I think about life and how we are each divided into little groups since the first day we take our first breath to the last day where we close our eyes and see nothing again. I believe a lot of people think about this too, but my question for you has to be, why are we put in these groups in the first place and how can we break free from them? Especially these racial groups that divide us so much and make us so “different” from one another. The one I want to use as my example throughout this essay is one that I have lived and had all my life, Hispanic and more specific, Guatelamateca, which is a word used to call people from the country of Guatemala. As I go throughout my examples I want everyone to think about the stereotypes that others have put upon you and to think about how popular culture makes you look in front of everyone and the reasons why they do that to everyone.
At first when I was younger, about seven years old I never thought I was very different, I had just moved from Guatemala, a country where I had been born and had lived and loved for 6 years to a country that was cold and rainy, and salty and I wasn’t too sure what everyone was saying. Then I learned and understood and figured out that really people did think I was different because of the way I talked and the way I acted. Throughout this term, I really was able to reflect on that as I studied the articles given to us to read and did my own research about my topic.
One of the first things that really helped me realize that stereotypes, like me being Hispanic, really are something that we do every day, with and without really thinking about it was growing up and having people say “what part of Mexico are you from” without really giving me a chance to say that I actually was from somewhere else. As I have looked at things during class I also noticed that even though I don’t mean to, sometimes I do the same thing. For example on of the things that we learned about was how to analyze and article/ an image without putting our opinion on it before giving it a chance. During this process I really had to check everything off as a list because I would start writing my own opinion of what I thought was right and wrong and try to say what I saw and what I felt but we weren’t supposed to do that so it took a lot of rewriting in order to try to get it without my opinion but just real analyzes showing me that stereotyping and looking at something and think about something else that you feel “relates” to it is something that comes naturally into our minds and we can’t or don’t always control it.
This lead me to consider how I was going to look at the topic of what I was researching and try to understand it not because I have gone through it but because I want to learn why the popular culture sees me and other Hispanics the way they do and don’t really give it a second thought. As I did my research I really took to heart the conversations I had with my family and friends as well as the recommendation from my Professor and my peers and the wonderful comments they made about their own stereotypes during our conversations online. As well as how the articles and subjects we read about helped me understand how to look at the points I choose. I think that with that combination it really lead me to understand that we can’t really truly break free from stereotypes but we can help them change for the better and lead them to be more of a positive interaction instead of and ignorant and negative way of thinking about people.
The first example I decided to analyze really was how people moved to the USA and why most people generalize that if you are Hispanic you must be from Mexico and the newest trend you must be from Guatemala. Something I learned long ago in one of my History classes when I was in High School that has stuck with me for a long time was that around the 1800’s the USA took over half of Mexico’s land which lead to the first Hispanics in the USA, making them USA Citizens because of the USA taking over something that wasn’t theirs to begin with, but really what can you do? that is what happens when there is a war. Things change and people learn to live but that is also how stereotypes begin, there is a change and that change brings questions and leads to assumptions. In this case, it leads to people seeing Mexicans as the only Hispanics that lived in the USA. Which leads me to analyze that this is where most people got their idea about everyone that is Hispanic must be from Mexico. Something that is most recent though is a new trend that has started putting one more culture into this assumption and that is people from Guatemala. Which just started because it is a growing population in the USA, but still very small and for the most part they are assumed to be Mexican anyway.
Throughout the process of research, the another example that showed me how people view and feel about Hispanics was a new TV show called American Housewife. It is a show that talks about a regular American family today is the modern world. It is a show that has a lot of different stereotypes but the one I am addressing is how it shows Hispanics. Even though this show is mostly whites and one Asian and one black person, again with their own stereotypes, they show the Hispanics it is for a very brief moment and it is how they have put them in many shows. They are the cleaning ladies and they look chubby and dark and with strong accents that don’t always allow use to recognize what they are saying. In the episode I watched the boy that the “American housewife” has named Oliver has a side business with this Hispanic maid and they are talking about how he owns her her money and he is acting like he is smarter than her and saying, look I know what I’m doing trust me, I’ll get us more money, this in itself is sexist and racist because he is a white, male, middles school kid, treating this older Hispanic woman like someone that doesn’t know or understand what money means. Well, that happens and she tells him to get her her money because she wants to go back to her country. So by the end of the episode he learns and understands that he needs to give her her money and he goes and says “so you can go back and see you family in Guatemala” putting a stereotype on her without really asking where she is from, and she looks at him and says “I’m from El Salvador”, Now I want you guys to look at this like you were someone foreign that moved into this country and what would you think if you saw this? I can tell you looking at the facts that it is obvious that the kid didn’t pay any attention to the person he is working with, and second, he doesn’t really care because to him she is just a worker. In the end, he even says whatever and thinks he has made this right by the mere fact that he gave her the money he owed her anyway. The show made it seem like that was the most important part and that Oliver learned and a valuable lesson but really looking and analyzing it further you see that the skip over the fact that he is still disrespectful to the older woman and doesn’t care that really she is a person that has more to her then every show is willing to show in their TV shows.
This leads me to my next example which is another comedy TV show called Last Man standing. This is a show about a Dad that has three daughters and a wife and he works as the publicist of and outdoor company. In this show, there is a lot of sexist and political and racial jokes and one of them, but what I want to analyze is something different. Mike, that is the dad’s name, and his wife Vanessa decide to hire a cleaning lady, and what race is she? She is Hispanic of course and again the way she physically looks is chubby, dark-skinned, dark hair, with a strong accent. Now the reason why I am very keen on mentioning how she looks and how the other Hispanics looked on the TV show American housewife is because the way they
Blanca Serving Mike salted peanuts in Last Man Standing show Hispanic is very similar all the time. It doesn’t matter what country they are from or anything, to the people creating the shows, they always put a Hispanic as dark skinned, strong accent, dark hair and the only thing that varies is whether they are skinny or chubby based on the fact of what the show is about. For example In the TV Show Modern family the only Hispanic show there is Sofia Vergara who played a Mexican woman that married an older man that is rich. The way she looks is very important, she is always wearing very skin tight clothing that shows all her body and curves. Compared to the poor Hispanics shown in TV shows are shown as all the same basic facts they use expect that they are chubby. Something that I noticed while looking at all the facts was that really when it comes to everything that is Hispanic based they don’t really care about looking into it further than what is common on TV, even studies are more based on what people have seen then what people really know.
As I was looking at the library resources and everything on the web and around me was that the titles really said it all. When I looked up Hispanics, and more specifically Guatemala, everything was generalized. No matter how specific I was, I always ended up with the same thing, Mexicans, and Why poor Hispanics are obese, and why Hispanics do drugs and why Hispanics are addicted to alcohol it was never something good about Hispanic but instead it was always something negative about them and assumptions that because they group they studied was prone to that that all Hispanic must be the same.
I was truly hoping that I would be proven wrong about stereotypes and especially the stereotypes about Hispanics and that my life had just been a confusion and really I was a one in a million at being thought of as a stereotype, but instead I was proven right that stereotypes are something we are born with, since the first breath you draw to the very last one. Which leads me to really see that yes it is going to be hard to change these stereotype that I have been born into and most people are probably going to continue thinking that I am from Mexico and really I will live as a maid and not get too far with my life but hopefully as I go throughout the rest of my life I can show them that there is something more I can offer and that I am not just the newest trend of Hispanics, but that I am me and me is amazing at being different. If anything this research showed me how really Hispanics are all put under the same categories but I hope one day that changes and during a test I will be able to put Guatelmateca or when someone asked me where I’m from they don’t just jump to the conclusion that I must be from Mexico. I never thought that my research would lead me to a deeper understanding of who I am by showing me who people think I am but who I really I’m not and, I hope all of you have discovered who you are and take that with you as you go throughout the rest of you lives.
S2 Episode 10, “The Help”, Last Man Standing, Jack Burditt, ABC. 2011
watch on ABC or online.
S1 Episode 11, “The Snow Storm”, American HouseWife, Sarah Dunn, ABC. 2016
watch on ABC or online
watch on ABC or online
Bergad, Laird W., and Herbert S. Klein. Hispanics in the United States: A demographic, social, and economic history, 1980-2005. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Acculturation and drug use disorders among Hispanics in the U.S.(Report), Journal of Psychiatric Research, Feb 2013, Vol.47(2), p.226(7)
Google and google scholar to see what came up in general for every time I typed in Hispanic, Guatemala, Latino, TV, Books, Studies, woman etc.