Two Cents on the Lack of Black Latinos in ‘In the Heights’

in Movies/TV by

Everybody wants to see themselves in movies and TV shows. It’s only natural. And since I knew the people behind the In The Heights movie—what they look and sound like, I mean—I already knew what the people in the movie would look and sound like. It would’ve come as a pleasant surprise, a great shock even, had the main characters been plum black. But, in the end, that light-skinned Latinos sing and dance in a movie produced by light-skinned Latinos, shouldn’t be news to anyone.

So if we negritos wish to see ourselves represented in movies and shows, then, clearly, we will have to be the ones to do it.

Moviemaking is notoriously difficult, of course, and damn-near impossible for white people already. Harder still for white Latinos. But when you consider the many additional obstacles placed before Black Latinos—systemic racism, conjoined with capitalism, plus the shadism—the prospect of Black Latinos producing a decent film makes Hercules’ cleaning out those stables and pinning that bull seem like light work by comparison. Such is the world, and a Black Latino’s lot in life.

Create, or die trying. There is no other way.

Hector is the editor of MANO. He's also the host of Latinish and Hits from the Brain. A Chicagoan living in Las Vegas, he's a former deputy editor of Latino Rebels, as well as a former managing editor of Gozamos, an art-activism site based in his home town. He has contributed to RedEye, a Tribune-owned daily geared toward millennials. His work has been mentioned by The New Yorker, TIME and other outlets, and his writing was featured in Ricanstruction, a comic book anthology whose proceeds went toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Hector studied history (for some reason) at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where his focus was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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