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We Are Not All The Same

I am Mexican and Puerto Rican, as well as American. Growing up mainly with my Puerto Rican mother, I didn't have much connection to my Mexican side of the family, but I have always made sure to mention I am both Mexican and Puerto Rican because I am proud. A stereotype I often see in media has to do with my ethnicity. The way that Hispanics are portrayed in the media, I believe, has assisted people in forming their opinions about us.

Stereotypes are generalized beliefs about a particular group of people. Some may think that not all stereotypes are said with ill intent, but the fact that they are being said because of someone's race, gender, culture, etc., makes them negative. This NPR article talks about the negative effects of positive stereotypes. Positive stereotypes are positive generalizations about a group, but even these comments can be harmful because they do not consider the individual.

Growing up in America, many stereotypes are projected onto the Hispanic community. Some of these stereotypes portrayed in media are that we are fiery, submissive, loud, and violent. While all these may be true for some, it is not true for all. I can understand that some Hispanics can be loud, I know of a few, my mom, for example, but I also know many who are not. In the media, according to the LA Times, the prominent portrayals of Hispanics are that we are the sex symbol or Latin lovers, gangbanger, or maids. Some other common stereotypes I found are that we all have accents, are immigrants, and are lazy. Although stereotypes may be the reality for some, it is not the reality for all or even the majority, so further enabling this idea doesn't do justice.

These stereotypes are seen throughout media in shows you may have loved watching. One show I enjoyed watching was One Day At A Time, about a Cuban-American family. The grandmother, in particular, is played by Rita Moreno, a Puerto Rican actress. In the show, she has a heavy accent, but she speaks English fluently without an accent in interviews. Another popular character I think of is Fez from That 70's Show. Aside from Fez being an incredibly problematic character, this article on ScreenRant touches on some of the issues with Fez concerning his ethnicity. In the show, there were many jokes made because he was Hispanic. His name Fez means foreign exchange student.

A show I recently started watching was Modern Family. While I can applaud Modern Family for having a somewhat diverse cast, especially when it debuted in 2009, they, unfortunately, created their characters based on the stereotypes that the media has already pushed. Sofia Vergara plays Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, the wife to Jay Pritchett and stepmother to Claire Dunphy, Mitchell Pritchett, and mother to Manny Delgado. She is younger than her husband in the show, portraying her as a fiery, sensual woman, the Latin lover stereotype.

It's unfortunate these are the roles provided when we are so much more. This has been occurring and continues to occur. Desi Arnaz played Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy and was portrayed as hot-tempered. West Side Story shows the Puerto Rican characters as part of a gang that sings and dances. Let me be the one to break it to you; not all Hispanics can dance. Jennifer Lopez was a maid in Maid in Manhattan because she portrayed the working-class Hispanic who meets a wealthy man, the classic damsel in distress.

How we are represented on television impacts how we are seen in person. The way the media has shown the Hispanic community is hugely based on stereotypes, but there are so many differences within the Hispanic community. Someone from Mexico is not the same as someone from Cuba. Even within the same country, individuals in different cities are not alike. Minimizing us to a generalization is taking away from our culture and who we are as individuals. It is the same as saying, "all women are terrible drivers." I believe that we all have the opportunity to learn, grow, and change. Let's learn how we can celebrate individuals rather than projecting the stereotypes we've been taught.

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