Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thinking about it... from the "Latino Desk"

(Me looking Latina, because apparently, that matters)

So I have thought about the CNN article I posted. There are pieces of it that I'm puzzling over as I ponder it. I think it's a great theory of how we should be, the whole, America takes in the cultures and accepts them as their own. It's great except that its bull.

When has this country welcomed information and culture on my African brothers and sisters? When has the booming Pacific Islander community found themselves represented ANYWHERE? When have asians in this country been marketed as anything but "smart". You want me to believe that there is no division but all I have heard this year is how unwanted the latino community is here. How the whole of the brown community (as the words latino and immigrant seem to be interchangable in the media, and may I point out that I am latino but fully an american citizen- born and raised) is a drain on all things economic, medical and educational. As silly as it may sound, it was the second time in my life that I felt like I was just not welcomed in this country. the first time, I was in kindergarten and a ton of kids were making fun of me for having an accent. It's a different situation but its the same basic gist.

So now you realize, as a media/as a country (and maybe soon as an electorate), that due to personal human value, the humanity of a majority of people not only welcomes the people but wants in to the pieces that make them unique and we are now the magically marketable. Honor both ends mofo's. Don't perpetuate the myths and marvel at the successes. OF COURSE Ugly Betty is a success. The country was STARVING for it. Latin explosion articles make us sound like a rarity. The last time my people were a rarity, Leave it to Beaver was a number one hit. Those aren't good old days, "simpler times" they were just times of simpler people. Welcome to complexity and dimension. Maybe the articles should be about the growing multi-cultural intelligence of the average American and what can be done to heighten that awareness in our people who lag behind.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I Rest My Case

Check out this CNN Opinions Editorials piece...

Monday, October 16, 2006
America's Latinization: Shakira, salsa and Ugly Betty
I feel like I keep doing this same story every year, telling the tale of how the booming Latino population is changing the United States, how the U.S. media business needs to take note of this vast and demanding market. I'm Latina and in the media, so I cop to having a special interest here.

But, as the U.S. population approaches 300 million people, the story has finally changed. I've written for years about how Latino content -- in Spanish and English -- is growing so much that it's going to transform American media. Now it seems to have actually happened.

It's not just that People Magazine also publishes People en Espanol or that CNN has a Spanish-language channel called CNN en Espanol. All U.S. media is changing its content to reflect the fact that Latinos have become the nation's largest minority group and that the rest of the country is feeling their own culture become Latinized.

You can see it in supermarket snack aisles, where tortilla chips and salsa outsell most everything around them. You can hear it on the radio and on MTV, where Spanish music and music with a Spanish beat are everywhere. Hello, Shakira! I flipped through childrens channels the other morning with my 15-month old daughter and there was Handy Manny talking to his toolbelt in Spanish, Dora exploring the world with her amigos and Diego talking to some birds in Spanish. By the time my little girl is my age, it is likely that one in five school children will be Spanish dominant. Our country is changing, fast.

Just a few years ago my relatives in Peru told me not to call them when Betty La Fea was on because they wouldn't pick up the phone. I remember visiting them and TV reporters were on air around Latin America doing live shots to show how empty the streets were during the broadcast. The show was a major telenovela phenomena. Everyone watched, every time. When ABC announced it would produce a U.S. version in English, I figured this would be a true test of whether the U.S. audience, Latinos and non-Latinos, would embrace something so quintessentially Latin American. Well, question answered. Ugly Betty has become the most-watched new series this season.

The show is funny, with crisp writing and a compelling story line. It is also very much a Latino show. Yet the numbers speak for themselves. It's not the nation's Latinos watching; it's everybody.

After years of watching Spanish-language shows and news broadcasts in the U.S. attract Neilson ratings that were the envy of U.S. broadcasters, it's heartening to see something Latino holding its own in English. It means there has been a coming together, a melting in the melting pot. That's the thing that makes the United States a special place for immigrants. That it welcomes and assumes their culture. That it goes out of it's way to welcome the millions of Bettys out there into their home.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Ethnic Folk on TV

Can I tell you that I have absolutely loved loved loved watching TV on Thursday nights. Something special happens on Thursdays. A latina female that doesn't look like a sex kitten comes on at 8pm. And after she abdicates her seat, a show about surgeons comes on, the show features prominent characters in many ethnicities. The focus of both of these shows are the people. Not their ethnic heritage, their racial struggles in the world, but the people. Not that these shows would shy away from these issues, its just that these shows recognize they are much more then the melanin in their complexions. They address how they view, experience and love the world. And I think its FANTASTIC.

I think that network executives have been so afraid to feature people of color in their shows. What happens if America doesn't tune in and they lose dollars? Well, In addition to being the best shows on TV, these two shows are the highest rated shows on TV. So my question is this, after the success of Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy, if network executives still don't look at casting shows by the best actor/actress but by the demographic that they think they should hit, what kind of rebellion should occur in the face of this blatant racism. I mean you have a solid case for featuring people of all heritages and you still oust them? I think that this racism is the most pervasive. Our children deserve to see people that look like them play surgeons, fashionistas and all sorts of three dimensional characters. Then they see what they can aspire too. When we don't do this, it sends a silent but deadly message, that only certain people count and/or make it. I think evening out this playing field will play a role in evening out the disparities/despair in our neighborhoods.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Silver Platter

My cousin Jorge (wildly talented photographer and first person to ever give me a book), used to tell me "The harder you work, the luckier you get." I always found it to be true. I mean no one, no matter how cool just "gets" what they want. Their had to be an element of control to it in some way shape or form. But I'm starting to wonder how much that "no control" variable does play. As tired as I am right now, as hard as the week has been, as much work as I have had to put in, I feel like an incredibly lucky person.

In high school my friend Eric used to say that I was born with a silver platter. He said I just always seemed to get what I want. The grades I wanted, the people in my life, the opportunities, the acceptance to my favorite college. At the time, if truth be told, the joke bothered me a great deal. There was such a disparity between my economic brackett and the brackett my friends lived in, I felt my hard work shouldn't be chalked up to being born with luck. I thought it was being born with a work ethic.

Last night while at the program I work for, I was rushing around trying to get kids into vans, and two of my boys are sitting in the computer lab. I walk in and I say goodbye and I call them my two favorite huggers. Hugging, as you may already know is a premium with me, Jammo and Freddy are pros. They jump up and run over and give me a hug. They start to compete over who can give me the best hug. And then Freddy, says to Jammo "I'm sorry man, Karla is mine. She's my mom." haha. Now, the 16 year old boy as a species is known for many things. To this day, I don't think they have been noted for their affection and warmth. So you can see why it is even on a crappy week that I feel so lucky. How many people in the world get that? I seem to have repeated blessings of good people that just fill my life.

I've met my share of celebrities and politicians. I have to tell you though, they do not compare to the healers, changemakers, artists, comedians and musicians that I have come into contact with. At every stage of my life, new people in these categories come along and feed my heart. My students feed me like it was Thanksgiving. Even in the toughest of moments it seems like invisible hands will push me into the arms of more good people to get me through. No success I have had, matches up to the warmth I feel when I reflect on these people. So maybe they are the silver platter. Maybe it's tough but the people are the blessings and the opportunities come because I seek out the people. Just some thoughts to tide me over while I procrastinate.