Peer Reaction

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The first thing to note about how the British North Americans and Spaniards of the New World saw race is that their societies had racial hierarchies (Burnett et al., 2018). The Spanish “Sistema de Castas” divided people into racial groups based on their “blood purity” (Burnett et al., 2018). Peninsulares, Spaniards born in Ibera, were at the top, while slaves and “Indios” were at the bottom (Burnett et al., 2018). Mixed raced “mestizos” lacked the privileges of full-blooded Spaniards, but weren’t as disadvantaged as full-blooded Indios (Burnett et al., 2018).

Meanwhile, in British North America, colonists used Africans and Native Americans as slaves (Burnett et al., 2018). They took more and more of their rights away. In 1643, a law was passed in Virginia that made African women “tithable”, meaning they had to do agricultural labor (Burnett et al., 2018). This was done to separate them from white women, who didn’t have to do manual labor (Burnett et al., 2018). Later, in 1662, a Virginian law stated that all children born of an enslaved woman would be a slave for life, even if the father was white or free (Burnett et al., 2018).

The second thing to note about how these Europeans viewed race is that they initially did not see race the same way they later would. Most Europeans would not racially identify with Europeans from other countries (Burnett et al., 2018). The idea that race involves an inherited physical difference which categorized Europeans together and separated them from Africans, Asians, and other races, was new (Burnett et al., 2018). It was born from the Atlantic slave trade, and was used to support and justify oppression (Burnett et al., 2018).

Nowadays, people aren’t so strictly divided into racial hierarchies. There are people of all races who have become rich and enjoy a life of comfort. Even people who are born into disadvantageous situations can potentially rise to the top. At the same time, racism does unfortunately still exist. There are many black people who, while not technically kept down by the law, are trapped in lives of poverty. We also still keep that same idea of race as “inherited physical differences that group Europeans, Africans, and so on separately” (Burnett et al., 2018). While people will of course recognize the difference between a Frenchman and an Englishman, many still see these different kinds of people as “white”, and thus belonging to the same group. Many people even have trouble telling the difference between non-Europeans of different cultures and nationalities, instead opting to lump them all together as one big racial group.

  • explain why you agree or disagree with your fellow student.
  • Provide useful or substantive commentary that might
    • identify other examples that support their views?
    • identify examples that challenge their views?
    • pose follow up questions for further consideration.
  • Demonstrate that you have watched the films, or read the textbook and the primary source.
  • Be relevant to the original discussion prompt and appropriate to the discussion.
  • Your response should be roughly 150 words and written in a clear and concise manner.

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