Actor and comedian Arturo Castro, creator and star of Comedy Central sketch show “Alternatino,” delayed airing a sketch skewering America’s mass shooting epidemic because of last week’s gun massacre at a garlic festival in California.
In the wake of two more mass shootings this weekend, he again considered postponing it because of how it could be perceived as insensitive and “too soon.”
But “after a lot of soul-searching,” Castro went ahead and put the sketch in Tuesday night’s episode of “Alternatino.”
As Castro — also known for his roles on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and Netflix’s “Narcos” — explained on Twitter and in a Washington Post op-ed: “I’ve realized now that I can’t postpone it any longer.”
“It will always be ‘too soon’ when gun violence happens so frequently,” Castro wrote. “And it’s never too soon to demand meaningful gun reform and to stop using hate against people of certain ethnicities to gather votes. I’ve realized this will always be an issue until we do something about it.”
The sketch makes the point that the onslaught of mass shootings is a uniquely American problem.
Castro plays Diego, a student from Central America who attends a “cultural assimilation” class. The teacher devotes a lesson to gun violence, which Diego initially relates to through the lens of drug cartels.
“Unfortunately, we have that stuff too. Two students are in rival cartels, and they shoot each other at the school,” Diego says of school shootings. “It’s very tragic.”
Diego gets increasingly exasperated as the teacher keeps explaining that gun violence in America is “not a cartel thing,” but a much wider epidemic.
“[The shooter] is the drug lord of the school, right?” Diego asks the teacher. “And he’s trying to tell everybody that he is the man.”
“No, it’s more like he’s just a lonely kid,” the teacher says.
“If he is not in a cartel, then where is he getting his guns?” Diego asks later.
“You can get guns anywhere. It’s America,” the teacher responds. “I can get you a gun.”
Castro, who grew up in Guatemala, also explained that it was important to authentically represent the Latino community in the wake of Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas. The shooter was motivated by white nationalism and anti-immigrant beliefs — frequently espoused by President Donald Trump.
“As a Latino actor, I portray characters who represent the Latino community in ways that I hope will help people see who Latinos really are — not the stereotypes of ‘rapists and drug dealers’ but rather the beautiful, multi-dimensionality of Latinos as a people,” Castro wrote.
“My art is all I have to express what I feel. It’s my voice. Having a platform and not using it to talk about the things I care about — particularly when it feels like my people are under siege — would be irresponsible,” he continued. “In no way is our intention to make light of tragedy, but rather, it’s a responsibility to reflect what we’re living in this society through media.”
Read Castro’s full op-ed at The Washington Post.