Week 6: Citizenship and Rights in the New Republic

I find it very interesting how different histories of abuse towards the indigenous peoples can be so closely compared. There are always the explorers or people who have settled on native land taking advantage of their indigenous counterparts; In the case of nineteenth century Argentina, they “clear[ed] indigenous lands” to create “new territory for white speculation”. In another case, “thousands of indigenous Mexicans fought…against the French invasion of Mexico”. In a similar vein, here in Canada, the indigenous people have been poorly treated and often overlooked even after the horrific attempts of assimilation. In two very different cultures and areas of the world, the abuse of indigenous people remains the same throughout. As Dawson accurately points out, the “indigenous people were increasingly excluded from national politics, which was instead dominated by those who saw the Indian, the mestizo, the peasant, as little more fodder for their own dreams”. Dawson also more acutely notes, “liberal elites were not inclined to recognize the participation of racial others in their great national struggles”, and accordingly, the indigenous were “erased from historical memory once they consolidated power”. A thought-provoking question then arises, has there ever been an explorer or person settled on native land who fought for the indigenous’ rights and freedoms?

Another fascinating facet of this chapter is how Haiti is one of the first countries to abolish slavery. Similarly, in one of the previous chapters, Haiti was also one of the first countries to win independence. It is extremely overlooked how progressive Haiti was before any of the bigger countries followed suit.

In addition, I also found it intriguing how the American historians generally agreed that most of the enlightened thinkers never really believed African Americans deserved equal citizenship rights. This was astounding to me because I always thought of the enlightened thinkers as progressive, innovative, and forward-thinking. However, thinking that another human being should not have equal rights due to their skin colour is a total contrast to what I thought they stood for. It is a real eye-opener because being racist and intolerant to people of other colours is extremely backwards and definitely not forward-thinking.

It is also interesting to think that the Latin American countries are more tolerant than the United States when it comes to the racial divide. In one case, Dawson points out that “North American blacks who visited Brazil described their experiences there as a welcome relief from what they experienced at home”.

~Austin Chang

2 thoughts on “Week 6: Citizenship and Rights in the New Republic

  1. The enlightenment thinkers not caring about equality and not supporting the slaves strikes me because it shows how the innovative pioneers of the time did not care about everyone and it gives them a corrupted image.

  2. As someone who knows much more about how horrible racism in the US from previous schooling and common knowledge, it’s hard to imagine worse racism. Therefore, it was a pleasant discovery for me to learn that African slaves had an easier time (even if only slightly), in Latin America.

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