Altercation

Status: I used to be a writer...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bridging Multi-cultural Chasms

It's summer time. That's the only thing I can think of.

My skin has taken on a nice olive hue, and apparently the Guatemalan in me is making an appearance. Why else would two separate leaders of the Hispanic community get my information at my last book signing? One of them works for the local Hispanic news station, and said he'd like to do a story on me. The other works for the local high school with the students who are struggling to learn English. Both recognized me as Hispanic and thought I'd be a good role model for the community.

While this excites me, it also makes me very nervous. I don't actually ::cough:: speak Spanish. I fumbled my way through it quite well in Mexico, but that won't fly in an interview on TV. And while I made my main character Hispanic exactly to reach that audience and give a better representation of Chicanos growing up in the United States, the possibility of actually fulfilling that anticipated goal is quite overwhelming.

But that is what I wanted. Growing up in Arkansas, I was bothered by the prejudice I often saw around me. Usually it was not directed at me, since I speak English quite well and fit in with my peers. My brother was not so lucky, and he doesn't even look Hispanic. One of his classmates saw my senior picture on my brother's school folder and said, "Why do you have a picture of a Mexican?" To which my brother said, "That's my sister, dimwit," or something to that effect. To which the kid said, "You're Mexican? Wow, we can't be friends."

And they weren't.

I know I don't even have to analyze that conversation for you to see all the things wrong with it. But there it is. Hispanics are not well represented in popular media, and I would love to see that changed. That's part of what I hoped to accomplish. I just hope I'm accepted in the Hispanic community... even if I don't speak Spanish.

1 comment:

Anthony Dutson said...

GREAT post!

I currently have a Hispanic in the mentor role of my current WIP. I was very concerned that I would flub it up somehow, but I cast Edward James Olmos in the role and my writing group seems to think the character is coming across well (I didn't tell them who my inspiration for the character was).

Part of me still worries that I'll botch something or that someone will be offended by something I have my character do. I just hope my respect and admiration for the Hispanic community helps me portray it well.

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