6.17.2013

...Just Like It's What Black Women Talk About

(h/t Racialicious)
Six years ago, I had a deal with Lifetime Television to develop my bestselling novel, The Dirty Girls Social Club, as a TV series. It soon became clear that the relationship wasn’t going to work, when two executives insisted that my pilot outline “wasn’t Latin enough,” because it told of middle class, educated American women who happened to be Latina.

“This reads as if it were about me and my friends,” complained one executive in disgust.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I asked her what she’d prefer.

“Why don’t we make the girls debating whether or not to date men in prison? I know that’s what Latinas talk about, just like it’s what black women talk about.”*


Right. Because all middle class, college-educated professional women talk about dating prisoners.

In her dreams.

I got out of that deal because of this idiocy, and never looked back.

It is not wrong to be a maid, or even a Latina maid, but there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be.

My grandmother was a maid in Cuba; my biological grandfather was her employer. My father, never claimed by his bio-dad, was a janitor when he first began working in the United States, as a teen immigrant. My father went on to get his PhD, sort of a real-life Good Will Hunting, and became a leading sociologist. He raised me to believe in myself and my voice; I went to Columbia, and I’m a bestselling author Tom Wolfe called one of the most important social critics of our time.

We don’t see stories about people like me or my dad. Indeed, network executives say to my face that I don’t exist. That’s the problem.

Ten years ago, Mexican American actress Lupe Ontiveros lamented to the New York Times that she had been cast as a maid 150 times in her career. The astounding number of times this one (outstanding) Latina actress has been cast as a maid destroys Longoria’s defense of Devious Maids as “Latina maids deserving to have their stories told, too.” According to academic research on Latino roles in mainstream US film and TV, the maid is pretty much the only Latina story being told, other than seductress, whore, dying immigrant and gang member.

There is more to stereotyping of Latinas than laziness or lack of information.


– Alisa Valdes, “The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood” via NBCLatino, June 7, 2013
*Um...she "knows" this how?

6 comments:

  1. For the producers to tell Lisa that they know everything about Latina heritage is crazy. I'm like this: if you havent walked in my shoes, know my history, my culture and is who Iam as minority ,don't try to pretend that you do because you will be called out on your incorrect knowledge.

    As African Americans ,so many people are clueless into who we are .I just hate it when people identify us by stereotypes. I just love it when people play expert on our culture without knowing who we are. If these people "knew" so much about Alisha's culture then they wouldn't have came up with stereotypes about her culture.

    ReplyDelete
  2. *rubs temples* Shit like this makes my head hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Be Blacker- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PefZk3q0U_U

    Hollywood Shuffle still prevalent today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hollywood Shuffle still relevant today.

      Delete
  4. *kmrct* Hollywood will never change. Not when they watch their own stereotype-riddled tripe and feel that tells them everything they need to know about Other People. They'll be put to the rack and the Judas Cradle five times over before they will deviate from that playbook.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just don't understand how it's 2013 and people are sounding more ignorant and closed-minded than ever. How did that woman not have the sense to think what she was saying was idiotic? What did she think the fight for equal rights was for? It's so people are seen as equal.

    It angers me how the power lies in the hands of such limited thinking people. Sad to say but true artists really have to do it on their own. You may not reach the masses, but it's much better for your soul. Once you strike out on your own, Hollywood will show its interest.

    ReplyDelete

This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.