LatinaLista — There’s no denying that today’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. is especially poignant for the nation and for African Americans. With Barack Obama’s inauguration maÃ±ana, it would seem that Dr. King’s dream is well on its way to fruition.
While there still does exist rampant discrimination against people of color, it is the collective hope that a President-of-color will renew sensitivities towards acts of racial discrimination.
Yet, while African Americans celebrate how far they’ve come since Dr. King was alive, the Latino community, while celebrating our accomplishments thus far, are left to ponder why we still lag behind African Americans when it comes to garnering one thing â€” R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
According to freedictionary.com, the term respect is defined as: A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. 2. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem. 3. Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.
It can be argued that there are several areas where both African Americans and Latinos suffer from a lack of respect but, in several ways, Latinos lag even farther behind.
An easy example is Martin Luther King, Jr. In every size city across the nation there is a street named in honor of the civil rights leader. There is no discussion as to whether or not it is warranted or whether or not Dr. King personally visited that town, so as to illustrate a personal connection to the town to justify the street being renamed. It is agreed upon that there should be a street named in his honor and it’s done.
Yet, time and time again, Latino communities who have proposed naming a street in their town in honor of Cesar Chavez (from whom the Obama campaign adopted the phrase “Yes we can”), the requests are denied.
While Cesar Chavez fought for the rights of the farm workers, he’s been long accepted as a symbol within the Latino community as a defender of Hispanic rights.
Even though, as a collective group, there is the Latino community, there is still the common misperception that we all trace our roots to the same country, speak “Mexican” and eat pinto beans and tortillas.
We don’t but the misperception exists because no one bothers to listen to the Latino community when there is a clarification.
So, yet againâ€” Latinos hail from a variety of different Spanish-speaking countries, speak some form of Spanish and don’t all eat pinto beans. Nor are all of our tortillas the round, flat bread type either.
When it comes to primetime television, the Latino community has thus far not achieved the level of success of shows headlined by a Latino actor/actress as African Americans have in the past. For whatever reason, this primetime television season has reverted to being headlined by white actors.
Yet, African Americans can enjoy having a history that saw many sitcoms headlined by black actors whereas the sitcoms/shows, with either a Latino cast or headlined by a Latino actor, in recent memory entails two that were cancelled, The George Lopez show” and “Cane” to one currently on the air â€” “Ugly Betty.”
In fact, Latinos can count on one hand how many sitcoms have featured all-Latino casts or been headlined by Latino actors/actresses in the past 20 years.
And perhaps in one of the most clear examples of how little respect Latinos have garnered, it seems that Hispanic Heritage Month, Cinco de Mayo, the Three Kings day or Cesar Chavez’ birthday are not big enough for the folks at GOOGLE to create a special logo to observe any of these days. A quick review of their special logos reveals they’ve never incorporated any Latino theme into their brand.
They observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. regularly and have observed the Chinese New Year, events associated with Bastille Day, South Korea and Germany (as seen with a quick view-through), among other but nada regarding the Latino community.
So, while we celebrate, enjoy and share the milestones achieved by African Americans, Latinos must note that we have yet to achieve the same milestones and still have a lot of work to do to catch up.