Ad man Donny Deutsch has been making the news rounds because of his use of the term “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) to refer to Cuban-American Senatorial Candidate Marco Rubio on an appearance on the The Joy Behar Show. When I heard about this yesterday, I thought to myself that this pretty much enforces the notion that many in America opt to view all Spanish surname individuals through a narrow racial lens. As I have said before, Latinos are not a monolithic group. We are multi-racial, mixed, and some may have a more direct Spanish bloodline, so many of us aren’t even “brown” or dark in complexion. Many Cuban-Americans are European, and many have African lineage. Cuba also has a diverse Jewish population from Turks to Germans. Aside from the term “coconut” being inappropriate, racially-charged, and rude, it is inaccurate. Nobody is white on the inside. Race is largely a social construct, since genetically humans aren’t very different from each other. Deutsch should know this.
I think that Deutsch probably rationalized using the “coconut” term because Rubio has expressed rather conservative views, especially in regards to immigration. But again, this illustrates that not all Latinos are immigration or pro-migrant friendly. Deutsch has since apologized for using the term. Hopefully, Deutsch will not make this kind of silly remark again. He reveals how little he knows about Latinos and the extent that the traditional media misconstrues our identities and issues.
Finally, I don’t even know if Marco Rubio would consider himself to be “dark” or “brown.” I know that some people claim to be “brown and proud,” but typically that is an idea expressed by Mestizo Latinos. Our colonial history has made us rather color sensitive. If we are going to go back to putting candidates through a skin color monitor, I keep going back to Rubio’s opponent, Charlie Crist, who seems to be sporting his own “tan,” but isn’t being compared to tropical produce. In comparison, Rubio looks pretty light in my view. What do you think?
Photo: Charlie Crist on the left, Marco Rubio on the right