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#NotMyAbuela: Hillary Clinton Offends Some Latinos With Blog Post


Hillary Clinton is under fire from Latinos, specifically online. This comes from a recent blog post by Clinton's campaign that was meant to reach out to Latinos. Instead, it offended many people. NPR's Sam Sanders has a regular political feature called Meme of the Week - this certainly qualifies. Sam, what's the meme?

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: So this week, Hillary Clinton's campaign put up a blog post called "7 Things Hillary Clinton Has In Common With Your Abuela." That word...

SHAPIRO: Grandmother in Spanish.

SANDERS: ...Means grandmother in Spanish, exactly. Clinton's been making a big deal of the fact that she is a grandmother. In the post, Hillary says that like your abuela, she does things like worry about children everywhere and is not afraid to talk about the importance of respecting women. She uses the Spanish word for respect. There's a picture of Clinton with Marc Anthony, the famous singer. There was a reference to Clinton's work with DREAMers, who are young immigrants who've been working for their legal status. You could see what her team was trying to do. They wanted to reach out to Latinos and Spanish speakers with some specifics cultural nods.

SHAPIRO: But instead, they got a trending Twitter hashtag - #NotMyAbuela.

SANDERS: #NotMyAbuela, exactly. So some people online thought that this was pandering. In fact, Hispandering, which is a mashup of the words...

SHAPIRO: Hispanic and pandering.

SANDERS: ...Hispanic and pandering. Soon after the post went up, this #NotMyAbuela began to trend. One person that we saw tweet, Lupita Gonzalez - she wrote, our experiences cannot be equated to those of a rich and privileged white woman. It's shameful and disrespectful to try. There was another woman who actually read her tweet to us. Her name is Marisol Ramos.

MARISOL RAMOS: Hillary Hillary is #NotMyAbuela because I was separated to mine by many miles in a militarized border.


SANDERS: Yeah. But to be clear, not all the tweets with this hashtag were that biting. Some were just kind of lighthearted jokes.

SHAPIRO: Is what the Clinton campaign was trying to do here all that different from what political campaigns do all the time - trying to appeal to certain demographic groups by identifying with them and so on?

SANDERS: Everybody does it, not just for Spanish speakers. Like, this happens a lot. Of course, some people do it better than others. In the '08 campaign, Barack Obama famously adopted the phrase si, se puede, which means yes, we can in Spanish, and that kind of worked for him. And even in this election, Bernie Sanders supporters have taken to calling him tio Bernie, which means uncle Bernie in Spanish.

SHAPIRO: But we could also have a montage here of all kinds of politicians speaking terrible Spanish and...

SANDERS: They've all done it.

SHAPIRO: ...Making a fool of themselves.

SANDERS: Exactly.

SHAPIRO: OK, in 2008, Barack Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote in the presidential election. In 2012, he won three-quarters of the Latino vote. Is something like this actually going to hurt Hillary Clinton with Latino voters?

SANDERS: Hillary Clinton has a very strong and long track record of high support in this community. A recent poll out from Marist this month found that among Latinos, Hillary Clinton beats all of the leading GOP candidates by double-digits. And back in '08 when she ran for president the first time, the Pew Hispanic Center found that Hispanics voted for Clinton over Obama by nearly 2 to 1 margin. And on the issues, Clinton has stances that many Latinos seem to support. She's come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. She also says that she supports deportation relief for so-called DREAMers. These are stances that are further to the left than Barack Obama. Hillary's campaign has responded to us as well. The campaign's director of Latino outreach said that Clinton is a proud grandmother who has spent her entire career fighting for families and children and stands up for Latinas. And a campaign staffer told me that a Latino woman actually wrote the abuela post in part because Clinton reminds her of her abuela.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Sam Sanders - who is not my abuela. Thanks, Sam.

SANDERS: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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