Friday, February 17, 2012

Mainstream Media's Disease

In today’s increasingly globalized and technological society, there is a serious lack of diversity within the mainstream media and it remains an elusive goal for civil rights advocates.

The world is not “black” and “white,” yet that is predominantly what you see within the mainstream media. Media outlets have attempted to become more diverse by including talent such as (Indian-American actor) Maulik Pancholy on NBC’s television-series “Whitney,” and (Colombian actress) Sofia Vergara of ABC’s “Modern Family.” Though most portrayals of “minorities” are often stereotypical—if not demeaning.

Monopoly mobsters,” or those who control the demographics of mainstream media, show us a world where Richard Dryer (an English academic, specializing in cinema) describes, “white people create the dominant images of the world, and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their image.”

Many traditionally marginalized groups are never properly portrayed within the mainstream media, if at all, thus creating a lack of knowledge and understanding of various races and cultures.

One such instance is the Afro-Latinos—Latin Americans with African ancestry. These individuals grew up speaking Spanish as a first language and English as a second language within their household, but aren’t portrayed within the mainstream media.

Many ethnicities, such as Latinos, Africans, Middle-Easterners and South Asians, have a range of characteristics from white skin tones to darker skin tones. However, the mainstream media skews our reality of the diversity within many nations by portraying “stereotypes” alone. Most Latin Americans in the mainstream media are portrayed as pretty, skinny, fair-skinned, or “Mexican.” (Cuban-American actress) Joanna Garcia is a prime example of this.

Afro-Latinos don’t feel they fit-in with the "African-American" or "Latino" segments. Culturally, Afro-Latinos differ from African-Americans; their heritage is both African and Latin American. Both, African-Americans and Afro-Latinos, came from Africa as slaves, but the situations differ based on who colonized what country. In America, we’re taught about the African-American history, however only 5% of African slaves were brought to North America (U.S.A. and Canada), while 95% of African slaves were colonized by Spaniards and taken to Latin America; hence “Afro-Latinos.”

We learned in History class about the "mestizos," those of mixed ancestry (African cultures with Spanish, Portuguese, French and indigenous cultures); Afro-Latinos are the descendants of mestizos. These mixed ancestries formed new languages, religions, music, dance, arts and social classes.

You can learn more about Afro-Latinos, or Afro-Latin Americans, through AfroLatinos.TV—a documentary series created by executive producer, Renzo Devia. Be sure to also check out, a daily-news site offering award-winning reporting, analysis, and solutions to today’s racial justice issues.

Further reading: Miami Herald, Florida Courier, and WBUR (Boston's NPR news station).


I believe this topic is apt for Black History Month, or just to gain knowledge in general.

I would like to personally thank Mila Arzu (owner of Milad Bridal)--a fellow American and Afro-Latino--for inspiring me to educate myself on this topic that I was previously [not completely] aware of.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter where you're from or the color of your skin, what matters is the content of your character! I believe the media and society like to divide us (as a humanity) into various categories, but we as people should welcome and appreciate diversity! I think (British singer/model) VV Brown, said it best with her song titled "Everybody."
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