This election season has given Latinos plenty to talk about, so when this morning’s edition of The New York Times included an op-ed by John Leguizamo, the surprising part wasn’t necessarily its content – which touched on issues most Latinos would be deeply familiar with – but the power of Leguizamo’s conviction, and his deep concern for Latino history and education.
Titling his piece “Too Bad You’re Latin,” Leguizamo kicks off his nearly 1000-word reflection with an anecdote about a producer who once regretted that Leguizamo’s success didn’t match his talent. “Too bad you’re Latin,” was the producer’s tone-deaf but revealing choice of words. From there the Colombian-American actor delves into a terse and forceful look back at the contributions Latinos have made to US history, while lamenting our continued invisibility.
“We are victims of neglect, discrimination and ignorance,” he rails. “We have grown up amid an entrenched disrespect for Latin culture, and we have often internalized that disrespect.” From there he cites Hispanic participation in everything from the American Revolution to the Civil War, and asks, “Where is the Ken Burns documentary about that?”
In Leguizamo’s view, there is a clear parallel between this institutional neglect and the mutant swamp monster of Donald Trump, but he also takes stock out the endless micro-discriminations that still characterize the US Latino experience. For Leguizmo, it’s high time for a “Latino spring” in which we demand out place in history. And as he so eloquently points out in the closing paragraph, that starts at the ballot box.
Read the full text here.
John Leguizamo’s one-man show Latin History for Morons opens at New York’s Public Theater in February of 2017.