In the lecture video for this week, “ Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age” professor John talked about the evident effect the United States has on Latin America.
In To Roosevelt, the author has a certain respect for the U.S. while criticizing the nation. I first interpreted the author’s feeling towards the USA as fear. Fear in the sense of what the United States may have represented for Latin America, “a new form of colonization” as mentioned in the lecture video. Yet nevertheless, the fear did not paralyze Latin Americans to talk back and stand up for themselves as Ruben Dario does in the poem. The overall attitude was a defensive arrogance. There definitely is an awe factor for the United States but it seems like Latin America (assuming the poem represents it) must put up a strong front or else their fear may come true. The arrogant aspect of it is not because they necessarily think that the United States is inherently worse, but the need to emphasize their worth as a culture so they are not taken advantage of.
I personally wrote down in my notes “Future wherever your bullet strikes. No.” because I found it striking, in comparison to Professor Beasley-Murray who explained it to be one of the most important lines throughout the poem. It caught my eye because it could imply the assumption that the United States are ruthless innovators, hence planning their future based on where the bullets land.
Discussion Question: What belief did La Raza Cosmica tie Latin Americans to be superior to?Was it referring to christianity or was it also including indigenous beliefs?
mirella reichenbach livoti
October 28, 2020 — 9:37 pm
From my understanding, in his essay José Vasconcelos is arguing that Latin Americans would make up the fifth race based on aesthetic eugenics instead of scientific eugenics. This means that racial mixing would take place because relationships would be based on attraction and beauty: “Above scientific eugenics, the mysterious eugenics of aesthetic taste will prevail. Where enlightened passion rules, no correctives are necessary. The very ugly will not procreate, they will have no desire to procreate.”
It differs from scientific eugenics because Vasconcelos is not telling us that whiteness is the best race or the model to be achieved, instead he is saying that those most beautiful, no matter their race, would reproduce creating the fifth race: “The most illustrious epochs of humanity have been, precisely, those in which several different peoples have come into contact and mixed with each other.” Latin Americans are considered the rasa cosmica because we are a sum of all the best characteristics of each race.
Furthermore, he mentions Christianity as being one of the characteristics that sets Americans apart because of their “gentility.” Moreover, the spirituality of these mixed race people is seen as superior to the spirituality of Whites: “The mestizo, the Indian, and even the Black are superior to the White in a countless number of properly spiritual capacities.” I think Vasconcelos might be suggesting that Christianity plus these other forms of spirituality, from the mestizo, Indigenous people and Blacks, makes the fifth race so special.