Over the last week or so, I’ve learned a lot about this election, about race, about equity and about this country from Black, independent news sources and journalists like Roland Martin, whose election coverage was outstanding.
Please subscribe to Roland Martin Unfiltered — his daily digital show on YouTube, where Latino political scientist and Democratic strategist Matt Barreto unpacked the apparent conundrum of Trump’s increased Hispanic support, especially in Florida, after fiascos like the president’s mismanagement of Hurricane Rita in Puerto Rico and his child separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Let’s talk about Miami,” where Trump’s Hispanic support was particularly high, Barretto said. “Miami is only 3 percent of the entire national Latino electorate and last night you would have thought that was all — that we were all Cuban or Venezuelan. But even in Florida, only about one-third of Latinos are Cuban and one-third are Puerto Rican.
“So, we need to take the Latino electorate state-by-state and we need to take a state as complex as Florida and break it out by different geographies and ethnicities,” he said. “And one of the things we found last night looking at the data is that in the Puerto Rican community in Orland, in Tampa, in Osceola County — we did really well.”
I’ve used the term Latinx as a journalist more and more over the last two years, but after last week’s election, the term is under scrutiny and I’m beginning to rethink my own usage of it.
Carlos Ballesteros, of the Chicago Sun-Times, tweeted that “there is no such thing as a unified Latin@ identity, so maybe we should stop using the term unless we’re citing census/demographic research?
“White supremacy demands different groups from different parts of the world zero out their differences and unite under the white identity. It might be too late to reverse racialization, but maybe there’s still time to refer to ‘Latinos’ in a better, more specific way? Idk [an abbreviation for: I don’t know]. Like, when writing a story about Mexican, Central American and South American immigrants in Chicago, I don’t see the need to say ‘Latinos’.”
Martin agrees, explaining that Democratic politicos often try messaging ethnic minorities with too broad a brush. Perhaps, he said, catchall words like Latinx fall into this tendency.
“We have got to stop saying Latinx,” Martin said. “You’ve got to say, ‘We’re going to have a targeted effort for Cubans, for Puerto Ricans, for Venezuelans, etc.’ And a separate strategy for Mexican Americans in Texas, which would be completely different from the strategy for Chicanos in Chicago or Dominicans in New York.”
Barreto said that when his firm, Latino Decisions, asked people in polls “about what they want to identify as, Hispanic is still the overwhelming term by about 65 percent and then Latino or Latina. Only about 2 percent use Latinx, which is sort of an insider or D.C. academic sort of term. Even among young people, it usually doesn’t get more than 10 percent among them.”
“When you talk about African Americans in this country, you’re talking about people from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi,” Martin said. “When you talk about Latinos in America, you have to think nationalities, because they have a national identity; whereas, African Americas simply say, ‘I’m Black.’ So, you can’t ignore the nationalist perspective of these voters.”
Martin adds that there are even “white Hispanics,” who identify more with closely with white voters than with Hispanic voters.
“Think of how the Black population is changing with Haitian, Jamaican, Caribbean, Ethiopian and Eritrean,” Barreto said.
“Many people who supported Donald Trump who were Black were those immigrants,” Martin said.
They were also Black men like the ones I interviewed in the suburbs and that my colleagues interviewed in the Austin neighborhood.
“The president that I voted for didn’t win,” said one, who requested anonymity. “It’s a sad day. I can’t be entertained no more. Biden will be too boring.”
“I think Trump is better with the economy than Biden,” said another Black man, who also declined to disclose his identity. “I think Trump has more experience with money than Biden and Trump will let you know what he feels about whatever; whereas Biden, to me, be hiding.”
We also spoke with two Hispanic men, brothers who live in Melrose Park who echoed Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.
“I just don’t think it was a fair election, because of all the fraud going on and the fake mail-in ballots,” Andres Fernandez said.
“The winner is the winner,” said Joseph Fernandez. “But there is a lot of fraud in the world.”
On Nov. 5, as demonstrators were protesting at Lake and Harlem in Oak Park against Trump’s attempts to stop the vote counting, I asked Don Smith, a 61-year-old Black man who was waiting for a Pace bus, to explain why some Black and Brown men, particularly celebrities like Ice Cube and Lil Wayne, fall for Trump.
“Taxes,” Smith said. “They want to keep that money. They want to be like him. But they should realize that they can’t go 10 and 11 years without doing their income taxes. I bet you they’d go to jail. That’s what they should realize.”
Meanwhile, Greg Carr — the Howard University professor whose weekly segment, “In Class with Carr” on the Karen Hunter Show (which you can watch on YouTube) has been invaluable to my personal development — talked about politicians like John James, a Black man running for U.S. Senate in Michigan who obscured the fact that he’s Republican while touting his support for Trump. Carr said many Blacks may have supported him, because of his race — a mistake that millions of white voters committed with Donald Trump.
“Don’t take race as a proxy for your best interests,” Carr said. “We must learn that lesson. We’re way past the politics of demographics.”
On the street and on social media, often out of sight of corporate media behemoths, these are the nuanced conversations Black and Brown people are having among themselves during this election cycle.
White people will learn a lot by listening in.