People have been speaking for a while now about the lack of Latino leaders. I'm talking about true leaders -- not those who have pledged allegiance to a brand or a political party. Leaders who are not afraid to point out when something is wrong regardless if the majority of people agree or disagree with him/her.
Seriously, if you're afraid to speak up for people because a brand might put you on a blacklist, you are NOT a leader and don't deserve to get any plaques from the self-serving sycophants. Then again, maybe being crowned king smoke-and-mirrors machinist in the circle-jerk of sociopaths is appropriate. Please disappear.
On the other hand, there are a lot of reactionary blowhards who minify a many progressive efforts. If you're a conspiracy theorist, go away. If you see schizophrenic patterns where there are none, go away. Yes, there are messages in everything we see (film, tv and media), but if you blow a fuse over a joke, a suppose slight, it's OK to point it out, but demanding of others to join you in your paranoia and delusions of grandeur is not only immature, it's also irresponsible. Go away, child.
I'm just wondering out loud about our lack of a Cornell West, Tim Wise and, at the risk of romanticizing the past, a Martin Luther King Jr., a Cesar Chavez or a Kennedy. Hell, even a polarizing pastor or reverend is welcomed at this point. Or a Jon Stewart to deliver truths with humor because as Oscar Wilde puts it, "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." True that.
Celebrities might not be the best qualified people for this. Default leadership through fame doesn't have to automatically disqualify them from trying to be moralists, but that might be a slippery slope into a scumbag bastion of an ideologue, however silly or benign it may seem. They will spew so many false narratives -- if they don't respect scholars and experts that is -- that they will indubitably hurt people a lot more than help them with their moral panics, misinformation and so forth. Unfortunately for them, it's damned if they do and damned if they don't. For shame.
Philanthropist, Luis C. Arellano, questions our need to search for them in the first place:
We also need to ask ourselves why we are in a desperate search to fill this position. Leaders just happen. They step up and selflessly assume the duties and responsibilities without buying their own spotlight or renting a louder voice in order to validate their deeds.
Valid points. Our search can lead to something far worse: There have been and will be numerous charlatans willing to take the title. How can you tell if they're a true leader or a charlatan? Scholar Nick Baez warns us in "Beware of Shiny Objects: How Not to Fill the Latino Leadership Void:
THE "JUST DO IT" PUSHER.
THE "JUST WORK HARDER" PUSHER.
THE "EDUCATION REFORMER TO THE RESCUE."
In the absence of knowledgeable national leaders, those ideas that emerge from these 'bright, shiny objects' are merely reduced to fads after failed attempts at effectively addressing social issues. We, as a community, need leaders who are committed to proposing realistic, grounded, long-term solutions -- not charlatans who speak without substance.
Call them out on their bullshit.
These are the three types of dangerous mindsets that we have to watch out for. Otherwise we will be left in a perpetual state of servitude, "glorification of chains," and "a retreat into isolationism," according to Nick.
There you go. To those of you who aspire to be leaders, remember: If you espouse these principles, if you're a brand "ambassador," if you're a spineless politician, if you're a fame whore, if you're facilitating the misguidance, exploitation and destruction of your own, you're no leader. You're a fraud.
As previously published on the UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) blog.