¡ASK A MEXICAN!
By Gustavo Arellano
With this in mind, shouldn’t we do away with “Viva La Raza” and come up with something new….perhaps “Viva La Herencia!” or “Viva La Gente!”
Dear Wab: So many questions, so little time! I’ll just concentrate on the viva part, since the rest of your pregunta rumbles along like a Big Jim chile in a gabacho’s panza. No one is going to rally under slogans that translate as “Long live the heritage” or “Up with people”—they’re too fresa. And while I’m with you on the whole chinga tu madre toward racial classifications, “Viva la Raza” will never be dropped, nor should it. It ties anyone who says it back to the Chicano Movement, from where the term originated (the earliest citation I can find was in a 1966 Los Angeles Times article that quoted legendary activist Bert Corona as exclaiming during a fundraising dinner in L.A. “Viva la causa, viva la raza, y viva la unidad—“Long live the cause, long live la raza, and long live unity”). The raza part connects the slogan to the idea of la raza cósmica—the Cosmic Race, the idea put forth by Vasconcelos of a day where humanity trumps the antiquated razas of the Enlightenment. The viva part is a direct descendent of the Grito de Dolores, the proclamation issued by Miguel Hidalgo ushering in Mexico’s War of Independence. It might seem strange to have non-Mexis shout “Viva la Raza!” in this egalitarian society, but Mexicans don’t find it racist or exclusionary, because it isn’t—after all, we all have enough female cousins who have married gabachos and bedded enough gabachitas to make us like y’all enough.
A QUICK NOTE ON MEXICANS BEING THE FATTEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: Some of ustedes have sent me reports stating that Americans are no longer the fattest people in the world; Mexicans are. My reaction: who says Mexicans don’t assimilate?