Saturday, May 30, 2009

Something Educative Someone Else Said

"Many people incorrectly translate our name, “La Raza,” as “the race.” While it is true that one meaning of “raza” in Spanish is indeed “race,” in Spanish, as in English and any other language, words can and do have multiple meanings. As noted in several online dictionaries, “La Raza” means “the people” or “the community.” Translating our name as “the race” is not only inaccurate, it is factually incorrect. “Hispanic” is an ethnicity, not a race. As anyone who has ever met a Dominican American, Mexican American, or Spanish American can attest, Hispanics can be and are members of any and all races.

The term “La Raza” has its origins in early 20th century Latin American literature and translates into English most closely as “the people” or, according to some scholars, as “the Hispanic people of the New World.” The term was coined by Mexican scholar José Vasconcelos to reflect the fact that the people of Latin America are a mixture of many of the world’s races, cultures, and religions. Mistranslating “La Raza” to mean “the race” implies that it is a term meant to exclude others. In fact, the full term coined by Vasconcelos, “La Raza Cósmica,” meaning the “cosmic people,” was developed to reflect not purity but the mixture inherent in the Hispanic people. This is an inclusive concept, meaning that Hispanics share with all other peoples of the world a common heritage and destiny." -From the La Raza website.

I post it in response to the conservative backlash against the nomination of Latina judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.


[Update: And then there's this follow-up commentary by Bob Cesca:

Yeah, but see, the people attacking the La Raza name are the same people who think the Earth is 6,000 years old; who think Iraq had WMD; who think President Obama is the first person to ever use a teleprompter; who think Dick Cheney is an honest man; who think burying someone alive isn't torture; who think George W. Bush made us safer; and who think fascism and communism are interchangeable.]
[Update II: Here's another discussion between Eric Boehlert, Rick Sanchez and Tom Tancredo on the same subject:

I'm personally of the opinion that Tom Tancredo should have a microphone in front of his mouth at all hours of the day. The racist stupid pays for itself.]


one L bill said...

Back in MISL days, I was told the Monterrey La Raza's name was translated as "The Gang" ... but not necessarily with the connotation that implies.

William A. Jacobson said...

Relying on online dictionaries. Nothing wrong with that.

JBW said...

Glad you agree, Jacobson. You're still old though, my decrepit padawan