When I heard FLOTUS compared brown folks to tacos, I didn’t know how to react. Should I be mad (like so many others who also need to stay focused on actual issues)? Should I be disappointed at the crappy speech writer and staff work? Frankly, I’m pretty sure pissing us off wasn’t FLOTUS’ intent. Chalk it up to another case of white folks thinking they’re doing us a favor, maybe?
Arellano at the LATimes provided us a history of politics and Mexican food. I mean, remember Gerald Ford’s failure at tamales? Then, there’s also Varela at MSNBC who expands on the politics of trying to pat brown folks on the head, while avoiding action on the issues that affect us–by both parties.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama held lavish diplomatic banquets featuring Mexican food (the Gipper invited actual Mexican chefs; Barry went with Rick Bayless). Jesse Jackson praised Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 for being able to “go from biscuits to tacos to caviar real fast, knowing that’s just the cultural diversity that makes up America.” Bill Clinton went so often to Tex-Mex classic Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio that it features a painting of a jogging Slick Willie wearing a — you guessed it! — Mi Tierra Cafe T-shirt.
Most of us agree that while FLOTUS and Democrats shouldn’t ever, ever try to make a funny based on culture (they haven’t earned their barrio card; even some of the brown ones haven’t), Republicans really don’t have a say in any of this. Trying to play on brown folk’s annoyance while vilifying brown folk in their policies is pretty stupid. “They compared you to tacos, all we want to do is put you in cages! Ha! Ha!”
As Varela states:
As much as they don’t want to admit it, Democrats, particularly the Bidens, have been uncomfortable practitioners in not understanding the complexity of the Latino community. Last year, the first lady mispronounced the iconic “Sí se puede” chant in Spanish, leading to some head shakes. About 10 years ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to the National Council of La Raza (the previous name of UnidosUS) made a bizarre analogy between Mitt Romney’s tax returns and Latinos having to show their immigration papers, as if immigration status is what solely defined the community. Partisan supporters applauded his comments back then, but it felt a bit disconnected, just like the time when candidate Hilary Clinton in 2016 was being compared to an abuela. But are Republicans really the right ones to launch their criticism at Biden, and at Democrats more widely, when it comes to serving Latinos?
And this is what I’m talking about. Worthless platitudes and attempts at being funny at high-priced conferences that most brown folk cannot afford to attend is not how one gets our vote. But a gaffe sure as hell gets to the people, huh?
No, it’s about the action, pendejos! It’s about what you do once we get you into office. We have a Democratic President, Senate, and House and we can’t get immigration reform passed; not even something as simple as codifying DACA. The rights of women and voters have been thrown to the curb, and that also affects brown folks. Standing up to price gouging corporations in a substantial way, rather than finger-wagging for the cameras, is the least that would be appreciated at the moment. Fight for us, cabrones!
So, I’m not angry. Annoyed? Sure. But most Democratic faithful annoy me since all they want is my vote and not my criticism or even calls for accountability. So much for the democracy they purport to want to save, right?
What I do find annoying is the speechwriting targeted at brown folks and its continual failure at capturing us. The Biden administration poached so many salaried “movement” professionals (labor, farm worker, immigration reform), one would figure they’d be called up to help with what was probably supposed to be a simple, non-controversial speech.
Anyway, I prefer to be distracted by actual tacos.