You May Have Seen Latinos Using This Hashtag Online. Here’s Why It Matters.
If you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed the hashtag #LaGenteUnida appearing in discussions on activism in general, and Latinos’ role in Black Lives Matter specifically. Created by Latinos, the movement seeks to draw attention to issues U.S. Latinos face, like police brutality, while also declaring solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement:
— ️ (@analgodhes) July 12, 2016
— HUNTER-BLM (@kingdaytona) July 12, 2016
Although the hashtag has been around in one from or another since 2011, it’s found renewed purpose as a rallying point around solidarity. The tag has also encouraged debate around the term “raza,” a word that tends to undermine indigenous peoples and black Latinos:
— amira (@solojavadds) July 11, 2016
PSA: I see people switching over to #LaGenteUnida instead bc the previous tag excluded black/indigenous peoples. Pls continue to support!
— Mikey (@AsianAdvocacy) July 11, 2016
Additionally, the term* that can be interpreted as coming from the 1925 essay, “La Raza Cósmica,” which argues for a future, fifth race led by “superior” people who can claim Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) descent:
— Mayonesa (@meeping_beauty) July 12, 2016
*(As an aside, it should be noted that the term “raza” can also be used as a source of empowerment among U.S. Mexicans in particular, where its definition is more closely translated to “the people” –as in “power to the people”, and used in unifying organizations such as the National Council of La Raza. The term was also recently a source of confusion and fear-mongering for Donald Trump, who in June incorrectly declared that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s membership in La Raza Lawyers of San Diego meant the judge was anti-white.)
In its original form, the #LaRazaUnida tag was used to help draw attention to the recent deaths of young Latinos, like Anthony Nuñez and Pedro Villanueva, at the hands of police, and provided an organized means of discussing their cases and other, related issues online in a way that didn’t undermine or attempt to compare it directly against Black Lives Matter:
— ana (@peachyphillipa) July 11, 2016
Latinx names and voices need to be lifted in this fight but I was uncomfortable with Brown Lives Matter. I want for #LaRazaUnida to take off
— Overweight Lover (@MzSashii) July 10, 2016
And, indeed, some early uses of the tag align more closely with the “All Lives Matter” movement, of which people have been critical because it undermines the focus and need for BLM:
— Sol. (@THEEMarisol) July 9, 2016
The sentiment has even inspired an Instagram account of the same name, which highlighted its mission statement in a recent post:
? #LaGenteUnida is calling attention to our Latinx family facing deadly police violence and political injustice. ?? #BlackLivesMatter #LaRazaUnida #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #blacklivesmatter #blm #AnthonyNunez #PedroVillanueva #racism #amerikkka #laraza #policeviolence #Latinos #Latinas #EricGarner #not1more #icantbreath #MikeBrown #immigration #latinx #Latino #Latina #TrayvonMartin
A photo posted by La Gente Unida (@lagenteunida) on
And now you know!