David K. Li, NBC News, October 12, 2022
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso insisted he’s not white but really Italian — and thus “Latin” — in an awkward debate moment Tuesday in the country’s second-largest city.
Next month’s election comes in the wake of former City Council President Nury Martinez’s resignation from her council seat Wednesday after an audio recording of her making racist remarks surfaced.
In bringing up the scandal, Telemundo anchor Dunia Elvir said: “The next mayor of Los Angeles will be either an African American woman or a white man.”
“I’m Italian,” Caruso interjected.
Elvir responded, “Italian American,” as Caruso insisted that his racial identification be stated on his terms.
“That’s ‘Latin,’ thank you,” Caruso said.
Caruso said he has for decades led efforts to bring more education opportunities and health care to Black and Latino communities in Los Angeles.
“I connect with the Latino community, but quite frankly my job as mayor is to connect with every community — the Latino community, the Black community, the Asian community, right? The Jewish community,” said Caruso, who is running as a Democrat.
Caruso’s “Latin” identity comment drew a harsh reaction, from scorn to mockery.
Los Angeles is home to nearly 3.9 million residents, 48.1% percent of whom identify as Hispanic or Latino, 28.5% as non-Hispanic or Latino white, 11.8% as Asian and 8.8% as Black.