Category Archives: Week 6

Week 6

This week’s reading in the book provided a greater insight on the development of citizenship and rights in the America’s. I liked that the progression of slavery in Latin America was continually compared to the United State’s progression. Since I know more about the United State’s history and time periods, relating significant events in time in Latin America to the states help put it in context for me.

Three topics particularly stood out for me this week: scientific racial separation, improving race and the impressive racial advancements in Brazil.

How Europe and the Americas used science to support their racists systems still astounds me. Especially since the “scientific racism” was largely based off of the ideas of theorists who had little scientific evidence to support their claims. They came up with arguments such as “the mixing of races led to the degeneration of species” and that “society was responsible for maintaining and improving the gene pool” that blatantly encouraged racial separation. Then came the claim that the cleanliness of blood biologically gives whites more advantageous characteristics suitable for any power-holding roles in society. This was a way to scientifically establish whites as the more superior race and encourage the idea that those with mixed racial origins were not biologically adequate to govern themselves.

The reaction to these scientific claims and other racial beliefs was astonishing to me. Latin American elites took it upon themselves to “improve” their society by cleaning their nations of unbefitting races. They did this through intermarriage or reclassification, hoping to make their nation more civilized and prosperous. The reclassification example with Afro-Argentines was interesting to me. Over fifty years, they were able to decrease their representation from twenty five percent to two percent by simply changing the title of these residents.

The last topic that caught my attention was the experience of people of color in Brazil. I had no knowledge of their early advances towards racial equality. Even though the system was not completely fair, they still adjusted their restrictions on people of color to give them a more free life in relation to other nations in Latin America. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, the now libertos could vote if they met certain qualifications. Non-whites were even found in government and respected as intellectuals, titles that were not given to non-whites in other areas until much later.

There is more in this chapter that I found interesting, such as the ways in which slaves relentlessly fought for their own freedom Cuba, that I look forward to discussing in class.