Does It Matter If Ocasio-Cortez Isn’t Really ‘Alexandria From The Bronx?’

Written by Dana Sanchez

Rep.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY) was born in the Bronx but grew up in Yorktown Heights, a middle-class community of Westchester County, which is the home of the Rockefeller family’s opulent hilltop estate.

She caused shock waves in the midterm elections when she defeated Congressman Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in Queens and the Bronx, and last week was sworn in as the youngest woman in Congress at age 28.

Some conservatives who are obsessed with her Socialist-Progressive Latina campaign persona are trying to hold where she grew up against her, wrote Dan Murphy who attended Yorktown High School — the same school Ocasio-Cortez attended.


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“You don’t have to be embarrassed because your family worked their rear ends off to give you a better life,” Murphy wrote in the Yonkers Times.

Her parents moved from working-class Parkchester in the Bronx to Yorktown Heights in middle-class Westchester County, N.Y., for better schools.

“I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family — mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your Zip code determines your destiny,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her viral campaign video.

Certain corners of the right are obsessed with the idea that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez must be faking her working-class roots, Slate reported. They’ve accused her of lying about her name because in high school her nickname was “Sandy”. They also say she faked her working-class Bronx roots because she grew up in Yorktown and attended a well-funded high school in “hoity-toity Westchester County.”

New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks with reporters after participating in a town hall with Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

 

Ocasio-Cortez never claimed that she grew up in poverty, only that she was born to working-class parents in the Bronx, wrote Heather Schwedel in Slate.

Because of the hard work of her parents and family, Ocasio-Cortez was able to live the American dream, Murphy wrote. She lived in Yorktown with her mother in a house bought for $150,000 in 1992. Her family pooled their resources and came up with the down payment for a home.

Ocasio-Cortez’s family did everything right in the way we traditionally think they should do it in the U.S., the Washington Post reported. “Yet they still almost financially cratered when they encountered a bad patch. That’s not uncommon in a country with an inadequate safety net, where 40 percent of the population says they could not come up with $400 in an emergency.”

So what’s fueling the conservative uproar?

“The uproar fuels the bigger narrative that Ocasio-Cortez, as we know her, is an invention, a performer of oppression and even of her ethnicity—she wouldn’t be in Congress if she were who she claims she is,” Schwedel wrote:

Conservative websites and Twitter accounts have treated the Sandy ‘revelation,’ along with video footage and pictures of Ocasio-Cortez in high school and college, like a smoking gun. But why did ‘Sandy’ strike a particular nerve? Why would anyone point to a high school nickname as proof of anything? … ‘Sandy’ is an established nickname for ‘Alexandria’ … “Alexandria’ is also not particularly associated with the Latino community … for a subset of conservatives, Ocasio-Cortez’s true identity as ‘Sandy’ feeds into the notion that liberals who practice identity politics feign oppression, and that therefore oppression isn’t real.”

When Ocasio-Cortz was confronted with her Yortown history, here’s how she responded:  “Your attempt to strip me of my family, my story, my home, and my identity is exemplary of how scared you are of the power of all four of those things.

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About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on Moguldom.com for Nubail Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.