If any of my readers have heard of Eva Longoria, than you might have heard of her show Devious Maids. While Longoria herself does not act in the show, it has a great cast including soap star, Susan Lucci. Ever since I was a little girl, I have idolized Eva Longoria. I remember being up past my bedtime, watching Desperate Houswives with my mom. When I saw Eva acting on that show, being completely outrageous and hilarious, I thought to myself, I could be her one day. When I was younger the only Latina role models I really had we’re my Babysitter and Dora the Explorer. Eva Longoria became the person I wanted to be when I grew up, because if she could do it, so could I.
Growing up in the south has never been easy for someone who is racially different. By elementary school, kids were already being taught that “Mexican illegal immigrants [were] lazy and taking jobs,” (how those two things work together I will never understand) and that if you were brown, or spoke with an accent, you must be Mexican. By middle school, kids started asking me if I was an illegal immigrant, or if my dad was; of course, back then I didn’t really know what that meant so I would always reply “How could he be? The Dominican Republic is an island… There’s no other way to get here from there.” Back then kids already knew racial jokes, but they knew that if they made jokes about black people, they would be considered racist, so they made a lot of Mexican jokes instead. The one about a Texan screaming “for the Alamo” and throwing a Mexican out. The one about the American kicking a Mexican out of a taxi saying “I have too many of these in my country”. Saying Mexico never wins the Olympics because everyone who can run jump and swim is in the US. And “Mexican fist bump” where you “jump over the border”. I’m not Mexican, but these jokes still hurt, and they make me very sad and disappointed. Partly because to most of these kids, all countries that speak Spanish are Mexico, and partially because they teach children to hate and disrespect at such an early age.
Now I’m in high school. Some teachers tried to encourage the kids to not have cliques, to go outside they’re social boundaries. They don’t see why Asians sit with Asians and Latinos sit with Latinos. It’s never been because we don’t like white kids. It’s because they used to not like us. Most of us established our circle of friends in elementary school and middle school, and that’s when the separation began. Now we sit with who we are comfortable with. We sit where we know someone wont ask us if we can speak English, or assume we got an A on a math test, or are going for a soccer or basketball or track team.
Over the summer, I read The Help by Kathrine Stockette. I found, upon returning to my school after being in California all summer, that a lot of my classmates either hadn’t heard of it, or didn’t know it was a book. A lot of people made posters for it, for their summer assignment, and it saddened me when you could tell they just saw the movie. Throughout reading The Help, I truly did laugh, cry and yell in public. I was moved and it touched my heart, mainly because I could relate to many of the points in the book. Being the girl who isn’t always asked out, being an intellectual in a community that doesn’t want, let alone appreciate it. Mainly, as I read every chapter which dealt with the topic of segregation in the 60s, I sat there and asked myself, “why do people say we’ve improved”?
Steering away from the Latino issue, it surprised me to find out that just in the year 2000, people were screaming the N word at an African American quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. I know the southern states can be slower than most on civil rights and equality issues, but this truly shocked me. Some people have heard of Lindsey Davis, who had an 11 hour filibuster, trying to keep a bill on abortion from being passed by governor Rick Perry, who went on to openly slander Mrs. Davis’ home life. I’m not a PolySci major, so I’m not going to act like an expert, but I do admire Mrs. Davis for the way she stood up for her cause. All these things made me keep thinking… The women’s rights issue still isn’t completely solved. Everyone who saw the Treyvon Martin case knows that that wasn’t fair or just for the African American community. Stop and Search in New York, SB 1070 on Arizona, The Defense of Marriage Act (which was finally repealed, took you long enough), we aren’t that much better. We don’t have any Home Health Sanitation Initiatives, like the one mentioned in The Help, or separate drinking fountains and schools, but we still have direct laws targeting people.
I started this off by mentioning Devious Maids. I can say I love this show. It has humor, intrigue, and to me, it is The Help of today. Many times throughout the series the topic comes up about how much these employers really care about their maids. The maids discussed, “if we died would they even care? Sure they might go to our funerals, shed a tear or two, but would they really care?” And they ended it with ‘it depends on how good the maid they replaced us with is’. One of the employers tries to sell his maids out for prostitution, and when she is killed his wife’s only response is “who’s going to clean?”, and while some characters do really care for their maids and treat them like friends (in their own way), most of America that can afford help does not.
Yes, you can argue that it would be the same for any race of made. When someone works for you, they work for you. However I’ve noticed that people always seem to assume, the gardeners and maids are Mexican. Assume that they don’t speak English and listen to bad Mariachi music. Even in big industries like the MLB, when you compared two even players, for example Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Back when they were both on the Rangers, they were basically the same as far as stats went, so it always made me curious that Hamilton, who wasn’t performing well and had a recurring problem with alcohol, got paid twice as much. My friend worked at a car wash for a while and up until now, they were paying him below minimum wage, just because they could take advantage of him like that.
My point is the problem isn’t solved in America, it’s just pushed under the rug. Yes, nowadays, kids know that you can’t make black jokes, but that’s all they know. Most of their parents still raise them with other stereotypes. I’m glad that now students can get scholarships for being African American, or Asian, or Latino, buti wish we could live Ina place where those labels didn’t exist. Where missionaries stop going to the Dominican Republic, they believe in God they’re just a third world country. Of course they probably don’t think about the kids without safe water while they have margaritas at their resort. I don’t want a kid to feel free to say to me, “could you turn that musico off? I already heard it on my gardener’s lawn mower this morning.” I want us to be in a place where my little cousins don’t have to be ashamed of a great tan. A place where people can be themselves no matter what the color of their skin. I know right about now, anyone who’s reading this is thinking that I am just preaching a kumbiya, but you wouldn’t like it if you could be a doctor, a lawyer, the person to cure cancer and still people look at you, surprised you can be successful, surprised you aren’t on drugs, surprised that you are a normal human being like them.