Earlier today the New York Times published Jeb Bush’s voter registration form, which listed his ethnicity as “Hispanic.” Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, is primarily of English and German ancestry according to this online family history. However, Jeb Bush is married to Columba Bush, who is from Guanajuato, Mexico. Bush’s wife could legitimately identify as Hispanic, given the broad nature of the bureaucracy created term to identify people who have lineage from the Iberian peninsula. But Jeb Bush calling himself Hispanic is absurd.
Bush has since tweeted that the identification as Hispanic was a mistake. Mistake or not, Bush’s error raises another issue: most Latinos/Hispanics don’t identify with a pan-ethnic label. I think that this has to do with a variety of reasons ranging from a rejection of government and marketing labels to a realization that Latinos are so diverse that catch-all phrases erase nuances that make the different groups unique.
This brings me back to an awakening that I have witnessed in the Chicano (Mexican-American) community in the Southwest, where young people who are marketed and targeted for their “Latino” or “Hispanic” identity are reclaiming the Chicano (also spelled Xicano in reference to Nahautl language) identity of the previous generation. One writer who has been influential in promoting Chicano identity as distinctive from “Latino” and “Hispanic” is Santino Rivera who created the graphic pictured in this piece to push back against corporatocracy.
Jeb Bush might make a mistake in calling himself “Hispanic,” but many would argue that he lacks the political consciousness and experiences that would cause him to be mistaken for a Chicano. I suspect that Mr. Bush would not have made this mistake had the voter registration form explicitly said “Chicano.”
Graphic credit: Santino Rivera