I was listening to Jaime Abeytia's radio show on my way home for lunch today. He was talking about a woman running for some local office. She apparently married a white guy and for campaign purposes had to start throwing her Spanish maiden name in the mix to soften her whiteness for the election.
I love this topic because it shows how inherently racist our society is.
On his show Jaime correctly asserts that the altering of a candidate's name to better reflect their original ethnicity is almost exclusively a trait of communities with large Hispanic populations. There has been some of this type of name reorganization, if you will, in Polish and Irish communities in the past, but never to the extent that we see the Hispanics do it.
Obviously this situation happens more often with females than males. Females often take their husband's name when they get married. You will find some male candidates who have a white devil for a father and Hispanic mother will pick up their mother's maiden name out of convenience when they decide to run for office. All of this is absolutely hilarious to me and rightly brings these candidate's decision making abilities into question.
I have often joked with people that to get elected in the Lower Valley that it's best to be a Hispanic female. My big finish to the monologue usually advises that the perfect name for a Lower Valley candidate would be "Female, Hispanic." Changing your name to that would almost guarantee a win in any race.
Years ago a colleague of mine and I were discussing a rather heated local race taking place in a southern California city where one of the candidates had brought her Spanish last name out of retirement for the election. His question to me was a hard one to answer, he asked "who should be more offended, her husband whose name isn't good enough for her anymore, or the voters who are supposed to vote along ethnic lines instead of on the issues?"
That's a tough question. I would say both the husband and the voters should be a little put out. However, the voters are the reason this is a practice in the first place, so they can live with the reality they built.
The husbands of these women have to wonder what about their last name is so bad that they have to sneak their old one back into the mix. Would they be doing this if their husband's name was Ruiz instead of Smith? All of a sudden the husband is a white devil who she loves dearly, but not publicly. It's as if she is saying, "I love you babe, but your whiteness is bad for my image." I liken it to a white woman in the south being in love with a black man, but worried about how it would look if they appeared in public together. In fact, it's no different. She is saying, in this case, that her husband's ethnic background is not acceptable to others, therefore she would like to distance herself from it if only by a hyphen.
Women have a choice when getting married to either take their husband's name or keep their own. I offered to let my wife keep her last name. My name is rather long and hard to spell and pronounce. It causes lots of inconveniences and I was happy to keep my wife from being frustrated. She took the name anyhow and has regretted it every single day since. The good news is that she's way too proud and stubborn to admit I was right and she was wrong, so she's kept the name and doesn't complain much.
I would advise all women who are Hispanic and in love with a white devil that they consider keeping their name just in case they want to run for office in El Paso in the future. It just makes the ethnic pandering so much easier.
The addition of a Spanish surname to a candidate's current WASP name does say a lot about the electorate. If there wasn't something to the strategy, we wouldn't see it being repeated in nearly every election cycle. It obviously works.
When a candidate decides that their WASP name isn't going to work for an election, they are really saying that the voters in that district are ethnicists/racists. They assume the voters would be turned off by the idea that they may be white. In order to avoid the appearance of being white, they put a Spanish name in the game to do battle with their WASP image brought on by the fact that they (hold your nose here) MARRIED A WHITE GUY!
(Yes, I know that Hispanics are of the white race blah blah blah)
A few years back a really intelligent and nice guy named Troy Hicks ran against Representative Eddie Holguin. Hicks made no bones about his chances when asked about them on the Paul Strelzin show. He said that his anglo last name would be a disadvantage. Strelzin took a moment out of his daily routine of interviewing himself to chastise Hicks about that comment. You would have thought the guy said Hitler was a role model for diversity.
Hicks went on to give Holguin a pretty good run for his money, but unfortunately he's dropped out of sight since then. I really liked the guy and thought he'd be a great elected official if given the chance and it's not because he's white.
The charge of racism followed Hicks after his little bout with honesty on a live mic (don't you wish more politicos would have bouts with honesty). He was the poster child for our ethnic separation in this community even if he was merely an observer. The hypocrisy was so thick around this statement that you could have sold it by the pound after hacking it away with a machete.
Never had those like Strelzin, who were filled with righteous indignation over the statement, said a word about the reclamation of Spanish maiden names in order to appeal to voters who they knew would only vote for someone with a Spanish last name. The act of pandering to a certain race or ethnicity had been taking place well within the view of the public for decades. It only became a problem when a white guy pointed it out. And at that, the problem was that the white guy pointed out. Somehow it was wrong for a white guy to point out what is essentially the fact that we vote in this city along racial and ethnic lines. At least we do in certain parts of town. So much for calling it how your see it.
It should be noted that Mayor Cook and that Senator Shapleigh are white. Shapleigh has not had a Hispanic opponent to my knowledge and the Mayor's closest competition in the last election was a white guy (Gus Haddad). Take from that what you will.
In closing, I think it's ridiculous for anyone to vote along racial or ethnic lines. A white guy is as likely to screw me as a guy from any other race. Assuming that because someone has a German last name like mine makes them just like me, or a fan of my same values, is stupid. We're all individuals whether or not our government likes it or not. You are more than your ethnicity! I want you to vote accordingly. If being Hispanic is the only qualification you look for in a candidate, then you deserve whatever you get from them when they are elected. Good leadership knows no color.