Sunday, September 6, 2009

How Race Defined Today's Florida

Racialization is the process of dehumanizing a group or social class and determining they are inferior to your definition of civilized. In Constructing Floridians Daniel S. Murphree discusses how racialization developed over the 300 year colonization period of Florida. Florida was given a mythical perception. It was believed to be a place of great wealth and prosperity, a place where any crop can be grown and gold was abundant throughout the land. However when the Spanish, French, and British came to colonize Florida they rudely awakened. The harsh climate and dangerous environment made it very difficult to survive. The natives were viewed as part of this dangerous environment. Having a different lifestyle, the natives were not recognized as human. Instead they seemed barbaric and even animal like to the settlers due to their different language, religion and appearance. The Europeans began to disassociate themselves from the natives and eventually began to blame them for their hard comings.

Due to this common thought, the Europeans built a mutual bond that allowed them to develop the European Florida identity. “Soldiers, missionaries, traders, and settlers from varied ethnic, cultural, spiritual, and economic backgrounds forged bonds through racialization of the natives” (123). Two groups emerged in Florida, natives and European Floridians. These European Floridians now understand their “environment, natural obstacles, and collective identity” due to they past with the indigenous people (125). These Europeans thought ensuing Christianity upon the natives would civilize them. Although unsuccessful during colonization, it is the leading religion found in Florida.

Today Florida has its own unique identity. Since the Europeans blamed the natives for their misfortunes, the mythical presence still survives here. Florida is still thought of as a paradise even after 300 years of little success.

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