Spring 2016 Article

Abuelita Clinton: Authenticity or Hispandering?

By Ana Guerroro

On December 21st, 2015 one of Hillary Clinton’s staff members posted the article “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” (Luisi 2015). This post has received lots of criticism from Latinos because they say she is nothing like their abuela, or grandmother. These people took to Twitter to express their feelings where the main criticism was that there is a sharp difference in race, class, and life experience that cannot be equated. Some responses were not as critical, and only made fun of the article. One meme that came up was a picture of the Abuelita hot chocolate with Clinton’s face edited on top. Other memes just questioned if Clinton really knew Latino culture. This was an important point, because how can Clinton compare herself to others’ abuelitas if she does not understand the culture?

Critics have noted that Clinton is pandering to the Latino community to get their vote. Or an even better word is “hispandering.” It is “a mashup of ‘Hispanic’ and ‘pandering’ that means faking interest in Hispanic issues and culture for self-serving reasons” (Meraji 2015). Clinton is not alone because other candidates have been going after the Latino voters too. This is because they are an important factor in the 2016 elections. Latino millennials are going to be an even more important group because Latino millennials make up almost half (44%) of the eligible Latino vote (Krogstad et al 2016). This explains why the Clinton staff thought it would be a good idea to make the references to someone presumably important to all Latino millennials: their grandma.

Clinton does have a record of early outreach to young Latinos. She was meeting with young DREAMers in Nevada months before other candidates even announced they were joining the race to the presidency (Sakuma 2016). Clinton also has the most progressive immigration reform plan (Sakuma 2015). Her approach to immigration reform includes a path to full citizenship, an expansion of the executive orders, and an end to inhumane detention practices. However, some see immigration reform as an empty promise, and that she is more worried about meeting her political goals than genuinely helping Latinos. They see it as more hispandering.

Hispandering is not exactly the problem. It is nice to see that a presidential candidate is responding to the concerns of the Latino community. The problem is actually keeping her promises if she becomes the president. This is where her ties to President Barack Obama may be hurting her chances of winning the Latino vote. President Obama also had a hopeful approach to immigration reform, but ended up deporting more immigrants than any other president (Sakura 2016). He has used the immigration issue as a tool, and Clinton might be doing the same thing.

What Hillary Clinton is missing is being genuinely concerned with Latino’s issues and authenticity in her political stances. First, she has been trying to reach out to us in various ways, but there is still this disconnection between her and Latinos. The reason behind this disconnection could be the same reasons Latinos do not see her as their grandma: the distinct class and race boundaries. She talks about immigration reform, but she has not lived an immigrant’s life experience.

Another more important point is that she does not seem authentic in her political stance. She has a record of contradicting herself and her hypocrisy is showing. An example that vividly illustrates this is the incident that occurred at one of Clinton’s fancy fundraisers in a private home in South Carolina. Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams interrupted the event by demanding that Clinton account for her political inconsistencies (Tynes 2016). Specifically, she wanted Clinton to account for her quote “bring them to heel” from her 1996 “superpredator” speech. The activist also wanted her to apologize for the things she said in that speech and for her role in mass incarceration. Hillary told her she had to get back to the issues, as if racism was not an issue, and then had secret service throw her out. This is a perfect example of how Clinton changes political stances in order to reach her goals. She is not authentically concerned about the issues that minorities face. Her stance on immigration reform is only a political strategy to get into the presidency. Or has it already been forgotten that she strongly supported deporting children who were fleeing violence in Central America? All of these children qualified for humanitarian relief, but Clinton was quick to send them back to their violent and impoverished home countries (Roque 2015).

In order for Clinton to be an acceptable candidate she needs to account for her actions. Clinton needs to apologize for her hate speech, and she needs to be actively aware of the consequences her discourse brings. Let’s get back to the issues! She said this as if racism is not an ongoing issue that people face everyday. Clinton also needs to stick to her political stance, and not change it according to her political goals. Minorities cannot be another strategy in her political game. She did not care about the Central American refugee children, and she was all for sending them back to their countries. A real abuelita welcomes children with open arms, and she makes sure that they are okay and have full bellies. Last, she needs to stick to her word. If she promises something then she needs to deliver. Or she at least needs to show that she is working hard to deliver. This would go past hispandering, and show that the concerns of minority groups are important to her. If she cannot keep her promises then she is not fit to be president.

Works Cited:

Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Mark Hugo Lopez, Gustavo López, Jeffrey S. Passel, and Eileen Patten. "Millennials Make Up Almost Half of Latino Eligible Voters in 2016." Pew Research Centers Hispanic Trends Project RSS. Pew Research Center, 19 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. < http://www.pewhispanic.org/2016/01/19/millennials-make-up-almost-half-of-latino-eligible-voters-in-2016/>

Luisi, Paola. "7 Things Hillary Clinton Has in Common with Your Abuela." Hillary Clinton. Hillary for America, 21 Dec. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. < http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=116760>

Meraji, Shereen Marisol. "A Politician Walks Into King Taco ... A Look At The Political Term 'Hispandering'" NPR. NPR, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/12/08/458461200/a-politician-walks-into-king-taco-a-look-at-the-political-term-hispandering>.

Planas, Roque. "Hillary Clinton Defends Call To Deport Child Migrants." Huffpost Politics. The Huffington Post, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-child-migrants_us_55d4a5c5e4b055a6dab24c2f>.

Sanders, Sam. "#MemeOfTheWeek: Hillary Clinton, Not Quite An Abuela." NPR. NPR, 26 Dec. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/461116160/-memeoftheweek-hillary-clinton-not-quite-an-abuela>.

Sakuma, Amanda. "What Hillary Clinton Is Missing about Latino Voters." Msnbc.com. NBC News Digital, 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/what-hillary-clinton-missing-about-latino-voters>.

Sakuma, Amanda. "Why Hillary Clinton's Immigration Policy Is a Big Deal." Msnbc.com. NBC News Digital, 06 May 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/why-hillary-clintons-immigration-policy-big-deal>.

Tynes, Tyler. "Black Lives Matter Activists Interrupt Hillary Clinton At Private Event In South Carolina." Huffpost Politics. The Huffington Post, 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/clinton-black-lives-matter-south-carolina_us_56ce53b1e4b03260bf7580ca>.