In Julián Castro’s presidential bid, Latinos see one of their own, defying stereotypes

“They have to see him as Latino and American, Latino and hard-working, a Latino and Mexican-American and someone who represents the best of what this country can be. We’ll see whether the country is self-confident enough to be able to display that appreciation for the best of itself." - Luis Fraga

SAN ANTONIO — Musician Juan Tejeda sees something very familiar in Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.

“He is very indigenous and Chicano,” said Tejeda, a conjuntoaccordionist who has roots in the West Side neighborhood of San Antonio, just like Castro.

Castro, 44, is not the first Latino to run for president but he is the first of note, as far as Tejeda is concerned. That’s because Castro, with his brown skin and roots in a poor Mexican-American neighborhood, is the first who looks like him and who has lived like him.

Since Barack Obama kicked open the door to the White House for African-Americans, there have been hopes by many that a Latino would follow him through it.

There are likely to be more than two dozen candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, including some starting out better financed and with more name recognition, such as Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or former Vice President Joe Biden. Harris has said she’s running. Warren has launched an exploratory committee and Biden is weighing whether to run.

But by being in the Democratic presidential field, Castro is giving Americans a view of Latinos that counters stereotypes and racist depictions of the country’s largest minority group.

“In Julián, you see a very indigenous-looking person,” Tejeda said. “The whole world now is going to have to come to terms with one, the way he looks and also, that he is very smart, that he’s gone to the finest universities.”

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