Calle 13: Latinoamérica


This won a Latin Grammy in 2011 for Song of the Year. Calle 13 is from Puerto Rico. They have appeared in this space before with “Atrevete te te” (2006). The female singer with the long black hair is Totó la Momposina (Afro-Colombian), the one with short hair is Susana Baca (Afro-Peruvian). You can also hear Maria Rita of Brazil. The DJ at the beginning is speaking not Spanish but Quechua, the language of the Incas. Although mainly shot in Peru, it shows people and places from throughout Latin America.

The women in the chorus sing:

You can not buy the wind,
You can not buy the sun
You can not buy the rain,
You can not buy the heat
You can not buy the clouds,
You can not buy the colours
You can not buy my happiness ,
You can not buy my pain


Soy, soy lo que dejaron
Soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron
Un pueblo escondido en la cima
Mi piel es de cuero
PoresoaguantacualquierclimaSoy una fabrica de humo
Mano de obra campesina para tu consumo
Frente de frío en el medio del verano
El amor en los tiempos del cólera mi hermano
El sol que nace y el día que muere
Con los mejores atardeceres
Soy el desarrollo en carne viva
Un discurso político sin saliva

Las caras mas bonitas que he conocido
Soy la fotografía de un desaparecido
La sangre dentro de tus venas
Soy un pedazo de tierra que vale la pena

Una canasta con frijoles
Soy Maradona contra Inglaterra
Anotándote dos goles
Soy lo que sostiene mi bandera
La espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera

Soy lo que me enseño mi padre
El que no quiere a su patria
No quiere a su madre
Soy América latina
Un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina

Tu no puedes comprar el viento,
Tu no puedes comprar el sol
Tu no puedes comprar la lluvia,
Tu no puedes comprar el calor
Tu no puedes comprar las nubes,
Tu no puedes comprar los colores
Tu no puedes comprar mi alegría,
Tu no puedes comprar mis dolores

Tengo los lagos, tengo los ríos
Tengo mis dientes pa’ cuando me sonrío
La nieve que maquilla mis montañas
Tengo el sol que me seca y la lluvia que me baña

Un desierto embriagado con peyote
Un trago de Pulque para cantar con los coyotes
Todo lo que necesito
Tengo a mis pulmones respirando azul clarito

La altura que sofoca
Soy las muelas de mi boca mascando coca
El otoño con sus hojas desmayadas
Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada

Una viña repleta de uvas
Un cañaveral bajo el sol en un cuba
Soy el mar caribe que vigila las casitas
Haciendo rituales de agua bendita

El viento que peina mi cabello
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello
El jugo de mi lucha no es artificial
Por que el abono de mi tierra es natural

Tu no puedes comprar el viento,
Tu no puedes comprar el sol
Tu no puedes comprar la lluvia,
Tu no puedes comprar el calor
Tu no puedes comprar las nubes,
Tu no puedes comprar los colores
Tu no puedes comprar mi alegría,
Tu no puedes comprar mis dolores

Trabajo bruto pero con orgullo
Aquí se comparte, lo mio es tuyo
Este pueblo no se ahoga con marullos
Y si se derrumba, yo lo reconstruyo

Tampoco pestañeo cuando te miro
Para que te acuerdes de mi apellido
La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido
Perdono pero nunca olvido

Vamos caminando
Aquí se respira lucha
Vamos caminando
Yo Canto porque se escucha

Vamos dibujando el camino
Estamos de pie
Vamos caminando
Aquí estamos de pie


The term “Hispanic”


“Hispanic” (1580s) generally means someone or something from a Spanish-speaking country. The word is mainly applied to Latinos (people from Latin America) who live in the US.

For the most part, “Hispanic” and “Latino” are used interchangeably, sometimes even in the same sentence.

Depending on which definition you use:

  • “Hispanic” and “Latino” may or may not include people outside the US,
  • “Hispanic” may or may not include people from Brazil or Portugal.

The word comes from Hispania, the Latin word for the whole Iberian peninsula (pictured above). It did not split into “Spain” and “Portugal” till the 1400s.


Although “Hispanic” has been in English since the time of Shakespeare, it did not take off till the 1970s, when President Nixon backed it and the US Census Bureau, in 1977, issued Statistical Policy Directive #15. It states:

“Hispanic. A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.”

Directive #15 gave us the five-race model of the US: Black, White, Native, Asian and Hispanic. The directive, though, makes clear that Hispanic is ethnic, not racial. That is why the government speaks of “non-Hispanic Whites”.

Chicano: Many US Hispanics or Latinos are also Chicanos. A Chicano, as one joke puts it, is a Mexican American who does not want blue eyes. They are not wannabe Anglo Americans or wannabe Mexicans – because they are proud of being who they are: Chicanos! Not all Mexican Americans, particularly first generation ones, see themselves as Chicanos. Many Mexicans do not see Chicanos as “real Mexicans”,  just like many Americans do not see them as “real Americans”.


Usage frequency of “Hispanic” and “Latino” in Google Books, 1900 to 2008

Hispanic or Latino?

  • Prefers Hispanic (at least 2 to 1): US government, New York Times, The Nation.
  • Prefers neither: National Geographic, Time, National Review, The Economist, Essence, The Guardian, BBC, The Root, CNN, Google Books.
  • Prefers Latino (at least 2 to 1): MSNBC, AP, Washington Post, LA Times, Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, Ebony, Huffington Post, Fox News, the Internet as a whole.

That is based on a Google search in 2014.

US Hispanics themselves are split: in 2013 half preferred “Latino”, a third “Hispanic” while the rest had no preference.


Some see “Hispanic” as Eurocentric since it refers to Spain, not Latin America. Some see it as honouring Spain, a conquering White power. It would be like calling Nigerians, Americans and Malaysians “Britannic”.

To counter some false ideas about US Hispanics:

By race (2010, as self-reported on the US census):

  • 53.0% White
  • 2.5% Black
  • 1.4% Native
  • 0.4% Asian
  • 0.1% Pacific Islander
  • 36.7% other
  • 6.0% two or more races

By national origin (2008):

  • 65.6% Mexican
  • 9.0% Puerto Rican
  • 3.4% Cuban
  • 3.4% Salvadoran
  • 2.8% Dominican
  • 15.8% other

By language use (2011):

  • 38% Spanish dominant
  • 38% bilingual
  • 24% English dominant

By citizenship status (2009):

  • 62.6% native-born citizen
  • 10.9% naturalized citizen
  • 8.9% documented non-citizens
  • 17.6% undocumented non-citizens (“illegal aliens”)

About 57% were born in the US and have no trouble using English.

Only 12.4% are the stereotypical undocumented workers from Mexico.

When the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620 there were already Hispanics living in Puerto Rico, Florida and New Mexico. Many have deep roots in North America that go back thousands of years and see themselves as conquered by Spain in the 1500s and then the US in the 1800s.

See also:


kindred“Kindred” (1979), a book by Octavia Butler, is a time travel story. Dana Franklin, a Black American woman from 1976, suddenly finds herself back in slave times, in Maryland in the early 1800s. She finds out that her very existence depends on saving Rufus Weylin, a White slave master, so that he can rape Alice Greenwood, his slave and her great-great-great grandmother!

Kevin, Dana’s husband, at one point goes back in time with her and says:

This could be a great time to live in. I keep thinking what an experience it would be to stay in it – go West and watch the building of the country, see how much of the Old West mythology is true.

Yeah, he’s White. Most of science fiction is written from a White gaze like that. But since this is a Black time travel story (both Butler and Dana are Black), going back in time is not so cool and amazing.

My sister loved this book. So do several commenters here. I liked it, but I did not love it.

It was a slave narrative cast as a time travel story. As such I would much rather read true accounts, like Solomon Northup’s “12 Years a Slave” (1853), than read made-up, watered-down ones like “Kindred”.

Unlike slave narratives, Butler can compare past and present as well as show things from the slave master’s point of view. But even here it was not a win for me:

  1. Her comparison of past and present did not seem particularly profound: the 1800s were the Bad Old Days and its people were a product of their times. Better would be to show how the present grew out of the past, how the Bad Old Days still hang over America. Instead we get no-mess Teflon History.
  2. Slave masters: It was good that Butler fleshed out Rufus Weylin, gave him an inner life and moral complexity instead of making him a cartoon racist, but I still had little sympathy for him.

Rufus as a slave master “meant well”, most of the time. He was enlightened for his time and place (with Dana’s help). But because he lacked empathy and had little check on his power, he caused great human suffering – and did not care. Worse than whippings or rapes was selling off relatives. Butler was good at making you feel that. Rufus fell in love with a slave woman, but his power over her made him a rapist, not a lover. He became a lonely man. His power as slave master damaged him and everyone it touched.

As a time travel story it seemed realistic:

  • Dana goes through culture shock;
  • Her education and knowledge of the future are not as much of an advantage as you would think;
  • She seems strange to both Blacks and Whites: she wears blue jeans, speaks an educated English with a strange, White-sounding accent, her knowledge of germ theory and sudden appearances (aka time travel) make her seem kind of like a witch, etc.

See also:


Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month 2014! In the US it runs from September 15th to October 15th.

Thanks to everyone who suggested a topic! Based on your suggestions and some ideas of my own, here are the posts I am thinking of doing:

  1. White Hispanics
  2. Afro-Hispanics
  3. Chicanos
  4. Race in Mexico
  5. Race in the Dominican Republic
  6. Che Guevara
  7. Asian Latin Americans
  8. The terms Hispanic / Latino / Chicano
  9. The Gypsy Kings
  10. Rafael Trujillo
  11. Mexico before 1519: a brief history
  12. Latin America: a brief history
  13. Garifuna people
  14. Frida Kahlo
  15. California: a brief Chicano history
  16. Arizona: a brief Chicano history
  17. US Black-Hispanic race relations
  18. Asian Peruvians
  19. Amara La Negra
  20. zoot suit riots
  21. Manifest Destiny
  22. William Walker
  23. Rita Hayworth
  24. Potosi
  25. cocaine
  26. Mock Spanish
  27. Mexican mass deportations
  28. Gloria Anzaldua
  29. Bartolome de Las Casas
  30. Mexican War
  31. Day of the Dead

One for each day! But because I do not post every day and will do posts on non-Hispanic topics too, I will probably wind up doing ten or so of these. I will put in links as the posts go up.

After the month is over I will do an umbrella post on Hispanic Americans.

If you have any useful links or books on these topics, add them in the comments below.

For this month I will be reading, at least in part:


Rodolfo Acuña, “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” (2004) – If you read only one book on Chicano history, this is the one! Acuña is a highly respected Chicano historian. His book is now in its seventh edition. Banned from Tucson schools, so you know it must be good!


Eduardo Galeano, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” (1971) – this left-wing history of Latin America from 1492 to 1970 was banned by the military dictators of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. When writer Isabel Allende fled Chile, she took a bag of dirt from her garden and two books. This was one of them. Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama a copy when they first met (pictured below). The New York Times calls it “the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text” in Latin America. It was read throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia and taught at US universities. Galeano wrote it in 90 nights in 1971 after four years of research, but now, in his old age, finds it cringeworthy!


See also:


My favourite Vanessa Williams song. It went to #1 on the American R&B charts in 1988.


For the life of me
I never thought that it could be
The way it stands right now
Emotions running high
Every night I wish that I
Could tell you how I feel
Those words are here in my heart
Oh but there is just one missing part

How to put it together
How to say it right
And let you know that
Every night

I’ll be dreamin’
Hoping baby you will be there
I’ll be dreamin’
Hoping baby you will be there

Let me take time out
To try and find out
If this could be real
Cause reality scares me
I’ve been living a fantasy
How should I feel

Those words are here in my heart
Oh but there is just one missing part

How to put it together
How to say it right
And let you know that
Every night

I’ll be dreamin’
Hoping baby you will be there
I’ll be dreamin’
Hoping baby you will be there


Barack Obama in 2002:

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income … A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. … He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. …

But I also know that Saddam can be contained … I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. …

Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. .. Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.


Barack Obama in 2014:

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff. …

America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding. …

When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said. “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety – our own security – depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for – timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.

See also:

Ray Rice


Janay and Ray Rice at a news conference in May 2014 saying that their relationship is healing. (Associated Press)

Ray Rice (1987- ), an American football player, was a running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Now he is best known for what he calls the worst 30 seconds of his life: when he hit Janay Palmer, his then-fiancee (now wife) and knocked her out. He had a clean image till then. TMZ, an Internet scandal sheet, posted video of it earlier this week. It has been all over the news in the US.


  • 1987: Born in New Rochelle, New York, just north of New York City.
  • 1988: His father is killed by mistake in a drive-by shooting.
  • 2003: Leads his high school football team to a state title.
  • 2005: Plays for Rutgers University. Meets Janay Palmer.
  • 2008: Plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
  • 2010: Proposes to Palmer.
  • 2012: Signs a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens. Janay Palmer gives birth to his daughter, Rayven.
  • 2013: Ravens win the Super Bowl championship.
  • 2014:
    • February: Revel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey: He and Palmer are arrested for assault. Security camera video is made public which shows them entering an elevator arguing and then, a bit later, it shows Rice dragging Palmer’s unconscious body out of the elevator. Not shown: the part inside the elevator when he presumably knocked her out cold.
    • March: Rice is indicted for assault. He could have been sent to prison for three to five years. Instead of pressing charges, Palmer – marries him!
    • April: Police send video of what went on in the elevator to the National Football League (NFL).
    • July: The NFL punishes Rice with a two-game suspension. Compare: A month later they suspend Josh Gordon for a year – for smoking marijuana.
    • September: TMZ posts the video of what went on in the elevator. Rice did, in fact, knock her out. The Ravens kick him off the team, the NFL kicks him out of the league for life. Janay Rice stands by her husband, blaming the media for making her life a living nightmare. The NFL lies about not having seen the elevator video before TMZ posted it.

This is not a case of anger management: Sure, she was hitting him, yelling at him, even spat in his face, but after knocking her out he seems – strangely unconcerned.

The NFL kicked Rice out of the league not for beating up his wife but for making them look bad. After all, they saw the full video months ago.

Fox News compared it to Jay-Z and Solange and to Chris Brown and Rihanna, like it was a Black thing. And then they made a joke about it, like it was something to laugh about.

Domestic violence: Half of NFL players arrested for a violent crime are arrested for domestic violence. But it goes way beyond the NFL or Black people: a fourth of all American women experience domestic violence.

“Why doesn’t she leave?” Leaving is not as easy as it looks. On average it takes seven tries. Many abusive men threaten to kill their wife or girlfriend if they leave – and, all too often, make good on that threat.

Ray Rice kisses his daughter Rayven after winning the Super Bowl in 2013.

Ray Rice kisses his daughter Rayven after winning the Super Bowl in 2013.

See also:


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