The Clare Spark Blog

February 9, 2012

“Glee” goes La Raza or “Duende”


Ricky Martin

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On February 7, 2012, the hit show Glee buttressed the cultural nationalist view of those Latino irredentists who want to take back the Southwest, overwhelm Anglo-American culture, and generally advance what could be described as “brown supremacy” as opposed to competing ideologies in America. Somehow the episode titled “The Spanish Teacher” with guest star Ricky Martin slipped into some heavy propaganda without being noticed by the Wikipedia detailed account of the episode. (See This blog fills in what the Wiki summary glaringly omitted.

The hunky pop star Ricky Martin (whose guerro appearance bears no resemblance to, say the mestizo construction workers in my neighborhood) predicts that in a few decades, Spanish will be the dominant language in America. [Add to the language factor, the conception of “duende” that Lorca defined as essential to Spanish culture: “According to Christopher Maurer, editor of “In Search of Duende”, at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca’s vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. The duende is a demonic earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding him that “ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head”; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps him create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art. The duende is seen, in Lorca’s lecture, as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity….” From Wikipedia definition of “duende.” The word is repeated many times during the first dance and song number as the quality that non-Hispanics lack. I have a new insight into Ernest Hemingway: thank you Wikipedia.]

Moreover, by the end of the episode, duende-deprived Will Schuester (played by Broadway star Matthew Morrison), formerly the school’s Spanish teacher, hands over his job to the Ricky Martin character (formerly a teacher in night school), for [gringo] Will not only is less competent to teach Spanish, he lacks “authenticity.” The glowering Latina student “Santana” upbraids the abashed and guilty Will for pretending to participate in the culture of a [race] for which he lacks [roots]. This sacrifice perfectly reflects what black nationalists demand for their group: only someone with “African American” blood can transmit their cultural heritage and relate an accurate history to students in high schools and colleges. Such is the legacy of multiculturalism, embraced by the Democratic Party, and though devastating to the conception of the melting pot (see, does appeal to the most authoritarian, racialist, and backward tendencies in post-1960s social movements. [Added later: I had forgotten a detail: the Ricky Martin character states that his grandparents(?) were illegal immigrants! This would not be an issue for irredentists, for were not great gobs of the USA stolen from Mexico? Maybe not Ohio, the locale of “Glee,” but you get the point.]


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  5. I’m not sorry to say that i failed to watch “Glee”. Nonetheless I should like to leave a comment on the notion of “brown power.” The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” refer not to a race or even a nationality,but rather to Latin American origin. This includes some twenty odd nationalities each of which is no less multi-racial than the US. “Latino” embodies an absurdity in that it derives from nineteenth century French propaganda which aimed to contrast Anglo America with Latin America empasizing the affinities of the latter with France, yet in current usage it excludes Francophone Quebec and southern Louisiana(although Haiti is sometimes included.) “Hispanic” in its meaning as Latin American absurdly excludes the Spaniards of Europe. Incidentally, the (slang) Mexican expression for a fair complected or light haired person is “guero”(with an umlaut over the u.). “La raza” seems, if translated literally, to be a racialist designation, but in reality it is a slang expression used by Mexicans in the US to designate any Mexican population. “Chicano” (advanced during the 1960’s as a politcally charged designation) derived originally(many decades ago) from the word Mexicano and referred to Mexican individuals and Mexican Americans in the US. Living as I do in New Mexico with its highly complex and convoluted notions of Spanish surname identity, I feel an attack of verbal diarrhea coming on and feel that in the interest of good taste I must bring this tedious comment to a close.

    Comment by david gansel — February 9, 2012 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

    • La Raza is a cultural nationalist organization with a well known irredentist, aggressive political agenda. But I thank Dave Gansel for his attempt at a glossary.

      Comment by clarespark — February 9, 2012 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

      • Clare, “La Raza” does indeed convey, as you indicate, a militant ideological message. However, in my personal experience with politcally disengaged Mexicans the term seems to be an innocent slang expression. I believe “La Raza” like “Chicano” was appropriated by militant activists in the 1960’s. Its ultimate origins, I must admit, may not be so innocent, and the Chicano movement(as well as the man in the street) may have gotten it from the work of Jose Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos was a philosopher and armchair revolutionary who served as Mexico’s Secretary of Education during the 1920’s or 1930’s One of his notable works was entitled “La Raza Cosmica” or “The Cosmic Race” which argued that the racial mixing characteristic of Mexico and by extension of Latin America is the wave of the future. Vasconcelos, as a an early twentieth century revolutionary, was a man of the left. But later in life drifted toward fascism, sympathy for Nazi Germany, and extreme antisemitism. If you are interested in the political thought of Latin America in general and of Vasconcelos in particular, I recommend Enrique Krauze’s “Redeemers:Ideas and Power in Latin America” (Harper Collins, 2011).

        Comment by david gansel — February 9, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

      • I am not claiming that there was an explicit reference to La Raza in the Glee episode. It was merely implicit in the anticipated triumphalism.

        Comment by clarespark — February 10, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  6. This lacuna could not have been explicated any better by anyone other than the ever-vigilant and perceptive Dr. Spark! What craftsmanship and truth. Dr. Gary Katz

    Comment by gk68 — February 9, 2012 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

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