Ethnicity and Latin America Essay example

Ethnicity and Latin America Essay example

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Ethnicity and Latin America

Latin America and the American colonies were “tamed” based on completely different ideologies. From a Latin American perspective, the most important of the European explorers were of course, the Spanish and the Portuguese. These explorers arrived in Christopher Columbus’ “new world” with the express goal of bringing glory and prestige to their homeland. In stark contrast, settlers came to the colonies seeking freedom from the religious persecution in Europe. The different approaches used in each area affected how well and to what extent the African, indigenous, and European cultures combined and shaped the characteristics of the regions today.

When the Europeans arrived in America in the 15th century, they encountered the American Indians for the first time. Though only some Native Americans made deliberate contact with the settlers in attempts to work peacefully, the entire population felt the new presence. In addition to the violence shown to the “savages”—often in order to take their lands—diseases for which they had no immunity were introduced, therefore resulting in devastating losses of life. As attempts at civilizing the “redskins” began, some of the Natives accepted the absorption into the new society while many rejected the change and strove to maintain their culture. Years later began the long-standing and undeniably cruel establishment of slave labor in America. Whether they arrived free only to later be captured by slave catchers, or they entered by way of the West Indies as captured African “black gold”, black slaves endured over a century of oppression and discrimination.

Halfway between the end of the American Civil War and the growth of the civil rights movement, the beginn...

... middle of paper ...

...Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America were far more accepting of other Europeans than of other races. To this day there remain disparities in ethnic distributions; Argentina’s population has an overwhelming 85% of European descent with very few people of mixed race, while neighboring Chile consists of 93% mestizos.

The different ways in which Latin America and the United States experienced their colonization impact their societies today. Though the backgrounds of each place are different, the results were similar; the Europeans came, saw, conquered, and abused the indigenous and Africans, who built up the foundations of modern society. Despite the passage of time and wide knowledge of the horrors of our past, inequalities and prejudices against blacks and natives that began centuries ago exist even today.


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