#TedCruzIsAsLatinoAs Any Other Latino

#TedCruzIsAsLatinoAs Any Other Latino

Among the sea of hashtags that have come out of the political standoff over healthcare between #Obamacare and #StandWithCruz came this hidden gem: #TedCruzIsAsLatinoAs.

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Hundreds took to the web to partake in some (seemingly) harmless Cruz bashing.

Latino Rebels chimed in as well. According to @julito77, the Rebels are a humor site as well and late-night tweets are common for the group, but he did tell me that he could understand why people might have thought the Rebels were being hypocritical last night. He also said that the LR tweets were a bit more ironic, and as with anything, he stands behind whatever the Rebels tweet. (Sidenote: Some of the other Rebels told Julito the same thing.)

Hilarious as some of these may be, here’s the problem: people actually believe this stuff.

This is what Bill Richardson had to say about it, courtesy of the Washington Post:

“Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), a leading Hispanic voice in the Democratic Party, said Sunday that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shouldn’t be considered a Hispanic.

Asked in a web interview with ABC’s “This Week” whether Cruz represents most Hispanics, Richardson said the senator does not. Then he went a step further and suggests Cruz himself shouldn’t be labeled as Hispanic.

“He’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform,” Richardson said. “I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic.”

Cruz’s father is Cuban, and his mother is white.”

See that last line? Well that should speak for itself. And by the way, Latino Rebels took Richardson to task when he said it earlier this year.

Bill Richardson had a point in saying that Ted Cruz does not represent the majority of Latinos- I mean, come on-but in going a step further he made one of the biggest mistakes one can make in discussing race and ethnicity.

#TedCruzIsAsLatino as any other Latino, and saying anything else perpetuates every terrible stigma of race and ethnicity we have in society, because political leanings and beliefs simply aren’t a part of the equation. There is no measurement for how Latino someone is, and it definitely isn’t based on our affiliations.

This is the same kind of rationale that caused outrage last week when an Indian-American girl won the Miss America beauty pageant. Ignorance flooded the web as people accused her of not being American enough. I ask you, how are the #TedCruzIsAsLatinoAs jokes any better? Even we at Latino Rebels have something to learn from this.

Countless people have this totemic image of what we think an American or a Latino is or should be, when in reality it can be as simple as a few basic questions: Where were you born? What is your citizenship? Where are your parents from? Where do you live?

Our overly idealized conceptions of race and ethnicity tend to demand consensus when it just isn’t necessary. Because Latinos have been historically Democrats we mentally merge the two groups without realizing that you can be one without being the other. You don’t have to agree with a majority of Latinos to be one of us. Heck, you don’t need to have an opinion at all.

Besides, what’s a gran familia/grande familia without a little disagreement?

Ultimately race and ethnicity aren’t defined by political opinions or beliefs. Those things are just an exercise of free will, and that should never compromise your racial identity.

Take me for example. I’m a white guy, plain and simple. But I’m also a Brazilian native whose entire family is Latin American and has been for centuries. Does the fact that I’m white make me any less Latino? I say no, and Webster would agree.

So is Ted Cruz really Latino?

We may cringe at his anti-immigration policies that directly affect Hispanics everywhere; we may shudder at his incessant jabs at Obama’s universal healthcare plan that would be extended to many Latinos; but does that exclude him from our ethnic group?

No, it’ doesn’t. And we’d all do well to remember it.

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Cristiano M. Lima (@ludacristiano on Twitter) is a Brazilian-American journalist based out of Bethlehem, PA. He is a recent graduate of Lehigh University where he studied Political Science. He currently writes for WDIY, Prevention Magazine and WFMZ. He’s also been a contributor for Latino Rebels since the summer of 2013. He welcomes any and all Miami Heat trash talk.

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