Amidst Celebration, a Reminder of the Long Road Ahead

 

The 2013 American Music Awards, hosted by past ALMA winner and performer Pitbull this past weekend, was undoubtedly a special night enriched with Latin flavor.  The 41st annual ceremony included a tribute performance by past ALMA honoree, Jennifer Lopez, to the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, with Marc Anthony taking home the award for Favorite Latin Artist. There has been a lot of buzz about the show overall, both positive and negative.  It is exciting to see other awards shows celebrating American Latino talent, something that the NCLR ALMA Awards have been doing for nearly 15 years. 

 

However, we continue to be concerned with the ignorance and negativity that continues to plague our society. The miseducation, prejudice, and outrageous comments that resonated after the show remind us of the importance of our work and of the mission that remains ahead.

 

We saw this tweet shortly after the show:

Ew marc anthony? And their latin why are they in the american music awards?

 

This unfounded comment sums up a lot of what frustrates us about the social media backlash on the Latino impact on the AMAs, especially when you consider that all of the nominees for Favorite Latin Artist were born in the United States, in New York to be exact. Marc Anthony, Prince Royce, and Romeo Santos may all sing in Spanish, Spanglish, or English but they’re Americans.  Just this past summer, ALMA winner Marc Anthony and ALMA performer Sebastien De La Cruz were booed and criticized for singing ‘God Bless America’ and the national anthem at major sporting events.  Why are these Americans being scrutinized for showing their patriotism?  This is something that is seen far too often.  This unfortunate demonstration of ignorance inspired the “I Am America” segment in our show last September.

 

It’s puzzling to note that there was no such backlash to be found about One Direction, a band who won 2 awards that evening, and whose members are all from England and not American.  It’s difficult to understand why naysayers express that Latin music, made by Americans, doesn't belong at the American Music Awards when foreign-born singers such as Justin Bieber (Canadian) are winning awards and not receiving this kind of negative feedback.

 

It’s important to keep the dialogue going on these issues because there are still people who don’t understand.  Today, close to one-quarter of all children in the U.S. are Hispanic, a fraction that will rise to one-third by the year 2030.  Latino contributions to entertainment deserve to be recognized, just as that of any other American.  ALMA stars Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Zoe Saldana, Daisy Fuentes, Naya Rivera, and Christina Aguilera all played a part in the 2013 American Music Awards, a true sign that the leaders behind these shows recognize what, at ALMA, we’ve known from the start: The contributions of American Latinos to American entertainment are dynamic and powerful and it’s important that our artists be recognized for their talent and for the good that they do to make this nation stronger.  We hope audiences will collectively catch up.