Comments in the Latin community seem to have been pretty negative, with one blogger asking Charlie “to re-enter the Latino denial closet. He can keep Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, and Jessica Alba company.”
Oh please. I think his comment that he doesn’t wake up feeling Latin says a whole lot. I look the part a whole lot more, and even speak and write Spanish, and I don’t wake up feeling “Hispanic”. Am I living in the “Hispanic closet” for it?
Let’s reduce it to the most basic level. The guy passes off as white, and, this being so, he probably gets treated with all the privileges that go along with it. So why would he think he’s any different from the “over-grown, freckle faced, corn fed, farmer tanned all-American boy, if he’s never been made to feel different?
And, what do illegal immigrants and political refugees (or local American Hispanics descended from colonialists, for that matter) have in common with Charlie’s experience of being born in New York City and growing up in Malibu? Geez, the guy is simply being honest. “I’m a white guy in America.” True enough.
There’s also been focus on the name he goes by, Charlie Sheen (opposed to his given name, Carlos Irwin Estevez), as if indicative of his turning away from his Hispanic culture. Let’s look at the facts. Charlie is not a proper name. It’s a nickname, and considering that he grew up in an English speaking nation, this is not strange. In fact, it’s only to be expected his name (Carlos) be reduced to its corresponding Anglo diminutive (Charlie). Besides, if he’d really be trying to disassociate himself from Latin culture, he’d have legally changed his name –which he hasn’t. “C-h-a-r-l-i-e” is a nickname, and “S-h-e-e-n” is a stage (last)name.
As for sincerity, he goes on to say he likes the openness of “Latin culture”, the food, women, and would like to learn the language more. What more do you want?
With only one grandparent (out of a possible four) being Spanish (and the others [all?] being Irish), can you blame him for identifying himself as white?
As for the hell his cultural identify has raised. Let’s look at it this way … Do we hear Irish Americans making a stink about Charlie not parading around telling everyone he’s Irish? Heck, if he went around telling everyone about how proud he was for being white, he’d be labelled a white supremacist. So why is he picked on for not doing the same for Latin culture? After all, his claim to being Hispanic is one grandfather who he never met, let alone who could’ve taught him about Spain (considering the old man died before Charlie could meet him) or, even more doubtful, could’ve educated Charlie about Latin America (considering that the old man was probably little more than a simpleton “peasant”).
I think the worst spin you can put on Charlie is that he’s the product of assimilation, the losing of one’s ethnicity and thus –he’s the poster boy for– the whitening of immigrant cultures coming to America. This has its roots in fear, and is dangerously close to racism.
To finish off, Hispanic readers should know it’s not Charlie’s fault he doesn’t identify as Hispanic. It is what it is. And we shouldn’t fault him for it.
Sources (in addition to the video):
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