When Europeans came to the Americas they took over the current populations and created their own colonies which were controlled by the European powers. By the time of the Latin American Revolutions the idea of race had become so deeply intertwined with the value of a person that people rebelled against the unjust control they were under. Looking back now on the way race was perceived by authority it seems insane that people could ever think that way, yet it is an important topic to discuss if you take a moment to actually look at our society today, the biggest difference is really how blatantly stated the racism was back then. The amount of power, respect, and rights a person got was decided by their race.
The social ranking started with the most powerful:
- Peninsulares (Born in Europe)
- to Creoles (European parents)
- then Mestizos (European parent/Native parent)
- Mulattoes (European parent/African parent) and Free Blacks
- and finally African slaves were the very bottom of the social pyramid
This was severely unfair not simply because of the lack of reasoning in judging a person’s worth by race but also since the most powerful group of people was also the smallest.
The revolutions we discussed were the Mexican, Gran Colombian, and Brazilian revolutions; my group had Mexico specifically so this is the timeline of events for the Mexican Revolution:
Of the three different revolutions we studied there were similarities between each country’s fight for independence. Brazil, Mexico, and Gran Colombia all fought against European rule and had some points of success in their revolution, splitting their ties from Europe. However, after gaining freedom, the first ruler of each newly independent nation did not last long and quickly lost their new-found power. As each was a different situation, there were also stark contrasts between the revolts too. The revolution of Brazil was significantly less violent than the others, no major warfare broke out as a result of wanting independence. Then, in Gran Colombia, from their revolution emerged several new independent countries as opposed to just one in the others. Small countries split off from Mexico as well but not until later. Nevertheless, the main comparison between the revolutions, and the reason we learned them all together, is the involvement of racial inequalities in each rebellion. In Brazil only Peninsulares were allowed to hold high government positions, they had to rebel because if only Europeans had power the people of Brazil would never be able to change that in itself or anything else. In Mexico the Cry of Delores which began the war directly states that it will stop racial discrimination. In Gran Colombia all different people of color banded together with the common goal of fighting the Spanish to stop racial discrimination.
Today race is still a large issue. Latino, Middle Eastern, and Black people are probably the most oppressed races in America currently. They are the most likely to be stopped by police for no reason and randomly selected to get checked at places like airports. Racism is deeply ingrained into society and so common that it tends to go unnoticed by people who are unaffected by the negative consequences. They assume that if there is not direct hatred for a group of people like a straight up “I hate black people” then racism does not exist, but it does in the way that there is already a system of inequality set up to make it much easier for a white person to gain power and money than a person of color. A white man with a criminal record is more likely to be hired than a clean black man competing for the same job. The media is a strong source of subtle racism that can influence opinions about a group of people well enough to trick a whole race of people into believing it doesn’t even exist. Most characters are played by white people and once people of color come in, they play mainly characters as stereotypical as possible or at least a certain aspect of their stereotype is played up. This leads to a subconscious type of racism where we begin to assume about a person by what we’ve seen of their race in media. It also makes white features the standard of beauty and makes it hard for people of color to identify with characters they like giving them a sense of displacement. (Also, why is Jesus depicted as a white dude when he’s from the middle east?) Black people are usually played up to be more “ghetto” and are shown in the role of being less educated and more aggressive than other races. That causes a superiority vibe amongst non-black people and can lead to unwarranted treatment of other races.
Right now in American cities across the nation people are beginning to see the injustice for themselves, a recent increase in publicity for the Michael Brown situation has called attention to the amount of uncalled for violence towards innocent black people from white police officers. However, during these protests and trials there are many white people defending the police officers actions, as if possibly robbing a convenience store is reason enough to be murdered. If it somehow was though, it would only be fair if white people who robbed convenience stores were also shot repeatedly for their heinous crime. There are many claims disputing race as a factor in the situations altogether but statistics can show the actual race targeting of crime over many years. Just because racism isn’t happening to them, many try to erase its existence altogether. I personally have heard a white person say that white people have been through just as much as other races. This is why we need to study things like Latin America’s revolutions and slavery in school. We came to this half of the globe and forced our kind into power and enslaved people of other races yet today we deny those facts and even try to keep them out of history books so we can continue celebrating Christopher Colombus and mourning the holocaust while we ignore the American genocide of Native Americans. (The holocaust was horrible and should be remembered I am just pointing out how we ignore our own past genocides)
There is a large amount of white privilege ignored by those who have it as they continue to publicize crimes against white people over things happening to other races and deny the existence of any racism. White people often get offended by things like white privilege, they feel they are being classified as racist, that they are being grouped together and judged solely on the color of their skin, and they don’t like it. This tends to end in discussions about “reverse racism” and then the consequential argument that all racism is just racism not reverse. But both of these things are actually wrong in their own ways. There can be racist comments/actions towards white people. (I heard a kid once say black babies were smarter than white babies) However, pure racism, the actual societal oppression, does not exist towards white people. We still hold the positions of power and have privilege that cannot be rejected. The stats of this very lesson, the population %s and social ranking pyramid, show that this is how it has always been and you can’t say that we’ve been just as oppressed as other races have, since we’ve been doing the oppressing for a long time.