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AL DÍA News held its third annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon on Oct. 10. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick
AL DÍA News held its third annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon on Oct. 10. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DIA

There is a difference between Stereotype and Archetype

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to make an important reflection on how words can heal or hurt, help or hinder, restore or destroy.

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We cannot judge others, as often happens, according to stereotypes.

Let’s leave aside for a second this one-dimensional perception of “the other” that all of us —human beings pressed for time— easily and comfortably fall for when we call somebody a “Mexican” and immediately imagine just a helpful gardener.

It’s exactly as we did in the past when we labeled other human beings “girls” and then imagined we could keep them doing the dishes at home.

Or, worse yet, when we used a heinous and harrowing “Jew” label that condemned millions of human beings to gas chambers in Europe.

Not to mention the now forgotten negative labels of “Irish” or “Italians” that were used to discriminate against so many in 19th century Philadelphia.

Or the “Japanese” label of the 1940s that sent thousands of American families to concentration camps right here in America.

Now we use another easy and harmful label: “illegal immigrants,” which has validated the idea that we can take children from the arms of their parents to put them in cages, all under the name of “the law.”

I believe we have, above all, the responsibility to look at each other in a new manner. Not as stereotypes anymore.

Just consider for one moment the heavy meaning behind the “Hispanic” stereotype.

How about we take the time to look at the representatives of the largest ethnic group in America today in a totally new manner, and gather the courage to dare to call them “Archetypes” instead?

As creatures of God on a personal journey, with an inner potential to become the next geniuses or heroes of our nation— as long as somebody calls us by the correct name.

This week, AL DÍA has the privilege of presenting five complex and accomplished Archetypes—  the contradiction of the overly simplistic Stereotype of the word “Hispanic” we have been using for the past 50 years, since the U.S. Census Bureau coined it in 1967.

They are outstanding examples of human beings who, no matter how the stereotype might have defined them when they were born —and predictably hindered them at the beginning of their journey— they fought all along to escape from it and prevail over it.

They all succeeded in their own individual American Journey.

Thank you, Alba Martinez, Felipe Restrepo, Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Dr. José Russo and Peter Gonzalez for being the Archetypes you are of our History, and for accepting ALDIA's Hispanic Heritage Awards 2018.

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