What not to say to your Latinx friends about ‘the Latino vote’

  • "The Latino vote" isn't as unified as it's made out to be. 
  • Latinx people represent over 33 countries, three subcontinents, and 61 million Americans, and implying they all vote for the same interests is false. 
  • Insider spoke to two Latinx therapists on what to avoid saying to your Latinx friends this election cycle. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump raked in a surprisingly high number of Latinx votes for his campaign this election cycle, in spite of ultimately losing the election itself.

Latinx voters have historically voted Democrat in elections and with Trump's border wall being the crown jewel of his campaign promises, many would assume voting for Trump would be against the best interest of Latinx people at large. 

The shift in Latinx voter trends has prompted a slew of politicians, members of the media, and policy experts to try and understand why exactly "the Latino vote" swayed in spite of Trump's border wall promises and hard-line immigration policies. But there is a distinction between informed political discourse and the generalization of the fastest-growing demographic in the US. 

Insider spoke to Latinx therapists on what not to say to your Latinx friends and co-workers this election season, and how you should approach the idea of "the Latino vote."

'The Latino voting block really voted against its own interests'

Latinx people represent an infinite mix of racial and cultural backgrounds, 33 countries, three subcontinents, and over 61 million Americans. 'The Latinx vote' is far from a monolith, which means the interests people are voting for are vastly different. 

According to Genesis Games, a Cuban-American psychotherapist and owner of Healing Connections, generalizing how Latinx people voted in the presidential election erases these different backgrounds.

"[People think] we all like tacos, breakout dancing to Bad Bunny, and vote for a certain party," Games told Insider. "Please, understand that the only thing we have in common is the language (and not even that in some cases), the region we come from, and that we are immigrants or descendants of immigrants."

Jacqueline Mendez, a sex and family therapist based in Woodland Hills, California, told Insider this kind of generalization also erases the most marginalized groups within the Latinx umbrella, like Afro-Latinx people and Indigenous Latinx people.

'Latinx people are conservative'

Generalizing the social views of Latinx people who voted for Trump misses how Latin American history has shaped Latinx voting behavior. 

The policies touted by the Biden administration are not the same socialist policies passed seen in countries like Cuba and Venezuela. But according to Games and Mendez, the Trump administration's accusations of socialism to smear Biden's campaign can be triggering for some Latinx people who come from countries that have had authoritarian socialist dictatorships. 

"As a Cuban-American who has lived most of her life in Miami, I have to say older generation Cubans tend to be devoted Republicans," Games said. "They are terrified of anything that even slightly resembles communism because of the trauma endured in Cuba."

Mendez said it's also important for young Latinx people trying to have conversations with their older relatives to keep this in mind.

"We also have to keep in mind that there was a lot of trauma that occurred in other countries, right?" Mendez said. 

'What's wrong with you?'

If you want to engage in the conversation about the Latinx vote and aren't Latinx, come with an open mind. 

"Don't ambush your Latinx friends with generalizations about the Latinx vote and experiences. Approach them with curiosity and a desire to understand," Games told Insider. "Instead of asking 'What's wrong with you? Why would you vote for Trump?'  try 'What happened to you that encouraged you to vote for Trump?'"

According to Mendez, coming from a place of wanting to understand will help you have a productive conversation and help you avoid blunders.

"I really encourage people to ask from a place of curiosity, not from a place of 'Let me hear what you're going to share so I can prove you wrong,'" Mendez said. 

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