“Too bad you’re Latin.”
That’s what a producer once told actor and producer John Leguizamo (“Bloodline”). He opens up about his experience as a Latino in not only the film industry, but in the U.S. overall, for a New York Times opinion piece—an experience, as he puts it, that is the typical Latinx person’s experience.
The op-ed focuses on how the presidential election has politicized this experience. Once a candidate began normalizing anti-Latinx sentiment, Latinxs began to rise with political power, Leguizamo explains—they had to. But they’ve still got a long way to go, according to the actor. “We need a Latin[x] Spring in this country,” he writes. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity.”
As he points out, Saturday Night Live only recently hired its first Latinx comic, which Colorlines covered. “Are we really to believe there are so few funny Latin[x]s?” Leguizamo writes. The actor typically takes on comedic roles himself.
Leguizamo also reminded readers of the rich history of Latin America and of Latinxs’ contribution to U.S. history.
Per The New York times story:
The dominant narrative is that we have just “illegally” crossed the border or are “fresh off the boat.” In fact the Spanish are evidence of America’s first original sin: We were mistreating indigenous people here long before the British brought slaves to the colonies. People forget that Latin[x]s founded some of America’s first cities.
Latinos have been dying for America since before we were a nation. Why have our children not heard that thousands of Latino patriots fought for America in the Revolutionary War? Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spanish general, recruited Mexicans, Cubans, Native Americans and free African-Americans to fight against the British in the South, while Cuban women donated their jewelry and money to help the patriots. Where is the Ken Burns documentary about that?
Why don’t they know about the many Latinos in the War of 1812? Or anything of the 20,000 Latinos who fought valiantly in the Civil War? Or of those who earned Purple Hearts or the Croix de Guerre in World War I? Or of the up to 500,000 who served in the military in World War II?
With all this, he urges Latinx readers to vote this election season—a call that received a mix of reactions on Twitter, where “Too Bad You’re Latin” was trending by Friday (October 21) morning. Latinx people thanked him and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters attacked Leguizamo.
"We need a Latino Spring in this country". Please, please, please, read @JohnLeguizamo‘s op-ed in @nytopinion today https://t.co/yIV1SeaX4B
— Juan Manuel Benítez (@JuanMaBenitez) October 21, 2016
Read the piece here in its entirety.