What exactly does ‘a Hispanic’ look like? Do I need to look like Juan Valdez and sell Folgers in a T.V. commercial, sift my fingers through Colombian coffee beans I picked myself, sitting on the back of my reliable mule, Conchita, next to a brokedown Chiva in an oversized sombrero, — for me to “look” Latino? Or look like “a Hispanic” as you say? And what is “a Hispanic” exactly? I could guess what you mean and assume that it’s a low-priced gardening tool like the one buried in a shed behind your Victorian summer home or that invisible harvesting instrument that picks all of your grapes for you and has to survive on slave wage plantations without unions, bathroom breaks, or vacation. Or maybe when you say “a Hispanic” you mean your stand-in parent? That person who raises your kids for you when you’re tired of being a mom? That mouthless set of infinite hands and knees that scrubs the shit from your toilets and throws away the used condoms when you forget to hide them. And I don’t have a backyard or a lover on the side, or kids for that matter, so maybe I just haven’t had the need yet, but I haven’t come across “a Hispanic” thus far in my life nor have I met “a black,” “a Chinaman,” or “a towel-headed A-rab”anytime recently either, but I have met Latinos proud of the vibrant patch-work quilt we’ve had to weave over centuries across an endless cemetery that cradles our past, a swollen dust underneath our soles – wherever we stand – that we nickname home twisting roots at war, looking for nothing else but to be held – you know “held”? Like a family grasping onto each other because they’ve left behind everything and only have each other left, arriving on Mars without a guidebook or a map. I have met Latinos, who people think are Aboriginal in Patagonia, east Asian in Chile, west African in La República Dominicana, Scandinavian in Argentina, and Native American in Colombia. I have met Latinos who look like Juan Valdez and can’t speak a word of Spanish, others who look like Hillary Duff with a mother who looks like Hillary Clinton that are from Paraguay and teach Spanish grammar in Puerto Rico. Latinos who speak Quechua and nothing else, dance cumbia like the horizon is on fire because of them and now they’re trying to burn tomorrow to the ground. I have met Latinos who cook like their broken English moms and mispronounce their own last names, Colombians who don’t know who Gabriel García Márquez is, dark-skinned Dominicans who hate Haitians because they remind them that they’re African, blue-eyed Cubans who spit poetry about ¡Revolución! and mean it – living in Miami with two parents who lost their mansions in the 1950s to it. I don’t tattoo my body because my veins are already too full with ink, passion-rich pigments that can’t help but pulse and flow look at my heart, you short-sighted fool I mean really look at it – cut open my chest and stare at that proud glow and then ask me if I “look” Latino.
Transcript of Carlos Andrés Gómez’ “Juan Valdez” (or “Why is a white guy like you named ‘Carlos’?”):
This video is incredible. MUST watch.