Author: Jeffrey

The End of White

The End of White

How the Nury Martinez scandal strikes at the heart of Latino identity

In early 2014, Nury Martinez was the first Latino to make the cover of Time magazine and the cover of Forbes’ annual “Most Influential Latinos in Business” list.

When a woman from New Jersey named Melissa Rialto wrote a book called The End of White, she said, “We’re never going to be white. The whitest country is the Vatican.” A white Catholic woman.

She was referring to a moment in the 2000 presidential election when Mitt Romney lost Massachusetts to then-Senator John Kerry. “It looked like Romney had fallen off a cliff,” Rialto told me. “The last thing he said to the country was, ‘I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.’ A politician who claims to be for social justice has to be prepared to stand up for social justice.”

In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton had been the frontrunner in the Democratic primary that year until he faced a humiliating upset in the South Carolina primary. Clinton told a huge rally of his supporters in Charleston that his opponent was “weak on the issues” and “untrue to his roots.”

“Clinton’s message was, ‘My wife loves me,’ ” Rialto told me. “He spoke the truth to the mainstream audience. But among the white working class he failed. But he didn’t fail with the white working class. He failed among young people. He wasn’t allowed to talk politics. He was just allowed to talk about sex.”

Rialto says that the story of racial politics and identity really came alive in the 2000 election when white voters went to the polls in South Carolina against Clinton and Kerry. It was the biggest single voter turnout in the state’s history. Rialto wrote a book called Race Matters that tells the story of how white workers, people with families, and retirees, from all over the country, decided that there was some moral dimension to this decision.

“What was most important were the votes of white working-class women,” Rialto said. “The story was told by white working-class women that was most white women had gone down to Charleston to make their voice heard, and so the message was that white women were not going to stand still for some white man to

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