MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Pollster love to come up with clever names for blocks of voters - soccer moms and NASCAR dads, Starbucks Republicans and yellow dog Democrats.
Commentator Daniel Hernandez is Mexican American. And he's amused by recent attempts to lump all Latino voters together.
Mr. DANIEL HERNANDEZ (Commentator): Super Tuesday is on its way, February 5th. And that means in some states, Latino votes will be the price to be won if Senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama want to make it to the White House. That also means, yet again, that race may become a campaign issue. What's been troubling me is the way that issue is being framed, the assumptions that are being made by the pundits. The media, for example, has been reporting that Obama will have to deal with tensions that apparently exists between blacks and Latinos.
One story even quoted someone saying that Latinos will support Clinton because they are family-oriented and love a mother figure. Maybe the results in he Nevada caucuses, which showed more than 60 percent of Latinos went with Clinton, satisfy those images. But I find such generalizations lazy and offensive. The more Latinos and African-Americans gain ground in our country, the more we're going to see hapless attempts to explain away our differences, to simplify our realities into digestible boxes that usually pick one group against the other.
Those boxes are no longer relevant, because if there is one thing that Latinos have in common, it is a complete lack of commonality. A Latino can be white, black or Asian. Latinos are wealthy and poor, Catholic and protestant, Jewish and Muslim, red state and blue state. There are also probably many Latinos who dislike families and mothers, but that's only a guess. So there is no great brown truth to be drawn from the fact that Latino heavyweights like Henry Cisneros and Antonio Villaraigosa are supporting Senator Clinton. There is another kind of symbolism bubbling beneath the surface.
It's not a question of race, dude. It's a question of generations. Look at it this way - prominent Latinos and African-Americans who are endorsing Senator Clinton are mostly older, more seasoned politicians. They tend to be baby boomers like the Clintons themselves. And the Latinos and African-Americans who are supporting Senator Obama seem to be younger or more grassroots-oriented, more idealistic like their candidate. Indeed, in Nevada, half of voters under 45 went with Obama. And there's the real story.
It's no wonder many young people like me, people in their 20's, are tired of older folks who claim to speak for us just because we're the same color or have similar last names. And we've grown tired of a mainstream structure that is comfortable with reducing us to groups defined by stereotypes and silly cultural touchstones like tacos or Mama Sitas. My generation sees a future where racial and social minorities are no longer ghettoized into tribes that compete with one another instead of cooperate. Because, generally speaking, each of us is fiercely individualistic. And it's individuals, not dated stereotypes, who decide elections.
NORRIS: Daniel Hernandez is a blogger from California. He's working on a book about young people in Mexico City.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.