When asked if he had ever corrected the record of being Puerto Rican before the press conference where he was introduced as lieutenant governor, Delgado said in a statement that he was “raised as a mix of heritages”, including “Latino roots”.
“It’s the environment I grew up with and how I identify with it,” he said in the statement. “My mother’s maiden name is Gomez and she grew up identifying as having Latin roots.”
Racism and colorism may also play a role in how Mr. Delgado’s description of being Afro-Latino is received, said Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who identifies as Afro-Latino.
“I find it curious that those of us who are black-skinned often have our Latino identity challenged,” said Mr. Torres, who supports Mr. Delgado. “As an Afro-Latino, I’ve been told many times that I don’t look Latino, whatever that means, and therefore I must be less authentically Latino than those who have skin. clearer.”
Zaire Z. Dinzey-Flores, associate professor of Latin and Caribbean studies at Rutgers University, said she understands why some Latinos are unhappy with the appointment. Being Afro-Latino in the United States, she says, involves a complicated mix of race, language and culture.
“Experience informs what you see, how you perceive things, how you bring up issues that might go unnoticed or unrecognized,” Professor Dinzey-Flores said. Choosing someone of Afro-Latino descent to represent the constituency in government, she added, should be about “authentically” capturing that experience, not “ticking a box.”
Melissa Mark-Viverito, a former New York City Council president who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, agreed, saying Mr Delgado’s claim to Latino heritage ‘raises question and concern people who loosely adopt certain identities and aren’t completely honest.”