During this unit, we have been learning about the Latin American Revolutions. We were introduced to this unit by making a pie chart of the populations of different races in Latin America, as shown below.
From this pie chart, we can start to see that the smallest race percentages were the races at the top of the social pyramid. The Peninsulares made up only 1% of the population, yet they were the people of highest power and social standing. The slaves and Indian people made up 11% and 50% of the population, yet they were on the bottom of the social pyramid and were forced to work for the Peninsulares. This gives us some insight into how this racial situation was bound to turn into a problem; there was a much bigger population of lower class, enslaved people who will want to revolt against the smaller, upper classes. The upper classes wouldn’t stand a chance against them because they only made up 1% of the population. We then split up into groups, and each group researched a country: either Mexico, Gran Colombia, or Brazil. Each group made a timeline for the revolution in their country, and then we shared our revolutions with the other groups. All of these activities then helped to give us insight into answering the essential question: why is it essential to acknowledge human value regardless of race and how are the events in the Latin American Revolutions evidence of this social imperative? It is important to remember how unfair this racial discrimination was so that we learn from it for the future, and it never happens again.
My group researched Brazil, and we came up with the timeline below:
After all the groups shared their timelines with each other, we had to find 2 commonalities and 2 differences between all three of the revolutions. One of the similarities of the Brazilian, Mexican, and Gran Colombian revolutions is that all of their goals were independence. They all wanted to split their ties from their European rulers. In Brazil, they fought for independence from Portuguese rule. In Mexico and Gran Colombia, they wanted independence from Spanish rule. They all wanted a form of government with more rights for the people, and they all successfully became independent. Another similarity between all of the countries was their first rulers after they became independent didn’t last long. In Gran Colombia, Bolívar helped gain independence for the country, and was appoined the leader. However, he had a hard time suppressing rebellions and he became ill, so he resigned. In Brazil, Pedro became Brazil’s first emperor but he was disliked because he had inherited the Portuguese throne, and even though he abdicated it, people were still suspicious of him. They also disapproved of his new constitution that only gave rights to peninsulares, so he abdicated the Brazilian throne. Lastly in Mexico, Agustín de Iturbide became emperor, however republican leaders removed him from office to set up a Republic. One difference between the revolutions was that the Brazilian revolution wasn’t violent at all, while the Mexican and Colombian revolutions were excessively violent. Rather than opposing independence in Brazil, Pedro and his followers decided to lead it, making independence a peaceful movement. However, in Mexico and Colombia, the people had to fight for their independence. Another difference was that Gran Colombia split into several independent countries, while Mexico and Brazil stayed unified to form one independent country. Gran Colombia split into Venezuela and Ecuador, while Mexico and Brazil remained the same (although Mexico split up later). Race was a primary issue in all three of these revolutions. In Mexico, the revolution was launched by a priest who declared that there were three main goals for the revolution; to end Spanish rule in Mexico, to redistribute land, and to grant racial equality. This shows how race was a declared, main purpose of the revolution, so it was very important. People in Gran Colombia, and particularly Venezuela, were unhappy with the discrimination by the Peninsulares, so that was their reason for starting the revolution. All of the races who were not enslaved were extremely angry at the Peninsulares, and they were able to all come together to fight against a common enemy; the Peninsulares. In Brazil, after the revolution was over, Pedro promised to put in constitutional reforms, but he didn't grant the rights that the people wanted. Pedro only allowed people from Portugal, Peninsulares, to have highest power and most rights which is what the people fought against to gain independence, so the people were unhappy with Pedro and his discrimination in his constitutional reforms. All of these problems come back to the same issue of racism, and how unjust the harsh discrimination based on social standings and ethnicity was.
I think that racism still exists in the United States today. There are still stereotypes and judgements made about race everyday. One big example of this in the news today is the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. Very recently, the grand jury decided not to charge or bring the Police Officer Wilson to court. The story is that Officer Wilson pulled over to stop Michael and his friend, Dorian, who were walking in the middle of the road. They started arguing which quickly turned into a physical fight, and what Michael did next is in dispute. Some say he was holding his arms up surrendering while others say he was moving towards the officer to go fight him. Michael was unarmed, and many people are blaming this incident on racism. Many say that the white police officer shot Michael when he was unarmed because he was black. However, this can’t be proven or disproven, so the case was dismissed. Many people protested for the case to go to court for the racism. Whether this case was an incident of racism or not, the fact that this case has become so popular definitely shows how relevant race still is today. Even if the shooting wasn’t because of race, the fact that so many people got involved and made the racism into a big deal shows that America is still stuck on the idea of race and it is a commonly brought up topic. I think that people are extra cautious today about race to make sure it doesn’t turn into a big problem like it was throughout history, and they pay extra attention to how whites treat blacks because of historical problems. They have a good reason to be so cautious about this, however I think that by being so cautious, the problem of race will never go away because everyone is watching every move for racism. Many racism cases are debatable, just like Michael Brown’s case, but there is a timeline of facts and events that happened in this case from The New York Times (click here for the timeline). I think that our society needs to remember how unjust discrimination based on race was, and we can hopefully move on from racism by treating everyone simply as another equal human being with equal rights, regardless of race.