North Texas Daily

Where are the Mexicans?

Where are the Mexicans?

Where are the Mexicans?
March 26
19:40 2018

Gina Rodriguez, is an actress from Chicago of Puerto Rican descent currently starring in “Jane The Virgin,” a show that is groundbreaking for its Latino representation and culturally-sensitive storytelling. Rodriguez recently published an article through Variety, in which she said the lack of Latino representation in Hollywood is “devastating.”

According to a study published by the Pew Research center on Hispanic trends, 9 percent of the country’s Hispanic (used interchangeably with Latino) population resides in Los Angeles County. Of this significant chunk, which roughly equal 4.9 million people, Mexicans make up 78 percent. Overall, though, the data is more impressive: Mexicans are the largest Hispanic origin in the U.S., with an amazing 65 percent.

But where are the Mexicans?

Historically, Mexico and America have always been intertwined. As the stories of neighboring countries often do, they have reflected off each other. No group has had their lives as directly influenced by America as Mexicans have. The opposite is also true; America has often been fed from whatever Mexico could give it — especially whatever they could take.

To have so much of your historical identity molded by a country like America and to somehow still be so shut out of a narrative you had an enormous part in scripting, is devastating.

If you are not part of the group of people who for generations and centuries have toiled on construction grounds, in restaurant kitchens, cleaning the cold tile floors of buildings and households at the crack of dawn and in the cover of the night, you are owed the chance to stand before the world.

Tell your story and have it be heard.

The most recent wave of Mexican actors doesn’t come from the USA itself, but from the Mexican film/telenovela industry, which has a legacy of pushing its privileged and cushioned upper-class ideals of its people. The truth is, the majority of those rushing to America are those who have come to intimately know the toughest parts of the Mexican experience: those fleeing from poverty, violence and oppression.

And these people are building, with their bodies, the fabric that is Los Angeles and that is America. Mexican actors like Salma Hayek and Jaime Camil, unfortunately, don’t represent these people.

On the other side, so overlooked it’s mindboggling, are those Mexicans that have been here. Those whose Mexican identity has evolved alongside their adaptation of culture and language. Whom, through it, have molded this country in unprecedented ways, and who despite it all, are made to look foreign on the screens on which they crave to see themselves and the stories of those before them.

None of this is meant to discourage any experiences or identities, whether upper-class Mexican or Afro-Latino. It’s to express the frustration that Latinos experience. Being so diverse, it’s wrong to ignore even one of us.

It all comes at the risk of sounding like a demanding child. But when this lack of effort directly impacts actual kids, who grow up feeling like there were few people to look up to, this frustration is not so bizarre.

For this, the seed of inspiration must be planted. Right now, the land hasn’t even been tilled.

Considering the cultural context, we’re currently living in, seeing the whole American picture requires knowing our full history. Mexican stories are an essential piece in America’s struggle to improve itself.

I don’t know. Maybe the reason Hollywood is doing such a good job at excluding Mexicans is because it knows that America would be forced to deal with its treatment of them. Because if Hollywood were to tell Mexican stories, Latino stories, it would have to unpack and digest the realization that America, then and even now, has been okay with, and even encouraged this reality. It would show, to the world, but mainly to its own fierce nationalists, that no, America was never great.

Featured Image: Illustration by Gabby Evans

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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