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In the Spanish language the term Raza translates to "race". Its meaning varies amongst various Spanish-speaking peoples. For instance, in Spain, "Raza" may denote specifically Spanish and often something or someone of a European Christian heritage. The Francoist film Raza, from 1944, which celebrates ideally Spanish qualities, is an example of this usage. In Latin America, it may primarily emphasize Spanish and European heritage, and/or the family, such as the name Dia de la Raza to mark the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America. In this way, "La Raza" symbolically means "the people". It is equivalent in meaning and intent to the German word Volk which may be used in reference to a population as a nationality or a race. Raza pura (pure race) is a term that refers either neutrally to a person being a "full-blooded" member of an ethnic group or, as in La Raza Pura (the Pure Race), it is intended as a statement of Latino supremacism over what they refer to as Anglos or people of Asian or African descent.
In his 1925 book, La Raza Cósmica (English: The Cosmic Race), Mexican writer José Vasconcelos described La Raza Cosmica as the product of gradual racial mixing that was already underway in the Latin world. Vasconcelos believed that eventually all of the people within the former Spanish Empire would be completely mixed into a new race.
The term is also used by the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group in the United States.
- "La Raza" is plainly visible as a tattoo across the upper back of the character "Romeo", played by Clifton Collins, Jr. in The Boondock Saints 2
- "La Raza" is a popular song among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans recorded by the Mexican-American rapper Kid Frost and released in 1990.
In the early 20th century, the cognate term "the Race" was used to refer to African Americans in a similar way – to show ethnic pride – particularly by the African American press, with terms such as "race man" and "race woman" used to refer to individuals who demonstrated pride in their ethnicity. Today the term primarily survives in the terms "race music" and "race records" for music of the era targeted at this demographic.2
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