Antonio Banderas, The Latin Lover, & Other Latin Stereotypes

Antonio Banderas, The Latin Lover, & Other Latin Stereotypes

Let's Not Get Comfortable Being a Stereotype
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Being an English major has taught me so much. Not only have I read dozens of books, written dozens of essays, but what has stuck with me the most has been the lessons taught in class. This summer, I had the opportunity to take a course, Latino/as in Children's Literature and Film, this by far has been one of the best classes I have ever taken.

Throughout this course we were required to watch children's movies, popular titles such as The Lion King, Thumbelina, The Road to El Dorado, The Emperor's New Groove, The Book of Life, and the trilogy of Spy Kids. We were also required to read theory and children's books. This class was so packed with information, class felt overwhelming sometimes. The minute I found out we were required to watch these films, I couldn't help but think what was so important about these titles. I only seen these movies as just a form of child entertainment.

First class I remember the professor acknowledging that exact question. He explained that although these movies are made for kids, they are made by adults, it isn't just a children's movie. As much as one may think it's just an innocent movie, and "don't think so much about it", that's the problem. So many of us are blinded by being entertained, we just consume the movie, and do't have time to think about what is really important. This class taught me how to deconstruct a movie like I have never thought of doing before.

Since the primary subject of this course was the way Latinos and Latina, were represented in children's film, I was shocked to the analysis of each of the characters, plots, and music. As a child, I watched these films, and even as an adult I watched these movies without even thinking about the way Latinos were portrayed. Through our analysis, we were portrayed as savages, less intelligent, stereo-typically "spicy", darker in skin color, darker hair, heavy fake accents, big mustaches, just to name a few. In Spy Kids, we have Antonio Banderas, casted as Gregorio Cortez, there are many times when he enters, guitar stricken music is in the background. Is it a coincidence? I think not, producers, directors and editors know what they are doing, and they either play with that stereotype or counteract it.

Antonio Banderas is known for being the Latin lover, and although there is a lot of stereotype around his character, the counteract of the stereotype is he is also perceived as being extremely smart. Is Machete's character a coincidence? No it's not, in Spy Kids he is known to be the best inventor for spy equipment, yet he isn't acknowledged for it. Let's think about it, if Machete wasn't dark, had an accent, with long black hair, his character would've had some acknowledgement for his accomplishments. Some characters were played by Latino actors, and some also played by Americans. It was mostly focused on Latino actors being portrayed as the less of, in retrospect with the white savior.Many of these films played too much with the stereotypes many face every day, as a class we couldn't help but ask "Is this okay?"

As an audience, we need to be careful about the way in which we watch things. How do we process the film in front of our eyes? How do children process it? Are we being conditioned to laugh at the stereotype or are we fighting the stereotype by laughing at it? There''s nothing wrong with watching films with stereotypes, it is more the concept of understanding the fact that there is layered information being broadcasted. As a viewer its our job to understand what is being shown on that screen.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Yes, White Privilege Exists, And Yes, There's A Way To Fix It

Racist policies of the past continue to trickle problems into the present, but we can help fix it.

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Recently, a friend and I were having a debate about white privilege and the extent to which it continues to exist in America. I was defending the position that white privilege continues to cause economic divisions in America, while my friend posited that white privilege should be reframed as an "upper-class privilege." One of the most profound points that he made during his argument was "I don't want to be inadvertently racist. If there is a minority that will do a job better, cheaper, and more efficient than me, I'd want them to get the job over me any day."

I believe that this point sums up the position that most people have towards white privilege. White privilege can be a hard concept to accept if, like most rational people, you are personally not racist and believe that the majority of business owners, politicians, and everyday people are also not racist. However, white privilege does not necessarily originate from modern racism alone. Rather, white privilege has more to do with the after-effects of racist policies of the past creating economic disparities that continue to this day.

Let me begin by conceding one point: white privilege is not nearly as vast as it was 100 years ago. It is not even as wide as it was 50 years ago. At the time, there was a matrix of systemic racism and oppression that created a noticeable white privilege in the past, most noticeably in the Pre-Civil War and Jim Crow-era South.

However, these racist policies created impacts which have outlasted the policies themselves but continue to cause economic divisions among racial lines in society. This is especially true in regards to how much faster and easier social momentum is for whites than for blacks, meaning that it is easier for a white family to rise through social classes than a black family.

Wealth accumulation is the cornerstone of social momentum. True wealth accumulation comes from practical investments that can be passed through generations and grow wealth exponentially. Wealth begets wealth. When you already start with an advantage, it becomes that much easier to increase your wealth and thus increase the advantage that your future generations will have.

The two main investments that have demonstrable impacts on improving the lives of a person's children are investments in education and property. The more educated the parents, the higher the quality of life for the child and the higher the likelihood that the children will achieve a higher education. Property is an asset that generally appreciates and generates wealth and a line of credit for future generations.

Racist policies of yesteryear have thus stalled the chances of minorities to generate transferable wealth to future generations in the form of accumulated assets. Jim Crow regulations generally impacted the rights of blacks to make investments in areas that would improve their lives and the lives of their children. Policies which restricted minority rights to education and investment constricted the ability to minority families to accumulate wealth that would then lift their future generations to higher social classes.

This problem is then exasperated by modern policies which favor investment over-taxed income, subsidize mortgages, and prioritize private sector developers over workers. Because minorities have only had the ability to truly accumulate wealth for two or three generations while whites have been able to do this since the beginning of America, these policies have created noticeable economic divisions that straddle racial divides.

However, this does not mean that lifting up minorities out of poverty and overcoming white privilege is impossible. Far from it. White privilege has been shrinking as minorities have won more and more rights and racial divides have become less and less formal. Increasing minority access to education, loans, and investment opportunities can help overcome the divisions created by the past.

In addition, recognizing the historical causes of white privilege and admitting that it still has an impact on society will help overcome the inherent bias and allow policymakers to recognize how their policies could impact the divides that already exist in America. By working together, we can continue to strive for an America that is free, fair, and open to all. After all, isn't that what the American dream is really about?

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