It was suggested today that I post a video with a sampling from one of our recent productions in order to help folks who haven't seen the shows get an idea of what they are all about. The criticism we've received seemingly out of the blue this week due to our audition notice on backstage.com has really consumed my every thought. I'm surprised and enlightened by how much it has affected me. The question of whether the character Juanito Bandito is a racist stereotype has brought to light a bunch of questions that are difficult to answer because when you try to answer one question it inevitably invites another.
I spoke at length today with Ellen Weist of the SL Tribune who plans to run a story about Bandito tomorrow. She was very kind, understanding, and helpful as I tried to explain to her the origin of Bandito and all the positivity and love that the character has helped create over the years. I will tell you now what I told her:
I want to do the right thing. I'm willing to make changes if I find that things need to change. To those who think Bandito is perpetuating a demeaning stereotype, I invite you to come and see for yourself and then let's have a discussion. It does us no good to jump quickly to harsh conclusions as so many are apt to do in today's social media driven world.
Also, fun side note ... amidst all this discussion of race and ethnicity I remembered an interesting story about my own family background. I just looked it up on ancestry.com and confirmed it. My great grandmother divorced a man named Alvin Romero after having several children, one of whom was my grandfather. She was then re-married to a Davis and the children's names were changed to Davis. Alvin Romero, my biological great grandfather was of Mexican heritage, descended from a man named Antonia Garcia Garcia who was actually ... wait for it ... from Spain. España! Just like the Bandito! Yup, a piece of me is Spanish and maybe even Mexican depending upon how you want to define it. My last name should be Romero. Crazy.