Latinos Subjected To Colorism
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To The Cruise Line Who Thought It Was OK To Subject Latinos To Colorism

Norwegian Cruise Line recently released a character breakdown for their new show about Cuba. However, the lack of sensitivity towards Latinos in said breakdown only shows that there is still more to learn about accurate language and inclusion in the entertainment industry

To The Cruise Line Who Thought It Was OK To Subject Latinos To Colorism

The number of roles for Mexican, dark-skinned women like me can be counted on a single hand. If the industry even knew the number of hours that have been spent thinking about how limited the Broadway market is for people like us, I would hope they would see that something needs to change. I know I am not the only one who has been forced to this type of thinking by the limitations of the theater world. People of color and those who identify as certain ethnicities have always struggled to be seen on stage. However, to purposely create a show that highlights Cubans and their culture only to encourage the casting of non-latino performers defeats the purpose of creating an inclusive story.

You describe your show as “a celebration of Cuba's music and culture" and having heard some of the music showcased in the show, I can agree that the show's purpose seems to be to entice travelers with the beauty of Cuba. However, with the character breakdown filled with the phrase “Hispanic or African American - Authentic Cuban Look. If caucasian must have dark hair and features," you are inviting people who do not identify as Latino to have a shot at taking jobs and roles from those who are qualified both in talent and in identity. The character breakdowns are filled with Latino icons as a point of reference including Don Francisco (a Chilean television host), Olga Guillot (a Cuban singer), Cantinflas (a Mexican comic), and La Lupe (a Cuban singer). If every role in the show is trying to emulate a specific Latino feeling or archetype, would it not be in the best interest to cast those who come from and understand that sense of character and culture?

In tandem with this seemingly never ending issue of allowing caucasians to play at races they do not identify with, by sharing your desire for an “Authentic Cuban Look" or a performer with dark features, you subject the entire Latino theater community to colorism. Latinos are not defined by the pigmentation of their skin or the color of their hair. They are Latino because part or all of their genetic makeup comes from Latin America. Argentinians are different from Mexicans same as being Colombian does not exclusively make you the same as someone in Paraguay. Because of this, we too come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. Asking for “dark features" excludes the Latinos with light skin, the Latinos who are naturally blonde with freckles, the Latinos who have had to remove themselves from their identity because colorism kept them from being seen as something they identify with.

The breakdown for this Norwegian Cruise Line show has since been taken down with the promise to educate industry members on the importance of accurate casting. This is why I bring it to your attention now. We cannot learn from something we didn't know occurred in this community because it was swept under the rug whether that was their intent or not. We have to be aware that Latinos are more than a look or an aesthetic of dark skin and features. Especially in the theater community, they are some of the hardest working, most talented human beings who deserve an equal chance to be in a show that celebrates what it means to be a part of a rich and vibrant culture.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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