‘EL dia de la Raza’ is a fieast celebrated by the Hispanic world. It’s a strange name to be chosen for a ceremony and still remains a mystery to the world. The fiesta’s beginning was marked in Spain in 1917. It was for promotion of ties and alliance with Latin America. However, the name of the fieats got changed over time in Spain to “El Dia de la Hispanidad” – for praising the spirit of Spanish culture rather than their genes. On the contrary, the old name persists to be recognized in the air of Mexico and neighboring countries.
Race, Color, and Class in Central America and the Andes: JULIAN PITT-RIVERS
The ceremony may be named as ‘The Day of Race Relations’ rather than ‘The Race’ as it rejoices the historic day on which it was initiated back in a dime of history. The Banquet reminds the Spaniards of the time when their ancestors defeated and captured half the globe. It is a form of homage to the heroism of forefathers. On the other hand, it symbolic to the Aztec race for the people of Mexico. However, it frequently induces to anyone about Columbus, whose successor is still a matter of argument till date.
The actual meaning of the word race is highly unclear in Latin America my worry is not about what anthropologists think but what the people of Latin America believe in.
By definition, the word race addresses a group of people who are of similar nature
El Dia de le la Raza is a patriotic ceremony as it upholds national unity and the collective nature of the entire country. Therefore it is beneficial to celebrate the fest which defies any racial difference & ambiguity among people on the other days of the year.
The term race is also utilized to blemish the difference of cultural identity within the country. It is often seen that a person thinks of him belonging to a separate race as compared to that of his parents’ race. The word race hardly justifies physical anthropology but genuinely points to the styles in which people are grouped in social life. In fact, race relations are questions attacking social structures.
Different Theories about Race
Over time, scholars have studied race with varying concepts being applied to the same. Initially, people believed and classified races on the basis of blood. Since moral qualities & intellectualism were thought to come from heredity, hence the concept of blood came to the minds of people. This lead to the belief that social status is perceived & b passed on by birth.
In such a case, facts can be fit in a controversy and in a homogeneous population, the reality can never be known by the public. The process of birth gives way to hope of excellence. If the conceived child proves extraordinary then the benefit of greatness is adjoined to the name of forefathers who had not been known or well received by the society yet.
In the case where heredity is visualized from appearance, such a concept gets narrowed. The noun ‘bad-blood’ justifies the moral and brain defects, but for people, who show signs of possessing it, are expected to gain in future. Moral qualities are no longer identified by status, in fact, the physical qualities determine a person’s status. Therefore, and one might go on to say that birth determines fate more than just being an opportunity. In a congruent society, having an incredible ancestor attaches to a man a well-known status. As blood becomes a region to classify people, the purity of the blood is most important to them. Therefore inter-race and inter blood marriages or intercourses are discarded and strictly forbidden.
Slowly, the reason of blood creates intense racial differences between people and is justified even in the military and political games; also in country’s success. Such ideas were embraced and greatly extended by Gobineau. His work was referred to by Claude Levi-Strauss as the “original sin of anthropology.”
The diffusionist theory offered such an evasion. It saw the race relations in terms of culture contact. It weighed its reasoning on the origin of cultural traits of different people to the neglect of their present social function. In fact, part of Latin America believes that their race is preserved partly among the Indians of the present. In this theory, the anthropologist tended to deal with only one side of cultural separation and hardly came in contact with its relationship to the other.
The Marxist scholars stressed on the economic aspects of race relations. It cleared doubts regarding stages of colonial development. However, they neglected the importance of ethnicity by treating race relations only as a specific case of class relations developed in a colonial setting. The sociologists of United State stresses on culture, however, they considered only the boundary of their own values and reformist intentions. For want of a comparative field of reference, they neglected the wider significance of data.
Research on race relations by Politicians hardly ever gave importance to the emotions lying behind political circumstances or the volatile situations or the creation of new unanimities. A thorough ethnography must fulfill varying theories on race relations speculated in space and time. The same fact was iterated by Charles Wagley when he coined “social race”. He extended his opinion by stating that the term ‘race’ means differently from area to area, from class to class as it is a theory of confusion. Furthermore, the concepts regarding the same change over time as the system on which it was relevant ceased to exist.
In spite of confusion regarding ‘race’ and its implication, people of Latin America deny racial separation and believe that it is unity of theirs, despite their underdeveloped status of their country; they are morally more refined than North Americans, who are highly inhuman to colored people. The same opinion is held by Professor Arnold Toynbee.
Critics, both national and foreign, opine that race is as significant in South America as is in the North. Racism is more prominent in North America than in the South. In the North, there exists segregated schools, public facilities, hotels, communication means, etc. Further, the Negros are seen as some different human beings which are not so in Latin America.
The discrimination on the basis of color fails to exist in a country where largely the population living is colored in nature. It is evident in Mexico, where people heartily accept that there exists ‘a touch of tarbrush’ and that “we are all half-castes.” Where color is not the criteria for discrimination, some other factor is chosen for the same.
Discrimination on the basis of Colour
The word Negro is understood differently in different parts of the world. In Panama, both language and religion are important factors for fitting in the definition of Negro. On the contrary, in Barranquilla of Colombia, the Negro is used to refer to the slum residents of the city. Arnulfo Arias, a former president of Panama, famous for his racist principles, is glorified for his policy of exterminating Negroes. The proposal was observed in a nation where a large part of the population were Negroes and hence the guy never got to win the Presidential election again. In a country like the US where no one lives in the slums, the word Negro is hard for the slum dwellers. It is of significance in a place where the status varies greatly and where being shabbier means greatly inferior and mean in the eyes of the upper class. The social structure is greatly divided, primarily according to the place of residence, into two segments- Spanish and Indian. A great deal of discrimination exists in South America which gets recognized by the foreigners but not by the residents of South America.
Skin color is one of the variables picked for racism. Apart from skin-tone, hair type, a shape of eye and stature are also considered as a basis for discrimination. It is evident from a record of a village in Northern Colombia by Reichel-Dolmatoffs.
Racism in North America is more typical and intense as compared to South America. The word ‘Indian’ is meant differently in different areas. In the US, the population is classified on the basis of physical appearance. On the contrary, in South America, it is hardly tangible to determine the status of an individual based on his looks. Hector Velarde, a well-known critic, took pot-shots at the time of race riots in Oxford, Mississippi, putting North Americans in the courtroom of guilt for discrimination. Certain critics observe zero discrimination in Latin America by ignoring the racism against Indians. Other critics, who accept discrimination in South America, are more concerned with about the presence of great degrees of social differentiation which are linked to physical traits such as stature.
In South America, a guy possessing features of a non-white person may be incorporated into the class of whites socially. However, having a minimum presence of European body structure is greatly insignificant to class a person as a white guy. Although Indians with lighter skin and European phenotype can be traced easily throughout South America, they are considered no less Indian on that very basis. In the market of Andes, one can easily find people talking about ‘indio grigo’ which are recognized separately in regions of Northern Peru. It is absolutely normal in this description. “Indian”, first of all, is not a physical type but rather a social status. The Indians are differentiated not by genetic heredity but by birth. The word ‘Indian’ therefore connotes ‘Indian descent’ and it is used for people who no longer are occupants of India but were once upon a time living residents of the same. As Indians are the least civilized element of a population, therefore the use of the word ‘Indian’ refers to as someone low class.
Both discriminations in color and class should be permanently abolished. While visitors from Latin America in US, feel being judged in the North, the visitors from North America in the South have an opinion that the Indians are maltreated in South America even worse than the Negros are in the North. The root cause of discrimination in North and South America is entirely different. While the Indians are in danger in South, the Negros are in North America.
Indians and Negros vary greatly from each other in terms of culture, origin, language, physical structure and so on. They are different with respect to their pace in respective social structures of their societies. The Indians were the true occupants of their geographical region and as they were forced to get incorporated in the colony of British and other European Invaders, the Indians lost their identity of being an Indian. While Indians never intended to be a part of colonial society, the Negros were recognized only within the colonial society. The Negros got separated from their families, friends, brothers, and sisters and became part of the colonial regime. The status of an Indian was known or recognized in America for their culture and attachment to their nature of group-ism and collectivism. On the contrary, the status of a Negro was known for his physical appearance, body structure, and individualism. The race is a matter of culture and community, not of genes, though the class is connected with genes.
CLASS-A Dimension of a Society in Latin America
No one is boycotted on the basis of his physical appearance or traits if his position in society is protected by other criteria, which defines high status. In association with class or status in society, two salient points are significant:-
- Assimilation of all cultural groups into a single society, and
- The differences in status between people in the society and living for hundreds of years, but are differentiated socially by their physical looks.
The word ‘caste’ is used to differentiate between Indians and ‘mestizos’ in terms of their status. In Latin America, the Hispanic population is different from the so-called Negros who are considered as socially inferior in terms of phenotype though both the population express similar skin color. The Hispanic population is distinguished in terms of language, customs, beliefs and values and habitat which are considered superior in nature.
While, the Negroes in Latin desire for greater civilian rights, the Indians want to chase away the invaders out of the countryside. In terms of status, Latin America is grouped into Indians and ‘mestizos’ in Mexico and into ‘cholos’ and ‘blancos’ in Peru. In Mexico, social class of a person is determined by its cultural background, as opined by Woodrow Borah. The class structure of South America exhibits cultural overtones. The classes are therefore different in their basic nature.
The system, which categorizes various classes, begins to malfunction once it gains phenotype associations. In such scenario, the selection processes are chosen for class segregation which would have been absent in a homogenous population in spite of its degree of stratification.
The above observation is opposite to the thesis given by Professor Wagley. According to him, mixing of races in South America will cause a blurring of distinctions among distinguished social races. This effect could have been true if there had been the bar on intermixing of races.
Correlation between Class and Colour
Colour is only a feature, not a deciding factor of class. It can be changed in an individual’s life but may be reincarnated in the offspring. Due to the demography, the relationship between class and color is increasing rather than getting reduced.
The above correlation may get enhanced or remain subsided as the social structure might change in the future. The criterion which distinguishes people socially gets changed due to an expansion of open society at the expense of local populations. If descent of a child is known, the color of the child loses its significance with respect to social definition. Knowing the parentage of a child is important to earn the status of his or her father.
If a person leaves his local population in exchange for a large city, then his decent becomes a matter of confusion. In such a case, the person may no longer respect for his birth, though he looks Indian. On the contrary, if someone looks Indian, then it is taken that he is born of Indian parents.
Therefore, in an open society, the appearance has the upper hand in providing people social status.
As the categorisation of races socially is fading away, the cultural aspect of class is gaining significant importance. Therefore, South America is speeding from social race systems that developed in previous communities to a system of the cultural class accustomed to the necessities of a future open society.
Caste difference among Indians has maintained through no physical contact, commensalism, and endogamy. The labor population can also be segregated
The variety in status is not always expressed in the similar ways. The castes of India are inferred on the basis of touch ability and by endogamy.
The racial discrimination in South America is comparable to caste racism in India.
In the present scenario, in South America, the grandchildren of a wealthy father who looks Indian or Negroid always seem to be much more European than he is himself. In today’s world, dressing style, speech, and culture are losing the force of basis of marking the status in big cities, as opposed to color which is becoming more important now than ever. Due to changing social structure and open society, it is hard for a criterion to be a medium of discrimination other than color which is a matter of national importance for a country, especially North America.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian. “Race, Color, and Class in Central America and the Andes.” Daedalus 96, no. 2 (1967): 542-59. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20027052.