A friend sent me an article on George P. Bush, one of Jeb’s sons, who is running for office in Texas. The article describes him as “the handsome, studious and half-Hispanic George P.” That’s fine with me. But, honestly, I can’t remember seeing a Democratic politician described as “half Hispanic.”
The New York Times came up with a startling phrase not long ago: “white Hispanic.” That was applied to George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case. There was a need to honkify him, evidently. Bill Richardson, Sonia Sotomayor: Have they ever been described as “white Hispanics,” by the New York Times or anyone else? Seriously.
The article on George P. gave me a memory — of Wanda Sykes at the 2009 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Infamously, she said vile things about Rush Limbaugh, just vile. In other words, par for the course. But she also said something kind of funny, as I recall.
Looking at President Obama, she said (and I paraphrase), “You’re the first black president and all, and we’re proud of you. But as soon as you screw up, you’ll be half white. It’ll be like, ‘Who elected the mulatto?’”
Last week, I was in Peru, talking with Hernando de Soto. (How pleasant to be able to write that sentence.) One of the things we talked about was the term “Latins.” It used to refer to Europeans who had come to the Americas. In evolution, it became something a lot different.
And I know I’ve related this story before — it comes from Pat Gigliotti, a friend of NR’s, and a cruiser with us. He was born with the name Pasquale, but an Irish nun had trouble pronouncing it, so renamed him “Pat.”
When he was growing up in Kansas City, some mothers wouldn’t allow their daughters to date him, because he wasn’t “white.” He was Italian. These days he lives in L.A. and is considered an “Anglo.”
Weird stuff. And Rudolph Valentino, remember, was the “Latin lover.” He was not “Hispanic,” of the “white” or any other variety.
This country is screwy in any number of ways — economic, etc. But aren’t we at our screwiest when it comes to race and ethnicity?