In past posts I’ve mentioned my love of mythology. I knew more about Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Roman mythology than a child of eight should know. I loved the idea of goddesses and gods who were like us, but writ large. I didn’t know it then, but they were the original superheroes and arch villains. And I’m a sucker for a good origin story.
Which is why I found myself becoming dismayed while researching my next project. I want to daughter and any future generations to know our mythology—Taino mythology and yet finding information about it proved difficult. I was equal to the challenge of reading academic research in Spanish (being both a historian and a Spanish speaker) and sifting through websites for what was honest conjecture and what was wishful thinking (my superpower is research). And yet the more stories I learned and loved, the angrier I became. Why hadn’t I learned more about this in school? I grew up in New York City, which is fairly progressive and well-represented by Puerto Ricans. Shouldn’t the indigenous cultures of the Caribbean have been covered? My love of Greek myths had started in school, why hadn’t my love been expanded to include my mythology? Why wasn’t my culture considered as interesting and vital? Eight-year-old me wouldn’t have known the answer, but current me knows the answer is obvious.
The stories we learn are important. It’s a recent idea that representation matters, but that’s an abstract idea. I’m reminded in little ways all the time that it’s more than an idea. It’s an ideal. And making sure the stories we learn include everyone is just as important as marches and rallies. Writers often say you should write the stories you want to see. I’ve always known I wanted to put Latinas at the forefront of my stories and I hope that one day a child of any background walks around with a big book of Taino myths and meets her new superheroes.
Three point cemi of the Tainos