For decades, California was one of several states that performed forced sterilization. For women, it meant having one’s “tubes tied” after giving birth – usually without their consent. It wasn’t just women, though. Men were also given vasectomies without their knowledge. Hardest hit: Spanish-speaking immigrants.
From 1909 to 1963, 20,000 Californians were subject to forced sterilization. In the ’70s, it continued on a smaller scale.
Soon, the word got out that California was sterilizing people against their will. The Latino community rallied against the practice and exposed what was seen as legitimate population control. California’s government argued that forced sterilization, sometimes agreed to during labor, was necessary to keep welfare from being exploited and overwhelmed.
The forced sterilizations were exposed in the mid-70s during the height of the Latino civil rights movement.
Some argue that the sterilizations were being used to curb the Mexican American population from growing. California government officials were adamant that the accusations were false. However, some investigations have found that some of the sterilizations were done to rid society of “undesirables.”
The revelation of the forced sterilization prompted a class-action lawsuit (Madrigal v. Quilligan) against L.A. county doctors as well as the state and federal governments.
Walter Mercado was to the Spanish-speaking world, what Miss Cleo was to the English-speaking one. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, the legendary Puerto Rican psychic and astrologer captivated the Latin world with his glamorous style, gender-nonconforming persona, and warmhearted cosmic readings. Now, he is poised to reach a new level of fandom with a lovingly crafted documentary about his life and career
Our stars dimmed when we lost the great Walter Mercado last year, but with a new Netflix documentary, we get one more glimpse into the man’s flamboyant life.
It’s finally here: the first trailer for Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor.
Each and every day more than 120 million viewers tuned in to watch the extravagant, flamboyant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming artists charm the world with televised horoscopes. He enthralled his viewers with sequined capes, opulent jewelry, and shared a message of love and hope to his devoted viewers. Then, he mysteriously disappeared.
If you’re like countless tías out there, you’ve been wondering about him ever since. That’s where Mucho, Mucho Amor comes in.
Directors Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch spent the last two years of Mercado’s life documenting this icons legacy – when he grabbed with the struggles of aging.
The film also drops hints about Mercado’s financial issues and his hiatus from public life. But it also features magnificent footage from his unforgettable entrance at the opening party for HistoryMiami’s 2019 exhibit “Mucho, Mucho Amor: 50 Years of Walter Mercado.”
It’s an over-the-top moment that celebrates how many in Miami viewed him as royalty as they eagerly awaited his recommended New Year’s Eve rituals each year (customized for each Zodiac sign). It’s safe to say that Mercado captivated people’s attention, and he’ll do it once again with this documentary.
Mercado is often described as the glue that binds migrant communities from all over Latin America.
At its peak, Mercado’s show was watched by more than 120 million viewers from around Latin America. But he was also an actor, dancer, and writer throughout his career. In fact, he starred in several Puerto Rican telenovelas, including Un adiós en el recuerdo (A Farewell to the Memory) and Larga distancia (Long Distance).
In 1970, he started his regular astrology segment on Puerto Rico’s variety show, El Show de las 12. His star continued to grow, and for decades, his astrology prediction shows aired in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the United States.
“We grew up with him,” Lin-Manuel Miranda says in the trailer for Mucho Mucho Amor. “I can’t think of an English language astrologer that would command the attention of millions of households.”
Then, Mercado mysteriously vanished from the public eye. “Maybe he didn’t want to grow old in front of the cameras,” Eugenio Derbez speculates.
He was also an icon for the LGBTQ community, who – especially in the Latino community – needed one so badly.
Although Mercado was unapologetically sexually-ambiguous, many were still preoccupied with the man’s sexuality. He always took the questions and innuendo in stride though, responding with a joke that would get him off the hook with most. But he meant a lot to gay Latinos during an era where they feared coming out much more than today, just merely for existing.
Even though Mercado never publicly addressed his sexuality, he was an inspiration for many LGBTQ kids, including director Kareem Tabsch.
“I’m a queer kid from Miami and the first time I ever saw Walter on television, it was the first time I ever encountered another person who was queer,” Tabsch recalls.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he added: “I had a simpatico. Seeing him on TV I remember thinking, ‘Huh, there’s something in you that’s like something in me. I see a reflection of me in you, even if I’d never be nearly as fabulous.’ But there was this otherness that I recognized. I felt, ‘If my family loves you just as you are then maybe they could love me as I am too.”
Although before his death he disappeared from public life somewhat unceremoniously, his legacy lives on for millions of Latinos.
Mucho, Mucho Amor does a great job at showing the human-side of Mercado. Yes, he was a beloved television personality, for whom many, he was a literal superhero. But he was also a human, and Netflix’s new documentary will show an entirely new side of the superstar to the world.
Mucho, Mucho Amor debuts on Netflix on July 8.
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Just because it might seem as if the world is on pause, it doesn’t mean that our efforts to learn more about it and better ourselves should be.
Documentaries alongside biographies can teach us so much about the world we live in and open our eyes to its complexities, even teaching us about the obstacles we did not know were right in front of us. As women of color, there are so many, and often times we use documentaries to learn about them, so we can better understand how to propel ourselves forward and continue to succeed. To make sure that you do too, we’re rounding up documentaries for you to learn, grow, and build hope from while in quarantine.
Check the documentaries we’re binging now that we’ve got the time below!
Former First Lady Michelle Obama takes an intimate look at her life, relationships, and dreams in this documentary which sees her touring the country while promoting her book Becoming. The New York Times describes the film as showing “a familiar, albeit more carefree, former first lady.”
AKA Jane Roe (2020)
This documentary by Nick McSweeney highlights Norma McCorvey, the woman who made history as “Jane Roe” in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade. Beyond the shock value of the movie’s twist, which unearths the reasons why McCorvey ultimately turned her back on the movement that advocated for her right to choose, it tells a story about the ruthlessness of political agendas.
Abuelas: Grandmothers On A Mission (2013)
Three decades after Argentinean mothers created a movement demanding Argentinean officials to discover what happened with the sons and daughters who “disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War, the grandmothers continue their efforts in this documentary.
Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)
The historical documentary follows Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm during her campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972. It will serve as an impressive reminder of this Black woman’s might and the fight she managed to get us all passionate about.
This Oscar-nominated film is about a beekeeper in North Macedonia. Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov this documentary shows how the beekeeper’s life is affected when the ancient techniques she uses to farm bees are impacted by a new family who moves into the neighborhood and brings modern technology with them.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (2016)
African- American poet Maya Angelou has her life depicted in the documentary that dives into her traumatic childhood and her life as a singer and dancer. The first feature documentary includes interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, and Common.
Knock Down The House (2019)
This documentary featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the league of women who ran for Congress in 2018 including Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin, and Amy Vilela made waves when it first debuted on Netflix. Just as it did for us, we imagine it will give you a whole heck of a lot of hope and pride in the woman who fight for our rights and country.
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