Zoe Saldana doesn't pull any punches in her latest interview with Latina magazine.
Can we talk about how much of a badass Zoe Saldana is?
The 37-year-old star of the upcoming Nina Simone biopic "Nina" recently talked about body positivity, being a mother, her marriage to Marco Perego-Saldana, and work-life balance with Latina magazine. And everything she had to say was ... yep, you guessed it: pretty badass.
But it was in response to questions about culture and immigration where Saldana really dug in.
She was born in New Jersey. At age 10, her family moved to the Dominican Republic. At 17, she returned to the U.S. to pursue her dreams of working in the entertainment industry. Growing up her whole life as the daughter of immigrants gives her a unique insight into the complexity of the immigrant experience in America. And she's not interested in beating around the bush.
Her response to people who are afraid of the "Latinization of America"? "Shut up and just deal with it," she says.
It's estimated that by 2044, the white population in the U.S. will — for the first time in the country's history — be in the minority. That is, there'll still be more white people than any other individual group, but collectively whites will make up less than 50% of the country.
This has some white people a little freaked out and feeling as though "our" country is being taken over by "others." But that's a load of nonsense.
Or as Saldana put it, "The only true American here is the Native American. Everyone else is a transplant. We're going through the exact same thing the Italians went through, the Irish, the Jews, and the Asians. In different ways, but it's been very similar."
The days of immigrant assimilation for the sake of the status quo have come to an end.
Culture has shifted away from shame of one's heritage. It's 2015, folks. You can be American while still embracing the culture of your country of origin.
"Latinos are overall very respectful," she said when asked about the evolution of Latino culture. "Once we started being discriminated against, we chose the high road: Keep quiet. Keep working. Don't teach our kids Spanish because we don't want them to get picked on." But after generations of keeping their heads down and trying to blend in with white American culture for so many years, Latinos are tired of feeling ashamed of their heritage.
"Now we're entering that phase where the first and the second generations are so in love with our ancestry and want to keep it alive in the best possible way."
On immigration, Saldana says, we need less rhetoric and more action; less vitriol and more compassion.
Those most affected by political gridlock are those who've become unwitting pawns in a game they never signed up for. Nowhere is this truer than on the topic of immigration, where rhetoric runs especially hot — from presidential candidates accusing people trying to immigrate to the U.S. of being criminals to legislators vowing not to take action reforming the system, things are rough.
The daughter of two immigrants, Saldana seems exhausted by the whole debate, saying, "I'm kind of embarrassed when you see all of these people talking [about immigration] on national television."
Hopefully, a day will come when politicians understand that we can't ignore 11 million undocumented immigrants.
And that starts by accepting the fact that what's happening today is no different than when so many of our relatives first came to the U.S. People are just trying to find a better life, and it's time we let them.
But if you choose not to acknowledge that, then maybe you need to follow Saldana's advice: "just shut up and deal with it."