On Saturday, October 9th New York Comic Con presented an amazing panel on Latinx representation in pop-culture and comics, “Beyond Latinx: Diversity and Intersectionality in Media Representation.” It was hosted by Mario de la Cruz, Cassandra Curbelo, and Daniel Rodriguez.
The panelists spoke of the first time they recognized Latinx representation in pop-culture and comics, the things they are excited about in terms of current Latinx representation, and what they hoped for regarding Latinx representation in the future.
De la Cruz spoke about Vibe, the first Latin American superhero in DC’s Justice League. He talked about his excitement for the character, but how he always questioned why Vibe had to come from a background of gang violence. He rhetorically asked, who were the people behind the scenes creating this character? – But we all know. Curbelo mentioned Miami Vice and the ambiguous Latinx representation in that show, but followed it by talking excitedly about the first time she saw afro-latinidad represented with Gina Torres’s character, Anna Espinosa, on Alias.
When it came to characters that they were loving right now, the list was quite a bit longer. Some of the names included: Juan Gomez from the graphic novel Home, Renee Montoya from Birds of Prey, Maya Lopez a Native American Marvel character, Diego from The Umbrella Academy. But there were many more both in the comics and sci-fi realm, and beyond.
They also spoke of Latinx characters who are clearly Latinx, but whose latinidad is not their sole defining characteristic. Some of these characters include Wilson Cruz from Star Trek Discovery, Pedro Pascal from The Mandolorian, Diego Luna in Rogue One, and even Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.
When it came to future portrayals of Latinx characters, these panelists were clear on one thing: they wanted characters who told multidimensional and intersectional stories that we may not have seen in pop-culture, comics, and other media in the past. In the comics realm, I personally am excited for the development of America Chavez in the new Doctor Strange movie. The character will be played by Xochitl Gomez and I am hoping for an eventual solo movie on Chavez. Or maybe even one of those Disney+ MCU shows!
The panelists discussed how they want creators to go beyond just changing the ethnicity and cultural backgrounds of already existing characters and actually create NEW characters who happen to have a Latinx background. They recognize that the one makes way for the other, but suggest that it’s time to start making the change. They also suggested more “mixed” representation and diasporic representation from countries where we may not have seen much of at this point. And finally, they were adamant about moving away from the “diversity quota nonsense” and just having many people of many different backgrounds.
As we wrap up Latinx Heritage Month, let’s make sure we celebrate and care for the community beyond October 15th; it needs to be about more than trending latinidad for the month, especially when it comes to corporations and media representation.
So what are some of your favorite Latinx portrayals in film, television, comics, and pop-culture? Let us know!