Dear Michelle Rodriguez,
Imagine my shock and horror when UPLIFTT writer, John Anthony, linked to the UPLIFTT Facebook page a Vulture article quoting your self-admitted faux pas about minorities stealing roles from poor white guys to a TMZ paparrazo.
For our readers:
"That's the dumbest thing I ever heard. I think it's so stupid because of this whole minorities in Hollywood thing. It's so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people's superheroes. Make up your own. What's up with that?"
At first I thought for a millisecond you were being sarcastic but your delivery, which sounded a little sloppy because you seemed a little inebriated (please don't drink and drive), showed otherwise. Ay, mi madre. Where do I even begin?
Now, most likely urged by a publicist, you are offering a non-apology by offending writers of color even more. Because, supposedly, we are "lazy" and we don't write our own characters. We prefer to strong-arm white folks into including us into their mythology. Never mind that there is a Black Green Lantern (John Stewart) and never mind that there are a great deal of writers of color who have created work that isn't getting picked up. Me included even after getting lauded as a brilliant writer by network executives and some questionable characters. Wonder why. I, just like numerous capable women, Latinos, and African American creatives, should not be outside of the proverbial door. [And don't even get at me with the myth of meritocracy because it will be shut down as exactly that: a debunked myth]. Why is that more of an issue to you than white guys stealing roles of historical figures of color from people of color? It boggles the mind. Don't talk down to us, Michelle. Lift us up. You have the means and the power. If not, then no digas nada, chica. You don't got the answers, Michelle. You ain't being doing the education.
"When the axe entered the forest, the trees said, 'look, the handle is one of us!" Indeed. It even hurts me to write this.
How can this be? You're a Latino baby. We love you, Michelle. Why do you think we go time after time to watch those terrible Fast & Furious films? Having a diverse cast has a lot to do with that. There are numerous studies that state films and TV shows with a diverse cast sell more tickets and get a wider audience. We over-index at movie theaters as patrons, but not as superheroes or leads. There's no excuse to not include us anymore. In fact, it is detrimental to Hollywood's bottom line to not include us.
Say, weren't you accused of stealing supporting roles from Black men? So what gives? Isn't it a tad hypocritical to take roles that were supposedly written for men just to fill a quota? A little introspection doesn't hurt, you know.
Now that we got that out of the way: Is it true that we should create our own? Yes, it is. We have been. The lazy word is used by racists against people of color and it, frankly gets, old. Not to mention, inaccurate, offensive. Wrong. Do you not know any Latino or Black writers besides Robert Rodriguez? There's room for more. It's Ok to have Black and Latino friends and not just the privileged ones who got lucky enough to be validated by white folks (and now live in a bubble they will fight tooth and nail to keep being part of so they can keep telling each other that the problem is us and not racist Hollywood). Why bite the hand that feeds you? We are all working hard, Michelle. Not just you and your buddies in Hollywood. Not just white writers.
I don't even have a problem with mediocre white talent getting roles and their films funded. I want us to get the same opportunities. Even the mediocre talent of color. It is only fair, but alas, I am aware that the universe is indifferent to equality and Hollywood is a business after all. The bottom line is that diversity sells. Our stories will sell and we have been writing our own superheroes. You don't blame a maligned people for being maligned. It's counterintuitive and counterproductive. It's also callous, pero you get the point.
Besides your fans, which you will always have, there are a great deal of people of color who feel betrayed by your words. I hope you do a little more research on the matter and realize that we are reacting to a larger issue that has been happening for over 100 years. Also, those people who complain about minorities not getting roles are the same ones who managed to fight for you to get in through the door. People before us fought for the right for us to exist and be treated like human beings and they were accused just the same of being lazy and chronic complainers.
Please don't be another axe that tears us down. Water seeds in our communities instead. We need you. More than you can imagine. We still love you despite the poorly thought-out comments. [I know I've been guilty of sticking my foot in my mouth numerous times, but if I'm wrong, I yield, apologize, acknowledge, and rectify].
Vuelve, Michelle. We don't want to trade you in the next Chappelle racial draft. They can have Geraldo Rivera, though. But not you. Although Jessica Chastain is a contender. We still love you.
César Vargas is a producer, writer, director, and social media strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. You can reach him on Twitter at /CesarVargas365.