By Lauren Rearick
More than 200 Latinx activists, artists, and civil rights leaders are taking a stand for their community, and they want Hollywood — and the rest of the world — to take action.
On Friday, August 16, 2019, a letter to the Latinx community appeared in the New York Times, El Nuevo Herald, La Opinión, and El Diari, CNN reported. The piece was written by actors America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Olga Segura, and Diane Guerrero, as well as writer Alex Martinez Kondracke and activist Mónica Ramírez and signed by nearly 200 supporters, including Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The letter begins by offering support to Latinx community members that might feel “terrified, heartbroken, or alone,” and goes on to pledge a continued denouncement of hate crimes, and acknowledged the “targeted” attacks against Latinx people.
“We have been smeared by political rhetoric and murdered in violent hate crimes,” the letter reads. “We have been separated from our families and watched our children caged. We have been targeted with mass shootings and mass ICE raids meant to terrify us, squash our hopes, and break our spirits.”
The letter goes on to offer support from the undersigned to any Latinx people: “We will not be silenced,” the letter reads. “We will continue to denounce any hateful and inhumane treatment of our community. We will demand dignity and justice. Though real pain and fear are sweeping through our communities, we remain powerful.”
In its closing remarks, the supporters of the letter call for action, and ask for allies to speak up, expressing, “We need you. We cannot make change without your voices and action. We call on you to speak out loudly against hate, to contribute your resources to organizations that support our community, and to hold our leaders accountable.”
In a public statement, Longoria explained that a “moral crisis in our country” had spurred the letter’s creation. “Integrity starts with looking in the mirror and this letter calls on everyone, not just our community, to choose humanity and decency over hate and violence,” she explained.
The letter arrived following a recent ICE raid in Mississippi wherein 680 undocumented workers were taken into custody, and some children were separated from their parents. Those raids happened the same day President Donald Trump visited El Paso in the wake of a mass shooting by a white supremacist who killed 22 people, many of them Latinx; per authorities, he had allegedly posted a hate screed ahead of the attack, and blamed Mexicans and other immigrants for a so-called “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, which was once part of Mexico. Crucially, Trump and his supporters have also echoed such language when talking about many immigrants, and especially Black and brown people.
“As a Latina, my heart breaks with every attack on our dignity, humanity and lives,” Ferrera said in a statement. “And as an American, I fear for the future of my country when our culture and policies lack a basic decency and respect for human life. We all have a responsibility to show up in this moment and demand decency for one another and for our country.”
If you have the monetary means, a number of organizations are taking donations for children and families affected by separation. As Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the advocacy director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, previously told MTV News, you can research local community organizations or keep an eye out for protest or events being held in support of the Latinx community. You can also contact your local or national politicians and ask what they’re doing to help, and educate yourself on potential presidential candidates and vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
And Guerrero touched on the implications of continued inaction. “We don’t have to look far to see what family separation and hateful rhetoric is doing to the people in our country,” she said. “If we do not act, we will be complicit in one of history’s greatest tragedies.”