Why Your Voice Really Does Matter

Jose Vilson Jose

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O'Brien

Last night, I and the gentlemen from MiBodegaOnline.com went to El Museo Del Barrio, a museum dedicated to the Latino experience here and everywhere, located in Spanish Harlem, to see a preview of CNN’s Latino in America, a spinoff off the acclaimed Black in America by Soledad O’Brien. She was present to introduce the clips and answer questions regarding the premiere and outstanding issues pertaining to the Latino community. One audience member asked arguably the most critical question about the documentary when he asked, “About Lou Dobbs …”

The audience, at that point, clapped loudly, and Soledad’s smile stretched from ear to ear, as if expecting the question. For those not in the know, Lou Dobbs, CNN anchor and host of his own show, has been at the center of a maelstrom of debate with his divisive comments towards the Latino community as a whole, but specifically illegal immigrants. He’s not only continued to perpetrate lies about the “facts,” he’s also sponsored racist organizations like the Minutemen, an organization that supposedly patrols the borders of the US to contain migrants from other countries, predominantly Mexico.

“About Lou Dobbs … I guess my question is, how do we get him out?”

I’ll presume that he meant to ask Soledad O’Brien what’s a good strategy to unseat Lou Dobbs from his own program in light of his blatantly racist (and other -ists) agenda. Lou Dobbs’ program is on the same network (CNN) as this program, so naturally, people had to ask a seemingly uncomfortable question to Soledad, who’s done her part in diversifying the station’s anchors and shows. While I can’t directly quote her, I do believe she said the network notices when certain programs do well and others don’t. She also said that as long as she puts out solid, nuanced programming, and people keep responding as well as they have, then they will win.

And that’s where I see the power. We have to speak in the language that makes the most sense for whatever the situation is, and master that language in kind. The same ideas we have about visiting a foreign country should be applied to everything we do. If we want more movies with Latinos in it, then let’s go to films that have Latinos in them. If we want more stake in our communities, we need to stuff those ballot boxes and sponsor those events, whether with experience or monies. It’s not enough to just blog, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever modality we use online to deliver our messages when many of us aren’t speaking in the language of the very causes we’re fighting for … we need to act en masse.

After stating her thinly-veiled commentary, a good response / non-response if I ever heard one, she said, “I won’t connect the dots for you.” That’s where you and I step in. Join me. Bring your voice to the fore.

Speak up and speak loud.

Jose, who will never insult your collective intelligence …

Soledad O'Brien and I at the Latino in America event at Museo del Barrio, Spanish Harlem, NYC

Soledad O'Brien and I at the Latino in America event at Museo del Barrio, Spanish Harlem, NYC