Entertainment

Maya Cinemas Is The Latino-Owned Movie Theater Chain Bringing Latino Stories To Underserved Latino Neighborhoods

According to the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual statistical report, Latinos made up 23 percent of movie tickets purchased in the U.S. last year. However, there is an underlying problem to this statistic. There is a lack of movie theaters in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, especially in Central California, and Moctesuma Esparza, famous for producing “Selena,” is trying to change that. Esparza is the owner of Maya Cinemas, which opened its first theater in 2003 in Salinas, California, a predominantly working class Latino community. His mission is to bring movies to these undeserved communities.

Moctesuma Esparza is bringing movie theaters to Latino neighborhoods even as overall ticket sales decline.

Maya Cinemas has opened its fifth movie theater in Delano, California, despite ticket sales declining. The working class Latino neighborhood, where Cesar Chavez helped organize a labor strike in 1965, didn’t have an operating movie theater for 10 years and is an example of the need Esparza is trying to fill with his movie theater chain.

Latinos make up nearly double the movie sales among all minorities in the United States at 23 percent.

“The market is underserved, and it’s the market that contributes more than any other to the bottom line of Hollywood,” Santiago Pozo, founder of Latino-focused marketing firm Arenas Entertainment, said in an interview with the LA Times. “It’s a community that really goes to movies.”

Maya Cinemas hopes to expand beyond California and into more predominantly Latino communities around the United States.

According to The Undefeated, Esparza is growing outside of California. There is currently a theater under construction in Las Vegas and eventually will follow up in Texas and Arizona.

Esparza has been an advocate for the representation of Latinos in mainstream media.

Esparza was an organizer during the 1968 Chicano student walkouts in East LA. In support of independent filmmakers who haven’t been able to get a theatrical distribution, Esparza has launched a program at his movie theaters will air their films.

Latino representation is needed more than ever in mainstream media.

While Latinos make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, they were represented by just 3 percent of speaking parts in the Top 100 films in 2016.


READ: Watch These Latino Movies And Try To Say You Aren’t Proud To Be A Latino

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‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

Entertainment

‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

It’s 1970. Groans of discomfort permeate a Los Angeles County Hospital hallway as a Mexican-American woman is in labor. This is going to be her first child.

Little does she know that it’ll also be her last.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

“This is an example of erasure,” director Kathryn Boyd-Batstone told mitú.

For Rosa, details a harrowing reality for many women of color in 1970s California. Inspired by the 1978 Madrigal v. Quilligan case, the story follows Eva, a mother faced with the pivotal decision to join the Madrigal Ten after discovering she was unknowingly sterilized.

Wanting to highlight each individual experience, Boyd-Batstone described her heroine as “a fictional composite character” inspired by multiple plaintiffs from the Madrigal Ten.

At first glance, Eva’s story prominently resembles the experience of plaintiff Melvina Hernández.

Hernández, at 23, signed a document that allegedly consented to an emergency C-section. Fearmongering by doctors and nurses highlighted a perceieved risk of mortality, pressuring her to sign a document she couldn’t read.

Four years later, she was informed that she had actually signed for a tubal ligation.

The history of eugenics is an ugly one, acting as a form of silent genocide.

In Eva’s case, medical professionals take advantage of her. Doctors and nurses took advantage of her language barrier and the pain of child labor.

The story, while historical, is relevant in the current context of the Trump era’s immigration policies.

Last year, an ICE nurse whistleblower reported the nonconsensual mass hysterectomies of migrant women detained at the border.

In the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous women have continuously been sterilized despite pro-sterilization policies ending in the 1970s.

“Although the court case happened over fifty years ago, we are still in a time where reproductive rights are not respected,” Boyd-Batstone said. “This is not an issue of the past, and so the fight continues.”

California’s eugenics laws disproportionately targeted Latinas.

California was one of the leading states in eugenics-informed practices.

After passing a law in 1909 that allowed medical practitioners to sterilize patients, the motives of cultural erasure became clear.

Hiding behind “good medicine” were racist and xenophobic incentives aimed to eliminate potential “welfare” cases.

Under this discriminatory pretense, Latinas were 59 percent more likely to be forcibly sterilized.

The United States has an extensive history of nonconsensual medical experimentation on Black and Brown communities.

Studies like the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which lasted over 40 years, in part, shaped the mistrust between the Black community and the medical industry.

A mistrust that remains prevalent in the 21st century.

The Madrigal Ten is a testament to the fight for reproductive rights and women of colors’ autonomy.

In 1975, Dolores Madrigal alongside nine other women filed a class-action lawsuit against L.A. County-USC Medical Center for the nonconsensual tubal ligations that occurred during child labor.

A complicated ordeal that received little funding, 26-year-old Chicana Civil Rights attorney Antonia Hernández impressively took on the case. Boyd-Batstone who read the court documents said, “it became obvious that at the time the hospital did not have adequate steps in place to make sure their patients could give informed consent.”

Dr. Karen Benker, the only physician to testify against the hospital, told the New York Times in 2016 that “voluntary informed consent” didn’t exist in the early 70s.

That is until after the National Research Act of 1974 following public outcry from the Tuskegee study.

Following Roe v. Wade, the Madrigal Ten case sought to end the forced sterilizations of women of color, define informed consent and provide consent forms in Spanish at a reading level individuals could understand.

In 2016 PBS released a documentary on the case called “No Más Bebes,” which greatly inspired Boyd-Batstone to create For Rosa.

“The main feeling that stuck with me after watching the documentary was how much strength it must have taken these women to face someone who tried to take their identity and demand accountability,” she said.

Validating women of color’s experiences was essential for Boyd-Batstone. While the film mirrors the malpractices of the medical industry, brought upon by systematic racism and bias, she also hopes that women who have felt “diminished or uneasy around doctors” find the courage to speak out.

For Rosa, sheds light on traditional themes of womanhood and Chicana feminism.

“Stop Forced Sterilization” poster by Rachael Romero, 1977. // Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Simultaneously, the lawsuit took place during the rise in Chicana activism.

As tensions between mainstream white feminism and women of color peaked; Chicana activists put legislative reform and reproductive justice at the forefront. Furthermore, they brought awareness to discrimination as it intersects race, class, gender, and immigration.

Though on the sidelines, the case also harbored on the cultural question of defining femininity.

Worried for the state of her marriage, the correspondence of fertility with femininity felt dense. Heavily ingrained in machismo culture; the pain and frustration of no longer being able to conceive are palpable.

But the strength and courage to speak out defies all odds.

“As women, especially Latina women, I don’t think many stories show us how to do this,” Boyd-Batstone said. “So it was important to me to, one, honor the Madrigal Ten’s bravery but [to also] show young girls what it looks like to stand up and fight for your rights.” 

Though it has been nearly 50 years since the Madrigal Ten case, the fight for women’s autonomy and reproductive rights is ongoing.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

On June 7, 1978, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the USC Medical Center. Judge Jesse Curtis stated that miscommunication and language barriers resulted in unwanted sterilizations.

Nonetheless, the lawsuit’s impact was potent. The California Department of Health revised its sterilization guidelines to include a 72-hour waiting period and issued a booklet on sterilization in Spanish.

In 1979, California abolished its sterilization law after 70 years.

More than 20,000 people of various races and ethnicities were sterilized during this time.

For Rosa ends with archival footage of Dolores Madrigal and Antonia Hernández announcing the lawsuit. Nevertheless, its timely release is indicative of the continual demands for justice today.

Now more than ever we must remember the narratives of the Madrigal Ten, and other Black and Brown activists who continue to pave the way for change.

“My hope is that For Rosa humanizes the women so that whatever culture or race or gender you are, you can empathize with the women as human beings,” Boyd-Batstone said.

“My hope is that every person who watches understands that these Latina women are deserving of respect.” 

Para Rosa (For Rosa) is available to stream on HBO Max.

READ: Joe Biden Says ‘Healthcare is Not a Privilege, It’s a Right,’ Donald Trump and the GOP Disagree

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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