La Raza

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Monumento a La Raza at Avenida de los Insurgentes, Mexico City by Jesús Fructuoso Contreras (inaugurated 12 October 1940).

The Spanish expression La Raza ("the Race") refers to the Hispanophone populations, considered as an ethnic or racial unity historically deriving from the Spanish Empire, and the process of racial miscegenation of the Spanish colonizers with the indigenous populations of the New World.

The term was in wide use in Latin America in the early-to-mid 20th century, but has gradually been replaced by Hispanidad in some countries. It remains in active use specifically in Mexico and in the context of Mexican American identity politics in the United States.


Text by Rubén Darío (Salutación del optimista, 1905) inscribed in the Monumento a la Raza in Sevilla (1929): "Illustrious, most fruitful races, fecund blood of Hispania, fraternal spirits, lumious souls, greetings!"
Propaganda poster by the Argentine government (1947) advocating a "strong, industrious, peaceful and sovereign race".

The term was in origin short for la Raza Española ("the Spanish Race"), introduced by Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro y Díaz-Argüelles in 1913 with his proposal for a secular Fiesta de la Raza Española on 12 October.

Beginning in the 1920s, the term Raza Española was criticized, and the alternative term Hispanidad ("Hispanicity") was proposed by Ramiro de Maeztu, based on a suggestion by Zacarías de Vizcarra. Alternatively Mexican writer José Vasconcelos proposed the term La Raza Cósmica ("the Cosmic Race") as describing the raza iberoamericana ("Ibero-American race") in 1925. He described this "Cosmic Race" as the end product of gradual racial mixing that was already underway in the former Spanish Empire. Vasconcelos thus replaced the designator Española "Spanish" with Cosmica "Cosmic" in order to imply that racial miscegenation in the former Spanish Empire would lead to the emergence of a completely new "Ibero-American" race.

The shortened name of Día de la Raza was used in 1939, when the feast day was celebrated in Zaragoza in combination with a special devotion to the Virgen del Pilar. Chilean foreign vice-secretary Germán Vergara Donoso commented that the "profound significance of the celebration was the intimate inter-penetration of the homage to the Race and the devotion to Our Lady of the Pillar, i.e. the symbol of the ever more extensive union between America and Spain."[1]

Francisco Franco wrote a novel under the pen name "Jaime de Andrade" which was turned into the film Raza of 1944. The film, which celebrates ideally Spanish national qualities, exemplifies this usage of Raza Española as referring specifically to Spanish Roman Catholic heritage; in Central America and Mexico, la Raza emphasizes an Amerindian or mestizo heritage, or it may express Latino identity[citation needed] (La Raza being taken as short for La Raza iberoamericana following Vasconcelos). A Monumento a La Raza was inaugurated in Mexico City in 1940, the Metro La Raza station in Mexico City was inaugurated in 1978.

The term Chicano (feminine Chicana, sometimes rendered Chicano/a by proponents of gender-neutral language) likewise arises in the early 20th century as a designation of Mexicans. In the 1960s to 1970s, the term became associated with a movement of Mexican-American identity politics activism. In the United States, the terms La Raza and Chicano subsequently became closely associated.[2] Various Hispanic groups in the United States still use the term,[3] the Raza Unida Party was active as a political party representing Mexican American racial identity politics in the 1970s. The Hispanic advocacy organization National Council of La Raza was formed in 1968 (renamed to UnidosUS in 2017).

La Raza was the name of a Chicano community newspaper edited by Eliezer Risco in 1968. Risco was one of the 'LA Thirteen' which was a group of thirteen young Mexican American men who were political activists identified by the government as being leaders of the 'Brown Power' movement in Los Angeles. Raul Ruiz joined the staff of La Raza while a student at California State University Los Angeles. Other community newspapers of the time were: Inside Eastside and Chicano Student Movement. Ruiz, a key movement journalist, eventually became the editor of La Raza magazine,[4] this editorial became the most influential Chicano movement publication in Los Angeles and Southern California. The importance of these Chicano movement publications is that they filled a void because for the most part there was no media coverage for any type of 'Brown Power' movement activities, the print media publications was really the only forum that the 'Brown Power' movement had to keep party members informed about what was going on in the movement across the Los Angeles area. The lack of the mainstream media coverage contributed to silencing the movement and its activities unlike the 'Black Power' movement who received much more mainstream media coverage which contributed to their success with spreading their message and growing their movement.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ «Las fiestas de la Hispanidad han tenido en Zaragoza un escenario incomparable. (...) El significado profundo de las fiestas fue la compenetración íntima del homenaje a la Raza y la devoción de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, es decir, el símbolo de la unión cada vez más estrecha de América y España.» Gustavo Bueno Sánchez, [«Día de la Hispanidad» (]
  2. ^ Alaniz,Yolanda and Megan Cornish. Viva La Raza: A History of Chicano Identity and Resistance. Seattle: Red Letter Press, 2008. 181. Print.
  3. ^ Romero, Dennis (7 June 2016). "Dear Trump Fans: La Raza Is Not a Racist Term". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2016. 
  4. ^ García, Mario T. (2015). The Chicano generation: testimonios of the movement. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520286023. OCLC 904133300. 
  5. ^ Muñoz, Carlos (2007). Youth, identity, power: the Chicano movement (Rev. and expanded ed ed.). London: Verso. ISBN 9781844671427. OCLC 124026434.