I thought it was interesting that this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month seemed to stretch into two months–Latinos were all over the news in November. And that’s a good thing. But in looking at the events of this past month, I couldn’t help but think back at the unheralded success of a Mexican girl from North Carolina. Her achievement, while immersing herself in something so American, speaks volumes about our future in this country. But more at 11…
November began with a big bang: the Latin Grammys celebrated their 10th anniversary, and as we all know by now Univision had plenty to celebrate about. And the Latin Grammys also seemed to be the debut of a confused black Latino, Sammy Sosa. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t help but do a double-take when I saw him at the Grammys–is that REALLY him?
And then there’s George Lopez who debuted his new late night show on November 9. I’ve seen it several times and the one thing that has struck me the most has been Lopez’s seemingly Latino-black crossover. Sure he’s had everyone from Seinfeld co-creator Larry David to “New Moon” teen movie idol Taylor Lautner, to Latino crooner Marc Anthony, but he’s also had several prominent African-American personalities like Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx. And even his bandleader is African-American.
But I think Lopez’s biggest coup has been Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. Kobe never does late night show appearances. Maybe his Latina wife told him he better do it. Whatever the case, I think Lopez’s multicultural platform–especially on the black-Latino front, and whether deliberate or not–is a good thing for both communities, and a good thing for television. And with Oprah’s announcement that she is ending her show to focus on her new cable network, cable TV’s status is being elevated even more. I salute TBS for bringing us “Lopez Tonight.”
But now back to the mexicanita from North Carolina.
Back in October I was in Houston for work and did what I always do wherever I am: look for Hispanic magazines and newspapers (it’s the print junkie in me). It was in Houston’s Semana News where I learned about the extraordinary achievement of sixth-grader Eber Noyola, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. I think other Hispanic news outlets reported this when it happened this past July but for me it was big news. Little Noyola had won the annual, national essay contest sponsored by the quintessionally American “Daughters of the American Revolution” (DAR). Once again, I saw the future of American Latinos.
Noyola’s achievement struck me in a number of ways. She competed with 43,000 other students across the country. She was the ninth North Carolinian to win this prestigious contest, which asks contestants to write about the “ideals of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” but she was the first Hispanic to win from that state.
OK, North Carolina. A state which has seen triple-digit increases in its Hispanic population. And the children of immigrant parents are making their mark, wrapping themselves in American history. And what did Noyola do? She wrote about how Lincoln’s ideals about liberty are still relevant today, by correlating them to Barack Obama.
Hmmm…George Lopez actively campaigned for Obama. With her nationally-recognized writing skills, maybe Lopez should consider hiring Noyola as a writer for his show.
I’m very optimistic about the future of American Latinos….for ALL Americans. And folks like Lopez and Noyola will lead the way.