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Eva Longoria apologizes for comment that seemingly erased Black women in Biden victory

Actress Eva Longoria when she moderated the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Actress Eva Longoria when she moderated the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
(Democratic National Convention)

Actress Eva Longoria has apologized for and clarified controversial remarks she made during an MSNBC interview after many accused her of downplaying the pivotal role of Black women in President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.

U.S. Latinas are the “real heroines” of the 2020 election victory of Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic activist Longoria said on cable television late Sunday, in a fragment of a sentence that seemed to play into the hot-button notion that Black women were being erased for their contributions to the Biden victory.

“Watching this back I can see that this sounds like I’m comparing Latinas to Black women, which I would never do,” Longoria wrote Sunday on Instagram. “I was comparing Latinas to their male counterparts, but my wording was not clear and I deeply regret that.

“Black women have long been the backbone of the Democratic Party, something we have seen played out in this election as well as previous ones. Black women deserve a standing ovation for the work they have done year after year!! ... Again, so sorry for the confusion and lack of context on my part.”

The “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” star made the statements Sunday while speaking with MSNBC host Ari Melber. Longoria broadly addressed the importance of the Latino voters in the Biden-Harris win.

“The women of color showed up in big ways,” Longoria said. “Of course, you saw in Georgia what Black women have done, but Latina women were the real heroines here, beating men in turnout in every state, and voting for Biden-Harris at an average rate of close to 3-to-1.”

Preliminary exit-poll data indicate that more than 90% of Black female voters cast their ballots for Biden, while about 70% of Latina voters backed the former vice president. The results highlighted fretting among Democrats about support for Trump among Latinos.

Longoria’s statement sounded to some as though it sidelined the enormous organizing push by figures like Stacey Abrams in Georgia to get more Black voters to the polls. Georgia broke late for Biden in the still-to-be-certified vote tallies, flipping a state Trump won in 2016.

Reaction spread online, harshly rebuking Longoria’s choice of words. Her representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Among the first to respond to the “Desperate Housewives” star was independent journalist Rosa Clemente, who became the first Black Puerto Rican vice presidential candidate when she ran alongside Rep. Cynthia McKinney for the Green Party in 2008.

“I don’t understand why we can’t just say it is African American women that delivered this election,” Clemente said on Instagram after Longoria’s comments ran. “I’m really not trying to hear that you don’t know better. You know better. And then even when you say ‘Latina women,’ you ain’t talking about me. You’re not talking about dark Latina women. ...

“We, as Latinos, Latina, Latinx, Afro, Black — all of that — ... we also have to understand that the African American struggle in this country is a particular struggle that must always be uplifted, and we have to have the nuance and the discussions until this country apologizes for enslaving African people.”

After connecting with Longoria and her voting rights’ organization, She Se Puede, Clemente said, “The way I roll is if one takes accountability and means it, I can move forward,” but she added that she can’t speak for anyone who “may feel differently” about the situation.

The activist and writer later said on Twitter that she and Longoria were in conversations with other Black women about moving forward.

Longoria had been doing media rounds to correct the narrative that Latinos supported Trump in the election in higher numbers. She drew attention to Arizona turning blue as well as Latino turnout in Nevada and key Midwestern states that flipped for the Democratic ticket this year, including Michigan and Wisconsin, with the help of Latino voters.

“The Black and brown communities delivered for Biden. Latinos turned out in record numbers in states where it really mattered,” Longoria said earlier in the MSNBC interview.

The response seemed to metastasize to the political world when the newly reelected U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, from Minnesota, tweeted cryptically: “Stop erasing the work of Black women.” She had received more than 8,000 retweets by Monday afternoon, along with comments criticizing Longoria.

Many on Twitter drew comparisons to similar episodes involving Salma Hayek, Camila Cabello, Dascha Polanco and Gina Rodriguez; the latter has repeatedly been accused of anti-Blackness since pointing out the lack of Latino representation in Hollywood upon the release of “Black Panther.” Several also noted that Longoria’s interview did not acknowledge Black Latinas.

In a statement, the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists publicly rebuked the star on Twitter: “Eva Longoria should apologize for her divisive comment about ‘real heroines.’ We have to stand up for Black women, including Black Latinas, who are standing up against injustice for all of us. White and brown Latinos must do more to fight racism in our newsrooms and beyond.”

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