AP Explains: Why Term 'La Raza' Has Complicated Roots in US - NBC 7 San Diego
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

AP Explains: Why Term 'La Raza' Has Complicated Roots in US

The change to remove "la raza" comes amid a backlash from conservatives

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP Explains: Why Term 'La Raza' Has Complicated Roots in US
    AP/File
    From left, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Executive Director and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Chair Hector Sanchez Barba, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., National Council of La Raza Institute for Hispanic Health Deputy Vice President Rita Carreon, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Associate Director of Community Mobilization Margie Del Castillo, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. hold a Spanish-language news conference to discuss the Senate GOP healthcare bill, Wednesday,June 28, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    The National Council of La Raza announced this week that it was changing its name to UnidosUS, dropping a word that has deep roots but may have hurt the organization in moving toward the future.

    The change to remove "la raza" comes amid a backlash from conservatives and a desire by the civil rights group to appeal to younger Latinos in the United States.

    The term la raza —meaning "the people" — has roots in post-revolution Mexico and in the U.S. Chicano Movement of the 1970s which helped elect some of the nation's first Latinos to public office. Often mistaken for its literal meaning in English, "the race," la raza has been used to describe people whose families have migrated from Latin American countries.

    But in the ever-evolving discussions of race and ethnicity in the U.S., some Latino advocates see the term as outdated and no longer useful in an era of a racially diverse society and President Donald Trump.

    Olympians Share Their Most Embarrassing School Memories

    [NATL] Olympians Share Their Most Embarrassing School Memories

    From bad school pictures to awkward first day wardrobes, Team USA members can now look back on some of their most embarrassing school moments and laugh.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    A look at the history of the term la raza in the United States:

    ___

    LA RAZA CÓSMICA

    Following the Mexican Revolution, cultural philosopher José Vasconcelos penned the essay "La Raza Cósmica," or "The Cosmic Race," in 1925 in response to white supremacist rhetoric coming out of the United States and Europe. Vasconcelos argued that a "fifth race" of people had emerged in the Americas that encompassed races from around the world and transcended all the others.

    The mixture of the indigenous and the Old World, he wrote, were "the moral and material basis for the union of all men into a fifth universal race, the fruit of all the previous ones and amelioration pf everything past."

    José Angel Hernández, a University of Houston history professor, said Vasconcelos became the first Mexican presidential candidate to campaign in the United States among Mexican-Americans. There, he spread his message about "la raza cósmica."

    2 Dead, 6 Injured in Knife Attack in Turku, Finland

    [NATL] 2 Dead, 6 Injured in Knife Attack in Turku, Finland

    Finland police said a man stabbed several people in Turku, Finland. Two people are confirmed dead and six others are injured. Police officers shot one suspect in the leg and took him into custody. Warnings were posted throughout the city for people to stay away from the downtown area.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    ___

    The CHICANO MOVEMENT

    After World War II, some Mexican-American civil rights leaders fought against racial segregation. They also argued that Mexican-Americans were white or "a class apart" who didn't fit into a black/white racial U.S. legal structure.

    But radical activists from the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s rediscovered Vasconcelos' essay and rejected notions that Mexican-Americans were white. They established the La Raza Unida Party in South Texas in 1970 to give more political power to Mexican-Americans in Texas and California.

    They fielded candidates for city council and school board seats and eventually for Texas governor. Maria del Rosario Castro, the mother of former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Texas Congressman Joaquín Castro, was an active member of La Raza Unida Party.

    At political rallies in Texas and at marches in California to support Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers, young Latino activists yelled, "Viva La Raza!"

    Steve Bannon Out as White House Chief Strategist

    [NATL] Steve Bannon Out as White House Chief Strategist

    Steve Bannon has departed the White House, where he was President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. His tenure lasted seven months. White House chief of staff John Kelly and Bannon mutually agreed that Friday would be Bannon’s last day, according to a statement from the press secretary that said they were “grateful for his service.”

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    Out of the political upheaval, a more moderate group was formed — the National Council of La Raza — with the help of Ford Foundation funding in 1968.

    ___

    CONSERVATIVE BACKLASH

    The National Council of La Raza developed into a major Latino civil rights organization, hosting U.S. presidential candidates and receiving sponsorship dollars from tobacco, automobile and oil companies.

    Still, because of the group's outspoken stances in support of immigrant rights, some conservatives attacked the organization as being "anti-white" and pointed to the term "la raza" in its name. Conservative pundits also often confused the National Council of La Raza with the defunct La Raza Unida Party, wrongfully attributing its philosophies about Aztlan — the mythical homeland of the Aztec in the present-day American Southwest — to the mainstream NCLR.

    During his campaign, Trump criticized a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against him by mentioning that he was a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.

    Attack Kills 13, Police Kill 5 Suspects in Spain: Officials

    [NATL] 13 Killed in Car Attack in Barcelona; 5 Suspects Killed in Cambrils: Officials

    A white van jumped the sidewalk in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district on Aug. 17, 2017. Police say 13 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in this terrorist attack. The area is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. Later, police shot and killed five terror suspects in Cambrils, Spain, in a separate incident.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    Mike Madrid, a California GOP consultant, said such attacks were unfair. "But you can't have it both ways. You can't have a group based on identity politics and not expect a backlash," he said. "I think other groups will change their names."

    ___

    MORE DIVERSE US LATINO POPULATION

    In Latin America and part of the U.S., Columbus Day has been rebranded as "Día de la Raza," or Day of the Race. The day is meant to honor the meeting of Europeans with indigenous populations that eventually created a new mixed population.

    But Claudia Milian, director of Latino/a Studies in the Global South at Duke University, said the term is not as encompassing for U.S. Latinos as some might believe and is more of a Mexican-American term.

    The Latino population in North Carolina, for example, contains many Central American indigenous migrants who are suspicious of any talk of racial theories since it usually meant destroying their way of life and culture, Milian said.

    Manhunt For Suspects in Spain Terrorism Attacks

    [NATL] Manhunt For Suspects in Spain Terrorism Attacks

    Terrorism attacks in Spain left 14 people dead from two car rammings in Barcelona and Cambrils. A house explosion in Alcanar was also believed to be linked to the car attacks.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    "So I don't know if la raza would work for some indigenous migrants here," Milian said. "After all, to them, it was la raza who were trying to wipe them off the face of the earth.