Charo, I don’t want to dismiss her as an actress and entertainer but in my opinion she was the worst stereotype of a Latina that I have ever seen on television.
I remember seeing her on “The Love Boat”, with her thick accent, her look of constant bewilderment, and of course the steady stream of sexual innuendo aimed at her.
Searching for this clip on YouTube, I found some of her more recent television appearances and apparently she is still in character.
America loves this kind of Latina. In fact, how far have we really come?
Sofia Vergara’s “Gloria” character on “Modern Family” is a modern-day Charo.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of that show, I’ve only seen a few episodes, but from what I’ve seen Sofia is keeping the Charo legacy alive, she is not bewildered though, I’ll give her that.
Women like America Ferrera appear to be breaking the mold but then again, is she playing a “Latina”?- that’s a different post.
And of course we had “Devious Maids” — a show about Latina maids, really.
You tell me, how far have we come? Of course none of them look like me, but that is another post for another night.
It’s so hard to say goodbye to “Being Mary Jane” there go my Tuesday nights, and one of the best Latina characters on television. Here are the top ten reasons why Kara was my girl and arguably the most authentic portrayal of a Latina that I’ve seen on television, ever:
- She told a Latino “I don’t really date Latinos” [Come on, we all know someone like this, maybe you are that someone]
- She turned a really hot professional baseball player down (and then got back with him)
- She was assertive about managing her career and she didn’t apologize for it
- She didn’t have to break into a “signature” Spanish phrase every time she really needed to express herself [I really hate when they do that to us, can you say stereotype]
- She actually tried to balance career and family and struggled with it, because she loved both
- She loved her job
- She wasn’t waiting for Mr. Right [Like every good Latina]
- She never forgot her parents
- She wasn’t the perfect mom but she kept trying
- She always had Mary Jane’s back [think Thelma and Louise or Lucy and Ethel]
Last night, I dreamt that I was waiting on line with friends and there were three girls behind us (white girls). We all started talking to each other but one of the girls from the other group kept making horribly racist comments– something about foreigners smelling bad etc., bear with me, dream interpretation is really big in my family.
Her friends were super embarrassed by her remarks but didn’t say anything. I was becoming increasingly agitated and finally I turned to my friend and said, “let’s go”.
It’s just a dream, no big deal right, except that it got me to thinking about silence in the face of racism and prejudice. We all do it. It is so easy to point out the faults of others but so difficult to see the ugliness within our own circles. How many of us stand up to our friends and family members when they say something that we wholeheartedly believe is wrong?
Isn’t it infinitely easier to stay quiet, make light of the remarks, or just gently change the conversation. I know I’ve done it. Silence is not always golden, in fact, it can be deadly, the first victim– your integrity.
I’m back and everything will change.