While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
The one person who I’ve always looked up to and resonated with being a Latina, was the Mexican singer Selena. Of course, she unfortunately passed away when I was young but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t a prominent figure in my childhood. To this day I still listen to her music every day and her story was very inspiring. Her parents uprooted their entire life to devote themselves to helping Selena achieve success – and after a few hard times she eventually became one of the biggest names in the music industry. As a Latina, it’s so wonderful to hear people from our group achieving success because we hear of it so little compared to White Americans.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?
Come to think of it…I don’t think I learned about many Hispanic people in my school. Its pretty sad to come to that conclusion but besides being in Spanish class (because it’s mandatory to take a foreign language in high school), I really didn’t hear much of my culture. What I learned, I learned through my family and my own research/experience.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important?
I believe that diversity and representation is important because we are all here. We all live on this planet together. So why focus on one group of people? The beauty of culture is that it can be shared. There is so much to learn about our environment, your specific group of people can only teach you so much. We need to open our minds and see the world through the many eyes that inhabit it, not just ours. I am a Latina, but my worldly lens differs from someone of the African-American descent and so forth. Which is why it’s so important to have representation and diversity in schools and in the media. There are children today watching television, thinking that the experiences of a white person is equal to the experiences that they will have growing up, which isn’t the case. We need to show them the characters in television shows that portray life experiences that a POC would have, because unfortunately, if your skin isn’t white you’re not going to have it as easy as everyone else. Show them they’re not alone.
Unfortunately, the media has an issue with this and it’s sad. We have movies that are clearly aimed towards a specific group but have their main character a completely different race. We have POC characters that don’t get the amount of screen time they deserve (Teen Wolf – Arden Cho), and we have POC characters dying for no reason except for entertainment.
Hopefully with time and education, this issue will diminish. But until then, it’s important to know that learning does not stop at school. The world is your school and education is always around – don’t let your biases stop you from wanting to broaden your mind and learning about the many cultures that surround you.