A human rights attorney who claimed to be “Latinx” has admitted that she is, in fact, white, the latest in a string of people to be exposed for pretending to be Latino or Black.
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, the National Lawyers Guild’s first “Latina” president, spent years claiming to be of Puerto Rican and Columbian descent, according to a report from the nonprofit news outlet Prism.
“Unbeknownst to many in the Latinx communities she worked alongside and claimed as her own, Bannan is a white woman who grew up in Georgia. Since at least 2006, she has accepted opportunities expressly intended for Latinas and other people of color,” the outlet reported.
Prism added that Bannan, 43, was at the time of its reporting the senior counsel at LatinoJustice Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund. She claimed for years to be of Latino descent, yet her origin story changed over time.
She once told a Spanish-language newspaper that she was “a little bit Spanish, a little bit Colombian, and a Sephardic Jew,” but denied to the Prism that she ever identified as Spanish, claiming she told the reporter of the newspaper that there was a misprint. It was only a few years ago when she started claiming to be partially Puerto Rican, when she told Voice Latina that she was a “cultural mix of Puerto Rican, Colombian, Italian, and some other.”
As Prism reported, actual documents show no such lineage for Bannan.
“Nothing in Bannan’s lineage indicates that she can lay claim to a Latina identity. According to historical public documents, including census and naturalization records, Bannan’s paternal family arrived in the United States from Ireland and Italy. Her Italian grandmother Lycia, the source of Bannan’s middle name, arrived in the U.S. in 1912. Records also indicate that Bannan’s maternal family all arrived in the U.S. from Russia. Court records from 1994, when Bannan was 17 years old, identify Natasha Lycia Bannan as a white ‘non-Hispanic,’” the outlet reported.
After Prism contacted Bannan about her identity, she admitted on Facebook that she is “racially white.”
“I am racially white, and have always said that. However my cultural identity was formed as a result of my family, both chosen and chosen for me, and that has always been Latinx. My identity is my most authentic expression of who I am and how I pay honor to the people who have formed me since I was a child,” Bannan wrote.
She also sent Prism a private Facebook post to claim she had publicly identified as white.
Bannan tried to pin her heritage on her adopted grandfather, though he is listed as white. Bannan’s mother had two different marriages to men with Spanish last names, though it is still unclear who is the “Colombian family” she claims to have been raised by.
Bannan’s story comes after actor Alec Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, was exposed to have been faking a Spanish accent for more than a decade when she is a white girl from Boston. Before that, several white female professors were caught pretending to be nonwhite, including Kelly Kean Sharp, CV Vitolo-Haddad, and Jessica Krug.
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