allyndra: (Castle (so fairy tale))
[personal profile] allyndra
I’ve been following RaceFail 2009, but I haven't said much. I do have something to say. I lock most of my posts, but that kind of defeats the purpose here, so I'll leave this unlocked.

I am privileged. Really. I’m a straight, educated, White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. It would be difficult for me to get more completely inside the lines of the dominant identity without sprouting a penis.

I would call my husband Hispanic. Other people say Latino or Chicano or even Mexican. He doesn’t call himself any of those things. In fact, when the subject comes up, he explicitly rejects them. He doesn’t want to be Hispanic. He seems to think that if he’s part of that group, part of that ethnicity, that he’ll be caught up in the stereotypes. That he won’t be able to escape being seen as a lazy Cholo with a low rider, burrito in one hand and bottle of tequila in the other.

You might think that my husband must have grown up insulated from his heritage to have such distance from it. You’d be wrong. He grew up in southern New Mexico, less than an hour from the Mexican border. His parents both spoke Spanish growing up and learned English at school, his mom still makes tortillas by hand at least once a week, his dad is a passionate fan of mariachi, and his sister danced ballet folklorico in school.

How could these stereotypes of Hispanics become so ingrained in him? Not from his real life experiences. He grew up surrounded by people with brown skin and black hair. They were the tellers at his bank, the teachers in his school, the real estate agents with their faces plastered on the benches at bus stops. You know where they weren’t? They weren’t on his TV. They weren’t in his movies or his books or his comics.

The fictional characters who look like my husband are usually illegal immigrants. Gang members. Cab drivers. Drug dealers and druggies. And they usually don’t appear at all in science fiction – the genre that he loves the most.

The stories that people have posted throughout RaceFail about their own struggles to find a place for themselves, to find a representation of themselves in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, have been moving and eloquent. I’m grateful to the people who have opened themselves up to the pain of sharing them. But my husband isn’t looking for himself in science fiction and fantasy. He’s not advocating for the writers and producers to open their eyes to the systems of racism that they’re perpetuating. The mirror the media holds up to Hispanics is flawed, flawed, flawed, but instead of trying to fix that mirror, my husband is denying his own place in front of it.

He saw that there were no representations of him that he could accept, and instead of fighting for them, he decided to be something else. To become one of the people who is represented. If you call my husband Hispanic (or Latino, Chicano, especially Mexican), he’ll be offended. He’ll deny it aloud. He’s seen what our culture thinks of his ethnic group, and he refuses to be a part of it.

Our son takes after my side of the family. He has pale skin and freckles, with hair that is finer and a lighter brown than my husband’s. He’s never going to have random people on the street assume he speaks Spanish, or ask him, “Why are you dating a White girl?” (as my husband’s cousin did when he saw our prom picture, years before we were married). He’s never going to search in vain for someone who looks like him in the stories he loves.

I should be happy about that, but it hurts. I want him to know and appreciate his family and their heritage, and it hurts to know how hard it is to find characters that I can share with him and say, “See, this person is Hispanic, like you. Like your Grandma and Grandpa.” I was gleeful when we started reading the Blue Beetle and found a superhero named Jaime Reyes. I almost cried when DC cancelled his book.

I am privileged. I am White, and I am represented. But when people blink in baffled astonishment that people can get so worked up over the lack of characters of color in science fiction and fantasy, I get angry. The lack of representation (and kind of representation) can and has and does hurt.

[ profile] verb_noire is raising funds now and soliciting manuscripts with protagonists of color (and LGBT). I think it's a wonderful venture to support, and I look forward to reading the texts that come out of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-09 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] softestbullet (from
Well said. If people don't understand how important representation is... they're not paying attention.

Have you heard of the Mexican sci fi movie Sleep Dealer?


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