Former Colorado U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo ignited controversy here in Miami almost three years ago with his characterization of the area as a third world country. He made other statements that were far from complimentary and let's just say things got ugly. He's now surpassed that deed bycalling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist because she is a member of the Latino civil rights organization, La Raza. He went on to equate La Raza to the "KKK without the hoods or the nooses."
La Raza chief Janet Murguia disputed Tancredo's description of the organization and refuted his translation of the group's name and motto among other things.
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.