A Latina President is really not as far-fetched an idea as sellout mainstream media would have you believe. Media conglomerates have never made even the tiniest effort to portray Latinas honestly, equally nor anywhere near accurately. They’ve also failed to give Latinas equal employment in positions of influence and power. They complain there’s no audience for positive role models yet when heroes and leading characters are actually of Hispanic origin, a non Hispanic actor is awarded the role.
Another worn-out excuse is not having the budget, yet somehow there’s enough of money for one thing, every year millions of dollars are spent perpetuating the subjugated hyper sexualized exotic anti intellectual caricature. Networks never fail to dedicate primetime slots to regurgitating negative stereotypes. Consistently receiving plenty of screen time are the roles of buffoon, prostitute, drug addict, abuser or victim of abuse. And the unoriginal roles keep coming, in addition to maids there’s a brand new prison series featuring a large cast of Latina prisoners. Several million dollars invested with the purpose of maintaining the status quo.
What can be done to create change?
Legendary actress Rita Moreno who is the only Hispanic and one of the very few performers to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony gives us some incite in a recent interview during her book tour. She was asked her opinion of the highly criticized show Devious Maids. In her response she said she was sorry because she doesn’t like to speak negatively and the show has great actresses but she’s surprised Eva Longoria produced this series. Eva Longoria was hired by Mark Cherry to deflect from the fact he is creator, writer and producer of the show.
Moreno goes on to concede the show might be an effort but she still can’t get past the fact the show promotes a false image of the Latina. “These women do not exist.” Rita says she is still waiting for a role where either a Latino or Latina could receive an Oscar nomination for because the role still doesn’t exist. It’s 2013 and we are all still waiting. She recognizes the same old stereotypes persist which is why she insists actors chose their roles more wisely if they want to transcend. “Today the door is open a little wider, you just have to push it open with some force.”
Change begins with taking personal responsibility and realizing the consequences of one’s actions. When actors keep accepting stereotypical roles for money and a little recognition we all lose the opportunity to create something new and fresh. Studies have proven how hurtful and damaging negative stereotypes in the media are. Even more so because the audience is never presented with an alternate view to create any kind of balance. These media corporations who have become empires were created during times of segregation when people of color and women did not have equal rights. It’s way past time to begin producing content that doesn’t celebrate or emulate those times. The public needs to consume content which challenges and opposes it while media should be held accountable.
This is your reminder media is a machine spinning fairy tales for profit.
Facts to Know
There have been several Latina Presidents:
- Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez de Arias was Panama’s first female president, serving from 1999 to 2004.
- Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro became president of Nicaragua on April 25, 1990
- María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón, better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, served as First Lady, Vice President and President of Argentina.
- Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, known as Cristina Kirchner or CFK, is the 55th and current President of Argentina and widow of former president Néstor Kirchner
- Michelle Bachelet is Chile’s first female president, serving from 2006 to 2010. Bachelet is also a pediatrician, an epidemiologist, and she also severed as Health Minister and Defense Minister.
- Laura Chinchilla Miranda is the President of Costa Rica after serving as Vice President.
- Dilma Vana Rousseff is has been the President of Brazil since 1 January 2011. She was previously the Chief of Staff to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2005 to 2010.
The number of Hispanic women-owned businesses in the US is on the rise growing 57% since 2002. In 2007 Hispanic women owned firms across the country total receipts totaling over $55 billion.
The reality is research clearly demonstrates Hispanics are currently enrolling in college at larger rates.
The number of Hispanic students earning college degrees is on the rise.
The Hispanic electorate will double by 2030.
When the audience tunes in to support negative content, they throw away the opportunity to insist on better material. By doing nothing you are condoning it. Your actions have impact. What YOU can do:
- Demand stations increase positive portrayals of Latinos in media.
- Demand private media industries produce and distribute programming to counter messages of hatred and prejudice, as well as to educate their audiences about the destructive impact of intolerance.
- Hold stations accountable for negative stereotypes by complaining to the stations as well as their sponsors.
- Demand responsibility of the advertisers who in essence are supporting and perpetuating this lack of diversity.
- Support stations and programming providing alternate portrayals of women and minorities.
- Support alternative media outlets like this one.
- Our power is in uniting and supporting Latino writers, producers and directors.
- Latin@s have the ability to tell our authentic stories, become a content creator and distributor.
Bella Vida Letty is a regular contributor to LatinoRebels.com and one of the Original Rebeldes, having been with the group since the very beginning. Last year she was named one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Social Media by VOXXI. You can follow her on Twitter (@bellavidaletty) or read more about her on her blog, Bella Vida by Letty.