Negative Latina Stereotype Becomes Latest Hipster Halloween Costume
Mainstream depictions of Latinas as spectacles of spiciness or exoticism is nothing new. These images serve to degrade and create separation. Continually perpetuating a negative stereotype prohibits the public from learning the real facts and never being seen as anything greater than that. Sofía Vergara plays a character who is pretty much the "go-to" negative Latina stereotype: exotic, hyper-sexualized and speaking loudly with a thick accent.
The latest example of the negative consequences from this self-depreciating behavior is curvaceous Latinas are now the latest hipster Halloween costume, as the following Ellen segment shows.
In the year 2012, when laws promoting racial profiling are being enacted, this is a major fail. Sofía receives awards and gets paid millions of dollars for selling out. Meanwhile Latinas continue to suffer street harassment, objectification, subjugation, and sexism from the classroom to the workplace. Situations that are scary and often become dangerous because stereotyping allows people to discriminate and commit various atrocities. When women are presented as hyper-sexual, exotic or reduced to body parts, it erases their humanity and is conductive to violence.
Ellen's skit is degrading, insensitive, and quickly turning offensive the moment she compares body parts to pumpkins topping it off with the mockery of Sofía's accent. If this took place at your neighbors' house and they dressed up in the very same costume, would it still be funny to you?
How is Ellen's costume any different from the costumes the Ohio University students launched an entire campaign against? Their slogan reads: "We are a culture not a costume. Students teaching others about racism in our society today."
Maybe the next time Ellen should use the following checklist.
Latinas have been subjugated for far too long to keep laughing at these horrible jokes without reaping any kind of reward or benefit. How can we get past prejudice and negative stereotypes if we continue to laugh these situations off?
I plan on being part of the generation that ends prejudice and inequality not the one who perpetuates it. If you think that's comedy, I'm very sure we can do way better than that. I would love to see Sofia performing on her own comedy show playing a character from an empowered Latina's point of view. Now that is something that would make me smile.