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Chicanos y boricuas in the media: A missing point of view

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Photo courtesy of the NiLP Network.
Photo courtesy of the NiLP Network

Boriqua artists don’t seem to have the difficulty which Chicanos do in getting booked on variety shows, such as Sabado Gigante, or in movies – and more power to them. You can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of Chicanos who have managed to get into Hollywood movies – and NOT ONE in a major starring role. Even the rare movies of Selena’s tragic life, had Jennifer Lopez (Boriqua), Ritchie (Ricardo Valenzuela) Valens played by Lou Diamond Philips (Filipino-Irish) and his brother played by Esai Morales (Boriqua).

Even the part of Guy Gabaldon, a 5′ 3″ Chicano (but reportedly raised by a Japanese family after his parents died) WWII Hero from L.A., was played in “From Hell To Eternity” by 6′ l” Jeffrey Hunter (blue-eyed Anglo). Gabaldon captured more than 1,500 Japanese and civilians.

I am in the process of producing a documentary (working title. “AGIF Heroes – Our Veterans’ Struggle Continues”) with $25,000 I received from a lawsuit settlement and had the check made out, not to me, but to the project. The documentary will feature mostly Mexican-Americans who have fought for veterans’ healthcare, civil rights and school desegregation, not just for Mexican-Americans, but for every American. Individuals such as Dr. Hector P. Garcia, attorneys Gustavo C. Garcia (no relationship), Carlos Cadena, etc., and women civil rights activists.

Boriquas and other ethnic groups help each other UP, and although a few such as Efrain Gutierrez and I have helped several aspiring actors get their start, as Chicanos, we still have a ways to go in helping each other out. We have several Mexican-American executives in key corporate positions who help others out but, so far, my proposals (501c3 deductible) for corporate contributions have yielded only some “promises and possibilities.” PBS won’t even answer my calls; although I was previously on their community affairs committee. I somehow believe things might be different if my name were “Smith” or “Williams.” Several people have said, “I’m behind you,” but I need them side-by-side, fighting the good fight for financial support.

My interest in producing this documentary is to introduce it to school and public libraries, so that our Mexican-American students will be aware of so many great men and women who made great sacrifices fighting for the opportunities for employment and advancement which they now enjoy, but take for granted, because they do not realize where these came from.

By Placido Salazar, a 20-year United States Air Force veteran. He was born in Edcouch, Texas, and joined the United States Air Force after high school, serving in the Vietnam War. He retired from Randolph Air Force base after 20 years. Salazar is a civil rights advocate for veterans, highlighting issues such as Agent Orange and the Texas Voter ID Bill. Salazar received a Bronze and Purple Heart medals after 48 years for his service during the Vietnam War. He can be reached at psalazar9@satx.rr.com.



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