By now, you know that we’re NYC based, and as educators in the NYC school system we are well-versed in the Regents, the state exams that students must pass in order to graduate high school. As a Global History teacher, I have an intimate relationship with this darn exam.
And since we are celebrating HHM I thought, why don’t we look at the types of questions asked about “Latin America”. So let’s take a look at a few:
1. Inca farmers adapted their environment by growing food in
(1) flooded rice paddies (2) terraced fields
(3) clear-cut rain forests (4) expansive plantations
2. The policy of mercantilism was intended to
(1) enrich European governments (2) end slavery in the Americas
(3) promote the isolation of Asia (4) establish religious freedom in New Spain
3. During the 19th century, the economies in most Latin American countries relied primarily on the export of
(1) cash crops (2) service jobs (3) hydroelectric power (4) factory-made goods
4. The fall of the Aztec Empire, the encomienda system, and the missionary work of the Roman Catholic Church are all associated with
(1) ethnic tensions in the Balkans (2) oil politics in the Middle East
(3) colonialism in Latin America (4) migration in sub-Saharan Africa
5. Which country is located in the region known as Latin America?
(1) Portugal (3) Vietnam (2) Somalia (4) Argentina
6. Which situation was an unintended consequence of Spain’s colonization of the Americas? (1) establishment of a favorable balance of trade (2) introduction of the encomienda system (3) transmission of communicable diseases (4) exploitation of resources in new lands
7. In which way did the geographic diversity of Latin America affect newly independent countries? (1) limiting the military power of Creoles (2) forcing the Church to guarantee land reform (3) making political unity difficult (4) necessitating a reliance on Spain
8. Which term is defined as land grants and taxation policies used in colonial Latin America by the Spanish to provide labor in the fields? (1) encomienda system (3) Middle Passage (2) mercantilism (4) capitalism
And let’s throw in two images to boot.
9. The artist uses this cartoon as a way to express
(1) skepticism about the success of Castro’s revolution
(2) support for a revolution in Brazil
(3) admiration for Castro’s bold plan
(4) confusion about Brazil’s economic needs
10. This map would be most useful in the study of the
(1) spread of Islam
(2) routes of the Middle Passage
(3) pilgrimage of Mansa Musa
(4) commercial connections in East Africa
So, what do we notice about these questions?
Only one question, discusses “Latin America” outside of the European gaze. As a matter of fact, in calling this area Latin America, you have agreed to take on the colonizers’ perspective.
As with Africa, Latin America, North America…well the whole darn world was divided by tribal distinctions not arbitrary land distinctions. And the question I have for you during this Hispanic Heritage Month, when do ever discuss the distinct cultures that create people known as Hispanic or Latino?
We always discuss the European influence, that’s called history class. We acknowledge the indigenous influence, by saying, there were indigenous people present, and with shame and whispered voices we talk about enslaved Africans.
If you consider yourself to be or aspire to be a Culturally Responsive Educator, determined to engage in positive racial identity development through education for yourself and your students, then this Hispanic Heritage Month, I implore you to consume the following resource.
But who am I kidding? Y’all don’t have time to read. But you do have time to watch? If so, take the opportunity to watch Henry Louis Gates’ Black in Latin America series supported by PBS.
I hear some of you already; aren’t I just then taking the African perspective and negating the European and Indigenous perspective?
In the process of decolonizing our mind, we have to recognize that we must de-center whiteness and deconstruct anti-blackness and in order to do this, we must push ourselves to see the world through the other’s eyes and in this case, it’s the eyes of the African diaspora.
Deep Thinkers Only!