We need to broaden the range of racial representation in the media

Representation is including people of all backgrounds.

I’m not black. But, when I was younger, I found myself relating to black actors or black cartoon charac- ters. Sure, I was obsessed with shows like Scooby Doo and Sam and Cat– I lovedthedrama,cheesyjokes,and overly animated characters.

However, at a young age, I no- ticed the lack of racial representation in many television shows, and I con- stantly searched for a person of color. The moment they stepped on screen, I was captivated. Finally, someone who understands what it’s like to live with a skin tone similar to my own. Finally, there was someone I could relate to.

The lack of racial representation bothered me, which is why I stand as an advocate for diversity in the media

because of the role it has in society. While there was some racial repre- sentation in the shows I watched as a child, I noticed “diversity” roles were mostly people of black or Afri- can American descent, which is why I identified with them.

We need role models of diverse backgrounds to show people that they aren’t being categorized to society’s given stereotype

Never in my life have I claimed African-American heritage. I’ve been raised to love my own and uplift oth- ers. I will not completely understand what it’s like to be black, nor will many understand what it’s like to be who I am.

But, I can relate to many struggles that I see African Americans repre- senting in the media— like being subject to racially charged jokes or comments. There were times throughout my childhood where I was made fun of because of my skin color.

A while back, I went out to din- ner with a friend and she asked if I had any illegal relatives because I am Mexican. When I was younger, a family on my block asked if my nan- ny spoke English, but my “nanny” was my mother. I grew up relating to black issues because it was the only minorityissuethatIcouldrelateto. They were the only minorities—if any— represented in the media.

For a while, there weren’t any Latinos or Caribbean actors in the media that I could see myself in. Only now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed more representation, but it wasn’t anything that I could person- ally relate to.

For example, the Hispanic char- acters from On My Block were in gangs or the only people of color in Bring it On were seen as sassy and brash. Both examples feed into harmful stereotypes that allow viewers to subconsciously create a correlation between race and negative notions.

The media has the ability to influ ence the way we think and act, thus it is critical that who filmakers choose to be on television platforms. When I say a “diverse” cast, I mean charac- ters living in the center of their own lives— people who are doing “every- day” things, just as any protagonist, and not someone playing into a harm- fulstereotype.Weneedrolemodels of diverse backgrounds to show peo- ple that they aren’t being categorized to society’s given stereotype, that they are so much more.

That being said, shows like Jane the Virgin and Fresh Off the Boat de- pict characters where the protagonist is living as a normal, everyday per- son who isn’t living in the center of a stereotype.

Recently, I’ve noticed Latino music becoming more mainstream throughout the U.S., and honestly, it makes me super happy seeing people outside my culture enjoying music that I grew up listening to.

I’m not saying we need to force ourselves to enjoy diverse music and television programs, but we should respect the inclusivity and support it. Inclusivity will only help society be- come more progressive and allow for more narratives.

In America Ferrera’s TEDTalk she said “presence creates possibili- ty” which serves as the foundation for a progressive society. Moving for- ward, we need to be more present— not just in the media, but in discus- sion. In order for society to progress, we need to embrace the diversity this country was built on.

We need to see representation in all ranges. It’s not just a color wheel; this also calls for more representation in religion, sexual orientation, cul- ture, disabilities, etc. We need to see everyday people who aren’t forced into a stereotypical mold, rather peo- ple living in the center of their own lives.