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Out of the Margins: Latinx/Hispanic Voices in Media

How many books have you read in the past year by Latinx authors? Shows starring Latinx actors—without contributing to stereotypes? As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15, and continues until October 15, I am presenting a primer to some of the highlights of Hispanic/Latinx media that are popular right now. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but is instead just a few suggestions to raise your awareness of Hispanic/Latinx contributions to media and pop culture and encourage you to consume media consciously.

TV Series:

One Day at a Time—This show centers on the Cuban-American family of Penelope Alvarez, an Army veteran—the escapades of living with her mother while also raising her two children. This reboot of the 1975 series focuses on themes of family, faith and acceptance, while being lighthearted and fun.

 

Jane the Virgin —This critically-acclaimed Americanized telenovela balances outlandish plotlines with the grounded emotional drama of the Villanuevas, a multi-generational Venezuelan-American family. From the cheesy narration to the heartwarming romance, this show has it all and is definitely worth your time.

 

 

Movies:

 

Pelé: Birth of a Legend—This biopic about Brazil’s most revered soccer player tells the story of his journey from street matches in rural Brazil to the World Cup. If you like soccer or inspirational sports movies, this is an essential film.

 

East Side Sushi—This movie uniquely focuses on a Mexican-American single mother’s dream to become a sushi chef. She eventually gains the support of her skeptical family,  breaking through cultural barriers to achieve her goals.

 

 

Books:

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe—Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Winner of the Stonewall Book Award for LGBT literature, Sáenz tells the story of two Mexican-American boys, Aristotle and Dante, who forge a multi-faceted friendship in this coming of age Young Adult novel. Dealing with themes of identity, cultural belonging, family and loss, this story combines lovable characters and 80s nostalgia.

 

Umami—Laia Jufresa
This book, originally published in Spanish, is the story of a young Mexican girl named Ana, whose summer plans elicit memories from her neighbors, pulling grief to the foreground. While it isn’t a light read, it paints a full-bodied picture of Mexico City.

In the Country We Love—Diane Guerrero

Columbian-American actress Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles on Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, tells the story of her parents’ arrest and deportation, and how she had to adapt and learn to thrive alone in the United States at 14 years old.

 

 

Poetry:

 

Slow Lightning—Eduardo C. Corral

This poetry book blends together English and Spanish, refusing to prioritize one language over the other to create a linguistic political statement. His imagery is incredibly vivid, and really brings the words on the page to life.

 

 

Poems by Guante: Before you do anything else, look up “How to Explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist.” It’s amazing. This MC, spoken word poet and educator is an activist against racism, sexism and homophobia, and has also published a poetry book and performed at the United Nations.

 

 

Poems by Elizabeth Acevedo: Acevedo seamlessly switches between Spanish and English in her poems, using them to paint a picture of her struggles as a Latina woman. Her poem “Afro-Latina”—hinging on growing up ashamed of her Dominican heritage, and then growing through this to embrace her ethnicity—is particularly worth a listen.

 

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