Thursday, April 25, 2024

Many Latinos finally see themselves in a Presidential candidate

Musician Juan Tejeda sees something very familiar in Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, with his brown skin and roots in a poor Mexican-American neighborhood, Castro is the first who looks like him and has lived like him.

“He is very indigenous and Chicano,” said Tejeda, a conjunto accordionist who has roots in the West Side neighborhood of San Antonio, just like Castro. Castro, 44, is not the first Latino to run for president but he is the first of note, as far as Tejeda is concerned.

Since Barack Obama kicked open the door to the White House for African-Americans, there have been hopes by many that a Latino would follow him through it. There are likely to be more than two dozen candidates seeking the Democratic nomination and by being in the presidential field, Castro is giving Americans a view of Latinos that counters stereotypes and racist depictions of the country’s largest minority group.

“In Julián, you see a very indigenous-looking person,” Tejeda said. “The whole world now is going to have to come to terms with one, the way he looks and also, that he is very smart, that he’s gone to the finest universities.” Castro attended Stanford and Harvard Law, was mayor of San Antonio and served as the secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Obama.

Castro put his heritage on full display when he announced his candidacy from colorful Plaza Guadalupe in San Antonio’s West Side neighborhood. He made sure campaign signs, banners, pins and even a balloon display included the accent over the “a” in his first name.

In his presidential announcement speech, Castro identified the plaza and its neighborhood as emblematic of the purpose of his campaign. “Look around, there are no front-runners born here, but I’ve always believed that with big dreams and hard work, anything is possible”.