Media has become a big part of our lives. Whether it be social media on our phones or what we watch on TV, it affects the way in which we perceive our lives, see ourselves in the world, and relate to others around us. For this very reason, it is vital to make sure media representation is as close to the world we live in as possible. As previously discussed, this representation matters. Many groups have spoken about this topic, trying to bring awareness to the issue. One of those discussions centered around the importance of accurate Latinx representation in the media. Although Latinx are everywhere, the media is not properly showing this or casts them under old stereotypes.
A few percentages
It does not matter what country in the world you find yourself in, you will always see at least one Latinx around you. Although they are a minority when it comes to certain privileges, they are a large group of people with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages. However, when it comes to media representation, we do not get to see half of the Latinx population and its individuals on the big screen.
Last month, LA Times published an article that discussed the percentages of Latinx characters in the media. The most astonishing revelation in this article is the fact that in 1999 the Latinx represented 11% of the population, but only 2% of the characters in television, and today the population has grown to 18% while the TV roles have only grown to 5.3%. How is it possible that they grow as a community but they are not represented as such?
Some experts suggest this happens because executives believe the Latinx community is a very niche community and prefers content created in Spanish. “And so,” says Ana-Christina Ramón, Director of Research and Civic Engagement of the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA, “really the push for representation in English-language programming hasn’t been there because there’s this misunderstanding of who the community is and what the audience wants to see.”
But even then representation should expand to portray the Latinx community for other communities to see. It is important to showcase how varied our world is and the kind of people who live in it. Not everyone is white. Not everyone faces the same issues. Not everyone is lucky enough to be protected by their privileges. Frances Negrón-Muntaner, a professor at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University says, “People define the problems in different ways and use different categories and different frameworks is a positive thing for knowledge production. Homogenization is not.”
The facts are in the percentages. The Latinx community is underrepresented in the media.
A Latina’s perspective
As a Latina, I grew up watching Hispanic shows that represented my people for exactly who they were. There were love stories, people working hard, individuals starting their own families, and they would face life’s challenges with dignity. However, when I turned my eyes to other countries, I saw my people labeled as criminals, drug addicts, and “the help.” They were unwanted and casted to the side just for where they came from.
As a young adult, I realize how important it is for the younger generations to see themselves represented as more than the trouble makers and the drug dealers. TV shows and movies should show the Latinx reality. Although we are a minority group, we are smart, funny, and special. We can lead successful lives, have families, and create our own path. Accurate representation should be the standard.
A bit more accurate
Representation in the media is extremely important because we are exposed to it on a daily basis. Every individual should be able to see themselves portrayed on screen in a manner that makes them feel proud of where they come from. All groups of society should be represented appropriately, particularly for younger people to see what their life could be. The importance of accurate Latinx representation in the media has become greater as more people demand to be seen for who they really are and not for what stereotypes dictate.