.” ♪ Run inside, Cortés, you stupid cunt ♪ ♪ Ignore the ugly white people walking to the city gates ♪ ♪ One, two, I’m a captive bitch in my own home ♪ ♪ It makes no sense, I gave him gifts, I let him in ♪ ♪ I got my ass, I’m saving me as is ♪ ♪ Cortés wants my throne, I won’t let him, no, no ♪ ♪ Let my people down, that’s for sure ♪ ♪ Sacrifice, let’s give him a show ♪ ♪ I’m-a get me outta this ♪ ♪ I’m Moctezuma, bitch ♪ ♪You ain’t gonna take my throne, now watch me ♪ ♪Take me down to the floor like this, this, this, this, this ♪ [cheering and applause]

I’m too old for this shit. I could’ve tore something. Whoo. As soon as Cortés got in the city gates, the Aztecs were fucked and are reminded what the great, late Stephen Hawking, the British cosmologist, once said – [imitating Hawking] “Life would be tragic… if it weren’t so funny. Ha. Ha. Ha.” Because Moctezuma’s death is tragically comical. Because Cortés spears him in the dick, kills the man while he’s asleep – aah – and then runs off. But, yo, when the Aztec people found out that their puppet king had sold them out, yo, they went apeshit. [speaks Spanish] “Only we can kill our king. Azteca!” [cheering] So the Aztecs actually thought that their dope-ass dance was gonna scare away the conquistadors, but, sadly, it did not, because the conquistadors answered back with their cannons. Nothing funny about these motherfuckers. [indistinct chatter] [imitates lighting fuse, firing cannon] And the poor Aztecs, who had never seen or heard a cannon before, were like, “Holy shit, homes. Holy shit. Was that thunder? God, I hope it rains so nobody sees that I peed myself.” [imitates cannon firing] “Oh, fuck! I shat myself!” “It must be the end of the world! It must be… 2012. Run for your lives, chingones. We’re gonna die!” [imitates cannon firing] And a few remaining Aztecs came out feverish for one last battle. “Chipotle, Cholula, Flan…” [speaks Spanish] And the conquistadors were like, “Oh! Joder. Gabriel, García, Márquez…” [speaks Spanish] And the conquistadors retaliate in a circle-jerk of muskets. And the last of the Aztecs… were all gone. -“No. Mom.” -[imitates musket firing] “My son.” And now bloody and beaten on the Aztec killing fields the Aztecs still lost by a slim-fucking-margin, man. As they say in Palestine… [gibberish] How can a god who is just let people do this to each other? And that, my friends, is the end of the mighty, mighty Aztec Empire. And I know they lost. And I know it was the most successful destruction of a people’s language, culture, and religion in history, but, yo, they fought and died so that we might live.

And I thought what a great lesson to pass on to my son, right? To fight until the bitter end, right? So… I go to his room to pass this on… but my son is all like, “Moctezuma, Dad? That’s your best hero, Dad? Dad, he doesn’t even pass our hero test, ’cause rule number two, he was an a-hole, Dad, ’cause he sold out his people just to save his own ass.” “Oh, but, Buddy, honey, you’re missing the big takeaway here, man. ‘Cause the Aztecs were fighting against the most lethal use of germ warfare in history, man. Just imagine if everyone you knew and loved around you was dying.” “Okay, Dad. Okay, you know what, Dad? I’m gonna do my homework by myself now.” “Dad, that means alone. That means you gotta go.” -Where am I gonna go? This is my house.” -[door slams] I… gotta be straight up with you people. I gotta be straight up. I did not know how to father this boy. And I knew I needed help, so I went into therapy.

Yeah, I’m in therapy. I don’t look like I need it ’cause I seem very confident and well-adjusted… like somebody you wanna be trapped in an elevator with, but, no. I need lots of help, man, because before I confront others, I gotta learn how to confront myself. And my therapist,  Dr. T., who sounds a lot like Tim Gunn on Project Runway… “I know, Doc, I know. I’m relapsing. I know ’cause…” but is now starting to hold you back.” “John, stop. You keep using your humor to avoid your core issues. It’s an outmoded survival skill that helped you get out of the ghetto but is now starting to hold you back.” “I know, Doc, I know. I’m relapsing. I know ’cause… I’m failing my son. What good am I, man? I’m all obsessed with war and heroes and I can’t seem to find my son a Latin hero.” “Well, John, the question is, who’s your Latin hero, huh? How do you expect to have a hero for your son if you don’t have one for yourself?” [stammers] “Might I make a suggestion?” “What about your father?” “My father, Doc, my father, oh, shit, my father. Let me put it this way, man, When the bullies used to step up to me and go, ‘Yo, John, yo. I bet you my pops could beat up your pops,’ I’d be like, ‘Oh, yeah? When?'” “Terrific. Don’t run away from this. Go further, John. Tell your father. Talk to your father, the man who withheld his love from you, yet instilled you with the creative, yet pathetic need, to seek the approval of strangers.” “All right, Doc. All right. Dad, I forgive you. I forgive you for my fucked-up childhood, but… you can’t forgive me for talking about it in a place? Fuck you. I hate you, man. No, Doc. No, man. This corny shit’s not working.” “No, John. Break through, John, break through.” “John, we reached a critical juncture in your repressed ghetto rage.” “If we don’t tackle it this very minute, you might never be able to function– Look at the time.” “That’s all the time we have for today. Same time next week?” -[imitates intercom buzzer] -“Mr. Weinstein, I’m ready for you.” [laughter and groans] So, I leave my therapist’s office with an untreated chronic case of ghetto rage. And– Time-out. Urban Dictionary time. Anybody here who doesn’t know what ghetto rage is? Well, it’s when the whole world keeps telling you that you’re worthless, and you fight these microaggressions daily, but when you start to lose that battle, you start drowning in this… in this self-loathing, burning rage, but… but as a Latin man, as a Latin man, you can’t get angry, ’cause Homeland Security, the fucking INS or the police could decide you’re a threat, and the next person to be shot or deported could be you or me. ‘Cause Latin life is cheap in America.


I didn’t know how to deal with that. I did not know how to deal, so I ran away, I ran away, and my drug of choice – books. And I find more ammunition, more ammunition in this incredible book by the genius Charles Mann, who wrote this beautiful , beautiful love letter to us called 1491… wherein he says that in 1531, 11 years after the Aztec conquest, Cortés hooks up his cousin, Pizarro, and gets him a ship to lead an expedition against the biggest empire on Earth – the Inca. Now, the Inca were three times bigger than any empire of the time, man. Bigger than the Ming dynasty, bigger than Tsarist Russia. So advanced that they pioneered the concept of socialism before Karl Marx. And they had a binary code that predated computers. How about that shit? Now, can anybody here tell me what five countries in South America made up the Incan Empire for extra credit? Come on. Let’s start from the top. Let’s start from the top. Colombia, Ecuador. Sir, if I’m going too fast for you, I’ll slow down. Peru. Bolivia. And Chi… le. All right, let me contextualize you. So douchebag Pizarro had three things in his favor, man. One – Cortés’ playbook outlining how to get Indian allies. Two – his cousin’s germ warfare had made it all the way from the Aztecs to the Incas and killed half the population because the Europeans had declassified their diseases as pre-existing conditions. And thirdly, and most importantly, the narcissism… of small… differences. And my man Freud had explained that phenomena beautifully, and he says, [German accent] “Ja, people are naturally jealous even of their brother-r-r-r-r or their-r-r-r-r best friend because people have to feel superior-r-r-r-r, und will look for the smallest minutiae of differ-r-r-r-rence to feel better-r-r-r-r than you, the goddamn sons of bitches.” Yo, Freud knew his shit, huh, man? Oh, hell, yeah, because even if we were all the same people, we would find some stupid little fucked-up reason to hate on each other, man. And that’s what happened here, man. That’s what happened here, because the most hated enemy tribe of the Inca were the Chanka. Not to be confused with la chancla. ‘Cause that’s every Latin kid’s worst enemy. I’m sorry, chancla is Spanish for flip-flop. Our moms beat us with it when we were little. [speaks Spanish] So the flip-flops… the most hated enemy tribe of the Inca, link up with Pizarro, and Pizarro says to them, “Follow me. Let’s hide behind the blackboard. “All right, friar, you go convert those savage Inca. And if that fails, we’re gonna go to plan B.” And the friar Valverde was like, “Plan B. Plan B. What is plan B?” “Spear them in the dick, of course.” “Shh. Hide, everybody.” So the friar comes out to the town square surrounded by 80,000 Incas. [audience catcalls] All jungle-ripped in leather Speedos. Sexy as fuck. And the friar goes up to Atahualpa, the king of the Incas, and he goes, “Atahualpa, king of the Inca, please, please take this Bible and convert, because the Catholic religion is all-forgiving, soul-saving, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Our priests love children. Spend a lot of time with them.” And Atahualpa, the king of the Incas, throws the Bible down. Psst. “Who is this motherfucker?” “Okay, never mind, never mind. Plan B. Plan B. Spear him in the dick right about now would be as good a time as any.” -And Pizarro comes out of hiding. -[imitates horn call] “Atacan!” And with his huge legion of Indian allies… they ambush the Inca.

So Atahualpa, the king of the Incas, tries to make a getaway on a litter. A litter’s some ancient king-carrying fucking thing. He’s, “Run, motherfuckers, run.” “If you don’t drop me, I’ll get you all the pussy you want in the afterlife.” And his attendants were like, “We got you.” “I just need a few more hours to get in the union so I can get my medical.” -But Pizarro cuts them off. -[imitates horse neigh] “Savage, your end is near. Now put down your king or I’ll slice your arms off.” “You kiss my brown ass. I ain’t putting nobody down. Oh, jeez, he got me! Don’t drop the king. Don’t drop the king. Come at me, Pizarro. I don’t need my arm. I’ll kick the fuck outta you. I’ll kick the fuck outta you.” “Savage, I’m warning you. Put down the king, or I’ll slice your legs off.” “Hells to the no, bitch. What you gonna do? Shit, what you gonna– Oh, shit, he got me! Oh, fuck! Don’t drop the king. Don’t drop– Come at me, Pizarro. I’ll bite the shit outta you. Come here.” “All right, savage. Last chance. Put down your king, or I’ll slice your head off.” “What part of ‘fuck, no’ do you seem not to understand? Oh, shit, he got me! Don’t drop the king. Oh, shit. Oh, fuck.” Yo, those Incas had your back, bruh bruh. They would not drop their man, even if their life depended on it. That’s fucking loyalty, yo. Why do you think Monty Python stole that bit from them?

And that’s how the Spaniards won. This one really broke my heart, because here was our history, here was the foundation of a brown race, of a Latin people, with their own James Joyces and Dostoevskys and Prousts, who lived deep in the Latin past where we authored mythology, pioneered in math and astronomy, excelled in sport, built aqueducts and pyramids that put us on the same level as all other great civilizations. But now… now just completely obliterated. So I didn’t know how to deal with that. I didn’t know how I was gonna face my son with that one. And, uh… then I get a text from my wife. “John, meet me at the headmaster’s office.” “Oh, shit.” So, I get to the headmaster – that’s principal to y’all – and he’s all like, “John, I just received an anonymous video of your son punching another student in the face.” “I’m sorry, but that can’t be right because you know what? My son’s actually the one being bullied.” “Well, John, the video suggests otherwise. I don’t know what’s going on at home, but your son’s grades have taken a terrible nosedive, as of late. And he might not pass this semester. But don’t worry about it right now, John. We’re gonna revisit this after his probation.” “Probation? What are you talking about? You’re putting my son on probation? Come on, man. My son was obviously set up. What are we talking about here? Is this because the bully’s family paid for the library? Is that what we’re really talking about? Why you gotta do me like that? You know me, huh? You know me? Huh? You know me? Hey, hey, hey, get off me, man. Get off me.” So I’m escorted out of the headmaster’s office… and on the walk of shame home with my wife and my son, I’m all like, “Honey, I’m sorry. Come on, I lost my head. Come on, I said I was sorry, didn’t I? Buddy, honey, what the hell really happened, man?” “Dad, the bully kept yelling and yelling, ‘That’s why nobody likes you. Nobody likes you ’cause your dad’s a celebritard.’ So I punched him, Dad. I punched him, and that’s when they filmed me, Dad.” “Oh, come on, Buddy. Come on, man. You know better than that. Honey, I didn’t tell him to do that.” “But, Dad, I sucker-punched him just like you told me.” “And what, now I don’t pass your hero test?” “Well, screw you and your stupid test!” And my wife’s all like… “Oh, I hope you’re happy, John.” “I hope you’re happy.” “Encouraging this violent type of behavior in my home.” “What’s wrong with you?” “And, Buddy, honey, you don’t owe anyone any explanations for your flaws, okay? Because nobody’s born perfect. So you tell that bully that if he’s gonna pick on you again, he better damn well be perfect. Otherwise, just let you be.” “Okay?” “Let’s go get you dinner. John, we’ll see you at home.” “What are you talking about? I wanna come, too.” “No, Dad, no. You only make things worse, Dad.”

So I was back in therapy… “John, let’s go a little deeper into your subconscious. We’re gonna go– We’re gonna do a little word-association exercise. I’m gonna say a word or phrase, you say the first thing that comes into your mind.” “Titties.” [laughter] “Uh, no, John. No, uh, we hadn’t started yet, John.” “How about proper nouns? Let’s try proper nouns. Here we go again. Uh, success.” “Oh, oh, oh, um, Mark Zuckerberg.” “Genius.” “That’s a hard one, man. That’s a tough fucking– um, Steve Jobs?” -“Legend.” -“Uh, Billy Joel.” “But, John, what about Marc Anthony?” [unenthused] “Yeah. Yeah.” “John, what about solo performers?” “Dude, it’s gotta be Spalding Gray. He’s the godfather.” “But, John, do you see the pattern here, John?” “Shit, Doc, you’re right. You’re right. I’m brainwashed. No, worse. I’m whitewashed. I can’t believe they got me, man.” “I can’t believe they got me in my own mind, in my deepest places. They got me believing white people are better than me. Fuck. Where the fuck did that shit come from?” “John, other than history textbooks, movies, television, and newspapers, I really don’t know.” “But, John, as a client of mine, who shall remain nameless, because, well, he’s a political figure…” “All right, let’s say he ran for mayor, and a dick pic was his undoing.” “Well, he tells me that there’s this conference in Texas on diversity. Maybe you go give the Latino point of view and reaffirm your Latino centralness.” “Thank you, Doc. But didn’t you just violate some doctor-patient confidentiality, man? What do you say behind my back?” “John, look at the time. That’s all the time we have for today.” “Same time next week? Oh, no, John. I had an emergency next week, and I had to give your spot the following week to Anthony Weiner.” So… I leave my therapist’s office, and I sign up for this conference in Texas. And I had a bad feeling about it. Mostly because it was in Texas. And the date comes, and I fly myself all the way to Dallas, and there I am, trying to stay away from the alcohol in the green room. Thank you, I’ll have another. Mm. ‘Cause I never drink, man. I don’t drink, no, ’cause I’m always afraid that all the ghetto shit inside of me is gonna come pouring out of me one of these days. You know what I’m talking about. Thank you. I’ll have a double. But I was nervous as fuck, and they call us… out on the stage, and this moderator, this Texan guy, just rips right into me. He’s like, “Ah, Mr. Liquidzamo.” “I’m intrigued by this niche history of Latin America you’re telling us about, but you’re an outsider and a foreigner, and your comments are a direct attack on American exceptionalism, so I-I’m-I’m gonna have to agree with Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina when he says that Hispanics and blacks are not traditional Americans.” And boom. The alcohol hits me. [cheering and applause] “Niche history, motherfucker?” “Exceptionalism, you honky-ass cracker?” “You best, you best, uh, back the fuck off… with your jingoistical, xenophobic, inaccurate bullshit, ’cause you seriously talking out the side of your mouth, you punk-ass bitch!” Because the establishment of these here United States was only made possible through one of the most comprehensive campaigns of ethnic cleansing that the world has ever known. Am I getting through to you now, motherfucker? Do you know me? Huh? You know me? You know me?” Of course, the Texas crowd was not like you. Oh, no, yo. They turned on me, man. They started booing the shit outta me. But when I retold the story to my son, I cleverly left out that booing part. “Buddy, honey, promise me, man, you’re never gonna lose your shit, especially in a argument, my man. Especially if you’re a person of color, because then nobody hears the content of what you’re trying to say. Okay?” Because what I should have said, calmly and-and coolly and collected to Mr. Texas, to Mr. Moderator, was, “Sir, I’m not an outsider, sir. Sir, we are not foreigners. No, sir. We are a vast network of tribes that commingled, co-habitated, and freely migrated north, central, south, Caribbean and Mexican Indians, and we is all the same blood.” [cheering and applause]

Yo… Yo, we were so interconnected, man, that when I had my DNA done, they couldn’t tell me which specific tribe I was from. And when I got my results back, all it said was “Native American.” [woman] Oh, yeah. It also showed that I had a STD in high school, but that’s another story. You didn’t have an STD back in high school? What, you weren’t popular? I haven’t forgotten about you, either. So, it was November by now, and it was Thanksgiving. I’m waiting for the meal. I’m waiting, and then finally my poor wife comes down, all meshuggana. And she’s like, “John, Buddy’s not coming down. No, the bully turned the whole grade on him, against him, and… I don’t even know what else to do anymore.” “Well, let me go talk to him. Maybe I’ll have better luck. Who knows?” [pounds foot] “Hey, Buddy. Honey, what do you say we go for a little walk? I wanna share something with you.” “No, Dad. No, go away. Just leave me alone, Dad. I wish I were dead. Just leave me alone!” “Oh, honey. Buddy, look, man. I know what you’re going through, I really do.” My daughter steps up, and she’s like… [whispers] “Dad, let me help. Please let me help, Dad.” “All right, go ahead.” [taps foot] “Buddy? Did you know that Dad got booed by all of Texas?” “Do you wanna see it? I have it here on YouTube.” “And, Buddy, you know what? If you really think of the bully as sandpaper, sure, of course it’s gonna scratch you and hurt you, but in the end, he’s gonna end up useless, and you’re gonna end up polished.” [laughter] Wow. Wow. “Buddy, honey, you know what? She’s not wrong, man.” “No, she’s not wrong because you know what? People… are gonna try to hurt us with their words, man, because some people are unhappy, and unhappy people don’t like themselves, and they want everybody else to feel as shitty as they do. You know what? Bet they don’t have the guts to admit this to themselves.” “Dad, do you not like yourself sometimes, too?” “Oh, honey. I only have the guts to admit it to you.” “What do you say we go down for Thanksgiving together? We got a lot to be thankful for this year. Open up the door for me, man.” “Buddy, open the door, come on. Come on, man. Come on, open the door.” “I’m just curious, where are we with the heroes project?” “No, you’re not gonna tell me? What do you say we open up the history textbook, and you and I look up what Horace Greeley said? Come on, man. That could be a lot of fun.” “Can anybody here help me? Extra credit – what did Horace Greeley say? Anybody. -[woman, indistinct] -That’s right, ma’am. That’s right. Horace Greeley was the asshole… who said, “Go West, young man.” But he should’ve never said that shit. Because those “real” illegal-alien pioneers wouldn’t stop fucking coming here. I’m talking about the D-list of white folks, so no offense. The real OGs. Crooks, murderers and rapists, all out of the jails of Europe. Even Alexander de Tocqueville, my favorite French philosopher, from the 1800s, had to address Congress about these fucking pioneers. And he says to them, [French accent] “I don’t know how you people do it.” “You Americans are so good at exterminating Indians. Not even the Spanish are as good as you. And you like to do it so much. How do you do it?” I must’ve got to my son ’cause he cracks the door, but he’s… “Dad, how could our Indian forefathers have been so stupid, Dad? How could they have not seen that extermination coming, Dad?” “Oh, Buddy, honey, because it’s been proven that it’s historically impossible to see this kind of annihilation coming, man. Because, Buddy, even-even our Cherokee people were bushwhacked by bloody Andrew Jackson.” [laughter] “And our seventh president proclamates to the Cherokee people, [Southern accent] ‘Now listen here, Chief Crybaby.” “You and you papooses can remain on this land so long as you live by our laws. So from now on, there gonna be just a few new laws just for all y’all.'” [imitates gun cylinder spinning] I look more like Frederick Douglass than I do Andrew Jackson. But I’d rather look like Freddy than Andy any old-fucking-day. Especially after you learn that those poor tribes actually tried to live according to those strict laws of Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act, which is so twisted and hypocritical, man, because Ben Franklin and the Founding Fathers plagiarized the Iroquois nation’s constitution to create our Constitution because of the great freedoms and independence it guaranteed to each individual state. And then they go and do it to us again in the 1930s with the “Repatriation Act” where they blame Mexican-Americans for taking jobs during the Depression. Sound familiar? So President Herbert Hoover “repatriates” 500,000 Latin people that were born here. Those of us that didn’t leave were lynched. And between 1830 and 1930, 600 of us were lynched.

And now… they’re doing it to us again, man, with all these anti-immigration policies. Making us so afraid of being pulled over and profiled that we have to pretend we can’t even speak Spanish. [gibberish] Making us so afraid of being deported and carted off that we have to pretend to be white. We have to pretend we can’t even fucking dance. “Officer, I always dance like a frog in a blender. I swear to God I love Nickelback.” Until they play some merengue or a cumbia, then we’re like, “Oh, shit. Oh, fuck. No. Motherfucking shit. No. Oh, shit. Fuck. Goddamn son of a bitch. Motherfucker.” [dance music playing] “Shut it off! Shut it off! Shut it off!” -[music stops] -“Shit.” [music continues] [music stops] That shit always gives us away. Every fucking time, man. So… Andrew Jackson passes his Indian Removal Act of 1830. So a third of the Cherokee people die that winter as they walk – together now, everybody – the Trail of Tears. I know it’s a terrible human atrocity, but can you imagine the guilt trip those parents who survived the Trail of Tears could lay on their kids? “You wanna hear about hardship, little Buffalo Dingleberry?” “I mean, compared to my childhood, you don’t know how fucking easy you have.” I don’t know about y’all, but I’m all about a guilt trip, man. It’s the leverage I got left as a parent ’cause my kids are bugging out ’cause they want another iTunes album, video game, another pair of ripped jeans. And my daughter’s wigging, going, “I hate my life. I hate my life. Why’d you bring me into this world I hate?” “Oh, you brat. You brat. You don’t know how easy you have it, man. When I was a kid, there was no Internet. We didn’t have iPads or Spotify. You wanted to steal music? You had to walk to the goddamn record store and shoplift it yourself!” Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio. And the DJ usually talked over the beginning of it and fucked it all up! And if you wanted to know the lyrics to a song… oh, my fucking God. Jesus-fucking-Christ. Oh, my God, you had to rewind it and rewind it and rewind and rewind and rewind. That’s why I never knew that “Rock the Cat Box” “Rock the Cat Box” was actually “Rock the Casbah!”

As you could see, I was losing my mind. Literally losing my mind. I think it was because it was months and months of learning about our losers history that I started suffering from some kind of ancestral PTSD. I don’t know what the fuck. But when I start taking it out on my kids, that’s when I draw the line in the sand, man, and I was done. Yo, I was done. I waited for spring break to break it to my son that I was quitting on him. I get to his room, and I find him sitting in the dark, looking all lonely and sad and, “Hey, little man. I want you to know I’m sorry I failed you, man. I’m sorry. I tried to protect you from all this, and I… -And, man, I just…” -“Dad, don’t worry. Don’t worry, Dad, ’cause I realized that a lot of the kids in my grade are just-just never gonna like me, Dad, but I also realized that I highly don’t give a fuck.” [applause] “So, Dad, I’m gonna focus on my heroes project so I could graduate and get the hell outta this school but, Dad, Dad. Wait, Dad. I wanna do my project on something -that no one has ever done, Dad.” -“All right, Buddy. All right, honey. It’s gonna be our secret mission, you and me, okay? Oh, shit, dude, I got it. Buddy, I got the thing that no one’s ever done. My God, this is gonna rock your world, because you know what? It rocked my world. When I found out that we Latin people had participated in the Civil War, Buddy.” “Tell that to the goddamn bully, because 20,000 of us Latinos fought in the North and the South.” We’ll go wherever they pay us, you know how we do. Buddy, you’re right. Let’s forget the Civil War. I’m gonna get you that Latin war hero if it’s the last thing I do. I wanna check my notes real fast. This is gonna blow your mind, because you know what? It blew my mind when I found out that we Latin people had helped out in the American Revolution. Ten thousand unknown Latino patriots fought out of a total of 80,000 American troops. That’s one out of eight. And some of us were generals. And women, Cuban women in Virginia sold their jewelry, their hoop earrings and their door knockers…” “to feed the patriots.

But the illest… Latin hero I found for you was this General Bernardo Gálvez. And this homie donated $70,000 worth of weapons to George Washington. So, between the jewelry and the weapons, we also financed that war. So we too are the sons and daughters of the American Revolution, my man.” [applause and cheering] Out of nowhere my daughter pops out and rips off her headphones, and she’s like, “Seriously, Dad?” “Seriously?” “Like, 95% of what you’ve been talking about is all military history. Only focused entirely around men, Dad. What a myopic and compromised, gender-biased view of history, Dad. I can’t believe you’re such a sexist! I can’t believe I came out of you!” And she put on her headphones and blasted some misogynistic rap song. “Buddy, honey, I didn’t realize that I was being unconsciously sexist. Dude, I’m gonna have to revisit all the research, but redo it from a woman’s point of view.” “No, Dad, no. She’s better off without your help, Dad.” “And, Dad, you keep throwing all these random heroes at me, Dad. All these war guys.” “Buddy, come on. Random heroes. Don’t you know that our history was systematically cut out of history books? How come you don’t know that 30,000 of us fought in World War I and almost 500,000 of us sacrificed our lives in World War II?” “Well, Dad, I don’t care because to me, violence is just the worst kind of communication, Dad. That’s why– Look, I already got my project so please stay out of it ’cause I’m working on it.” “So you don’t like warriors, dude. I’m cool. That’s no biggie, man. ‘Cause I got my secret stash here that I been saving for you, my man. This is my real jam. Political leaders. Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America. Or how about a civil-rights activist like Cesar Chavez? Hey, come on.” “Don’t walk out on me, man. You know how hard it is to find these heroes -who were spics and beaners to them?” -[door slams] I guess he just didn’t want my help anymore.

But now I had all this information just stuck in my head, man, and it started playing over and over and over. I started feeling like I was going insane. And then I find out that one in four people in America suffers from some form of mental illness. So think of your three best friends. And if they’re okay, well, then it’s you. Latin stats roll call. Latin stats roll call. So we Latin people are the second-oldest ethnic group in America after Native Americans. And yet, at 22%, we have the highest high-school dropout rate of any minority in this country. And at 32%, we are the most-bullied ethnic group in the workplace. And at 40% of the prison population, because of this immigration detention, we are now the largest ethnic group in jails. And 60% of hate crimes are perpetrated on us, so we’ve got the record there, too. And we’re almost 70 million hard-working, contributing Americans in this country, and this president has effectively declared war on us by his zero tolerance, by betraying our Dreamers, by publicly denigrating Mexican Americans and then by abandoning American citizens in Puerto Rico and left to die. And how dare he. How dare he. When we’re so American it hurts. Because we’re the only ethnic group that has fought in every single war this country’s ever had. We have shed blood for America in each and every single one of her wars. We’re the most decorated minority in each and every single one of those wars. But where are our contributions? Where are they? Where are they listed, mentioned or honored? Can you imagine, can you imagine if they were put back into history? Written back into history textbooks? Can you imagine how America would see us? More importantly, can you imagine how we would see ourselves? And then I just fell asleep. I don’t know how long I’d been asleep, but it was a long time and… all I could think about is, “God, is my son ever gonna graduate?” Oh, God. [mutters] [alarm sounds] Oh, shit. What happened? What? What? “John, wake up.  John, wake up. It’s Buddy’s graduation, and, John, Buddy said he’s gonna have a big surprise for us. Everybody’s waiting for you downstairs. You’re gonna make us late.” “A surprise, honey? What surprise? Why didn’t anybody tell me?” So we race down to the auditorium for my son’s graduation from middle school. -[“Pomp and Circumstance” playing]

That’s eighth grade to y’all. And my wife and I are so excited, man. We’re so excited because we never thought this day was actually gonna come. And, um… I go to take my seat and guess who bogarts it from me. The come mierda bully’s dad. “No, John, you don’t get to sit down, no, because you were such a grandmother and went crying to the headmaster. Now my son doesn’t have a shot at a good school. No, no, thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Glad I gave to the Financial Aid Fund because you know what? It’s really done me a world of good.” “Excuse me, but it’s good to know you just give for your own benefit. And just so you know, we’re not on financial aid. Maybe because I’m Latin, you assume we had to be, like it’s a rule or something? But, no, my son got in ’cause he earned it.” “Unlike some people’s kids who probably benefited from some white affirmative-action program for lazy, privileged white kids, as if that demographic could ever really be underrepresented, huh?” “Hey, you wanna step outside? You-You-You wanna step outside?” “Look, there is nothing I would love more than to mambo all over your face…” “but I’m gonna have to deny myself that pleasure because as a wise Puerto Rican, Colombian, Jewish, Incan, Aztec kid once told me, violence is the lowest form of communication.” And bam – I had my comeback. I was the father I wanted my son to have. My wife just elbows the shit outta me. “John, shh! Would you be quiet. Buddy’s about to talk.” And then at that exact moment, I hear them call my son’s name out loud. This was the moment, man. This is the moment I’ve been dreading my whole life. I couldn’t go up there with him anymore. I couldn’t help him, I couldn’t fix it for him, I couldn’t save him, I just… I just had to let go. “John, shh. Would you be quiet. Not everything is about you, John.” “Okay, okay.” I see my son approaching the podium, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that was my boy. “Who was this kid? Who was this amazing young man walking towards the podium?” “Um… at the first, when the headmaster asked me to take my hero project and turn it into this speech, I really wasn’t prepared but, um… then something in the last few weeks changed for me because I learned from watching my dad heroically fail. [laughter] “I learned that a hero doesn’t have to win, and a hero doesn’t have to beat up an enemy or revenge himself to be a hero.” “And I also learned we really haven’t lost because we’ve taken the worst beating in history, and we’re still here…” “writing, inventing, dancing, and just not giving up.” “And, um, because of a situation that I had, I was forced to, um… look inside myself, and that’s when I saw that in some ways, I’ve got lots of heroes in me. Because I am Cesar Chavez, and I am Céspedes of the Mets, even though he’s always injured.” “And I am Menudo.” [laughter] “And I am Sonia Sotomayor.” “And I am definitely not Ted Cruz.” [laughter] “But the biggest thing I learned while I was, uh, failing outta school this past year was, as one of my fellow classmates once said to me, ‘You’re the 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…” “My…” “hero…” “is…” “me.”

[music playing]

[cheering and applause]

Thank you. Thank you.

[“Soy Yo” by Bomba Estereo playing]


3 thoughts on “Latin History for Morons: John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway (2018) – Transcript”

  1. Sorry to bother you john but I need to know what you dislike. If you can help me with my project.

  2. I just wanted to thank you for signing my sons book and for that brief moment showing him that he’s special. He’s suffering from depression and his meeting you has impacted him in a very positive way, Bless you sir.

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