San Diego Soliloquies

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Maybe You Shouldn't Have Cut Spanish Class

So quite a few of the usual suspects are up in arms about Cruz Bustamante having been a member of MEChA in callege. Every single damn one of them translates:

    Por La Raza todo.
    Fuera de La Raza nada.

as:

    For the Race, everything.
    For those outside the Race, nothing

This is a common mistake among people who think the ability to order from a Taco Bell menu constitutes fluency in Spanish. The word "por" is almost never used as "for". You almost always use the word "para". "Es para ti" (Sorry about the accents) is "It's for you". Por has many uses, but the first definition is "because of", as in "eso te pasa por crédulo" (That's what you get for being so credulous). When you get a postcard from Spain that says "Por Avion", do you think that someone accidentally gave the airplane's mail to you?

A better translation might be:

    Together [in la raza] we can acheive everything
    Apart we achieve nothing
or
    Through Us Everything
    Apart from Us Nothing

(Ok, it sucks as a rallying cry. Try this: "United we stand, divided we fall".)

The real translation of this is about as hateful as a football cheer. As a matter of fact, as a long-suffering fan of the University of California Golden Bears, I think I've yelled worse at Stanford games (and I know I've screamed worse at USC players and fans). I grew up with the Chicano movement in San Diego. We had Mechistas at Crawford who did major damage to the trash in vacant lots, taught kids to read, and did some glowering at school rivals from low-riders. Hell, I got in more trouble with the School Choir (This one time, in Choir Camp ...)

Congratulations mouthbreathers. By running down what was essentially a self-help and pride group for the first major generation of chicanos in higher education, you are chasing the fastest growing, arguably most conservative, and definitely most religious ethnic group permanently into the arms of the Democratic Party. For those fools who continue to harp on this, let me leave you with this proverb:

    Para tonto, no se estudia
    To be a fool, don't bother studying


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