When I went to school I was taught there are four races: White, Black, Red (Native Americans or American Indians) and Yellow (Asians). Apparently, numerous people, including myself, were absent from school when that lesson was taught. Now, all of a sudden I hear that there is also a Brown race, which is still a puzzle to me. I don’t know what that is.
I am coming to the conclusion that I am in great need of returning to school. Nationality, to me, has always meant the country where a person comes from, which has nothing to do with ethnicity or one’s ethnic group.
Just a few days ago, I was reading an application a person submitted to an attorney’s office, and the answer she put in the space for RACE was MEXICAN. Reason enough for me to believe that I am in great need of returning to school. Since when has “Mexican” become a race? Even if Mexicans call each other “Raza.”
Language is the language spoken in their country of origin —Arabs speak Arabic; people from China speak Chinese; Americans speak English, even though you can identify the state where they come from because of their different accents, such as the people of South Carolina and Georgia; people from Italy speak Italian; North, South and Central American natives speak Spanish (some of them speak their own dialects). Brazil in South America is an exception because they speak Brazilian Portuguese.
Some time ago, my brother and I were shopping at a local grocery store and heard the manager of the store speaking Spanish to another customer. We commented to him: “We didn’t know that you speak Spanish.” Very proudly, he answered us: “I don’t speak Spanish, I speak Mexican.” He left us astonished by his answer.
It was the first time we heard that Mexican was a language, different than the language of Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes), the most important and celebrated figure in Spanish literature.
Even known communist and highly recognized Mexican author, Carlos Fuentes (who died in Mexico City on May 15, 2012), called Cervantes the “founding father” of Latin American literature.
For those who didn’t know about Carlos Fuentes, I am not calling him a communist just to degrade him. He belonged to the communist party, but left the party in 1962 on intellectual grounds while remaining an avowed Marxist.
By the way, Marxist is not a language or ethnic group; it is a social, economic ideology and political philosophy advocated by Karl Marx. It is what Marxism calls “Class Struggle” where workers and their bosses fight against each other to gain for themselves, divided by economic classes. They believe that communism (or socialism) will be born from this struggle.
More or less, it is what happens in our land today between owners of fast food restaurants (such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and others); even the big hotels and their employees yell, scream, march and protest, demanding equality.
Anyway, going back to the main subject of this column, I am very sorry that Carlos Fuentes is not alive today because he would be a great authority to explain to me and many others how and when such a “Mexican language” was born, and where. And when the “Mexican race” was created.
I would love to get the opportunity to receive the opinion of the many educated and professional Mexicans from Mexico on this subject, who probably don’t think as the many Mexicans living in the United States do, using the rest of their countrymen for political reasons.
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.