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Posts Tagged ‘Hispanic and Latino Americans’


Once a columnist, always a columnist. A looooong time ago, when computers were just DEC screens, I used to pen a column called VARELITAS for The Harvard Crimson. Ever since those days in 1988, I have always enjoyed writing columns, and when I started blogging on this page in 2008, I recalled my early days as a columnist for The Crimson. My blog posts have always reminded me that I am a columnist/journalist/reporter at heart. I love to write, and it is one of the main reasons why I formed this page, and why I later formed Latino Rebels. Media in the new digital age fascinates me, and how we approach it through a US Latino perspective fascinates me even more.

This week, I just learned that I have become a contributor to NBC Latino, one of the world’s fastest-growing Latino news sites. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining a growing list of contributors whose insight and opinions I respect immensely. I sincerely believe that this core group of contributors are producing some very thought-provoking content, and I am happy to be part of the group.

Now, this does not mean that this blog will be going away or that you have seen the last of the Rebels. I will still write posts here, as well as under my “Julito” byline for the Rebeldes. This is just an opportunity for me to write on another platform as a contributor. I plan to use that platform just like I have used other platforms: to write to the best of my abilities and keep the conversation going about what it is to be Latino in 21st century.

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In this crazy world that is social media, you just keep doing and blogging and connecting and sharing. Since this blog was started in 2009, the goals were clear: to practice independent journalism, to write about the social media world of US Latinos, to celebrate #LatinoLit, to shout out the world about the great Fernando Varela (he is my brother, why wouldn’t I?), to share my writings, and to inform readers about the crazy topsy-turvy world of Puerto Rican politics. This is the world of this blog and it is a world that speaks to my world. In short, this blog is my personal world and I am humbled by all the people who have come into this world, all the people who have commented here (both the good and the bad), and all the people I have met and have become part of my familia.

Yesterday, I was greeted with some very cool news: a nomination for the inaugural Social Revolución event at SXSWi in Austin. To the angels who submitted the nomination (and I think I know who those angels were), thank you. GRACIAS MIL.

This whole world of Latino social media is bigger than any of us. Want to know why we are becoming a force? Because many of us started TOGETHER in 2008 and CONNECTED AUTHENTICALLY. We all shared the same vision. We all believed in the future, and more importantly: we all helped each other. When there was a blog someone wanted to share, we shared it. When someone had good news to post, we posted it. When people wanted their links tweeted, we tweeted. We are all in this together, and when we realize that each one of us can add our “little grain of sand” to the larger vision, we will become a powerhouse. The point is this: no one, no one is better than anyone else on the Internet. Once you have a page, a profile, a Twitter presence, etc., you are just as powerful as any other page on the Web. What you decide to do with that and how you want to present yourself is what matters.

My philosophy is a simple one: always be giving. Always be yourself. Always be authentic. Help people with no expectations. Do what you do for the right intentions and demand better. Use your blog, webpage, social media profiles to create real relationships and connect with like-minded people. Share your opinions respectfully and defend yourself when you have to with grace. When you make mistakes, just say you goofed. Be humble and admit your errors. Try to improve the next time. But never ever get caught up in the medium or in the numbers. If you don’t like something, say it. If you love something, say it too! I have said that from day 1 in 2008 and it still resonates with me every day.

Peace to all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting this blog and the Rebels. Let me know how I can help YOU in any way. You know where to find me.

Julito77

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Is there a written law somewhere in US Latinolandia that I am unaware that says the following: “Thou cannot celebrate your accomplishments or your identity, because if you do some high and mighty individual with a short-sighted agenda will lecture you about how you are just a brainwashed sellout that has ignored mestizos?” (For those who care to know: “Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent.”)

If so, then I am guilty as charged, but it leads me to this: why why why do we as a group of Latinos (50+ million strong) continue to divide and hurt each other?

This all started last night on the world’s new high school environment: Facebook. I had recently come across an AMAZING Life Magazine photo of the Great Clemente (see below) and I had uploaded the pic to my wall (which, in my mind, is my online house), saying that I thought this picture of Clemente was beautifully classic.

Now, a few things you should know about me. Clemente was my hero growing up. When I was three or four years old in Puerto Rico, my dad had gotten me a Pittsburgh Pirates shirt that I basically wore every day it seemed. My grandfather would tell me stories of Clemente’s feats. I loved every minute of it, so much so that every time I see the number 21, I think of Clemente. As I grew up, Clemente was always dear to me heart, not only because of his athletic feats, but how he handled himself when it came to speaking about injustice and how he made the ultimate sacrifice by trying to help others who had suffered a tragedy.

In Puerto Rico, Clemente is a god, and even though I have my issues when political parties on the island use Clemente’s legacy as a political tool (different blog, different story), there is no doubt that Clemente will always be one of the most historic and beloved Puerto Ricans ever.

Which is why I posted the picture on my Facebook wall, saying that I thought the Clemente photo was so classic, so beautiful.

And then Trollzilla arrived.

“He doesn’t look mestizo to me.”

My response: “Yes, he is a true boricua, a mixture of 500 years of history, both good history and bad history, but nonetheless, the best and the pride of PR.”

Trollzilla then continued with a lecture of how I was not a true Puerto Rican because I deny my own mestizo background and I am just a white Spaniard. (FYI, for the record this is me: a Moorish Spanish Corsican Italian boricua, whose ancestors came to the island in the late 19th century)

What the hell does that mean? Was Trollzilla saying that Clemente was not a true Latino because he was darker than others? Really? Well, after an interesting back and forth where I was lectured about how I am not a true Latino because I reject the mestizo (which, by the way, is 100% false, but what would Trollzilla actually use reason to have a discussion), I told Trollzilla to take his patronizing better than thou attitude off my wall. When it comes to issues of identity, I would never tell someone that their own identity is a false illusion and that they are wrong, and quite frankly, I allow for a lot of very heated discussion on my Facebook thread, but I have no tolerance for people who just want to judge someone’s own essence. Well, I tried to tell Trollzilla this, but he kept going He didn’t stop, so I blocked him. Thanks, but no thanks. You see, my Facebook wall is my home, and therefore, you are a guest in my home. I wouldn’t put up with someone acting like an elitist jerk in my home, and Facebook is no different.

One of my Facebook friends said it best: “That’s the problem. People are stuck on some ” I will drill you with my belief because until you believe it like it or not.” Puerto Ricans don’t roll like that.”

Just goes to prove that even when there is such a need for true Latino unity, there still exists a belief that the only true Latino is a mestizo and that if you celebrate anything else or discuss a Latino experience that is different from that, you are just a fake. And yeah, Trollzilla will probably tell me that I am just a product of the repressive culture that tells me that being Latino is just an illusion.

With beliefs like that, no wonder we will never advance as a people.

I mean, hating on Roberto Clemente? Whatever.

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