Here’s How Politicians Try (And Fail) To Win Over Latino Voters
It’s campaign season and you know what that means: DISOWNING YOUR FAMILY! Also, hispandering.
Hispandering, for the uninitiated, is the attempt to appeal to a Latino demographic in a shallow and obvious manner. It always ramps up around elections, when politicians are reminded that we exist.
Here’s a quick rundown of popular hispandering techniques and the appropriate responses to them.
Tossing Spanish-Language Buzzwords Into A Sentence
Spanish and its slightly younger cousin, Spanglish, are languages many of us use to connect to one another. They provide a handy shorthand for declaring, “We come from the same place, kind of. (And we can share chisme in front of these gringos without them knowing).”
Because it feels so personal, it’s often jarring to hear an outsider attempt to connect to us using Spanish. It forces familiarity without necessarily having done the work of truly become familiarized. Not only that, Latinos in the U.S. increasingly consume media and speak to one another in English, not in Spanglish catchphrases yelled from a podium.
Totally valid response: If a politician attempts to address you in Spanish, demand that it be done formally.
Visiting Versailles In Miami
Sure, the pan con lechón there is great, but are politicians who visit this iconic Cuban restaurant actually:
1. Listening to the concerns of its patrons? And…
2. aware that the Versailles-going Miami Cuban population is not necessarily representative of Latino voters across the United States? BTW, keep in mind that your humble narrator is writing this as a Versailles-going Miami Cuban herself.
Totally valid response: Demand free lunch. If politicians get to enjoy things like delicious croquetas without having adequately earned them, so should you.
Any Use Of A Shakira Or Ricky Martin Song*
*Or any similar song from the “Latin explosion” of the ’90s, or the “Latin Invasion” of the early aughts.
It’s like they don’t even know that Helado Negro exists, or really, that any Latino has made music since 2003.
Totally valid response: Mute any livestream of political rallies filled with vague promises in favor of supporting Latino artists instead.
Declaring Blind Love For — Or Blind Love By — Latinos
Keep dreaming, cara de fruta bomba.
Totally valid response: Make your voice heard by voting, thus showing who this particular Latino (YOU!) truly cares about.
Focusing Solely On Immigration When Addressing Us
There are, of course, many Latinos in the United States who come from immigrant families or who are themselves immigrants. Americans of any stripe should hope for an immigration policy that is fair, safe and comprehensive.
However, this is not an issue that is only relevant to Latinos and it’s not the only issue important to Latino voters. It is painted as “the Latino issue” often at the expense of other things that impact us considerably, like the economy and education. For any politician to not understand this means they have not done their homework.
Totally valid response: Vote. Protest. Campaign. Write and talk about all the issues that matter to you. Show that we’re a diverse group of people who care about many things poised to impact our lives and the future of this country.
Make your voice heard. Tell us what issues you care about most this election year, below.
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