Ever since Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine would be her running mate, one particular fact about him has been making headlines: He is fluent in Spanish because of his work with missionaries in Honduras. On Wednesday evening at the DNC, Kaine spoke Spanish in an attempt to connect with Latinx voters in America. But when it comes down to it, Kaine isn't representative of the Latinx population. Many other important Latinx perspectives were present at the convention, and they shouldn't be overlooked.
That's not to say for certain that every Latinx person at the DNC can speak Spanish. However, a lot of Latinx folks have already made it clear on social media that Clinton's picking a Spanish-speaking white man is not actually a substitute for picking a Latinx running mate. Huffington Post reporter Nelson Flores made an important point about this by directing attention toward another candidate on Clinton's VP shortlist: Julián Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. According to Politico, one Clinton insider pointed out that Kaine spoke better Spanish than Castro, even though Castro is Latinx and Kaine is not. Why does proficiency matter more than heritage? It seems like that's missing the point at hand.
Instead of giving all the attention to Kaine, the nation needs to remember that there was actual Latinx representation at the DNC. Celebrities America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, and Demi Lovato all spoke at the convention, while Karla Ortiz and Astrid Silva both spoke specifically about immigration. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez also took the stage, among others. And on Wednesday evening, 14-year-old mariachi singer Sebastien De La Cruz performed the national anthem. Let's take a look at some of their powerful quotes from the DNC about visibility, Latinx identity, and their lived experiences.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez
So it's true that Kaine can speak Spanish. But let's not for a minute think that counts as Latinx representation, when there were so many powerful Latinx voices at the DNC this week.