Are Latino Politicians Considered Latino If They Can't Speak Fluent Spanish?


The prospect that he might be a running mate to Hillary Clinton made Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro a target over his Spanish speaking skills, something that many Latino politicians are all too familiar with.
In a story published Thursday, Politico paraphrased an unnamed source saying Castro’s ethnic background “may not be as effective in appealing to Hispanic voters as some believe.”
“Tim Kaine speaks Spanish much better than Julian Castro does,” the Clinton ally told Politico. Kaine is a Virginia Democrat who spent a year working in Honduras with Jesuit priests.
Castro is considered by many to be a potential running mate for Clinton, a 2016 presidential candidate.
Castro spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara said she would not comment on the criticism saying, Castro is “laser-focused on ending homelessness, expanding responsible homeownership, tackling the affordable housing crisis and creating communities of opportunity across the nation, not on 2016.”
But what appeared to be a flippant matter to the “Clinton ally” is one that can be agonizing and even embarrassing to some Latinos, something that opens them to questioning about their Latino identity.
Former U.S. Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas experienced painful ridicule and embarrassment over his Spanish speaking skills, often at the hands of other Latinos.
“There were people who tested me all the time when I was in office, just to see if I spoke Spanish,” said Gonzalez, whose parents and grandparents spoke Spanish and who like Castro is from San Antonio.
“I’m not sure if you are supposed to be shamed into some sort of apology that you don’t (speak Spanish) … It’s expected of us and I don’t think we should have that expectation. As you move forward in the generations we are no different than those groups that come from this country.”
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