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Regardless of where you live you have probably heard about Nury Martinez and the circumstances that led to her resignation from Los Angeles City Council. The short story is Martinez, who was the first Latina to hold the position of president of the Los Angeles City Council, was secretly recorded in a private conversation with other council members where she was heard making disparaging remarks about her colleagues and the two-year-old Black son of another councilman. She referred to the boy as behaving like a “Changuito”…not too cool. The LA Times broke the story by calling her comments racist and outrageous. Under pressure from the community including practically every Latino in public office, Martinez apologized and resigned from her city council position in shame. You can read the LA Times Story here.
About two years ago, I wrote a blog “Thou Shall Not Publicly Criticize Other Latinos”. The blog was my response to the sharp criticism Eva Longoria received for crediting Latinas for Joe Biden’s election win rather than the more common view that it was Black women who made the difference for Biden in 2020. I thought her comments were benign and was disappointed that Latinos didn’t have her back. I’m not comparing Nury Martinez’s behavior to what Eva Longoria said. They aren’t even in the same ballpark. However, we all agree that racism in all forms should be rooted out of politics swiftly and absolutely. Shouldn’t we hold everyone to the same standard? I don’t know if Nury Martinez is racist in her heart, but we elect people in part for their judgment, and at the very least, she showed exceedingly poor judgment.
Latinos know what racism feels like. We know the damage that it causes. People from marginalized communities should be the last people to discriminate, but we know that is not always the case. That said, we cannot allow this episode to put us back on our heels politically or economically. We need to continue to lean in and push forward, and we need to stand up for ourselves with the same impunity as we do for others. Let’s face it, the number of politicians who make disparaging and racist remarks about Latinos is too numerous to count, but I can’t think of a single elected official who was forced to resign for it. If we held others to the same zero-tolerance standard that we apparently hold our own, the Latino community would have ten times the political and economic clout as it does today.