In class we recently studied an issue that still plagues our country today—race based inequality. In the United States, a variety of races are represented and by law are considered “equals”. This means that a black man should have the same opportunity as a Chinese American girl at making it into college, and a Mexican American boy should be looked at the same as a white girl before making an impression. Sadly, this is not always the case, and neither was it in 18th century Latin America. In class we studied the importance of recognizing human value regardless of race by focusing in on the Latin American Revolutions. We analyzed documents to find that in Latin America, each race was given a name, for example the whites born in Europe were called peninsulares, and that the more European blood you had, the more power you could obtain. The blunder in this social system was that more than half of the population was of native American or African descent, meaning that they could easily gang up to remove the white people in power. By breaking off into groups to study Mexico, Gran Columbia, and Brazil, we learned that the driving force behind most Latin American revolutions was the unequal opportunities given to each race.
|In class we constructed this chart to represent the percentages of |
each race living in 18th century Latin America.
After each group analyzed the revolutions in either Mexico, Gran Columbia, or Brazil, we all came together to discuss how they were alike and how they differed. It seemed like prior to their revolutions, each country was dealing with racial inequality which resulted in the lower classes, typically Native Americans or Africans, revolting against the whites who had power. Each country also happened to have been colonized by European countries, which is probably why Europeans were given the most rights, but this distribution of power proved to fail. Although all three revolutions were caused by the same underlying issue, the Brazilian revolution seemed to stick out. The evolutions in Gran Columbia and Mexico both involved brutality and violence, whereas that of Brazil was rather peaceful. Perhaps this could be related to the fact that these first two were colonies of Spain, and Brazil a colony of Portugal. Regardless of their differences, all three of these Latin American revolutions were fueled by the unfair powers asserted reading to race.
Just like race played a key factor in the power and opportunities of the 18th century people of Latin America, it still plays a role in the opportunities and treatment of American citizens today. Although we have laws declaring all humans to be born equal, racial prejudices often blind Americans into stereotyping and placing false accusations. One well know case of this is that of Michael Brown—a Missouri teen shot dead in August for little more than his being black. Although some argue Brown attacked the police officer who was forced to shoot him, many witnesses say the officer simply shot him for walking down the street. In a country where all people are considered equal, race shouldn’t hinder a person’s social standing, opportunities, or ability to walk down the street without being shot (!!). the unequal treatment of different races is still an important issue to consider today because just like it lead to problems 200 years ago, it leads to even more today.