By Yenny Delgado
Starting with the arrival of Columbus in 1492, European Kingdoms terrorized the American Continent, reducing and controlling the original population through murder and the spread of diseases new to the continent. The continent was divided by a few kingdoms – Spain, Portugal, France, and England – as if it were cake.
The terrorization, expropriation, and colonization of America came in part with an ideology of white supremacy and to start a new life. Millions of European immigrants traveled to America and brought their thinking with them, primarily the superiority of their religion and skin color. Even though the vast majority of migrants were escaping poverty and oppression in their own countries/kingdoms upon arrival in America, they assumed a mantle of superiority.
This ideology was based on their Christian faith. They viewed their God as superior and built theological rhetoric of permissible murder, genocide, and development of chattel slavery under the concept that non-white individuals were pagans. Throughout the continent, Europeans forcefully kidnapped and enslaved Africans for centuries producing an unprecedented amount of wealth to transform Europe into one of the most advanced and prosperous regions on the globe while at the same building new governments in America. This history is the same in the United States, Canada, Dominican, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and other countries.
African descendants across the Continent experience racism just as the native population. However, for the descendants of the Native Population as opposed to joining forces and rising against oppression, many have accepted the term “Latino” and placed their heads in the sand akin to an ostrich when racial discrimination occurs.
However, we need to honestly recognize that in our communities, we have also been impacted by white supremacist ideologies in the ways we have been taught to seek European roots and prefer lighter skin. Even today, as we use the term Latino under the auspices of building a new community in the United States, white people who speak Spanish or Portuguese still receive structural benefits from the same white supremacist ideology. Specifically, they receive police protections, better schools, and better jobs, just like white people who speak English in Canada and the United States.
Just because someone’s first language is Spanish or Portuguese, it does not mean that the individual does not practice or benefit from white supremacist ideologies. We live in the same system, and it is time to reveal the same structure of power that oppresses and impoverishes African-descendants and the native population in the continent.
Knowing this history helps us to understand that:
– The ideology of white supremacy is imposed and was implemented in all European colonies, and despite independence and republics, the same laws continued to regulate life-based on color.
-The African-descendant population’s struggle since they were captured in Africa and later enslaved and sold as a property in American colonies.
-The native Americans and their descendants struggle from the expropriation of their land and are treated at second class citizens.
-The European descendants who immigrated to America believe, just as in the English-speaking countries, that they are superior to the native population and African-descendant population.
-The homage to the color of the skin is rooted for centuries and still causes pain.
It is necessary to fight against white supremacy ideology that was installed since 1492, and this fight must be continental as it is worldwide.
It is time to remove the statue of “conquest” and dismantle white supremacist ideology from the root. As the world woke up from the colony’s time, we must also use this moment of reflection to complete our liberation and call out systemic oppression and racial discrimination based on ideologies of white supremacy.
Whether a European who immigrated and got off the boat in New York, Kingston, Vera Cruz, or São Leopoldo, they came with ideologies of supremacy and governmental/societal structures that benefitted them. Let’s acknowledge this and begin building a more equitable and inclusive future where all have the opportunity of a better life. There should be no discrimination based on skin color, and past wrongs based on this need to be rectified.
Yenny Delgado (she/her/ Ella) Social psychologist and contextual theologian. She writes about the intersections between politics, faith, and resistance.