Jaime Luis Gómez, better known as Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas, received the Impact Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) on Feb. 24 for defending the Latino community.
"For many years people thought I was Asian, others thought I was the Filipino from the Black Eyed Peas," said Gómez, who is Mexican American. "And today to move forward and have my own community embrace me and tell me: 'Hey! We are pleased with all of your success in the band and today we want to see you win on your own and we are here to support you, to embrace you, (because) you are one of us.' "
Goméz is originally from Boyle Heights, and his father Jimmy Gómez is from México while his mother, Aurora Sifuentes is a Native American from the Shoshone tribe. He received an education from the public school system in East Los Ángeles -- Garvey Junior High and Rosemead High School where he graduated in 1993.
It's been 15 years since NHMC has been recognizing individuals with the Impact Award for their work with the Latino community.
"Taboo is not only a sensational musician, but also an unstoppable defender of the Latino community," said NHMC's CEO and President Alex Nogales.
"He has used his popularity platform to bring awareness of the difficulties Latinos face and to promote the respect for Latino human rights throughout the United States," said Nogales, who added that Gómez received the award specifically for "excellently defending the Latino community."
Other celebrities who received the Impact Award were dog whisperer and TV host César Millán; actresses Michelle Rodríguez and Aubrey Plaza; actors Efrén Ramírez and Benjamín Bratt, as well as film director Chris Weitz.
"I only know what's related to being creative, to feel something as a social being and not a political person," said Gómez, 36, inside his music studio. "For me, when I believe in something, when I create a song, it's because of an inspiration; it's for supporting something I feel."
When Arizona's SB1070 anti-immigration law was approved, Gómez wrote a song to protest and support the undocumented immigrants titled, 'One Heart One Beat.'
Gómez mentioned that the Black Eyed Peas, whose members include singer Fergie, and rappers Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap, is currently taking a vacation break and each member is dedicating time to individual projects.
"Little by little I am creating bridges toward the Latino community," said Gómez, who is currently working on his first solo album to be released in about a year. "And I am really being embraced and I am being taken seriously as an artist outside the Black Eyed Peas."
Gómez, who is also a singer, composer, and music arranger, is currently arranging music for singer Paulina Aguirre.
"I've collaborated with singer Sie7e who I created a new mix for his song 'Tengo Tu Love,' just as I did for Paulina Rubio on her album 'Brava,' I wrote the song 'Hoy Me Toca a Mí,' " he said.
Gómez mentioned that he was a normal Latino kid growing up, breaking piñatas at birthday parties, his favorite food is tacos, and he learned to eat pupusas with his Salvadorian friends.
"The first concert I ever went to was one of Vicente Fernández at the Milion Dollar Theater and then I went to one of Juan Gabriel," recalled Gómez. "I am pleased that I had an opportunity to grow and really represent who I am (with the Black Eyed Peas). I am Jaime Gómez from East Los Ángeles."