Oh boy, Miguel, do I feel you. After having a less-than-stellar start of the year, I too have felt that being Ines is often a very great trouble. Of course, me being a 30-year-old woman living in the 21st century, my worries and concerns involve such things as professional advancement, family tensions, whether to lean in, lean back, or lean out, and an assortment of trials and tribulations that have no place here. For Miguel, a New Mexican boy in the 1950s, his troubles are pretty straightforward: He wants to go up to the Mountains of Sangre de Cristo even though his family thinks he’s too young to do so.
I got a chance to cover Junot Diaz’ brief and wondrous hour at the Chicago Humanities Festival. Read more to find out what two bald guys from New Jersey have to say about institutionalized racism, hyper-masculinity, and why aspiring writers shouldn’t pursue writing.
The following topic has been on my mind lately–the representation of minorities in TV or the lack thereof. I don’t really have the energy right now to go on a rant, and my thoughts about this still need to be placed into some sort of coherent argument but I can say that the current state of affairs is troublesome. Not having any minority characters in TV shows is bad. Having a token minority character is worse. But it frustrates me that those are the only options viewers are given: either we’re invisible or we’re put there to fulfill some symbolic role in a “very special episode” where the main (usually white, preferably male) character comes to terms with his privilege and saunters off into the sunset a much better person. We never hear from Jamal/José/Jin/Jawad EVER AGAIN.
Here’s a revolutionary thought: Why don’t TV writers create a three-dimensional role that just so happens to be Black/Latin/Arab/Asian/Alien/Whatever? Better yet, don’t even have an ethnicity in mind and simply cast the best person for the role!
Crazy, I know.
To make matters even worse, I feel like we’ve regressed. Now, if there are TV shows with a diverse cast they tend to be either on cable or are relegated under the category of “ethnic programming” (come on, we can’t ask people of other races to empathize and identify with someone who isn’t like them!). But some of the shows I loved the most during the 80s and 90s had a predominantly Black cast and they dared put it on in major networks. Examples: Family Matters, Cosby Show, Diff’rent Strokes, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World, Martin, Sister, Sister, Living Single, Kenan and Kel, and of course, Moesha.
In honor of those outliers of the past, and in the hopes of a better, more varied and more ACCURATE TV landscape here is a little gem!