U.S. Imperialism/ U.S.Expansion Abroad
Brigith & Erica
Define what U.S. Imperialism is and what it is based on
Analyze how U.S. Imperialism/U.S. Expansion has developed over time and how it still affects territories and countries today.
Assess why and how the United States imperialized and/or took possession of certain countries and/or territories.
Comprehend the importance of learning and teaching about U.S. Imperialism/U.S. Expansion.
Acknowledge and assess voices of the people who were affected that reveal the personal cost of U.S. Expansion in comparisons to commonly told privilege narratives that are constantly
While it is a common claim that the United States prioritizes itself on promoting liberty and “justice for all”, more often than not, history has shown that the U.S. has involved itself in the workings of other nations and territories for financial gain, to the detriment of its citizens. Its influence has left many of these democracies economically and politically weak, and has even led to civil war. The involvement of the U.S. has gone as far obtaining full power over certain countries and territories. While the influence abroad the United States holds may seem like an issue of the past, it needs to be acknowledged that the U.S. continues to heavily influence many countries in Latin America in regards to their social, economical, and political climate.
While U.S. Imperialism is often taught in high schools, it is commonly presented through a very limited lens, and not all perspectives or major events, especially in Latin America, are included within the conversation. In consideration of the limitations, the goal is to analyze events that often get overseen or not discussed through a multi-lense perspective within high school classrooms.
Important terms to know
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This term describes the things that help us move through society, such as knowledge, skills, and education. This is typically learned through one’s culture.
This term describes the tendency to focus on a student’s weakness instead of the student’s strength.
This term is used to refer to U.S.-educated ESL students who usually arrive in the United States after they have completed primary school in their home countries. They are between the first and second generations and that is what gives them their nickname.
An approach to learning that emphasizes the student’s role in the learning process. Rather than the teacher telling students what they need to know, students are encouraged to explore the material, ask questions, and share ideas.
History on U.S. Imperialism
Spanish-American War: The U.S. war with Spain was portrayed as an attempt to free Cuba and Puerto Rico from oppressive Spanish rule. Spain quickly lost due to its ill-preparedness. The Treaty of Paris ended the war, and transferred all power over Cuba and the Philippines, and ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the US for $20 million.
Mexican American War (1846-1848): The Mexican-American War was initiated when Joseph W. Polk, the 31st Governor of Missouri, felt that the U.S. had a “manifest destiny” to spread its territory from east to west. The battles fought over the Rio Grande went on for two years, but the end result was Mexico losing around 55% of its territory, including California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
The Banana Wars(Link): To fully understand the Banana Wars, it is essential to first note that the 19th Century was a period of time considered the Age of Empire. The United States noticed how the European Empire was possessing many countries in Africa and Asia and also wanted to gain power throughout the world. They looked to their neighbors for land, labor, and natural resources, and began export businesses of items like timber, ore, pigment dyes, and tropical fruit. The United Fruit Company was the largest and most influential of these. Its labor abuses, and those of other companies, led Many workers in Latin America to go on strike because of the poor conditions they were working in the agricultural fields. It was the United Fruit Company that asked the U.S. government for support in order to stop the uprising. The United States aided the United Fruit Company and sent the marines to countries including Panama, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras. In the eyes of the U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this was a good way to spread U.S. ideals and democracy throughout the region. The end result was having the U.S. financially support violent armed groups in places like Columbia to stop workers’ uprising; and a US supported coup d’état in Guatemala in 1954 after deliberate destabilization of their democratic government.
Bay of Pigs: A failed CIA attack to push dictator Fidel Castro out of power in Cuba in April 1961 was executed by 1,400 American trained Cubans, who were outnumbered by Castro’s troops and surrendered in 24-hours.
Guatemala: Pro-democracy students led a revolution against a dictator with fascist leanings. The United Fruit company lobbied the U.S. government to intervene into the student revolution.
Mexico: The United States prohibition tremendously impacted Mexico and serves to demonstrate how influential the United States can be on the international community. The long term impact is that Mexico has become not only a producer but a transit area for all the drugs that are trying to get into the United States. The war on drugs became racialized by the U.S. through different forms of propaganda. Mexicans were blamed for the use of marihuana within the United States.
Panama: In 1903, the United States supported Panama’s independence from Colombia. However, the United States only supported Panama because it had interest in building the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal became the fastest route between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, but only after the US controlled the presidency to be able to build it they way they wanted.
CT: Connections To Local Realities
This video explores the challenges to dual language teaching. Even when schools truly want bilingual fluency for children, providing it can be more difficult than it looks. Part of the problem lies in how we measure competencies. Mastery tests measure one’s ability to speak English assuming one has spoken nothing else. Bilingualism takes longer to develop, and one must use a longer measuring stick. Unfortunately, to compound lack of proper measurement standards, overcrowding in classrooms diminishes language teaching effectiveness as well.
As we have learned through the history section, there is a long timeline of people who are for and against bilingual education. Many schools today focus on English-only methods, and perceive Spanish-speaking skills as a hindrance to language success in a deficit-model way of thinking. Drilling grammar into children, rather than using more interactive methods of teaching that incorporate students’ cultural knowledge bases, often alienate children and lead to feelings of cultural invalidation. Daisy Hernandez in her autobiography Cup of Water Under My Bed and Diane Guerrero in her book In the Country We Love: My Family Divided both discuss their feelings of cultural rejection in school.
The video “Learning Matters: The Language War In New Britain” also shows that parents and students need more support from schools as they face personal issues that can affect students and their participation in class.
Studies have proven that proficy in a language is determined by conversations people can hold in that language rather than the grammatical aspect of the language. According to the 2017 consensus study report, “Promoting the Educational Successes of Children and Youth Learning English,” it was discovered that students acquire language proficiency within 4 to 7 years with bilingual education. However, without bilingual education, it takes students 7-9 years to achieve language proficiency.
The following video “Personalized Learning at Hartford Public Schools” reveals the benefits of personalized and interactive teaching, which contrasts from the overcrowded and noninteractive teaching seen in the previous video. It is important to see the contributions that are being made in our state as we improve the quality of education.
For further information on the contributions that the Latinx community has made to Connecticut education and local organizations, visit the “Puerto Rican Impact on CT” and “Social Justice” under our tab.
Companion Pieces For Students
To the right, we have listed some companion pieces teachers can add or recommend for students. The first four pieces are books that are made to tell different stories of people in the Latinx community. The second row has four movie recommendations for the classroom.
Lastly, we have linked four videos that talk about different perspectives people have on bilingualism and the educational system. We included two slam poetry videos on the educational system and bilingualism, a quick informational video on the benefits of bilingualism, and a video on people who are trying to reclaim their heritage by learning Spanish later in their lives.
The House on Mango Street
A story about a young Chicana and what it is like growing up a Latina immigrant in Chicago
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
This is a coming-of-age story about four sisters from the Dominican Republic
The Poet X
Fifteen-year-old Xiomara, who goes by X, works through the tension and conflict in her family by writing poetry. The book was well received and won multiple awards at the 2019 Youth Media Awards.
Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook
Dear fans of Dork Diaries and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life—story about a confident Latina pitcher and her journey of self-improvement
This movie, “explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.”
In Tucson, Arizona, high-schoolers and teachers try their best to save their ethinc studies class from being removed.
A teacher becomes a mentor to Chicano high-school students protesting injustices in public schools in 1968.
Chicano! Taking Back Our Schools
The movie documents the 1968 walkout by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles against unfair treatment in their schools.