As we end 2013, this is a chance to reflect on the work I’ve done with NBC Latino, and the words flow from my head and from my heart.
As someone who has been in the habit of editing and publishing stories quickly for LatinoRebels.com, the chance to dig deeper into some of the more pressing and important topics that resonated with me has been a blessing. The support we got from the community on these stories shows how important it is to cover these issues, and for that, I am grateful.
So here’s to the stories we have covered, and to the importance of putting them on a national platform. Here is just a sampling:
- Opinion: ¡Basta ya! Enough with the ignorance about U.S. Latinos: When I wrote this piece defending Pitbull (of all people), I knew it would hit a nerve. This column continues to show up on my Twitter feed, and the emails I received from it confirmed that the redefinition of what it is to be Latino in this country is constantly evolving. Here’s hoping more and more people chime in. This piece was part of an ongoing theme I loved to cover, whether it was my distaste for Hispanic Heritage Month or educating the ignorants who had the audacity to criticize Marc Anthony for singing “God Bless America” at an MLB All-Star game. I loved that such a theme hit home.
- Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico and more Puerto Rico: My beloved homeland is one of the most misunderstood topics in American news media today. Very few people outside of the boricua community truly understand the complexity of this American territory, which I would rather refer to as the world’s oldest colony. Educating readers about the island has always been the focus for me. We are so much more than West Side Story images, JLo videos and piña coladas. I recall once in the 1990s, when I was watching a baseball game with my abuelo Papito Juan, he told me this, “Never ever ever forget where you come from. Ever.” This column was for you, Papito Juan.
- Breaking stories, from a homophobic puppet whose time was up to a commercial gone bad: I will never forget those weeks in December, 2012 and January, 2013. In the middle of the whole La Comay controversy, I was able to share new developments through NBC Latino. Then the whole “God Made a Farmer” mess happened during the Super Bowl, and my column was the first national one to raise the issue and get Chrysler to respond. Two days later, the commercial made primetime news. The “under the radar” stories had become part of the radar. Soon, I was covering other ones as well, like the whole Puerto Rican Day parade beer can fiasco, a Roberto Clemente Goya statue in the Bronx that just didn’t feel right and yeah, Little Miss Hispanic Delaware.
- And speaking of MSNBC, two of my columns made that space as well: Grover Norquist is now an amnesty-loving immigration activist and MLB’s Latino push fails with news of latest suspensions. That is just cool.
- We also covered the tragedies of David Sal Silva and Andy López, as well as the pain surrounding our country’s current immigration system and the debate over it. These are the kinds of stories that come from people who reach me on Facebook or Twitter with tips and ideas. It is why I do this in the first place, and I won’t stop. Ever.
So to NBC Latino and all the thousands of people who took the time in this crowded digital world to read my columns, I leave you with this:
You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know why you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
For your selflessness–my admiration
For everything you’ve done
You know I’m bound–I’m bound to thank you for it
Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77 ) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. In the past 12 months, Julito represented the Rebeldes on Face the Nation, NPR, Univision, Forbes, and The New York Times.