You Shouldn’t Support or Defend a Latino Leader or Celebrity Just Because They Are Latino
There is research that confirms having a person of color or a woman in a position of power in the board of ed makes little difference to both POC and women. That’s because most of them still hold the same views of white male supremacy. They’re mostly unaware that their biases are conditioned. Thus, they are less likely to respond to an email of a minority student or take time to see them or even hire other minorities.
There’s absolutely no benefit seen when women reach out to female faculty, nor do we see benefits from black students reaching out to black faculty or Hispanic students reaching out to Hispanic faculty.
It goes as far as giving them the same micro-aggressions white folks subconsciously give students of color: such as ignoring their input, never encouraging them, etc.
This post isn’t specifically about that, but I want you to apply that research throughout. If you see yourself baffled, even enraged by the choices and words of Latino leaders (such as politicians, for instance), know that the research stated above applies to them, too. A lot of them are tokens used as shields for any sort of criticism in terms of lack of diversity and a lot of them go as far as to sound like those who hurt their communities.
There is also not a lack of Latinos, Black folks, women who spew platitudes and myths: merit myth, to work hard, go to school and you’ll be able to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. This is common throughout and now that more Latinos are getting exposure you will see it even more: From celebrities to politicians, from boardrooms to organizations…
To those of you who aspire to be leaders, remember: If you espouse these principles, if you’re a brand “ambassador,” if you’re a spineless politician, if you’re a fame whore, if you’re facilitating the misguidance, exploitation and destruction of your own, you’re no leader. You’re a fraud.
This I leave with you: Do not think twice about voicing your concerns or your disapproval of their actions and words if you feel or know that they will hurt the community. Having a good record of helping us out does not absolve them from doing one bad thing that hurts us all. Yes, we should appreciate what they’ve done, but as soon as they falter we must not hold back from calling them out. People’s lives are at stake and any phantom spirit of unity during a time a token is hurting us is absolutely the wrong way to go about it. Forget what you’ve heard.
We are people. Just like the majority. Though it is understandable that humans falter, it is unconscionable that we stand by the sidelines and let them hurt others. I’ve lost a great deal of colleagues because I’ve called out Latino celebrities and think tanks that’ve punched down on the community and I’m Ok with it. I rather not have people in my circles that appeal too much to authority.
You shouldn’t support or defend a Latino “leader” (or anyone in a high visibility position) just because they’re Latino and you think we should keep them there for visibility purposes. Support and defend them because they’re doing or saying the right thing. If they’re constantly talking down and punching down at disenfranchised people who say or do nothing ignorant, then simply ask them to step down or to not speak for you.
Do not fear authority. They’re there because of you in the first place. Leaders answer to you. Not the other way around.
“And whoever wants to be first among you let him be a servant to you.”
César Vargas is a writer, producer, activist and social media PR and marketing strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. His op-eds have been published on Fox News Latino, NBC Latino, as well as his own blog at upliftt.com. He was named 40 under 40: Latinos in American Politics. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CesarVargas365 and Facebook:www.facebook.com/CesarVargas365.