The Phoenix Chronicle

Cultural Homogenization

Stephani Lopez

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In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. What he brought with him was a ship full of slaves and several diseases that killed off many Native Americans. Students are reminded of it every year starting in  elementary school.

But why is it not taught that Hernan Cortes sailed in 1518 and colonized areas of Mexico? Or that in 1901 Cuba had to follow the laws of the American government because of the Platt Amendment after the Spanish-American War.

Hispanic history and culture is not being represented enough at Phoenix.

Yes Phoenix does have a large African American demographic, and they should be able to learn about their history and culture. Also other cadets should learn about it because it’s interconnected to everyone’s culture.

Except according to the Phoenix school profile the demographics the Hispanic population greatly outnumbers the African American population seventy-one percent to twenty six percent. In addition, as mentioned before, African American cadets should learn about the Hispanic culture just as Hispanics learn about the African American culture.

Learning about African American culture is mandatory; it is part of core social studies classes. Cadets are taught that slaves were traded for resources in Africa and brought to the new land to work in plantations of cotton, sugar cane or tobacco among others.

However, in order to learn about La Conquista, or the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec, a cadet has to sign up for a Hispanic oriented class, such as Mrs. Raygoza’s AP Spanish Literature. Furthermore, if a cadet wants to learn about Cuban or Puerto Rican history they have to sign up for Mrs. Verhey’s AP U.S. History class, and even then they would only learn about Latin American policy that relates to U.S. History.

It is worth mentioning that both these classes are electives which means that a cadet can opt out of taking these classes. There is also the possibility that they might not be granted the class since they’re AP courses.

Another discrepancy is the attention Phoenix gives to different cultural heritage months. Black History month is celebrated with a school assembly of some kind. Last year the entire school had to watch the movie “Selma” to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King.

Hispanic heritage month has only been celebrated twice at Phoenix, and with heavy push from Mrs. Raygoza. However, it is usually only those that are taking a Spanish class that attend the Spanish heritage party. Even then, cadets are more preoccupied with the food and having fun then paying attention to the history.

History is taught in order for it not to repeat itself, and also to know the progression of culture. Through history, everyone learns about their culture, tradition, and heritage. Phoenix only prioritizes the history of African Americans and Americans, but it fails to do the same for the history of Hispanic Americans.

Phoenix has alienated the Hispanic American population in class. Cadets are disappointed that their cultural identity is not being represented. They are disappointed  that staff take a heavy focus on slavery, but not on the conquest of so many other Latin American countries. They are disappointed they have to sit through several repeating classes on the Civil Rights movement while the Chicano movement is ignored.

Cadets are right to be disappointed, however,  before we all refuse to learn about  the history of another race, let’s take a more effective approach. If students were to talk to staff and administration as to what they wish to learn, teachers might include lessons on those topics.

Let us make sure the statement “In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue” be immediately followed but “ in 1518 Hernan Cortés began La Conquista” .

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Student news site of Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago, IL
Cultural Homogenization