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Select a primary source from the Google Drive folder or from the syllabus. Why should that source deserve space in a high school textbook?

The trans-Atlantic slave trade dominates the narrative of the documentation of the overall history of slavery in the majority of high school textbooks. Oftentimes, when high school students learn about enslavement, their curriculum solely focuses on the part of the slave trade that involved the transportation of mainly enslaved African people across the Middle Passage, throughout the 16th to 19th century. These accounts from this one section of trade heavily control the ways in which we think about race; the concept of race is rooted in the idea of inherent physical characteristics, which served as the primary markers to distinguish people during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, according to Diego Luis in Diasporic Convergences, the “histography on [the] last two channels of enslavement [,intra-American and trans-Pacific,] has been the least developed” (Luis, Diasporic Convergences, 292) Starting as early as the 16th century, around the same time the trans-Atlantic trade began, the port of Manila in the Philippines became the “colonial outpost in Asia where slaves were purchased” and then shipped, along with “Asian products” in “naos de China,” or China ships, to Mexico, specifically, Acapulco for over 250 years (Seijas, 33, Slack, 35). As Slack writes, “Manila quickly became an important entrpôt for the commerce in human flesh during the first century of Spanish rule.” Furthermore, Acapulco turned into an epicenter of a conglomeration of culture, converting into a “principle point of entry of material, cultural, and demographic Asian influence in Spanish America” (Las gentes del mar Sangley, “la villa de Acapulco se convirtió en el principal punto de entrada de influencia material, cultural y demográfica asiática en la América española”) From China to Mexico, the travel lasted “six months or longer” as they were sold through “multiple inter-imperial networks” that formed “patterns of exchange and negotiation” through Central Mexico (Luis, Diasporic Convergences, 295, 295) Yet, their story does not end there: many enslaved Chinese did remain in this metropolis and along the coast, but many did “continue [to] endure [this] harrowing journey through mountainous terrain” to Mexico City (296) So, why is there still such silence in academia surrounding this period in time, despite it being coined as such an pivotal time and location for transnational trade, communication, and culture? Even with the “gradual integration of Pacific-oriented scholarship into New Spanish historiography,” there must be immediate changes made to fully incorporate the trans-Pacific slave trade within high school textbooks, as this era serves as a focal point in history that must be understood sooner than the collegiate-level of education (294). Without it, there remains a significant gap in the historical and geographical timeline that excludes the narrative of an entire racial-ethnic group. For these reasons, this is why the primary source, “The Will of an Indian Oriental and Her Chinos in Peru (1644)” must be included within the high school textbook, as it provides a resource in which one can learn more about an enslaved Chinese, “Isabel China,” from the perspective of an enslaver’s will. Although it does not have a first-person narrative from a Chinese person, it does show insight into the relations between an enslaved Chinese during the trans-Pacific trade and one’s enslaver, which is valuable information in and of itself.

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