This is a subject I can write all day about. I have serious issues with how Latinos are viewed in the media. We are the largest “minority” in this country and yet we have the smallest representation in the entertainment industry. However, as our numbers grow there is an influx of advertisements that cater to the Latino middle class. The last presidential election has shown that Latino have a huge say on who gets put into the white house. I think the powers that be have taken notice of that.
There are too many issues for me to certainly list, but I can say that the power of the media can shape they way the world can look at a person or a people. Media plays a huge role in Latino identity. The Latino Identity is typically defined as a light skinned, dark haired individual that is often made to look exotic. Afro Latinos are rarely seen in areas of television media with the exception of sports. Despite what the media may consider to be Latino, the darker skinned people still remain fairly invisible.
Beyond that, I have noticed that often times the media has a way of making Latinos seem more like outsiders than immigrants. The Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070) is a great example of that. You have to think about it this regard, most Americans do not know the difference between Mexican and Dominican. I am also willing to bet that most of America think that either most of us came to this country by either raft or climbing a huge chain link fence. Which is a shame but let me share a story…
When I was in the Dominican Republic partying with family, I met this guy who was a husband of a friend of mine. This tall Dominican who was so funny and loved to tell stories. So there was a lot of bantering going around.. Turns out that he lives in Tennessee. He married my friend in NYC and then moved to the south where they raise their children. So, being a good dad, he coaches a little league baseball team. So his team is filled with little White kids as well as Black kids and maybe one to two Latinos. This one little White kid walks up to him after practice. He looks up and says (in a southern accent). “you sure are the tallest Mexican I have ever seen”. That story just made me laugh so hard! But, it is goes to show a my point…we are not viewed separately. Most of our images are not of a positive nature either.
We simply need to do better. I had to really think about what we see on television and movies. I will just limit this to American Media but what do the Latino actors/actresses play in films and sitcoms? Is our “race” a factor in these shows or can these people play anyone. What about the roles that are meant to be played by a Latino but someone else plays them. I know people love Scarface, but I really cannot get into that movie. I love Al Pacino, but not as a Cuban. Another thing that surprised me this week was Blair Underwood playing a Afro-Cuban in the show The Event. I wont say it is not believable…but why could they not get Laz Alonso to play that role?
Picky? Maybe. I just think we need positive views on our people and less images of our people in shambles. The media can empower or bring down whomever they choose and it can also play a big role in how children view us.