If you could choose to be of another race, would you chose differently than what you are today?
I pose the question, because to put it bluntly, I’m not too happy with my Latinos right now.
And why should I be?
Every time I turn around I’m hearing or seeing firsthand how Latinos are continuously failing to be supportive of one another’s ventures.
The end result of that lack of support is a stagnation of progression that has us existing in the 60’s, while our black brethren take leaps and bounds forward so much so that Puff Daddy, P-Diddy, Diddy, Sean Combs or whatever name he goes by these days, has the financial means to purchase his son Justin a $360,000 Maybach Benz for his 16th Birthday.
Talk about a Sweet 16.
Please tell me what Latinos have the financial means to do this for their offspring?
I’m sure there are a few out there. I’ve just never heard of them.
But don’t get me wrong… it’s not just about the fancy car, more so about what the car symbolizes to American success…
It’s more about the fact that Mr. Combs has built an empire powerful enough to employ hundreds of African Americans into positions of power. In turn giving them the financial stability to send their children to the best educational institutions money can buy and afford them the opportunities that will ensure their continued success in life.
How’s that for the progression of a race in forty-years?
And as much as I’m not happy about the direction of Hip Hop, the billion dollar industry has spawned more young Black millionaires than any other business ever created… spawning even more job opportunities for young black Americans.
Bad Boy, Def Jam, Rockefeller, Cash Money and G-Unit to name a few have displayed enough loyalty and unity to each other to create young, powerful entrepreneurs who create, market, promote and sell everything from music and movies to fragrances and fashions the world over.
Will my Latino Hip Hop success stories please stand up…? We’ve had some right?
Well we had… well there was um… what were they called again… um… it’s been a while… Oh yeah, we had the Terror Squad. Unfortunately, the only Latino representation of a real Hip Hop crew died and was buried with the late great Christopher “Big Punisher” Rios.
So much for Latino unity in Hip Hop… The End!
And even if we were capable of building great Latino teams, I’d love to know who’d support them?
Because we’ve certainly proven that we don’t care enough to support one another’s efforts.
What impresses me most about Black people is how they’ve been able to prop one another up and work together towards significant progress in politics, music, film, fashion and anything else you can name.
They’ll take to the streets and make sure they have a voice at the table. They’ll mentor one another in business and even support their shining stars by raising college tuitions to send their most gifted off to school.
Me, well I’ve been accused of disrespecting the Young Lords when I asked them why they’re not around mentoring the next generation of young Latino activists.
Excuse me; I didn’t know it was disrespectful to seek knowledge and guidance from my elders.
Same thing happened to me when I questioned the Latino elders in Hip Hop… Again, I was being disrespectful for questioning their lack of support of the younger generation of up-and-comers.
Excuse me again… my bad!
Seems we Latinos can take a page out of the blueprint that was clearly laid out in the 80’s by the “black pack.”
Ever heard of them?
It was a crew of black comics on the come up including Eddie Murphy, Robert Townsend, Arsenio Hall, Paul Mooney and Keenen Ivory Wayans, who went on to change the face of African American film while supporting one another’s projects.
There goes that word support again…
Apparently they understood that there was power in numbers and if they were going to breakdown doors and change the face of film, they’d need to do so in unison.
They wrote, acted, directed, produced and co-produced each other’s works. And to this day they remain relevant in the industry.
But what impresses me the most is that they did it together… together… together… together!
We Latinos make movies, as is the case with Franc Reyes’ The Ministers and no one shows up to the theaters.
Because we’d rather go see Paranormal Activity than support John Leguizamo, Luis Antonio Ramos, Manny Perez and any other number of Latinos cast in the film.
We don’t have an Oprah Winfrey, but when Soledad O’Brien works hard on a piece about Latinos in America, we call her a pendeja on feel good social networking sites such as “Being Latinos” Facebook page.
I used to think it was founder Lance Rios’ fault that there seemed to be nothing but ignorant dialogue going on there.
But then I realized in his defense that he was listing topics such as “Who is Pedro Albizu Campos?” And while only five people commented on that topic, you had 125 ignorant Latinos dialoguing about how good J-Lo’s ass looked in a certain dress at the VMA’s.
How’s that for Latino intelligence? Not our proudest moment to say the least.
So again, why the hell wouldn’t I want to be black at this point?
I’ve drawn a great deal of my inspiration from the likes of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King and I don’t see the Latino equivalent anywhere in sight.
So why wouldn’t I want to be black?
I see Terry McMillan selling millions of copies of her chick lit books, but Linda Nieves-Powell can’t sell 50,000 copies of her book Freestyle?
Why wouldn’t I want to be black?
I see Omar Tyree selling million of copies of his urban fiction books, but Daniel Serrano can’t sell 25,000 copies of Gun Metal Black?
Why wouldn’t I want to be black people?
I see Tyler Perry bringing the real black experience to the screen and even those who hate on him and say his films are stereotypical bullshit go see the films anyway.
So why wouldn’t I want to be black?
I’d love to be supported like that.
And then we have the nerve to wonder why we’re underrepresented in Hollywood, on film, in the bookstores, in the media?
You ever think it’s because they don’t believe we’re viable, sellable, marketable talent?
I’m invited to share my book at the NAACP Centennial Author Pavilion for the 100 Years, 100 Authors event… I’m invited to do a documentary with the National Black Programming Consortium… I’m invited to do black talk radio to promote my book… I’m interviewed by Black Beat Magazine but not my own Urban Latino Magazine…
Yes, THIS Urban Latino Magazine, the one I’m blogging for right now.
So tell me Latinos… Why on God’s green earth… would I not want to be black?
Yes, I’m ready to have my Latino card revoked. I don’t speak Spanish anyway.
When you all figure this thing out called Latino pride and Latino unity I hope you’ll have me back someday.
For now, I’m off to the other side… the black hand side.
I’m not sure if they’re going to make me an honorary member, or if they’re going to have me at all… But so far, they’ve supported me a lot more than my own people.
And I’m not sure how moms going to feel about this blog…
But mom, you truly should’ve made me black to begin with.
I’d have more role models to look up to that way.
Cojelo con take it easy… mi gente!
Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.