On Facebook, @Esai_Morales Keeps It Real

The passing of actor Lupe Ontiveros affected many, and this week, after her memorial service actor Esai Morales took his thoughts to his Facebook page:

I went to the memorial services for Lupe Ontiveros today and was blown away by all of the love she inspired and ppl whose lives she touched so profoundly. And while there was so much beauty and honest expressions of love and emotion the only observation that troubled me, to be frank, was that there didn't seem to be any non-Latino celebs/actors there to honor her wonderful legacy and memory.

As if she only resonated w/ our community. She was and deserved so much more than that and I so missed seeing the "mainstream" artists she worked with paying their respects. Maybe it wasn't their fault and they just weren't invited or I didn't see them. It pains me to know that La Lupe never got the chance to play and shine in so many roles that she was so capable of portraying because of her "look", I suppose, or lack of characters written as if we have never had any Latina Judges, Dr.s, business women, political leaders, Surgeon Generals, etc from a similar background.

Why do we starve some or most of our best artists out of their chance to play the simple truth about ourselves and just incarcerate them in the same tired stereotypes which Lupe nevertheless infused w/ her own personal authenticity, dignity and irreverence? What did she/we do to engender such callous indifference from the industry/mainstream media we so loyally consume and enrich? Why bother working so hard to open doors for others when they are consistently slammed back shut in our faces w only very few exceptions.

Sorry if I seem self-indulgent or self serving but I can barely stand it anymore. We are being denied our own history and heritage in media and academics now with the ban of books and perspectives in the southwest that, however factual, deviate from the status quo or threatens to properly inform our young. When will this end…? How can anything more than a quietly subservient handful of artists survive and thrive in such a suffocating climate?

The comments and thoughts sparked a dialogue that we feel has to happen more often. Today Morales followed up with another post:

Thank u all for your comments of support, understanding and even those that seem to disagree. It's good to release the pent up passions inside before they accumulate and burst out in unfocused anger that often leads to despair. I'd like to say that I do not resent non-Latinos nor do I feel like giving up. I am simply at my wits end about the situation we find ourselves in again and again and perhaps my impending inability to provide for my family.

It's not as if we haven't tried to address these concerns before w/ the many organizations we have representing our ppl and image including our own Nat'l Hispanic Foundation for the Arts which works tirelessly to promote and connect the best and brightest young aspirants we can find. We have tried to fund our own projects but it is a very complex system where you have to have the all important distribution in place and many other components as well before the go ahead is given.

Ultimately our own ppl have got to show up and support our projects but how will they know about our them w/out the marketing and promotion money and manpower needed to accomplish this arduous task? Also, we must produce fare that is up to par in production value as well appealing not only to our community but the "mainstream" as well. La Bamba was a perfect example of this synergy. A musical and character driven, multi-cultural perfect storm of a film where we weren't just the added flavoring but the main dish that all could partake from, and they did. Grossing over 100 million (in the 80's!) at the B.O. it's been 25 yrs since then and no other film has repeated it's success-as a Latino or rock and roll biopic.

There's much more work to be done and things I would like to say but it is encouraging to see the level of support you've shown me here. I will keep working on it but I can't do it alone, and especially without you. You can be the network that helps spread the word about things you see and like that need to be seen and financially $upported by so many more for our efforts to be sustainable. We must come together, be strong and forge ahead to make it through the storm of indifference and opposition we face as the result of the ignorance about our ppl and communities that the lack of proper representation perpetuates in its vicious cycle. If "they" don't know us how can they ever identify with our soul and struggle? If we don't know ourselves and our rich history how can we expect to evolve past the prison mentality of hopelessness and despair that incarcerate and incapacitate so many of our young minds?

Here's to putting aside any petty differences and misplaced egocentrics we may heave that serve to divide and in effect self-conquer our collective destiny. If we did it then, 25 yrs ago w/ La Bamba, there's no real reason we can't do it again…

Thank you for you time and attention.

Damn, that was real. Unidos contigo, Esai.

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