By Alice Terriquez
Hillary Clinton’s campaign came under fire in late December after releasing an article originally titled “7 ways Hillary Clinton is just like your abuela.” The title was later changed to “7 Things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” after Latino backlash on social media. While the article, which included quotes from Clinton, video clips and even a photo of her with Marc Anthony, was meant to reach out to the Latino community, many Latinos rallied against it. Twitter immediately responded with the trending hashtag #notmyabuela.
This hashtag is certainly justified. Latinos do not want Hillary to read them bedtime stories. They want Clinton to address the social and economic issues of the community through reform.
The article discussed how Clinton pursues and teaches respect — or “respeto,” as the article wrote — because she stands up to Trump, just like her campaign believes Latina grandmothers would. Twitter user Lupita Gonzalez wrote that it was “shameful and disrespectful” to try to equate our ancestors’ experiences to those of Clinton’s. As Twitter user Adamantium Dovahkiin argues, Clinton has never experienced having to raise her children on a fieldworker’s wage and has never been denied access to healthcare.
Some Latinos laughed at the post, but many, such as the Latino website Latino Rebel, accused the article of “hispandering,” or patronizing Hispanics, and therefore demeaning to the Latino community.
While the article attempted to attract Latino voters, it backfired because Latino voters want real issues addressed. Latino voters want Clinton to discuss immigration reform and access to healthcare and education instead of their connections to Hispanic artists like Marc Anthony.
Clinton must also understand that the Latino population is not a “one size fits all” community. Latinos come from many national origins, spanning across two continents. The United States Census Bureau counts over 20 subcategories of Latinos within the U.S. population, with Mexicans making up 64 percent, Puerto Ricans 9.4 percent, Cubans 3.7 percent and Salvadoreans 3.8 percent. The struggles of each group are different and can not be lumped into one homogenous category for political gain.
The criticism from the Latino community calls for Clinton to recognize that she is not equal in social, economic or political terms to Latino grandmothers and Latinos as a whole. Abuelas and parents of first-generation Latinos are often separated by immigration laws, and do not have access to various resources to live a comfortable life. 30.7 percent of the Hispanic population in America lacks health coverage while 20.6 percent lives below poverty standards, according to the U.S. Census Bureau of 2010. The Latino community deserves a true understanding of what exactly it means to be Latino: the struggles attached to this community, including the racism and discrimination that comes with it.
Clinton is not different from other politicians (such as Barack Obama) in trying to rally up Latino support by using a handful of Spanish words. In his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama used the phrase “si se puede” (which translates to “yes we can”) to gain Latino acceptance.
While this small Spanish phrase might have worked for our current President, Latinos today want more than that. They have a strong desire and determination for actual reform, and therefore took it to social media to express that sprinkling Spanish words in an article is not enough to gain Latino support. Having the qualities of a caring and loving grandmother will not address the pressing issues of the Latino community such as a living wage, immigration reform and access to healthcare, which are obstacles in the way of a successful life in the United States.
“Latinos want to hear that our next President cares, and is ready to fight for them,” said Joe Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation.
While Clinton’s campaign article was a poor marketing tool, polls have shown that she does hold a majority of the Hispanic vote. In July 2015, the American Spanish language broadcast television network Univision conducted a poll that placed Clinton in the lead with 64 percent of the Hispanic vote.
For Clinton to keep the majority of Latino voters, she must continue her work with the next generation of DREAMers and advocates and push for comprehensive immigration reform. She must maintain and strengthen her platform for immigration reform that leads to citizenship. Although catchy hashtags will not do extreme harm to Clinton’s campaign, they also will not help her gain the Latino support she needs.
Alice Giovanna Terriquez is a fourth year history and African American studies double major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.