“It’s a party across America, bachata in the back.”
Here’s an unspoken and indisputable truth about this country: America runs on Brown.
That’s the sentiment behind “Mexican Chef,” the latest single by Brooklyn-based artist Xenia Rubinos, who comes from Cuban and Puerto Rican roots. The song is a nearly 4-minute ode to hardworking Latino immigrants who do the jobs no one wants.
“Brown walks your baby/Brown walks your dog/Brown raised America in place of its mom,” Rubinos sings very matter-of-factly, backed by a catchy AF bass line as she dances along very much a la Rosie Perez in the beginning of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. “Brown cleans your house/Brown takes the trash/ Brown even wipes your grandaddy’s ass.” In my family’s case, Brown worked 12 hours a day picking heavily subsidized corn.
If you dig “Mexican Chef” (which, honestly, why wouldn’t you), make sure to check out the rest of her album, “Black Terry Cat,” currently available for sale and on streaming platforms. Xenia Rubinos is also currently on tour, so make sure to check her out.
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”.
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.
Latin music is something we all grew up with. Our parents raised us on the voices of Celia Cruz and Vicente Fernandez. We cleaned the house and entertained ourselves on road trips to these artists and they are ingrained in our DNA. Billboard recently released a list of the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some are undoubtedly iconic and others just aren’t Latin music.
Billboard dropped their list for the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some of them are truly classics.
“Amor Prohibido” by Selena, “Guantanamera” by Celia Cruz, “El Rey” by Vicente Fernandez, and “El dia que me quieras” by Luis Miguel are just a few of the songs on the list that deserve all the praise. They are songs that transport us to our childhoods and cherished family memories.
The list also includes some newer songs that have rocked out adult worlds. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, “El Farsante” by Ozuna, and “Tusa” by Karol G and Nicki Minaj all made the list. Not only do these songs speak to the Latino audience, they have been able to go mainstream sharing our musical culture with the world. That’s something to admire and respect because it gives our community representation like never before.
The list has proven to be just want some people have been asking for.
Tbh, this would make a pretty amazing road trip playlist if you need to pass the time. Nothing like a mix of Latin music songs playing along to give you a big, inclusive sabor of Latin America through music. A little be of Mexico and a little bit of Puerto Rico mixed in with a little bit of Colombia is pure joy and magic.
However, a lot of people are questioning the list’s inclusion of Spanish artists.
The list has various artists who are not Latino, but Spanish. There seems to be an unspoken rule in the music industry that music in Spanish is automatically Latin music. Fans have long been arguing against the industry’s blanket label of Spanish-language music automatically being considered Latin music.
Rosalía, who has arguably become the face of the debate, is listed as having one of the best Latin music songs of all time.
While Rosalía does make some good music, there is a real push to make sure the artists of Latin American roots are uplifted in Latin music. There is nothing wrong with including Rosalía in your Spanish-language playlists but Latin music fans want the distinction made that some artists aren’t Latino.
You can check out the rest of the Billboard list here.