Essay on African Americans During The Spanish Conquests

Essay on African Americans During The Spanish Conquests

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After the Spanish conquests, they developed the Caste System. This organized people and divided them into two categories, white and Indian. Based on this classification, the Spanish held the power and the Indians were their subjects. However, interracial marriages and the introduction of African Americans began to complicate and deteriorate the Caste System. By the eighteenth century, the original system of hierarchy was dissolving with the mulattos, pardos, and blacks all striving for social mobility. The easiest way to gain mobility within Spanish society was becoming white. Therefore, the lower class struggled to gain mobility to achieve whiteness for over a century. The goals of slaves, free blacks, pardos, and mulattos were all the same but differed in how to obtain them.
For blacks to increase their social mobility they first had to be free; during the eighteenth century, there was a variety of ways to increase their chances. Different way slaves ended their bondage were by getting married to a free individual, receive freedom after a certain period or purchase freedom. To keep slaves motivated and seek improvement, the Spanish “law encouraged them to seek freedom.” Finally, it was common practice in Spanish society that “sons born of a free mother and a slave father would be free.” These were a variety of ways slaves sought freedom and was the first step in gaining social mobility. Ultimately, they wished to become white.
The difference between whites and non-whites was based on identity. Whites received special privileges, for lower class individuals to gain mobility they had to obtain the responsibilities and privileges white’s possessed. Slaves enhanced their whiteness by carrying weapons. Only whites were permit...


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...ining whiteness for the cast involved appearing white, and proving their whiteness. After gaining separation from the inferior, then securing jobs typically held by whites, the “pardos took the logical next step—they petitioned for total whiteness.” These petitions began occurring in the 1770’s and included genealogies, baptismal certificates, marriage records, and whiteness testimony about the individual’s appearance. Through these petitions, individuals and families pursued upward mobility. Decades of turmoil would ensue for the cast, as the Spanish government did not have specific guidelines and criteria for whiteness. Largely whiteness was decided on a case by case basis. However, in 1838, the Spanish crown issued that there would not be any provisions for purchasing whiteness, ending the struggle of social and economic mobility based on an individuals race.

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