Who's Speaking for Latinos at the Democratic National Convention?
Is the Latinx community receiving enough support at the DNC, or does the party have some work to do?
This year's virtual edition of the Democratic National Convention kicked off on Monday, and so has the debate about Latinx representation at the event. Actress Eva Longoria emceed the first night, and on Tuesday, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke for about 90 seconds. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto have also had solo speaking slots during the convention.
But some observers, including former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, have criticized the DNC for not featuring additional Latinx speakers. "I think that we could win the battle and lose the war," the former presidential candidate told Axios. "We could win in November, but you could see a potential slide of Latino support for Democrats." He also told MSNBC that he was "disappointed" there are not Native American or Muslim American speakers during the primetime events.
Cristóbal Alex, a senior adviser for Joe Biden, addressed criticisms like Castro's on Twitter, noting that many Latinx speakers have been and will be featured on various panels. On Tuesday, for example, Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed up with Latino Victory Project to host "The Future is Now," featuring Biden and celebrities like America Ferrera and Zoe Saldana. "We don't have time to waste in this election," said Saldana. "Our singular vote, together, with so many others, is powerful enough to bring change."
Jennifer Lopez also participated in Miranda's discussion, urging everyone to make sure they're registered to vote. "We literally have the power to determine who gets elected this November," Lopez said. "But to accomplish that, everyone that can vote needs to go and register to vote. ... We need leaders in our country to reflect the diversity of our country to represent us. The more representation we have in government, the more perspectives, different perspectives, and voices will be at the table to help make the laws that are inclusive of everyone."
Dallas-based Pastor Frederick Haynes III of the Friendship-West Baptist Church also spoke on the first night of the convention, and talked about the harm caused by the border wall with Mexico. "You had the nerve to build a wall while at the same time you have in the harbor there in New York a Statue of Liberty saying, 'Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,'" Haynes said. "Jesus will say, 'America, if you don't get your act together, you can — you may well go to hell. Why? Because in as much as you do it to the least of these, my sisters and brothers, you are also doing it unto me.'"
Alexia Sanchez, an executive board member of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Iowa City, said she was pleased with the convention's attempts at inclusivity, and thought Latinos were well-represented. "It's totally valid that some Latinos and some folks feel that way with the DNC and what's going on in the upcoming events," she told Iowa Public Radio. "While I do understand, I also recognize that there's a lot of different identities and a lot of different communities that are needing that spotlight during this time. We're all fighting for the same opportunities and empowerment. And I think this is one of the great ways that we can continue sharing that space when it's needed."