Home > Uncategorized > Edward James Olmos, live on stage

Edward James Olmos, live on stage

April 25, 2011

I love living in a university town.  We walk three blocks from our back door and get to hear Edward James Olmos on stage, talking about his passions, about biotechnology, about what the future means for humanity, about race, about Battlestar Galactica and Miami Vice and Blade Runner, and about creative control in drama. I learned how amazing he is on stage: an exuberant, confrontational and hilarious story-teller.  He’s sixty-four years old and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a talk by a higher-voltage live wire.

Edward James Olmos

A 1/30 second slice out of 90 minutes of high Olmos energy

He started out by saying how proud he was to be a Chicano.  Well, actually Chicano meant Mexican born in the United states and with some indigenous and some European – in his case Hungarian ancestry.  So he was really proud to be Mexican and he was very proud to be European.  But then he found out that indigenous peoples came to this continent forty thousand years ago from Asia so he’s Asian, right?  And then he finally started to understand, he said, that we all came out of Africa.  “So I’m African… but I’ve just been away from the homeland a really, really long time!”

He didn’t use the word “multiculturalism” but he did talk about what a tragedy it is we really only teach our kids about one culture and everything else is “also”.  What if you only gave your child one vitamin their whole lives until they were 18?  What if you only fed them only hamburgers?  “Our kids don’t have what they need to be healthy, to survive.”

“There is no such thing as the Caucasian race.  There is no such thing as the Latino race.  An African race does not exist.  There is no Asian race.  There is only one race: the human race.  If you take home only one thing, if you only get one thing from this evening, make it this: that you will never again use race as a cultural determinant.  Never again.”

Olmos grew up in LA and has been heavily involved in gang prevention work there.  He has addressed the United Nations on reconciliation.  He spent 20 days in jail for protesting the bombing the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. He co-founded a Latino literacy foundation.

Earlier in the day he gave a talk at Milner Library, and both before and after the show he was in the main atrium meeting people – including Diane whom he gave an air-kiss which she appeared to enjoy very much.  I shook his hand and thanked him for coming to ISU.

Geez, I wish you could have been there; what a wonderful evening we had.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 25, 2011 at 23:29 | #1

    I’ve heard he is an engaging speaker, so I’m not too surprised by this. Anyone who would make a film like Stand And Deliver would almost have to be.

    He’s right about our origins, too. It sometimes seems funny to say that I’m part Irish and part German, since both people probably originated from the same part of Eurasia at one time or another. We all came from Africa, probably descended from a few thousand people back there in the distant past. In that context, all the talk about being Irish, Chicano, African, or whatever, just seems like a minor distinction.

  2. Chas, PE SE
    April 26, 2011 at 12:11 | #2

    Whenever I have to fill out a fsorm that asks for my race, I click “Other” and write in “Human”. I tried to do this on my daughter’s birth certificate, but the hospital wouldn’t let me.

  3. dof
    April 26, 2011 at 14:18 | #3

    I wonder how we can ever break out of that definitional cage. Race is not a scientifically valid concept; the hospital was using it as a kind of political shorthand. Perhaps, because they were required to by an anti-discrimination law, which makes escaping the model problematic.

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