7 ways mi abuela is cooler than Hillary Clinton.
And why Hispandering isn’t going to win my vote or respeto.
In an effort to reach out to the coveted “latin@ voter” Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a listicle of 7 ways Hillary Clinton is like everyone’s abuela. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love abuela? This classic case of Hispandering inspired me to write my own listcle about my actual abuela:
1. Mi abuela emigrated to the United States, fleeing systemic poverty imposed on our island nation of Puerto Rico by the United States.
She grew up in Maunabo, Puerto Rico, and was separated from her family at a young age because her mother couldn’t afford to take care of her and her siblings. She, along with many other Puerto Ricans, was a part of the mass exodus on the island in the 1950’s due to economic turmoil.
2. She worked at a factory in New York making poverty wages, most of which she sent back to her children in Puerto Rico.
Mi abuela came up to New York so that her children wouldn’t have to uproot their childhoods to come to the US. Two of her children were in desperate need of medical care and she did what she could to provide for them.
3. She was a mother to us all.
Mi abuela not only succeeded in moving her children to the United States- she also had a significant role in raising all her grandchildren, including me.
4. Despite having an elementary education, mi abuela knows all the secrets of life.
So Puerto Rico’s education system in the 1920s and 30s was a hot mess (thanks colonialism). Most children dropped out of school and began working on farms or in the household by age 10. Mi abuela though? There are hipster shops dedicated to herbal knowledge, but mi abuela has been on that tip since 1928. Eucalyptus oil? Yea, mi abulea taught me that as a child.
5. She taught me what real respeto means.
Growing up Black and latina was complicated personally. Mi abuela taught me to embrace my Blackness and everything that came with it. She knew respect was no guarantee for me as a woman, a Black woman, and a Black Latina. She taught me intersectionality before I knew what it meant. In this regard Hillary will never know what it’s like to hold those identities.
6. Coquito, pernil, arroz y habichuelas: mi abuela knows how to cook.
7. Mi abuela passed down tradition.
Despite moving to the United States, being mocked for her accent and told to “just learn english already”, mi abuela has kept our heritage and tradition strong and true with our family. Every day after school she spoke to me in Spanish because “it’s our language”.
Hillary’s team got it wrong. You would think that, with all the attention they’re receiving, they might bring the conversation around to real issues that impact real latin@s. But instead, in a cheap attempt to pander to much-sought-after latin@ voters, the campaign erased the real issues that impact latin@s living in the US, substituting them for a caricature of our real abuelas. Where was immigration, our efforts to provide for our families, and our navigation of race and ethnicity in the US? The campaign had a great opportunity to uplift the latin@ community, but tried to use us instead.
As elections come and go I know one thing I can count on: mi abuela.