I'm an actress, comic, and burlesque artist who happens to be a little person. I'm also a Mexican woman, but the greatest form of discrimination I endure on a regular basis is purely about my short stature. My father never failed to remind me that I am a fighter and survivor, so I do not subscribe to victim mentality, as it accomplishes nothing. In fact, I have a sense of humor about my situation and created a stand-up comedy career around it. Nonetheless, I believe when people do wrong, they should be held accountable.
Recently, Rosie O'Donnell made bigoted comments about little people on The Rosie Show. I hear cruel comments about little people all the time, and it usually rolls off me. If I cared what people thought of me, I wouldn't be in showbiz. But Rosie's comments struck a chord with me because I expected more from an intelligent, lesbian, female comic who has experienced hate and discrimination as much as someone like me. I was hoping Rosie would do the admirable thing and take responsibility for her comments, so I wrote her a letter, challenging her to an interview on her TV show. I sent the letter directly to The Rosie Show's executive producer. To date, I've yet to receive a response, so I decided to publish my letter on The Huffington Post, because a response to irresponsible prejudice deserves equal time in the media.
Before I share the letter, I'd like to share one of my favorite quotations, from Catherine Biden, mother of Vice President Joe Biden: "No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you."
You may not remember meeting me with Margaret Cho back in '07 in NYC. I'm the little person who was a featured burlesque act in Margaret's Sensuous Woman show.
I was overwhelmed with hurt and disappointment by your recent comment, "I'm a little ashamed about it ... [but] I have a mild fear or anxiety around little people." I realize little people are an easy target because there simply aren't a lot of little people in the world; we're not a significant voice to contend with. You were someone I admired and revered as a female comic and champion for equality. The irony is that you are a gay woman with first-hand experience in the battle for equality. I have come to your defense countless times when I've encountered people in the entertainment business who criticize you, and boy you sure made me look like a fool.
The issue is not that you have this warped opinion about little people. I think everyone should be free to have any ignorant, private thoughts they please, including me. However, you were so cavalier in sharing such a bigoted sentiment on a large public platform, making a momentous contribution to intolerance. You would never get away with saying, "Black men scare me" in a public forum. This only confirms you actually believe little people are subhuman and do not deserve the common courtesy and respect you would give a stranger. I find it most disturbing that you may be raising your children with this mentality.
We are living in a hate-filled age when, for the first time in history, people are fighting hate, but your willingness to degrade someone for being different only contributes to the prejudice. That said, I do not believe you are the problem; society at large shares your narrow views about little people, and about anyone born different, for that matter.
If you have any bit of sisterhood left in you, I'd like to challenge you to an interview on your show. I would like the opportunity to show you and your audience that people like me actually have a heart, soul, and mind. Perhaps, together we can turn a bad thing into a good thing.
Very truly yours,
Selene Luna will be performing in New York City on March 31. Click here for more information.
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