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Can We All Get Along?

By the year 2015, the U.S Census states that majority of people in our country will be people of color: Latino, Asian, African-American, etc. This statistic makes the 1992 words of that great philosopher Rodney King, “Can we all get along?” even more pressing.
This country is besieged by an incredible problem with race. As a dark Latino male, I sense the uneasiness of our society. I hear the click of the car power door locks. I’m not deaf. And if I wear a red jacket, all of a sudden people think I’m a parking valet. I guess there is a thin line between looking good and “Bring me my Jeep.”
TV’s no help in encouraging understanding among the various colors in our society’s changing spectrum, either. Commercials are a prime example. The spokesperson for La Victoria Salsa is an Angelo man -- really. Who knows salsa better than Caucasians?
Besides, someone should tell him that the correct pronunciation for jalapeno is hal-a-pen-yo not hal-a-pin-yo. Who is this guy channeling, the spirit of Jose Jimenez? Same with Taco Bell -- their spokespeople are Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, and…oh yes, Rocky and Bullwinkle -- two fine Latino actors. What can we expect from a company whose slogan is “Run for the Border?” In this age of political correctness, shouldn’t it be “Run from the boarder?”
Nor does Taco Bell understand the Spanish language. They have an item on their menu call the “Chilito” Chilito is Spanish slang for penis. Would you walk into a deli and order a shlong? If you don’t know what it is, don’t sell it.
Car companies use other people’s cultures to sell cars. American Jeep has the Comanche, the Apache, and the Cherokee. I didn’t know that great Indian nations invented four-wheel drive. Ford has the Fiesta and the Festiva. I heard Buick is coming out with the Bar Mitzvah. The latest addiction is the Pontiac Salsa: Does it come equipped with dual airbags of Doritos?
Television also supplies us with our daily dose of fear and stereotype reinforcement. The nightly news is guilty of “coloring” crime reports. It is interesting that when a Caucasian commits a crime that news reports it as colorless. Was Jeffery Dahmer ever called a “white serial killer?” Yet people of color are always identified by their race. We could play along at home: “Honey, did he say that the two assailants were black? A Latino and a Korean and I got bingo!” 
Still, every summer people flock to the beaches to get a tan. “Did you lay out today? Wow, you look really dark!” But people wear sunblock just in case: I guess we want to get dark enough to be noticed but not so dark that we’re denied credit.
It is my hope that we can learn to get along and the problem of race can be diminished. Through the words we say on stage, the articles we publish in newspapers and magazines, and the images we create for film and television, we have the power to heal and educate the human race.
Can we all get along? You tell me.
This article was originally published in April of 1994 and is part of our Legacy series. Take a look back and laugh with some of the greatest voices in comedy history.