Once upon a time there was an Italian sailor named Christopher Columbus. One day, he heard a theory that the world was round and not flat, and motivated by that idea he talked to Queen Isabella of Spain because he was convinced it was easier to reach China or the East Indies by sailing from the west of Spain across the Atlantic Ocean.
After eight years, he convinced the Queen to support his dream and Columbus undertook his adventure in three small ships called The Pinta, The niña and The Santa María. On October 12th, 1492, he and his fleet landed on an island in Bahamas (Central America) inhabited by the Taino or Arawak tribe, thinking it was India. That’s probably the reason Christopher Columbus named the Native American people as Indios. After 500 years, in many countries of Latin America October 12th is a national holiday known as the Día de la Raza (The day of the race).
The celebration of this date could be controversial. On the one hand, in our minds we have terrible stories about the Spaniard colonization. Our Native American people were battered, enslaved and forced to change their ancestral traditions. But on the other hand, different inventions, institutions, such as universities, and our language, Spanish, arrived with the Spaniards arrival too. That was also the origin of a new society, a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society we feel proud of.
Taken from: www.la-raza.info
Besides all the controversies surrounding this date, in Latin America this is a dia that serves to celebrate the diversity of our cultures. This diversity is reflected in many aspects of our lives: our people, our music, our traditions, our expressions, etc. For example our language: imagine you go to a restaurant in Latin America and you want to drink a cup of coffee; if you are in Colombia you could ask for “Un tinto”, but in Chile or in Spain if you ask for “Un tinto” you would probably receive a glass of red wine. In Mexico, if you go to the movies with your “Viejo” or “Vieja” you are accompanied by your husband or wife; but in Argentina “Viejo” and “Vieja” refer to your father and mother. This is just an example of the great diversity you will find in our countries. Although this diversity makes us different from each other, it is also the center of the richness of our cultures.
The controversy is far from over, but this is a special day to celebrate the value of being different.