Incoming congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled a move similar to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Sunday by claiming deep ancestral ties to a particular ethnic group. And then she tried to walk it back very quickly.
Warren has long claimed a strong connection to her alleged Native American ancestry. After years of doubt from her critics, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed senator decided to prove it by having a DNA test done and releasing her results. When the results showed that she may be between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American, the ridicule poured in.
Warren has been accused of using her claims of minority status to earn herself jobs and curry political favor, but now Ocasio-Cortez is being accused of attempting — and failing — to do the same thing.
According to Jewish publication The Forward, the incoming congresswoman told an audience at a Jews For Racial And Economic Justice event in New York that “A very, very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews. During the Spanish Inquisition, so many people were forced to convert on the exterior to Catholicism but on the interior continued to practice their faith [Judaism].”
She said those people — her people — left Spain on a boat and settled Puerto Rico.
“So many of our destinies are tied beyond our understanding,” she added.
After she got accused of falsely claiming Judaic ethnicity, Ocasio-Cortez tried to claim that all Puerto Ricans have that as part of their heritage, even if their DNA doesn’t show it.
“Before everyone jumps one [sic] me — yes, culture isn’t DNA,” she wrote on Twitter. "But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of: African Moors + slaves, Taino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once — we are Boricua.”
The term “Boricua” generally refers to a Puerto Rican living in the U.S.
Then she started sounding like Warren again as she spoke about her “ancestors” and stories,” writing, “Just because one concrete identity may not be how we think of ourselves today, nor how we were raised, it doesn’t mean we cannot or should not honor the ancestors + stories that got us here. I was raised Catholic, & that identity is an amalgam too — especially in Latin America.”
And she concluded with an incredibly vague statement, writing, “If anything, the stories of our ancestry give us windows of opportunity to lean into others, to seek them out, and see ourselves, our histories, and our futures, tightly knit with other communities in a way we perhaps never before thought possible.”