I was in traffic yesterday morning, waiting at the stoplight I hit right before I get on the highway to get to work. The morning radio DJs were spouting their inanities, the ones you can only formulate when years of getting up at 4 a.m. have finally sapped away all the humor and personality you may once have had.
My coffee carrier was in the cupholder, hot enough to secure warm coffee for at least the next two hours.
I picked up the morning's newspaper from the seat next to me, glancing at the front page. Oh, yeah. They busted a guy who wanted to set off a "dirty bomb" in the U.S. That's right. I remembered hearing about that the day before, but not paying all that much attention to it.
I glance at the front page while waiting for the light to change. I read this (from an AP story):
I let out something in the car that sounded like this: "Oh. Aw. Oh fuck fuck FUCK! SHIT!"
Anyone who glanced over into my car at that moment would have seen a furious waving of newspaper pages and arms flying everywhere in wild gesturing.
It had been a nice nine months. We blacks and Hispanics had kind of blended into the woodwork, so to speak, keeping a low profile except for the occasional ALMA awards or news about J.Lo getting separated from her husband.
Things were good. The Palestinians and Israelis were enmeshed in conflict. India and Pakistan were on the brink of war. And nobody was really giving a damn about my people or giving us much of a bad rap. Next to the Taliban, your average Hispanic was as American as Jenny Jones.
Now this guy just brought a world of shit on the rest of us. No more tariff-free imports of nasty Puerto Rican malt-flavored beverages. No more getting on a plane at the airport with those bottles of duty-free tequila. No more unfettered Spanish speaking in public speaking. The crackdown is imminent.
It's a totally irrational thing to base perceived notions about your
the O.J. case, a black celebrity, a sports celebrity no less, who
After the Oklahoma City bombing, it was automatically assumed, before any hard evidence was gathered, that it was the work of Middle Eastern terrorists. I was there, and I spoke to Muslims who were unfairly persecuted and made to feel unwelcome in their own communities in the days that followed the explosion.
It's not the same thing here, really. Hispanics are a diverse enough group that an incident involving one Puerto Rican man is not going to affect the entire perception of our people. At least, that's what we know to be true, logically.
In our hearts though, I know many Hispanics had the same knife-in-the-gut feeling I did today when I saw that news story. He's one of ours. FUCK!
Unfair as it is, it can sometimes only take one incident, or one black (brown, beige, yellow, whatever) sheep in the herd to make people of a limited mindset lump groups of people together.
really, what might set this volatile situation off completely is
It's a song where he sings in a very high voice about how his love is like this dank, "Wizard of Id"-like prison that you can't escape from. He ends the song with a falsetto that made Mariah Carey call him up on the phone and say, "Um, Enrique, you might want to bring that pitch down a tiny bit."
He wails over and over, "You can ruuuuuun! You can ruuuuuun!" like 20 times, until he concludes with, "... but you can't escape my love."
Psycho enough for you?
Look, Enrique. People are already going to think some of us are terrorist collaborators now. Do you really need to wailing about how nobody can escape and suggesting that people run away?
even more suspect is that in the video for the song, Enrique is canoodling
in a bathroom with Anna Kournikova, the tennis star whom most people
only vaguely associate with athletics or sports of any kind. The gossip
behind the video was that he didn't want to kiss her because she had
a pimple next to her mouth, which they ended up digitally blurring
out as they shot her from opposing angles. Never mind that Enrique
the pimple wasn't enough to dissuade Enrique from
But Enrique has also begun dating the woman who, in her just-barely-post-pubescently-budding-blonditude is every white man's fantasy.
Way to get them going against us, Enrique.
Between terrorists and pop stars messing it up for the rest of us, it's just not safe being a Latino sometimes.
Little did they know they were building a Tonka toy truck factory.