Restoring our History is Essential to our Future | OP-ED
The history of Americans of Latino descent is, sadly, more often told by comedians.
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Writer, actor and comedian John Leguizamo is telling the story of American Latinos in an act of quiet desperation.
Raised in the U.S., and therefore traumatized by an American Education system that suppresses his past and the understanding of his family story, tormenting his mind psyche during his high school and college years, the extremely talented artist born in Colombia set out to write and, at the same, time act out, Latino History for Morons, his personal way of screaming artistically to the world that he also matters, his Mom and Dad matters, as well his community and his culture and his history.
Just the title of his Broadway show, now a movie everybody is watching on Netflix, gives you an idea of the writer’s urgency to set the record straight and, at the same time, scream out loud — if only for therapeutic reasons — how he was affected as an adult by being dispossessed of his history when he was a child, when he or his parents couldn't do anything about it.
He was embarrassed he couldn’t tell his own children, where they all came from, as much as the Jewish or Scottish parents could
Leguízamo was so embarrassed he couldn’t tell his own children, when he was of age to have them, where their ancestor came from, as much as the Jewish or Scottish parents could.
Now that we are about to start the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, it is time for us to ask the hard questions:
Why do the curricula from elementary school all the way to college does not say Latinos play a role in the History of the U.S. when they did every step of the way? My younger daughter went to a prestigious “Friends School” in Abington, PA, but little she picked up there, at the prestigious Quakers School, about her own ancestry. She would keep asking me questions about what to be "a Latina" meant.
Why is it that important part of American history was not officially acknowledged until 1967 (100 years late), when President Lyndon Johnson finally signed legislation proposed by Edward A. Roybal, a U.S. Congressman from California of Latino descent, to finally acknowledge contributions of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and economy of the United States of America.
Why are the representations of these Americans in our political institutions, as well as the corporate leadership ranks, and the institutions of higher education, so scarce and so far in between?
Why are Hispanics treated as if they were the lesser “minority” group, not the most vibrant demographic they have become, as the Census 2020 proved once again? They are also the most reliable work force and most innovative class of entrepreneurs America commands today to remain competitive in the 21st Century Global Economy,
It is time to amend this deletion of such a findamental part of the American History, not only for the benefit of Hispanic Americans, but also for the benefit of the entire country these Americans have called home for the past 250 years.
Leguízamo reminds us Hispanic Americans are the most condecorated ethnic group in the history of the U.S. Army, since the Civil War, for example, but also the most humiliated there.
Latinos are “Good infantry men,” Al Pacino acknowledged in the movie Scent of a Woman. He forgot to say we can be as well good Generals, as Lieutenant General Ricardo Sánchez was.
Latinos are "Good infantry men,” Al Pacino acknowledged in the movie Scent of a Woman. He forgot to say we can be as well good Generals, as Lieutenant General Ricardo Sánchez was.
Thanks to writers like Leguízamo, that history is in the early stages of finally being pieced together, albeit by comedians, the palace's jesters, as opposed to the official Historian, or the Ken Burns of the world, who forgot to include heroism by Latinos in World War II.
However, this may be a start of a process of formal recognition in high places like PBS, the White House, or perhaps the Temple of U.S. History of U. Penn and Harvard University, or through the much delayed Museum of Latino History in Washington DC. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar left pending.
From the War of Independence in the 18th Century, to the Civil War in the 19th, to the 2 World Wars, to the Korean and Vietnam Wars of the 20th, all the way to the urban conflicts of the 21st century stories like those “In the Heights,” a play and also a movie written out by Broadway celebrity Lin Manuel Miranda, Americans of Latino descent have played leadership roles.
But little of that is known to the rest of the nation, accustomed to see them through the stereotypical roles of gardeners, undocumented immigrants, or entertainers that, if successful, they are just performers or athletes.
We applaud the artistic work by Leguizamo and Miranda, but much more needs to be done beyond the treatment of Latino History and Latino success as simple products from the entertainment industry, made up by few well-paid comedians, actors, singers, or sport celebrities.
History is entertaining, true, but gotta to be treated more seriously than entertainment.
History is entertaining, true, but it is a subject serious enough and so crucial to our future of our nation it needs to be treated as it is, beyond entertainment, as a discipline where we must question openly the role Hollywood, Academia and Media in general continue to play to keep it out of public view, or actually distorted whenever mentioned.
Our past matter that much to our future, and the past of the Hispanic community in particular is intimately tied to the future of the United States of America in the 21st, 22nd, 23rd centuries and beyond.
Because the act of restoring our History is so crucially important to the fate of this nation, as we approach the 250th anniversary of our Independence, declared here in Philadelphia in 1776, AL DIA News Media will be bringing to The Union League of Philadelphia 10 stalwarts of our current history this coming September the 24th, 2021 to where the History of the United States started.
They are the #ALDIArchetypes 2021 who will all receive the “Ambassador Manuel Torres” Awards, a high-end acknowledgement by AL DIA News Media that will take the opportunity to resurrect another story, and another name, buried in holy ground in our past, here in historic Philadelphia.
It is the story of the first diplomat that represented a Latin American country in the United States— a noble man known to his fellow Philadelphians as “the Franklin of South America.”
He has been discreetly in our midst for the past 200 years without most of us knowing much about him.
Or catch up a glimpse of it on October 10th, 2021, when 6ABC TV News will broadcast it at 5 PM.
During this Hispanic Heritage Month, is about time we finally get over with it.
Yes, during this Hispanic Heritage Month, is about time we finally get over with it.
Or, as we say in Spanish, #PonteALDIA!