So wrote a lady named Claudia. I responded to her vitriol by noting that I was also born and raised in central California, that labor leader Chávez was born on March 31 1927 near Yuma Ariz., and that he was an opponent of illegal immigration. I added that Gov. Gibbons had to proclaim March 31 as César Chávez because he is mandated to do so under Nevada law.
“I would like to make a donation to the NAACP! WHITE SUPREMACY RULES!” So stated a misguided soul named after St. Paul.
The following reasonable question came from a reader in Sacramento: “Do you think that ‘colored people’ as a title for anything/anybody is inexact and perhaps a bit politically and culturally inappropriate? If not, would you mind defining who ‘colored people’ are exactly? And who is ‘allowed’ to say ‘colored people’ in public or in the media? ‘La Raza’ is a tough one to figure too - but much more offensive when translated to English - can you imagine walking around with ‘The Race’ on a shirt or on a business sign?”
I responded that we are talking different permutations of identity.
“La Raza” doesn’t quite translate well into English. Many Latinos consider themselves members of a mythical Mexican race, hence “La Raza.” It’s also inextricably intertwined with Catholic guilt trips, as it’s been explained to me.
The best article I have found on the term was a piece on the roots of machismo in either Psychology Today or Ms. magazine c. 1971-72. La Razans (to coin a term) feel that their oppression comes as payback for their many sins. How Catholic is that? As a recovering Catholic, I can relate.
With respect to the translation and transition of the NAACP acronym, I would oppose trying to change the well-established brand. Everybody knows the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which is no more. Now it’s the National Conference for Community and Justice. How bureaucratic and bloodless.
Columnist William Raspberry got a handle on the name thing two or three decades back. He noted that if the problem persists, we change the name of it every generation or so. (George Carlin, call your office!)
So, we went from colored to negro to black to African-American but the problems remain. I wonder what’s next. So far, “people of color” seems the leading contender.
Carlin warned about adding long-syllabled euphemisms, from shell shock in World War I to combat fatigue in World War II to traumatic stress syndrome in Vietnam to the current “post-traumatic stress disorder.” We had a perfectly descriptive term in the first place, replaced by the current bloodless compound word-cum-hyphen.
And so it goes as we wallpaper over pain with prepositions.
No Smoking Unless You’re Driving A Race Car.
Monday is World No Tobacco Day. The World Health Organization has selected “gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women” as this year’s theme. (See the history of corporate propaganda in the web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, please pay special attention to how corporate America got soldiers addicted in World War I).
NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch President Lonnie Feemster says, “We are in full support of this global effort and will reach out to branch members, community partners and the community-at-large to educate them about the harmful, negative lifelong impact smoking has on those who smoke and/or use other tobacco products, their loved ones and the environment. We must work to inform family, friends and others about the importance of eliminating tobacco use particularly in communities that suffer disproportionately from tobacco related diseases.”
Nevada casino workers remain among those at highest risk from cancer-causing second-hand smoke.
Hardball On D-Day.
The Truckee Meadows Democratic Alliance is hosting a fundraiser at the Reno Aces ballpark on the afternoon of June 6. Tickets are $40 for adults and $15 for children age 3 to 12. For more info, call 323-VOTE and ask for Marcy Kupfersmith or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail email@example.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.