In the United States, we call this day Columbus Day. In Canada it's the day they celebrate Thanksgiving. But in Spanish-speaking America, what's usually celebrated is the Día de la Raza, the foundation of a new people: a mixture of European, Indigenous American, and African blood.
There are many in our country who believe that this day should be set aside to honor the native peoples who, through disease, massacre, forced relocation, and enslavement were nearly wiped out when contact was made between Europe and the Americas. Certainly, this recognition is a more noble cause than the celebration of a man whose treatment of the native peoples was criminal. After all, how can he be called the discoverer of a place peopled by millions of people who got here millennia earlier?
Certainly, those who celebrate the Día de la Raza have found the positive in this "discovery," so here's a video by a group that I grew to love when I lived in Colombia. Soon after this, they broke up, and their lead singer, Juan Esteban Aristizabal, became popular by himself. He goes by Juanes. This video, called Raza (Race) is a song advocating solidarity, equality, justice, and peace. You might note the Cleveland ball cap at 1:01.
Another take on this theme—also by a Colombian group—is how colonialism resulted in racism. This song, called Cuestión de Madera, opens (1:04) by telling the story in the first person of entering a restaurant: After being made to wait quite a while, a waiter finally asks what he wants. When he tells him, "a table near the balcony," the waiter, looking at his skin color, tells him that those are only for paying customers. When the waiter learns that he plans to eat in the restaurant, he calls him boss and offers to serve him.
The song continues (1:42):
And down through so many years this is how so much mediocrity is making us live our lives according to the confused model of a Europe that can never exist here.
The best line in the song comes later (2:49):
That waiter will never understand, never comprehend that his blood is the color of a new day dawning.
I'm not Latino, but I appreciate Latin music. This song by Bacilos is an excellent example of the depth of poetry and social commentary that can be found in so much Latin music—even Latin pop. And as people of European blood think about race, we should remember the racism we've inflicted on other peoples not only effects the way we deal with them, but even the way they deal with each other.
jorge villamizar • bacilos • cuestión de madera