Culture

5 Quotes That Prove Cristela Alonzo Is Woke AF

In 2014, Mexican-American comedian Cristela Alonzo created, produced, wrote, and acted in “Cristela,” a primetime comedy on ABC, making her the first Latina to achieve this distinction. While “Cristela” lasted only one season, it represented a victory for Latinos looking to see their one of their stories in mainstream entertainment. In the time since “Cristela” was cancelled, the immigrant experience has become so heavily politicized that it has become difficult to separate fact from rhetoric. And as politics have become increasingly polarizing, Cristela has kept the immigrant experience in her act for a very important reason: both of her parents were from Mexico and she grew up near the Texas-Mexico border. Her struggle to make this relatable and funny was the subject of a recent interview she had with Gothamist‘s Gaby Del Valle. The entire interview is worth checking out, but here are a few quick highlights.

On making America great again.

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CREDIT: TEAM COCO / TBS

“In election years, everyone talks about the good old days—but they never tell you when the good old days were. I’m a person of color. When were my good old days?!” – Cristela Alonzo

On how she finds comedy from her own life.

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CREDIT: TEAM COCO / TBS

“Each of us has an interesting story. Even if you don’t think it is, it’s interesting to somebody, and just sharing it makes people realize they’re not alone.”

On why she chooses to talk about the immigrant experience.

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CREDIT: CRISTELA9 / INSTAGRAM

“And a lot of people don’t know immigrants, they don’t know anything about immigration, period. All they know is what they hear on TV.” She added, “They didn’t come here to take away your jobs. They’re coming here for a chance to survive. For a chance to not die.”

On her own experiences as a citizen growing up near the border.

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CREDIT: CRISTELA 9 / INSTAGRAM

“I remember as a kid, I’d always try and hide from Border Patrol, fearing as a kid that my mom would be taken away and deported at any moment.”

On how people react to the subject matter of her comedy.

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CREDIT: CRISTELA9 / INSTAGRAM

“You can’t control how people are going to react to it. I’ve had people ask me, ‘How do you say certain things on stage without having people turn against you?’ I’m not insulting anybody. I’m just being honest about my life.”

On November 3rd, Cristela is hosting a comedy night for Define American, a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

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CREDIT: CRISTELA / ABC

“At Define American,” their website states, “we believe that we cannot change the politics of immigration until we change the culture in which people see immigrants, documented and undocumented.” Cristela echoes this statement at the end of her interview, saying, “I think that through comedy, we can teach people lessons they need to learn.”


[H/T] Gothamist: Comedian Cristela Alonzo Talks Immigration & Humor In The Age Of Trump

READ: 9 Times Cristela Alonzo Was Everyone’s Soulmate

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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Undocumented Americans Are Breaking Stereotypes With A Social Media Campaign

Things That Matter

Undocumented Americans Are Breaking Stereotypes With A Social Media Campaign

Define American

Who is American to you? What does it mean to be American?

These are questions immigrants and the children of immigrants often ask themselves. And as many of them now face an uncertain future at the hands of President Trump, who stands to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program these questions become even bigger. DACA allowed certain undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to receive protection from deportation and work eligibility.

Define American is working to shift the narrative on American identity by empowering undocumented people to tell their stories of joy and resilience with their #UndocuJoy social media campaign. Through this campaign, Define American is working to show a full representation of who undocumented Americans and fight fears.

Watch the powerful campaign video!

Per the website:

#UndocuJoy combats victimizing representations of people who are undocumented by flooding the media with authentic images of happiness.  We encourage undocumented Americans to share their authentic moments of joy, and allies are encouraged to spread their message.

Yosimar Reyes, artist in residence at Define American, created the campaign so undocumented people have a space to rewrite the narrative of who they are, away from how the media paints them. As he puts it, “the media is obsessed with our fear and not how we thrive.”

“#UndocuJoy is for all of us who are tired of answering, ‘Why don’t you just get in line?'” says Reyes. “It’s a love letter to us from us reminding each other that we can’t let a government rob of us joy. It is also a reminder to allies that we can speak for ourselves.”

Through #UndocuJoy, undocumented people find healing and are reminded that they “should exist beyond justifying our existence,” according to Reyes. As he puts it, the idea of being undocumented isn’t an identity but a social condition.

So far, people have been sharing what their #UndocuJoy looks like. For some, it’s cafecito.

For others, it’s having the freedom to explore.

It’s also about spending time at the beach with loved ones.

Whatever your #UndocuJoy looks like, the underlying message is the refusal for each undocumented person to allow the circumstances to keep them from living a full and happy life.

“It raises up the simple fact that no matter what is happening in politics, policy, or the media, our undocumented community continues to thrive,” says Sarah Lowe, digital strategist at Define American. “Their resilience is our #UndocuJoy.”

READ: Undocumented Immigrants In North Carolina Aren’t Eligible For Financial Aid, But This Woman Found A Way To Help Undocumented High School Students Who Want To Continue Their Education

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