What’s it like to be part of a culture not represented in popular culture?
Back in the 1970s, Cesar Chavez was one of the few icons with a Spanish surname who crossed over into popular culture.
That’s changed a little today – but not enough.
This is not to condemn popular culture. It’s just the truth.
In the movies, television and mass media, Latino narratives remain second class. They remain seated at the table in the back of the ballroom – far from the stage and the beautiful people near it.
This was the case at the Golden Globe Awards, when the actress Gina Rodriguez was shockingly awarded best actress in a television series, musical or comedy. The word “shockingly” is appropriate because it appears the producers of the Golden Globes were shocked, given that Ms. Rodriguez was seated about a half an acre from the stage when her name was called.
She actually disappeared from view to use a side entrance to the stage to accept her award. Chicago-born and of Puerto Rican ancestry, Rodriguez – star of “Jane the Virgin” – gave the most touching, beautiful speech ever to be completely overlooked in the clamor over George Clooney and his wife.
Why am I writing about this? Because you can count on one hand the number of Latinas ever nominated for a Golden Globe. Because almost no one else has cited the significance of Rodriguez’s speech, and it shouldn’t be forgotten.
And because when this moment is recounted in the future, I want my children to know that their dad didn’t remain silent on a difficult topic that inspires anger instead of introspection when raised.
If you watch the clip of Rodriguez, what you’ll see is as powerful as it is brief, sweet and endearing. Rodriguez doesn’t judge anyone, and she is not angry. She cites her sisters as role models – sisters who are educated professionals. It turns out, Rodriguez avoids stereotypical roles because she wouldn’t want to demean the examples her sisters set for her.
She also gave voice to the words her father instilled in her: “I can and I will.” She said she represents a culture “that wants to see themselves as heroes.”
Though largely missing from popular culture, there are many Latinos and Latinas in America who have assimilated and succeeded while loving their roots as Rodriguez does.
If you think such people are wrong or misguided, well, sorry, it is you who are wrong. The world is changing, though it’s still a shock when popular culture notes it, as it was when Rodriguez gave voice to a beautiful reality hiding in plain sight.
She actually inspired hope for a future where the seats closest to the stage more accurately reflect the people buying the tickets.
Call The Bee’s Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096.