Latino Stereotypes In The Media

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Latinos In The Media: The Stereotypes We Swallow

Stereotypes, as defined by Merriam-Webster, are something conforming to a fixed or general pattern, especially a standardized mental image that represents a prejudiced opinion. Common examples include “the dumb blonde” or “the boring cat lady.” Mainstream media often portrays Latinos as “lazy,” “dishonest,” and “poor.” While I Love Lucy (1951-1957), Chico and the Man (1974-1978), and ¿Qué Pasa, USA? (1977-1980) were all popular television shows that presented Latino men in a positive light, they simultaneously propagated stereotypes. The representation of Latino and lack thereof can and has been damaging to young Latinos in particular, as all need positive role models to identify with. I
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Chico was prominent on the screen and in the hearts of many. Chico and The Man (1974-1978) was important, especially with Latinos representing “1% . . . of television characters” in the 1980s. ¿Qué Pasa, USA?, the first bilingual show, was about a multi-generational Cuban and Cuban American family. It starred three Latino men in prominent roles: Antonio, the grandfather, Pepe, the father, and Joe, the teenage son. This show helped combat a multitude of stereotypes, including one that all Latinos are naturally good at Spanish. Throughout the show, different levels of fluency are demonstrated — Antonio can say a handful of words in English, Pepe is bilingual but more comfortable in Spanish, and Joe struggles with speaking Spanish. In fact, this is the plot “We Speak Spanish,” which originally aired in 1977. Because of Joe’s difficulty speaking Spanish, English is banned in their home; however, following a series of mishaps, it is eventually understood that English is necessary in their lives. Joe’s English speaking skills are eventually realized to be a boon for his grandparents who wish to communicate with an English-speaking character. This is important as Latinos, especially those whose families have been in the United States for some time, can relate to this situation. It is not uncommon to hear of the “English outside, Spanish inside”…show more content…
Hispanics in general . . . have been the victims of racist stereotyping in an unbroken string of images and portrayals.
In order to rationalize the displacement of the Southwest Hispanics, as they had done with American Indians in the East, Latinos . . . were thought of as lesser humans.
. . . a steady diet of negative stereotypes as portrayed in the media can be very destructive to young people if there are also very few positive role models that they can identify with.

Fair and accurate media portrayals are critical as it is how many, especially children, consider their own potential and limitations (as understood by today’s Because of Them We Can and Por Ellos, Sí Podemos movements). Latino characters made up “3% of the television population” in the 1950s, 1% in the 1980s, between 1.1% and 1.6% in the early 1990s and eventually 3% in the late 1990s. Historically, Latinos have been underrepresented and often portrayed in a stereotypical, damaging

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