June 09, 2021

Hispanic: An Introduction

Maria Fernanda Martinez

As a self-identified Chicana, this lesson is near and dear to my heart. I recall that the first time I learned about the Hispanic/Mexican-American/Chicano experience was in a classroom in New Hampshire, despite growing up on the border. I set out to ensure that would not be the case for my students, and this is the introductory lesson on the topic.

The main objective with this lesson is for students to familiarize themselves with some of the multiple terms used to describe the community with roots in Latin America and with some of the movement iterations of the latter 20th century. I especially highlighted the difference between Latino and Hispanic since that was a question directly from my students. I also used this to link to the creation of whiteness as a concept and draw connections to other people of color's movements in the United States. It is also helpful to contextualize things like the modern divide within the Latinx community as exemplified by the political outcomes of 2016 and 2020 elections.

As a teaching tool I love using "Motives, Methods, & Outcomes" charts (in this case goals, methods, and outcomes) to help students break down the various elements of movements or groups. I find that it is a good tool for students to have in their back pocket for writing prep as well.

As an extension activity I had students annotate a document set linked here: Doc Set – Chicano Movement. This allowed them to add details to their M-M-O chart and practice their own source-analysis skills.

Finally, though these are materials for a single 60 minute class, I did not finish the discussion with my students here. Later on we discussed various immigration policies and foreign affairs that impacted Latin America throughout the 20th century. We talked about the similarities between the Young Lords, Black Panther Party, and the Brown Berets. Students also traced the creation of whiteness for Mexican-Americans to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and we localized history by focusing specifically on our region's interaction with all of the ideas outlined above.

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