The internet is undecided as to whether Joe Kennedy’s Spanish hat-tip was insulting to Dreamers or whether it was a strong stand of solidarity.
In his State of the Union response on behalf of the Democrats, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of US Senator Bobby Kennedy, spoke a line in Spanish as he told Dreamers that the Democrats would fight for them and that they are “part of our story.”
“And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar,” Kennedy said.
“You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away. America, we carry that story on our shoulders.”
A fluent Spanish speaker who spent some time working in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps, 37-year-old Kennedy used the language to stand in opposition to President Trump’s earlier claims in his State of the Union address that "Americans are dreamers, too." Yet people are undecided as to whether Kennedy's use of his second language was a smart move or just an empty gesture to threatened immigrants who don’t all speak Spanish.
Some heralded Kennedy's Spanish as a sign that he stood with them and that his use of Spanish, in particular, was because that is the language that is readily available to him, representing immigrants of all nations:
My boy, Joe Kennedy III just spoke Spanish. 😭😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️❤️— Debby Rodriguez (@rodriguezdeb21) January 31, 2018
"Yoooooooooooooo" — my mother, nuanced pundit, when Kennedy spoke Spanish— Ella Cerón (@ellaceron) January 31, 2018
Folks you might be watching the next POTUS in Joe Kennedy III .... i wasn’t sold on him but holy moly he spoke spanish!!!!
Folks if this our guy... get behind him now see it through to 2020!!!!— jgpDiaz (@jgpd52) January 31, 2018
Others raised the point that while it’s nice that Kennedy can speak Spanish, he is a still a white male from a privileged family. While he may be standing in solidarity, yes, with Hispanics and Latinos, it’s problematic that a person from those communities is not in the same position to use their voice:
A Kennedy speaking Spanish is ... not the same as a Hispanic politician delivering this response https://t.co/Ok4w9Nwcu1— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 31, 2018
Joe Kennedy III:— Moisés Chiullán (@moiseschiu) January 31, 2018
oh look, it’s an adult who actually wants to do and *does* his job as a civil servant when speaking, what a concept.
Ok “Legacy”, you won me over...until you Tried Too Hard in spanish thinking it’s something that triggers Latin Vote reflexes.#SOTU #SOTUResponse
Joe Kennedy speaking in Spanish to tell immigrants that Democrats will fight for them when Dems literally abandoned Dreamers last week is peak Democrat lmao— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) January 31, 2018
Others also pointed out that it is wrong to suggest that all Dreamers speak Spanish, as many have spent the vast majority of their lives in America or are not from a Spanish-speaking nation:
Kennedy addressing Dreamers in Spanish undercut message that they are essentially Americans who know no other country.— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) January 31, 2018
The danger of addressing Dreamers in Spanish is that it reinforces the idea that all Dreamers were born in Hispanic countries, erasing those who are AAPI or African. https://t.co/fLqMXhYHtf— Brian Latimer (@briskwalk) January 31, 2018
Also, not all dreamers are from Spanish speaking countries. The one thing they have in common? No, they are not all soldier-hero-first responder-teachers. No, they are all just Americans in legal jeopardy because of a technicality. https://t.co/BERAkEr3vS— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) January 31, 2018
And of course, there were some who had to take a hit at Trump:
Joe Kennedy III is speaking fluently in Spanish. Donald Trump can't even speak fluently in English. #SOTU— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) January 31, 2018
Rep Joe Kennedy III speaks Spanish better than Donald Trump speaks English. #SOTU— 🅙🅐🅨🇺🇸🅑🅡🅞🅦🅝🗽 (@TheMrJayBrown) January 31, 2018
What do you think of Kennedy's Spanish turn? Let us know in the comments section, below.