Being Latino Is Not a Crutch

I'll tell you what happens to a person of color once he/she "makes it." They fall victims to the myth of meritocracy. Once they're knighted kings and queens of the universe, they think they made it solely on their hard work, talent and intelligence. It's insulting to think everyone else isn't good or trying hard enough. Social capital and a little luck goes a long way, by the way.

Don't believe the lies. You are as capable as anyone else to be great. There's no magic formula. There's no genetic advantage. It's the availability of opportunities. Which we are sorely lacking.

"Just do it," "think positive," "work harder," "make your own," is misguided, misinformed and dangerous raise-yourself-by-the-bootstraps advice. Demand for more and better opportunities. Don't let people tell you that you're not entitled to them, because your name, your money, your labor is exploited and neither you nor your children benefit from them as much as you should. The Latino/Hispanic buying power is quickly approaching $1.5 trillion. Use it wisely. Consume Latino content (publications, movies, theater, music, books), products, and patronize Latino establishments. Reinvest in yourself.

If you see a film/show that was shot in a location in which the Latino population is predominant and you don't see at least a few of us there, walk out, change the channel, but not before vocalizing your displeasure. If you enter a business that has more than ten people employed and you do not see one Latino there, walk out. Find another one that does and not just hidden away doing manual labor. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but we are capable of doing it all.

Let's also get rid off destructive language that is based on positive and negative stereotypes. Do not say "get a Jewish Lawyer" or an "Indian/Asian doctor" to your family and friends because that says that our lawyers and our doctors aren't good enough. That, in turn, says that other people are better than what you do at what you do. This truly isn't the case. We have amazing professionals (journalists, writers, directors, white, and blue collar workers) who are just as capable and as competent as anybody else from any other race or ethnicity.

Another point I'd like to touch on is iconography and the infallibility we freely give it. Here's the main reason why we shouldn't make our Latino icons and leaders out to be infallible: It is atrophying and dangerous. It's dangerous because we will take everything they say as gospel. Even their ignorance, apathy, and their excuses for not paying it forward. It is atrophying because we will not rise to any challenge because we think those who have accomplished great things are infallible or blessed. That what they have done comes from something supernatural, special, seldom attained. Trust me, folks, you don't need to be perfect to accomplish great things, to elevate yourself and humanity. Being human is enough.

Being Latino is not a crutch. Society keeps telling us it is. I'm telling you it's not. Believe in yourself. Pass it on to your family, your friends, your children, and society. You have the ability to be and do anything you set your mind to. You deserve the opportunity to accomplish it. Demand it.