From the New York Times news section:
In a meeting last year, Nury Martinez mocked Indigenous immigrants and the Black child of a fellow council member.
If they are “Indigenous,” then how are they “immigrants?”
She will remain on the council but relinquished her leadership role.
By Jill Cowan and Shawn Hubler
Published Oct. 9, 2022
LOS ANGELES — The president of the Los Angeles City Council stepped down from her powerful leadership role on Monday after a leaked audio recording revealed racist and disparaging remarks that she had made about the Black child of a white fellow council member and about Indigenous immigrants in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood. …
Note that the oxymoron “Indigenous immigrants” is in the New York Times, which normally employs diligent copy editors. Apparently, that’s NYT policy for how to refer to immigrants who are Mexican Indians, which shows how little the NYT would like its readers to think about Mexican Indian immigrants.
In general, white liberal Americans don’t have a vocabulary for referring to the components of Mexico’s racial spectrum. For example, the term “mestizo” is extremely useful to Mexicans, but it strikes NYT subscribers as a racial slur.
The comments, which Ms. Martinez made last year during a meeting with two other council members and a labor official [on redistricting], exposed longstanding racial tensions in the governance of one of the nation’s most multicultural cities, as well as fault lines among the city’s Democrats. Calls continued on Monday for her to resign from the council entirely.
… Ms. Martinez, who is Latina, compared the Black child of a white council member to a “changuito,” Spanish for little monkey. She also called Oaxacan immigrants living in Koreatown “short little dark people.”
Ms. Martinez is fairly blanca herself.
It was unclear who leaked the recording of Ms. Martinez’s October 2021 meeting with Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, council members representing parts of the city’s East Side, and Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. It was also unclear who had made the recording …
During the meeting, the four officials were strategizing about political redistricting in advance of this year’s election. Mr. Herrera can be heard telling the group that “my goal is to get the three of you elected, and I’m just focused on that — we’re like a little Latino caucus of our own.”
… The conversation focused on those heated negotiations and on the distribution among the 15 council districts of economic and municipal “assets” such as stadiums, universities and airports. …
In the audio, the group echoed long-held complaints about representation in the city, where Latinos make up about half of the population but hold only about a third of the seats on the council. Ms. Martinez complained that the commission had recommended moving key assets, such as the Van Nuys airport, out of her district while claiming to back broader representation for Latinos.
… “If you’re going to talk about Latino districts, what kind of districts are you trying to create?” she asked her colleagues. “Because you’re taking away our assets. You’re just going to create poor Latino districts with nothing?”
I’m a little vague on the political economy of having assets in your council district. I’m guessing that if, say, the Van Nuys private plane airport is in your district, you will tend to get donations from business interests that want your support for airport-related projects, and you can help direct donations to your partners in your coalition to pass legislation that the airport business interests don’t care about. Or something like that.
Ms. Martinez, who is not up for re-election until 2024, added that Nithya Raman, a council member of South Asian descent, should not represent Koreatown, which is now largely Latino.
Ms. Martinez isn’t impressed with Koreatown’s Latinos, but still they are Latinos, so a South Asian shouldn’t get to represent them. (I think that’s the interpretation.) From Wikipedia:
In the course of the discussion on redistricting, she commented, “I see a lot of little short dark people there” in reference to Koreatown. “Oaxacan Koreans. Not even like Kevin. Little ones,” Cedillo replied. She then continued, “I was like, I don’t know what village they came from, how they got here, but whatever.” She can also be heard to remark, “tan feos” or “they’re so ugly” in Spanish.
Back to the NYT’s account:
Ms. Martinez also weighed in on a dispute between two Black council members over whose district would include Exposition Park and the University of Southern California. Rather than fight among themselves, Ms. Martinez said, they should demand a map in which one of them gets the massive Los Angeles International Airport. That asset, she noted, is in the district of a white council member, Mike Bonin, whom she referred to with a vulgarity.
Bonin is a gay white progressive who adopted a black child, as seen in this clip:
Apparently, Martinez hates the gay white liberal more than she hates the black council persons, because she’d like to see the crown jewel, LAX, go to a black politician as long as it’s taken away from Bonin. The black politicians are only doing what comes naturally, but the white guy who sides with blacks is weird.
In the ensuing exchange, Mr. de León referred to Mr. Bonin, a West Los Angeles liberal, as the council’s “fourth Black member” and joked with Ms. Martinez that Mr. Bonin carried his adopted son, who is Black, as if the toddler were a designer handbag. Ms. Martinez complained that on a parade float on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mr. Bonin had failed to control his son and said that the child’s antics had nearly tipped the float over.
That may be hyperbole.
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Ms. Martinez said on the recording.
I.e., not spanking him.
“I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner, and then I’ll bring him back.”
She also cursed George Gascón, the Los Angeles County district attorney, saying that “he’s with the Blacks.”
Uh, yeah …
News of the audio ricocheted around Los Angeles on Sunday, eliciting shock and fury but also acknowledgment of the complexity of race relations in the sprawling city. The furor extended to the city’s increasingly tight race for mayor between Rick Caruso, a white billionaire developer and police commissioner endorsed by Mr. Cedillo, and Representative Karen Bass, who is Black and was endorsed by Ms. Martinez.
Caruso builds the most popular malls in Southern California, like The Grove in West Hollywood. He’s really good at his job. The looting of his Grove during the Mostly Peaceful Protests may have pushed him to run for mayor.
On Sunday, both candidates condemned the statements made on the tape. On Monday, after Ms. Martinez’s resignation as president, Mr. Caruso and then Ms. Bass joined calls for the council members to step down.
… Latinos are by far the largest demographic among the city’s 3.8 million residents. But the Black community in Los Angeles — with 20 percent of the Council seats and powerful civic leaders dating back to Mayor Tom Bradley — has long wielded greater clout than would be suggested by its 8.8 percent of the population. And the Asian community has become a rising political force with nearly 12 percent of the population. White Angelenos, with more than 28 percent of the population, have long controlled much of the city’s wealth and power.
C’mon, people, keep your eyes on the prize: equity! White people’s equity!
Residents of the city routinely tout their diversity as an asset, and, since the 1992 riots, have expressed pride in the strides they have made in race relations. In polls, Latino residents of the city repeatedly say that their Black neighbors understand them better than do any other ethnic group in Los Angeles, and vice versa, said Fernando Guerra, whose Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University regularly surveys the city’s residents.
Saying you understand the other race might not mean what Professor Guerra thinks it means.
… In drawing a fair map, the Council “had to talk about race,” Mr. Guerra said. “Although not like this.”
In a searing joint statement on Sunday, Mr. Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, said that they were “appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted” by Ms. Martinez’s comments and called on her, Mr. de León and Mr. Herrera to resign from their positions. The couple added that “it hurts that one of our son’s earliest encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles.”
In condemning the entire conversation, Mr. Bonin and Mr. Arian said that it showed a troubling level of coordination in an effort to “weaken Black political representation.”
But blacks have more than two times times as many seats on the City Council (3 out of 15) as their share of the residents (but not their share of citizens or voters) would suggest. Why shouldn’t Hispanic politicians conspire to take representation away from over-represented blacks, other than that blacks are higher up the totem pole of Wokeness than are Hispanics?
In summary, Diverse America’s future will be full of interest.