Actor Eva Longoria, who campaigned for President-Elect Joe Biden and even emceed the Democratic National Convention earlier this year, is facing criticism for an interview she did with MSNBC’s Ari Melber over the weekend. Longoria responded to a fairly innocuous question about women of color voting in record numbers with language that registered like thinly-veiled anti-Black sentiment. “Women of color showed up in big ways,” she said. “Of course, you saw in Georgia what Black women have done but Latina women were the real heroines here, beating men in turnout in every state and voting for Biden-Harris at an average rate of 3:1.” She hit that “real” pretty hard, as if to downplay the successes of black women while also erasing Afro-Latina voters.
Longoria’s statement feels eerily similar to one Gina Rodriguez made early last year, when, while participating in a roundtable conversation with Emma Roberts, Ellen Pompeo, and Gabrielle Union about gender inequality, she said, “I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it, where white women get paid more than Black women... And Black women get paid more than Asian women and Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into. I always feel like I fail when I speak about it because I can’t help but feel already so gracious to do what I do.” Apart from being misinformed, her comments positioned Latinas as somehow more marginalized than Black women, erased the existence of Afro-Latinas, and generally made her sound ignorant.
However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Longoria published a note on Twitter, apologizing for her MSNBC interview. She wrote, “I’m so sorry and sad to hear that my comments on MSNBC could be perceived as taking credit from Black women. When I said that Latinas were heroines in this election, I simply meant that they turned out in greater numbers and voted more progressively than LATINO MEN.”
“My wording was not clear and I deeply regret that. There is such a history in our community of anti-Blackness in our community and I would never want to contribute to that, so let me be very clear: Black women have long been the backbone of the Democratic Party, something we have seen played out in this election as well as previous ones. Finally, Black women don’t have to do it alone any longer. Latinas (many who identify as Afro-Latina), indigenous women, AAPI women and other women of color are standing with them so we can grow our collective voice and power. Together, we are unstoppable! Nothing but love and support for Black women everywhere! You deserve a standing ovation!!!!”
Now that I can get behind—but next time, make the message clear right out of the gate, alright? I’m reminded of something Tonja Renée Stidhum wrote at the Root: “It’s really telling when non-black POC stand on the backs of black people’s fight for representation to champion their own causes. It’s never ‘Hey, let’s build our own’ and more, ‘Hey, y’all fight is trending, why can’t ours, too?’” There’s no need to dismiss the incredible work of Black women to drive home the successes of Latinas, many of whom are Black. We’re all supposed to be fighting for the same shit—but as comments from Longoria and Rodriguez make clear, some Latinxs have a lot of work to do in even understanding the differences within our communities.