How Old is California?

It’s funny, to think that as a native Californian, I never really gave much thought to the history of a people’s state from a global perspective until I had the chance to enter the globe as a bright-eyed youth in my 20s. It’s the best time to go to Europe, to both see why you as a POC* (my people, according to 23andme, were here a long time before it entered the Union) will always register as non-White, and appreciate the vast rolling plains one is accustomed to as a youth growing up in the Americas, Europe is much smaller geographically than you might think and it’s surprisingly fast to travel across countries. The same experience goes for moving from the west coast to the east coast. In general, it’s relatively quick to travel through east coast American states, but it takes close to a full day to traverse the top of California to its southernmost bottom, unless you’re making zero pit-stops along the way.**

America, and the rest of the world, have a fun love affair with the Ivy League schools. However, even those among the well-educated don’t know that California belonged to Mexico for as long as it did, because society so desperately wants to believe that when kids play a game of cowboys v indians (I grew up in the 1980s…this was a thing) it’s because all the indians are gone now, as are the cowboys.

Yet if you drive about an hour and a half away from San Francisco, and approach Sacramento county, the land turns into an agrarian landscape, completely unlike the urban cityscapes which define San Francisco.

It’s in hills where there’s nothing but vineyards for miles around, close to a river that exists because Nature carved her flow, and not man tilling away with cement mixers and bulldozers that one realizes that even this pastoral landscape is unnatural. Grapes aren’t indigenous to the Americas. Keep in mind, Folsom Lake as well is a man-made creation. The most common side-effect of my move to Sacramento county is constantly wondering whether the river I’m seeing is man-made, or natural.

That’s my life right now, at least until the Bar results come out in November. Until then, I’ll be trying to figure out how to celebrate turning 31. Any thoughts?

*If you’ve been reading this long, and cactus didn’t tip you off, then here it goes: I’m an American by birth, but Latina by blood, and that will always make me empathize with the struggle to ensure the world sees that being American means embracing the history of the Americas: we maintain a mythos that there weren’t established, civilized culturas here before puritanical English-speaking men decided it’d be a good idea to steal half their neighboring country’s land. Even if you don’t want to believe Indigenous peoples had thriving cities, Mexico’s colonial period goes back roughly 400 years before the date California joined the union in 1850, and there are records of establishments in California as early as 1821. Mexico’s birthday is September 16, and I’d say the birth of a state is dependent on when it became part of a nation. Like it or not, California was a Mexican state before it was acquired by war.

**Wednesday Wisdom: Growing up, I’d make the trek from the Bay Area to the Los Angeles area with my family in about 6 hours, give or take 30 minutes depending on whether we made a pit stop or not. It’s usually about 10 hours from Sacramento to San Diego, or so I’ve heard. Making zero pit stops on such a trip isn’t something I’d recommend anyone undertake.


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