Racist Comments from L.A. City Council Members Are a Stark Reminder of the Colorism in the Latino Community

Racist Comments from L.A. City Council Members Are a Stark Reminder of the Colorism in the Latino Community belatina latine
Credit: Wiki Commons/ Twitter

Racism is loud and clear in 2022 – and even with Latinos making up almost half of Los Angeles’ population, the racism within the city’s minorities (especially among Latinos) is still severe.

On October 9, leaked audio from October 2021 revealed that Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said racist comments about another council member’s son. Her indecency resulted in her resignation. However, there’s still no word about her stepping out of her council seat.

Why did the L.A. City Council President resign?

The eyebrow-raising leaked audio in question revealed Martinez describing L.A. City Council member, Mike Bonin’s Black son (who was two years old at the time), as a monkey. She says: “Parece changuito.” In the audio she talks about how “the kid’s bouncing off the effing walls on the float,” and how “they’re raising him like a little white kid.” For some reason, this prompted her to say he “needs a beatdown.” 

She’s heard saying, “Let me take him around the corner, and then I’ll bring him back.”

Unfortunately, in Latine culture, “beatdown” is a common thing. I mean, how common (and toxic) is “chancla culture” in our community still? By the sounds of it, Martinez endorses this type of violent (and unacceptable) behavior.

That’s not all though! She says that the kid’s like Bonin’s “accessory” during Black History Month. In another leaked audio excerpt, she also mocks Oaxacans.

“As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal,” Martinez said in her resignation written press statement. “Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority. I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.” She also apologizes to whoever she’s hurt and asks for forgiveness. 

“We are appalled, angry, and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to physically harm him,” the council member’s family said in a press statement response. “It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful. The City Council needs to remove her as a Council President immediately, and she needs to resign from office.” 

What happens to the other Latine council members involved?

Well, Martinez did resign. But, what happens to the other Latine council members – Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera – that was also part of the conversation?

Following Martinez’s resignation, The L.A. Times reported that Ron Herrera resigned from his position as the L.A. County Federation of Labor President.

Kevin de León has also issued an apology statement. However, people are demanding they all step down. Even the SEIU California leaders issued a statement demanding it. 

“The anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, homophobia, abuse of power, divisiveness, and outright cruelty expressed in this conversation are outrageous and unacceptable. These are not the values of the labor movement and they undermine the unity required to build an equitable Los Angeles. These individuals have failed the test of leadership. It is important that they resign their positions and step aside so the healing can begin and our movement can come together to make progress for all working people in Los Angeles,” they wrote in the statement.

The colorism in the Latino Community needs to end

As we mentioned in a previous article, the reality is that colorism — prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin — has been ingrained in the Latino community for centuries. 

Racism and colorism are deeply ingrained in Latin American culture due to the exposure of meritless caste systems brought over by the notorious colonizers. Thus, this has caused Latinos to become “color-conscious” and borderline obsessed with the various skin color shades. Nevertheless, Black and Brown skins are beautiful. No questions about it. 

It is incomprehensible to see these issues making headlines in our time of age. By now, most of us are educated enough to understand how backward comments such as those made by the L.A. City Council Members are. However, this is yet another opportunity for the Latino community to sit down with their families and friends to explain why this type of behavior is unacceptable. 

As for the L.A. City Council Members, we’ll see what happens next.  One thing is for sure: They need to be held accountable.

All we know is that the community is not happy at all. Y con mucha razón.