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Is ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ Juan Pablo Galavis Latino Enough?

On Monday night Juan Pablo Galavis, a professional soccer player turned consultant from Venezuela, began his journey in the search for love on the 18th season of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” During a special two night premier audiences got a got a closer look at his life, a sneak peek at the drama filled season and met the 27 ladies competing for the young bachelor’s heart whom all agreed is “sexy!”

And yes, sexy is very much correct, but more sensational is that he is Latino. “The first Latino Bachelor, I like that,” Galavis said.

But now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: just how Latino is Juan Pablo?

On twitter many people have stated that he’s actually white:

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My response is: Yes, Galavis is white, there is zero doubt about that, but when did Latino become a homogenous race?

I’ve realized that there is a general misunderstanding of the term “Latino” – from both Latinos and Americans – which further promotes intolerance and racism. Being Latino doesn’t mean that we all come in a brown colored package highlighted by brown eyes, and black hair. Latino is an ethnicity built by the mixture of many races that over the years have created today’s Latin America.

If I were to deny that Galavis is Latino then I would be denying that my white grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors who were born in or have families from Latin America are not Latino.

The reason I will be watching this season’s Bachelor (for the first time) and why you should too is because in an indirect way it has begun a very important conversation that will make people reanalyze their own definition of the term “Latino.”

On Sunday during “The Countdown to Juan Pablo” part one of the premier, audiences found out who he is.

Galavis was born in Ithaca, N.Y., but when he was two years old he and his family moved back to Venezuela. Although he knows English, just as he begins to speak an undeniable Spanish-language accent marks his speech and immediately gives away the fact that he was raised somewhere in Latin America.

He is a professional soccer player. For college he came back to the states to play for Wesleyan and later played for the Venezuelan First Division and Miami FC until retiring in 2008 in order to be closer to his daughter Camila who was born that year. He is now a sports and entertainment consultant. One of his biggest clients is the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for which he collects memorabilia from players to be exhibited in his home country.

During the same episode we also got to meet his big, warm and loving family.

Uncles, cousins, brother, daughter and parents gathered around a table full of Venezuelan food prepared by his mom Nelly while everyone chatted about his upcoming journey. Galavis mentioned that the ladies must like Venezuelan food and his cousins added that whomever he brings home must know how to speak Spanish.

After the big meal, Galavis and his father Saul sat for an emotional one-on-one where he gave his son some heartfelt advice for his time on the show. Afterwards a teary-eyed Galavis hugged his dad and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

So yes, perhaps ABC did choose Juan Pablo because he looks Gringo, but after knowing who he is and where he comes from there is no denying that he is Latino. His family, his accent, his love for Venezuelan food and soccer, and the way he shows affection to his father are just some of the things that validate him as a Latino, not to mention that he might also show some of the ladies some Latin dance moves later on. So please stop with all the hating and start embracing!

Give us your thoughts about what you think and tune in to ABC’s “The Bachelor” every Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m.

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