First off, let’s make one thing clear. The headline that Fox News Latino used about comments Edward James Olmos made Jennifer Lopez is a bit misleading: “Edward James Olmos Criticizes Jennifer Lopez, Calls Her Out For Lack Of ‘Latino-ness’.” With that said, the FNL story never mentioned any quote about Olmos saying the word “Latino-ness.” Before we share how intense the discussion is getting on our community pages, this is what Olmos said about JLo:
“I told her, ‘You have to understand that the future is in your hands, and I hope you use it not only to advance who you are but also to promote what we represent, as Latino women and men. She has done a lot of things, but she has not dedicated herself to her culture, and that is the most important thing to me.”
Olmos was referring to when he and JLO were in the iconic “Selena” movie. Let’s pause a moment for one of the greatest scenes from that film:
As you can imagine, Olmos’ comments have people talking and it’s getting intense:
— Stephanie Morillo (@radiomorillo) May 1, 2014
To see what @radiomorillo is saying, visit her timeline.
Here is just one sample tweet:
Also – let’s not forget that Latinos are not a monolith. Cos she doesn’t represent YOUR values doesn’t make her less Latina than anyone.
— Stephanie Morillo (@radiomorillo) May 1, 2014
A few sample comments, the first one from Ray Suarez, host of Al Jazeera America’s “Inside Story” (yes, it really is): “I must have missed the meeting where we voted to have Eddie Olmos decide who is and isn’t “Latino enough”. I think it’s a dumb conversation, and takes away the privilege other Americans have for autonomy and self-determination.”
Another one from Tony Hernandez of Immigrant Archive Project, who was commenting about what Olmos had to say about actor Andy Garcia (how actors like Garcia “don’t like the limitations of being a Latino; they only want to be artists”): “I understand what he’s saying and I agree with him completely. Andy Garcia should use his tremendous celebrity status to promote important Latino issues, but he chooses not to. It’s a shame.”
And here are more comments from our FB page:
“I’ve always respected EJO and in the article he speaks of promoting the Latino culture yet one of his most famous films is about Mexican prison gangs and gang culture. I’m no huge JLO fan but he can’t blame her for taking on “non traditional” Latina roles. I mean, are we expected to keep playing the pimp, prostitute, gang member, drug dealer or maid? Yes, Hollywood needs to see us as more than just the aforementioned character stereo types but don’t start comparing the size of someone else’s latinoness, or perceived lack there of.”
“Grain of salt. I see what he’s saying but some of what he says is a bit unfair. J-Lo doesn’t bother me as much as Jessica Alba practically denying who she is or being so casual about it like it’s just this little thing she never thought about until recently. Or all the years Linda Rondstadt spent hiding who she was and her background, which was convenient for her because of the German surname. Then she realizes it was ok to come out of the “Latino Closet” after other latinos were hitting their stride. I don’t dislike her and Im glad she did it, but I still feel she only did it when it was safe.”
“I Agree, there are a lot of Latino actors that don’t want to bring attention to the fact that they are Latino. Ask your self, how many Latino TV shows do you see on big network or Prime time. Pay attention to the percentage of shows, movies, and even commercials that have Latinos in them. Hollywood has a long history of stereo typing and discriminating against Mexicans/Latinos actors. By the way, being Latino is not a language. It’s a way of life and our Cultural traditions. How we treat each other as family. One for all and all for one. Be proud that you are Latino. I have met so many people who are Latino, who hate on Latinos and our culture. Why? I have see and fought against Latino bosses that treated their own people as if they were uneducated trash and less then human. These bosses were the ones saying that if you don’t speak Spanish then you have no Latino pride. Yet they were the ones degrading their fellow Latino… when my people finally realize that we make up half of the voting power and buying power here in America. We could make real changes here in to entertainment, cultural acceptance, political leadership, and more.”
“See this is the problem with us latinos……we shouldn’t be putting each other down…smh”
“My brand of “Latino-ness” was never cool with Latinos in the States. I always preferred to just do what I always liked. It’s like, inside the States people of Hispanic decent try to appropriate you into their own “real Hispanic culture” even if it is not how you were in your original country. I never hid I was Costa Rican but I remember hating those people made who me feel I never “Latino enough” (whatever the hell that means.) Just because Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican cultures never spoke to me, it doesn’t mean you should get in with the party line.”
And as expected, many in our community brought up a 2013 picture that shows Olmos with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
The conversation, as intense as it is right now, has raised several issues about identity and what defines “Latino” in the United States. What do you think? Is it a worthy debate or just a distraction?