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May 3, 2010

For those of you who haven’t heard, Arizona signed into law SB1070 permitting local law enforcement to detain “Latino-looking” law-abiding, U.S. citizens for proof of immigration status. Said detainees risk a hefty fine and/or imprisonment if documentation is not carried on their person at all times.

The silver lining: Latinos have a good excuse to be late to work. 

And for all the entrepreneurs out there, this would be a great time to open a business in Arizona to de-Latin-ize the population. Services could include…skin de-bronzing, highlights or ‘fros, sign language lessons–no better way to hide an accent–and the ever-popular, Anglo-blue contacts.

Legalizing racial profiling presents many opportunities. It gives Hollywood the opportunity to keep doing what they’ve been doing—pepper their golden gates with LATINOS KEEP OUT signs.  

But who racially profiled first…Arizona or Hollywood?

Is it safe to say that Arizona would have never passed this racial profiling law had it not been “cool” to de-humanize American Latinos?  And which entity has more control over defining “cool” than Hollywood?

Thanks to Hollywood’s efforts, millions of people around the world paid billions to sympathize with blue people. Yet it seems now more than ever, brown people are fair game.

Hollywood won’t detain, fine or deport. Instead, this industry excludes and ignores.

What would happen if the Hollywood feature film industry infused Latino-centric roles/stories or developed feature films that depict American Latinos other than the occasional rice & beans, welfare-check-cashing, self-loathing, depressed, gang-banging drivel? Would that change perception of American Latinos? We think so.      

In today’s anti-Latino Hollywood environment, an American Latino must water-down their Latin-ness to survive. If they’re writers, they must write traditional mainstream fair. If they’re actors, they must play roles other than that of Latinos, and if they’re directors, they must evolve from the Latino biopic or rice & beans story to films considered to be mainstream. Translation: non-Latino.

Otherwise, the chance of success for an American Latino in Hollywood is as likely as Cheech Marin becoming Arizona’s governor.

Yet again, irony plays a Brad Pitt role in this cluster-chingadera. Each year, billions of dollars are pumped into Arizona’s economy and Hollywood’s feature film industry by…you guessed it…Latinos.

Wonder how that boycott’s gonna work out.           

Is it a stretch to speculate that Hollywood’s depiction (or lack thereof) of Latinos in feature films promotes the anti-Latino Arizona syndrome? As long as it’s cool to put up LATINOS KEEP OUT signs for the world to see, it feeds the perception that it’s okay to treat Latinos with contempt regardless of how valuable we are as a market.

Hollywood, if you wanna take my advice, TREAT ME NICE…

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