Latinx Writers 'Refuse to Be Filtered Through a White Perspective' in Open Letter to Hollywood

Illustration for article titled Latinx Writers 'Refuse to Be Filtered Through a White Perspective' in Open Letter to Hollywood
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Gloria Calderón Kellett, Michelle Badillo, Steven Canals, John Leguizamo, and Lin-Manuel Miranda along with more than 200 other Latinx writers signed an open letter to Hollywood demanding better representation in television and film on the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month. The letter, which is published here and in the LA Times, condemns film and television executives for years of discrimination, lack of promotion, and erasure of Latinx people both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. “We are tired of Latinx projects being developed with no Latinx writer, director, or producer attached,” the letter states. “We refuse to be filtered through a White perspective.”


The letter, however, is not simply a vague request but a list of clear demands on what it means to be better represented in Hollywood. Among the asks are parity, having more Latinx helmed projects greenlit, reflecting the diversity of Latinx communities, and above all other things, “No stories about us without us.”

We are a diaspora from more than 20 different countries. We are more than just White Latinx and Mestizxs. We are Black and Indigenous. We are LGBTQIA. We are Undocumented. We are Disabled. We have different religious backgrounds and spiritual beliefs. We are more than our trauma. We write stories of joy, origin stories, genre stories, children’s stories, and much more. We demand to be seen and heard in our entirety.

The full letter includes a reminder that despite being 18 percent of the US population, Latinx people account for less than 10 percent of writers and showrunners in Hollywood. Despite the proven success of prestige shows like Vida, comedies like One Day at a Time, and dramedies like Netflix’s On My Block, shows by, about, and for Latinx people seem to die before they see the light of day—or are too often made with a cast of white-passing Latinx actors.


Kinjas in the Outfield

I think this is one of the major sticking points whenever you have people like Gina Rodriguez demanding more representation because it’s always a specific kind, and it’s always coincidentally excluding black people. There is a lot of ground to cover between Celia Cruz and Ted Cruz. The grouping was always more convenient for non-Latin people than it is for them. Overarching descriptors are becoming less and less useful much the same way Asian has.

Better and more diverse representation will only happen when folks within the culture contend with what it means to be “real” and recognizing common themes in who is favored. Then they can put feet to the fire outside of it. Otherwise it’s just going to continue to be more Cristina/Shakira or the spicy variant J-Lo/Sofia Vergara/Salma Hayek.