Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

20 Aug 2006, 14:30 p.m.

MC Masala on Tests of Americanness

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

"Who discovered the USA? Christopher Columbus."

"Is this still right?" she asked.

Man, oh, man, all the things I wanted to say. Before any white people from Europe came along, indigenous people lived in North America, variously called Native Americans, American Indians, and Indian-no-the-other-one. But if they came over on the now-underwater land bridge from Asia, does that mean they discovered America? Leif Ericson came along before Columbus, but he hit Canada. And no one "discovered" the United States anyway; we created the USA, and we create it every day, no matter who was first on North American soil.

But I didn't want to try her patience or her limited English, and would it help her anyway?