Things That Matter

After The VMA ‘Despacito’ Snub John Leguizamo Has Decided Enough Is Enough In This Impassioned Letter

In an impassioned letter posted to Billboard, Colombian-American actor John Leguizamo went off on the state of Latino affairs in Hollywood. The 53-year-old can’t believe that the MTV VMAs snubbed “Despacito” (in the best video of the year category), a video which Leguizamo reminds us has over 3 billion views (the most views of any video on YouTube ever). It fired up Leguizamo, who sees it as the most obvious example of an attempt to exclude Latinos from the limelight.

John Leguizamo broke down his frustrations with the ever-increasing disparity he sees with Latinos in the entertainment industry.

“‘Despacito’ is the name of a Spanish-language music video by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi with a historic record-breaking 3 billion views on YouTube. The song, not the video, was a late, perfunctory inclusion as the song of the summer at the MTV Video Music Awards. We must ask ourselves, is this a blatant omission? A proactive and decisive stand against the Spanish language? With 3 billion views, this historic song and video triumphs over the likes of, with all due respect, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, but this is only one example of exclusion.”

Leguizamo really wasn’t feeling that snub, yo.

Leguizamo has been outspoken on issues of underrepresentation in the past, but this seems to have been enough for him.

“It was OK in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s because we’d tell ourselves, ‘They don’t know better,’ as a justification to ease our alienation. It wasn’t fair, but it was status quo. Not knowing better is a symptom of ignorance, not evil. We assumed people over time just needed to become educated, and in turn would empower Latino equality in the arts. We were wrong… I was wrong.

In his letter, he talks about how waiting for the world to change feels antiquated at this point. With the world as connected as it has ever been through social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the collective knowledge of the planet only a keyboard stroke away, the fact that we’re still fighting for our place in the media with a population Leguizamo says is near 70 million, seems ridiculous to him.

He’s asking the real questions here.

“There are almost 70 million Latinos in America, and why do we remain so absent and invisible when we are the second-largest ethnic group after whites?”

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Ultimately, he says, it’s up to us to make a stand, make good art and inspire the next generation to stop waiting for the approval of the mainstream.

“‘They don’t know better’ once quelled all delusion of grandeur. We quietly went back to our corner and waited for our turn in line… but not anymore. It’s time we stand up. It’s time we educated and enabled the Latin people to better the world through brilliant art. We have a lot to offer the world… and I’ve come to feel sorry for those who have yet to know it.”

Leguizamo’s show “Latin History for Morons” comes to Broadway this fall.

Get your tix now! At #latinhistoryBroadway.com event of the fall! Edgiest play on Broadway!

A post shared by John Leguizamo (@johnleguizamo) on

He’ll be bringing the lessons he learned from his own research into Latino history to the stage, educating and creating art all at the same time.


Check out the full letter here: Billboard

READ: After His Son Was Bullied John Leguizamo Learned All About Latino History To Teach His Son To Be Proud


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Fans Are Freaking Out Over Mariah Carey Graciously Honoring Lil Nas X For Beating Her Billboard Record

Entertainment

Fans Are Freaking Out Over Mariah Carey Graciously Honoring Lil Nas X For Beating Her Billboard Record

mariahcarey / lilnasx / Instagram

Everyone and their mother has come to know who Lil Nas X is through their favorite country channel or literally anywhere on social media. Lil Nas X’s country hit “Old Country Road” is meaningful for a number of reasons. It means that the King of Country is a black man. When he came out as gay on World Pride Day, it broke another barrier in country music–proving its fans aren’t as backward as the stereotype suggests.

This week, Lil Nas X just broke another seemingly unbeatable record: “Old Country Road” officially dethroned Mariah Carey’s 1995 classic “One Sweet Day” as the longest No. 1 record on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. While Mariah Carey’s Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” was settled into the number one spot for 16 weeks in 1995, “Old Country Road” just hit 17 weeks. 

Mariah Carey, being the classic queen that she is, photoshopped this metaphorical “passing of the torch” to congratulate Lil Nas X.

Credit: mariahcarey / Instagram

In a heartfelt social media post, Carey penned to Lil Nas X directly, “Sending love & congrats to @lilnasx on breaking one of the longest running records in music history! We’ve been blessed to hold this record with a song that means a great deal to @BoyzIIMen and myself and has touched so many. Keep living your best life! One Sweet Day will always hold a special place in my heart and I want to thank anyone who’s ever told me how this song has affected them and their loved ones.”

She also shared a BTS video of the recording of “One Sweet Day” and fans are paying their own tributes to the classic.

Credit: mariahcarey / Instagram

You’d be hard-pressed to find any of her lambs talking shade on Lil Nas X. One fan commented, “queens supporting queens. we stan.” Others are trying to support Mariah by saying she still holds the record for female artist with the longest No. 1 record on Billboard’s Top 100 chart.

The Lambs 4 Life club is taking this moment to add Mariah’s music to their gratitude list.

Credit: @dedicatedtomimi / Twitter

One fan even attributes the song to saving her life, tweeting that “one sweet day saved me when I lost the most important people in my life back in 2012, I was going to end it all but I heard it on the radio and I felt like it was my message to keep on living  and that’s what I did, it will always hold a special place in my heart so thank you mc.”

Another fan shared the heartbreaking meaning “One Sweet Day” will always hold in his family’s hearts: “My younger cousin was four when he passed away and One Sweet Day was first released. His mother still plays it to this day to commemorate his memory at every major gathering. Thank you and Boyz II Men for giving us this wonderful song, it will always mean so much to our family.”

Meanwhile, others are remembering what it was like to listen to that song on cassette.

Credit: @_dani_boyce / Twitter

Some think that the song will never truly be dethroned because of the way streaming services are able to account for how many times a song is played. You can’t count how many times a cassette tape was played. One fan said, “I promise I’m not hating, but Mariah achieved this without social media, hype, clout, etc., so the record will never be broken in my eyes. These artists today have way more avenues and tactics to get their music out there and heard.”

Some fans are just not letting go of that torch.

Credit: @alwaysbeourmimi / Twitter

They’re all-caps shouting, “TAKE IT BACK” at the singer and “a timeless song by a timeless angel, it’ll always be the longest-running number one in my heart.”

One fan felt like the thread was a memorial for the song and just had to say it, “You act like the song Died.. It Didn’t.. The World has changed.. just think if you had tools like Social Media.. Pandora.. YouTube Twitter Back Then..”

The rest of the lambs are rooting for beating that record all over again with the 25th anniversary of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

Plus, take it from this fan who is transcending the meaning of competition with this thought: “One Sweet Day will always hold a special place in everyone’s heart. Time changes and so is the taste of listeners, however the inspiration and hope that it brought to the world will never be surpassed by anything and will not be define by a number. #OneSweetDay”

Felicidades to Lil Nas X and to Mariah Carey for being timeless.

READ: Mariah Carey Hinted That She Is Open To Collaborating With Lil Nas X And People Are Freaking Out

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

johnleguizamo / Instagram

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances