Latinos are not a monolith. American-born or -raised Latinos have unique life experiences, straddling the line between assimilation and pride in their heritage, which the big studios frequently fail to acknowledge. Such movies do exist, though often on the periphery. And they’re worth seeking out to help foster conversations about the intricacies of Latinidad.
Largely untold in mass media or classrooms, the history of Latinos in the United States is long, winding, and impossible to dissect in simple terms. Shaped by arbitrary borders in the aftermath of wars, colonization, and waves of migration from nearly two dozen nations across the Americas, our presence is intrinsic to this country. Yet, American Latinos remain mostly invisible in our collective narrative.
Border-crossing stories or those set in Latin America don’t fill the void created by the lack of American Latino narratives. They don’t reflect the lives of, say, Chicanos in California, Tejanos in rural Texas, or Nuyoricans in the Bronx — specific identities that have faced oppression in the United States. Instead, the entertainment industry desperately tries to fit all Latinos under one label, devoid of nuance, often erasing Afro-Latinos and Indigenous people.
Engaging with similar reflections in this hybrid class we have explored the representation of NYC as a Caribbean, (Afro) Latinx, diasporic city. We expanded our scope by looking at the lives, struggles, and joys of Mexican and Central American migrants in the Mexico/US borderlands, the Southwest, and Philadelphia. By examining these audiovisual narratives and themes influential to major Latinx communities, we explored issues of (neo) colonialism, gender, sexuality, race, social class, migration, urban life, and access to citizenship, resources, and institutions.
Write your response on a card:
.What did you learn in our class?
.What was your favorite topic/reading/film/author/assignment?
.What was difficult this semester and how did you overcome that obstacle?
Music video festival (Session 3)