The Denver City Council unanimously voted to rename Columbus Park last week Monday, and now it will be named “La Raza Park.”
“La raza” is Spanish for “the race,” which has connotations with Latino identity politics. A Denver Post article tells us that the phrase “viva la raza” (long live the race) was the “rallying cry of the Chicano movement in the 1960s and ’70s.” The Chicano Movement encouraged Mexican ethnic and cultural solidarity with a particular emphasis on their indigenous heritage. The movement, however, rejected assimilation and thus the term “Mexican-American,” essentially branding themselves as the Hispanic version of the Black Power movement.
Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval claims that the unanimous vote was an act of officially naming a park that has “always” been unofficially called by its new name. “La raza is a word of unity and about celebrating community,” she said without a hint of irony.
The reason for officially renaming the park is about what you’d expect, namely because Christopher Columbus is irredeemably associated with colonialism and genocide and is thus not fit to be honored in any way, shape, or form.
Arturo Gonzalez, a retired professor, said that “Mexican Chicanos and Indigenous peoples have suffered genocide over the last 500 years. We live with that trauma. We continue to live with that trauma.”
Renaming parks, buildings, and schools that were previously named after so-called “problematic” or “white supremacist” historical figures is nothing new, of course, but the practice has accelerated over the past several months due to the hysteria following the George Floyd riots.
Big League Politics has covered many instances of this phenomenon. One of the most recent instances included a San Francisco school district renaming Abraham Lincoln High School because black lives apparently “didn’t matter” to him:
Statue of General Robert E. Lee Removed from United States Capitol
Deliberate erasure of American history continues.
A statue of General Robert E. Lee was removed from the United States Capitol building overnight Sunday.
What will likely take its place is a statue of Barbara Johns, a civil rights leader of whom this writer (and maybe you, the reader, as well) has never heard.
Virginia governor Ralph Northam released a statement on the statue removal Monday with the typical buzzwords about racism and diversity and inclusion: “We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country. The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”
Other politicians weighed in with a similar take, such as Senator Louise Lucas: “Confederate images do not represent who we are in Virginia, that’s why we voted unanimously to remove this statue. I am thrilled that this day has finally arrived, and I thank Governor Northam and the Commission for their transformative work.”
Transformative work. Let that phrase sink in a second.
The Lee statue stood next to a statue of George Washington, to whom Lee was actually related through his wife Mary Custis Lee. She was the daughter of George Washington’s step-grandson George Washington Custis, whom our first president adopted as his own son. Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, also knew Washington.
The Barbara Johns statue is awaiting approval before a sculptor can be commissioned to create it.
Big League Politics previously reported about a school district in Fairfax, Virginia, that voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School after John Lewis:
This cultural and historical destruction will not bring about “unity.” Quite the opposite. It upsets those who deeply care about our American heritage and further ensconces the beliefs of those who hate it.
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