Ellos están aquí.* Get Used To It.

* “They’re here”.

I left another forum yesterday.   I seem to do that, a lot.  I find a forum with which I can distract myself, usually without controversy, and I end up leaving…due to controversy.

I don’t like doing it.  I marvel (and kind of envy) people who can just join a forum (or anything, for that matter), make friends, and have this nice hobby, perhaps for years.  They make new friends and enlarge their social circles.

I can never do this.  I have been kicked out of every organization I have ever joined, in real life, and/or fired from nearly every job I have ever had, and I have to say I am not particularly proud of that.  And not even for what I would consider “normal” reasons, such as substance abuse issues, breaking the law, arguing with people, and so on.  No, it’s never that.  It’s just because I am me, and I am different, and I can’t be any other way.  And I can’t keep my mouth shut.

But I quit this forum before I got thrown off (I can honestly say, I have never been banned or kicked off a forum, probably because I quit before that happens).  And it was because something got to me and irked me until I felt the need to write something.

So I did.  And then I left.

It was a forum about a TV show (ok, yes, it was General Hospital).  I liked the forum because it has, for the most part, intelligent commentators who snark about the show and its writers.  I found I agreed with what people wrote, most of the time.  If I didn’t, it was still ok, because it wasn’t anything but differences over creative content.  Big deal.

But every once in awhile, someone would comment about an actress named Teresa Castillo, and occasionally about her male counterpart in the show (Carlos, played by Jeffrey Vincent Parise).  The comment would be short, and it would be this:  “Carrrrrrrlos!  Sabrrrrrrina!”

Those are the names of the characters.  And those two names, repeated often, sometimes with the warning “if they say that ONE MORE TIME…”, confused me at first.  Sometimes it didn’t even have a comment with it, just the names with the multiple r’s.

It finally occurred to me that these posters were angry at this actor and actress because of their accents.  When either one of them says the other’s name, it is with a light accent, as one would expect someone to say it in their cultural context.  Trill?  Well, yeah, there is a slight trill, but that’s how you pronounce the names.  And that’s what these two do.  They say, “Carlos”, and “Sabrina” as they are supposed to be pronounced.

But I was still at a loss as to why this text, meant to symbolize “exaggerated trilling”, was being written. It’s not as if the actor and actress were drawing out the r in an exaggerated way (think stereotypes) for some strange reason.  It wasn’t the trilling, per se, that people found annoying, it was clearly the accent.  Why would an accent make people angry?  I know, I am naíve.

Then came the violent comments about what people wanted to do to the characters/actors when they said those two names (or any words that might have had accents to them, as the actor sometimes calls the actress terms of endearment in Spanish on the show, as per his character, who is from Puerto Rico).  They wanted to punch them, or kill them, or get them thrown off the show.

I was getting whiffs of racism now.

Now I know some of this is hyperbole.  But then they started in with the personal attacks, calling the actress a “Disney princess who can’t act” – referring to Ms. Castillo being cast as Princess Jasmine in a stage version of Aladdin when she worked at Disneyland (“General Hospital’s Teresa Castillo is Pregnant – Boy or Girl?”, Soap Opera Digest website, 12/31/2014), many years ago, a fact that ‘Teresa-bashers’ won’t let go of.

But I don’t see that as a bad thing.  Apparently some do, or are jealous.  The woman is stunningly beautiful.

Then they started in on how she can’t act.  On a soap opera, of all places, where Daytime Emmy winners routinely chew the scenery at an annoying frequency.  This actress doesn’t do that.  She makes do with crappy dialog and stupid storylines, neither of which is her fault.  Yet she gets dumped on, on a regular basis, by some of this crowd on the forum.

As for her male counterpart (“Carlos”), I have seen some posts about him needing a shower.  This is when it began to dawn on my pea-brain that these people were, in fact, being racist.

Mr. Parise has a dark look to him that I, for one, think is very attractive, and his hair is thick and wavy.  But because these idiots perceive him as Latino, he is also perceived as dirty and needing a shower.  (It sickens me to even write this, I must admit)

Side note #1: There is no information on the internet on Parise’s cultural heritage, Latino or not.  He was born in Indianapolis, and that’s all I could find out.  But it’s the perception that he is Latino (Puerto Rican, I guess) that’s important here.

There are African-Americans on this show, but you would never see anyone writing that “they need showers”.  That would be seen for what it was, and called out, as it should be.

These people were being picked on simply because they are, or are perceived as, Latino.  Ironically, I am sure many of these creeps would be shocked to know that there are other Latinos on this show, one of whom is playing an Italian, for instance.  But hey, those other Latino actors do not play Latino characters on the show, so therefore they are, in these fools’ minds, not Latino.  Or maybe it’s ok to be Latino as long as you don’t show it.  Sheesh, such bigotry!

The defining post, for me, came soon after I had realized what these people were saying, during which time I was formulating a response that would make a point without enraging everyone so that the charge of racism would be lost in a sea of personal attacks in response to whatever I would say.  It was a guy complaining about, again, how this actress couldn’t act, and then he ended it with: “If she trills the r in ‘Tracy’, I am going to punch a wall.  Carrrrrrlos!”

How ignorant can you be?  For one thing, anyone who knows any Spanish at all, or even who has listened to any Spanish-speaking people, would know that the r in that name (“Tracy”) would never be “trilled”.  He just said it because he doesn’t like the actress, because she is Latina.  And making fun of the way she speaks is a hidden way to express his contempt for Latino people.

That was the straw that did it.  “Carrrrrlos!  Sabrrrrina!” was short-hand for, “I dislike Latinos so I am going to make fun of how they dare to speak in a way that identifies them as such.”

That is, it would be if the people writing it were that well-spoken, but they’re not.  I am not going to spell out the hateful way they would explain their behavior, because, sadly, everyone who reads this knows what I mean.

So I wrote that I hoped the two characters would actually speak in Spanish at times, when they didn’t want the other characters to know what they were saying (trust me, it fits their storylines).  Then I stated that perhaps if a storyline was done that addressed the racism against Latinos then maybe, just maybe, people wouldn’t make hateful, veiled racist comments about how Teresa Castillo (“Sabrina”) speaks.

Then I left and never went back to see the backlash, if there was any.  Since one of the most offensive posters is a moderator, I would be surprised if I even still had my account.

Maybe it will make people think.  I hope so.  I could have stayed and argued endlessly in some stupid ‘forum war’, but that would have diluted the message I was trying to get across. It isn’t about me, it’s about their ignorant, hateful attitudes.

Now I have to find another place to lighten my mood.  Maybe I will just stay with watching kitty videos or something, thereby completely avoiding any site that could possibly upset me.

Is there no place on the internet where sane, intelligent people can just have fun while expressing themselves?  Or have all the sites been hijacked by hateful, stupid, bitter people?

I read an opinion piece on the CNN website called “My Encounter with Anti-Latino Racism” (Nick Valencia, CNN website, 11/3/2011).  In it, the author describes being yelled at and taunted by a white woman** while he was waiting to get into a music festival in Atlanta with some friends of his from Mexico. The woman makes it very clear that she doesn’t like Latinos.

**In this context, I will refer to white people of European descent as just “white”, for simplicity sake.  I can’t think of how else to phrase it but, if you know, please tell me.

Side note #2: It’s an all-too-common attitude, this woman’s, and I ought to know because other white people make the mistake of talking shit like that around me just because I look similar to them, so they think I share their bigoted views.  “We need to keep those people out!  Blah blah racist vile words blah blah idiotic right-wing claptrap blah blah.” 

I usually wait until they run out of steam, and then say something to them in Spanish.  And then lecture them in English about their hateful thinking.  Hey, if someone starts, I will finish it.

Mr. Valencia’s friend’s response to this bigoted woman was the inspiration for the title of this blog post: “Estamos aquí.”  (“We are here.”)

And since the piece also mentions Cesar Chavez (in the context of the UFW motto “sí se puede”, which by the way was many years before our president hijacked it for his own political gain), I am reminded of another quote by that great man:

“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” – Cesar Chavez

I wish all people would take that to heart.

Anyway, I know I can’t do much, I just do what I can.  It just seems like it’s never enough.

This blog entry is dedicated to Señor Cesar Muñoz-Plaza, who taught Spanish at McKinley Grade School – the Burlingame, California school I attended for 2 years.  He is responsible for my love of the language, and the reason why I continued to study it all through my school years, including college.  I wish I could thank him but I am unable to locate him.

This week’s recommendations…

This is a funny website – it kept me giggling, anyway.  If you liked the “Headlines” segments when Jay Leno was on the Tonight Show, you will love this site.

In the “why would anyone do this?” category, is the story of what scientists found in an ancient statue of the Buddha:

“Scan Reveals Mummy Hidden in Buddha Statue”, Huffington Post, 2/23/2015.

I don’t have any books to recommend because, after reading at least parts of 10 e-books this week (all free, thankfully), not one of them was good enough to make the cut.  In fact, I have learnt that “with over 150 5-star reviews on Goodreads!” usually means “this book is loved by people who wouldn’t know a good book if it fell on them”.

And..the only good thing I saw on TV this week was Lady Gaga’s performance at the Academy Awards, singing songs from The Sound of Music.  Here it is on YouTube.  I have to admit, I was surprised and delighted at her performance, having never actually heard her sing before.

My only comment is that I don’t know why these obviously stellar singers feel they have to have weird names and do outrageous things.  Most of the time, their talent can carry them without any of this stuff.  Gah, I sound like I’m 102!

What a pity that so much talent goes unrecognized when artists choose not to play these kinds of games.  I’m sure there are more talented people out there who are not famous, than those who are (I know some personally).  Sigh.

Be good.  Be kind.  Don’t let anyone stuff you in a statue.




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