I have this bad habit of scrolling through my Instagram feed as soon as I open my eyes and before I close them at night. I know, I know, no bueno. One day, I was scrolling as usual, when I came across this:
A little aggressive, but I chuckled, shook my head, and kept scrolling. It wasn’t too long before I saw this one:
Then this one:
Within my 30-minute scrolling session, I have learned that Latinas are:
All from different accounts! I’m like,
Why are all these memes jumping out at me all of a sudden? I know! Because their stereotypical depictions of Latinas bothered me. Because as a women’s studies major, once you’re eyes are opened, they can never be closed. Never! It’s like James Baldwin says:
Look, I get it. They want to make people laugh and I’m sure they don’t mean any harm. That’s the problem though, it does and they are. These memes are going viral through likes, shares, and comments. Do the popularity of these memes mean that there is a kernel of truth in them? Or could it be their insidious nature feeds into years of stereotypical brainwashing shown to us by the media? I think the latter. I have a quote from an expert to prove it:
“Stereotypes affect everyone. A subordinated group becomes culturally visible and recognizable to itself and others through a specific repertoire of stereotypes. As cultural theorist Stuart Hall argued, identities are not made outside of representation but through it. So, stereotypes make the group distinct; they are both an idiom through which the group is perceived and a way through which the stereotyped seeks to understand his or her place in society. In other words, stereotypes contain and channel our imagination and it takes an effort to see otherwise.”
– Frances Negrón Muntaner, Interview The Latino Media Gap: A Conversation with Frances Negrón Muntaner
Do me a favor, Google “college Latina” or “Latina” and click images. What do you see? A few innocent pictures of girls holding books with backpacks on mixed in with porn sites and sexy pictures of women in bikinis. We cannot afford to let society continue to dictate who we are and define us for others. We must change the story. Thankfully, it already is.
I don’t know about your news feed but those accounts that circulate those damaging memes on my newsfeed, pale in comparison to the fierce, defiant, Latinas I follow. Badass Mujeres who are reclaiming “chingona,” “brujas,” fighting the violent, sexual, possessive, one-dimensional stereotypes. They are calling out racial, social, gender, economic injustices for all. They are changing the narrative by showing themselves to be multidimensional, complicated, authentic, intersectional women. They are not waiting for a seat at the table, they are pulling up a chair and demanding to be heard.
This very issue is part of the reason why I started Educated Latina. I wanted this to the place where we can be our true authentic selves, in our full expression truth, by our own mouths and minds. We will tell our own stories here.
Will you join us in changing the narrative about Latinas? @educatedlatina and use #educatedlatina tag us in a picture of you on campus. Let’s show the world that we are here!