Larissa Martinez graduated at the top of her class at MicKinney Boyd High School in McKinney, Texas, with a 4.95 GPA. The Texas teen’s accomplishments paid off. She was admitted to Yale on a full ride. Martinez accomplished all of this while being undocumented, a fact that was a secret up until her valedictorian speech.
Martinez bared her soul over the course of her nine-minute speech, telling her classmates that she and her family (her mother and sister) fled Mexico to escape an abusive and alcoholic father, and how she had to give up part of her childhood to raise her younger sister, as her mother worked all the time to afford their one-bedroom apartment. Midway through her speech, Martinez confessed that she was an undocumented immigrant, and asked the crowd for their compassion.
“The most important part of the debate and is often overlooked is that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are people, too,” she said, clearly fighting back emotion. “People with dreams, aspirations, hopes and loved ones. People like me. People who have become a part of the American society and way of life and who yearn to help make ‘America great again’ without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.”
As soon as Larissa Martinez finished her speech, the building erupted in a standing ovation. Before you click the play button, we suggest you grab a tissue.
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.
An important Jesus statue in an El Paso church has been destroyed and police have arrested the suspect. The statue in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was taken down and decapitated and the person police suspect to be responsible has been arrested.
Earlier this week, a 90-year-old Jesus statue was decapitated by a vandal who destroyed the St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The community was rocked when the damage was reported. The statue has been behind the church’s main altar for decades. The vandal attacked the statue at around 10:00 a.m. when the church was opened for prayer when the vandal attacked.
El Paso police have arrested a man in connection to the vandalism.
According to a press release from the police department, 30-year-old Isaiah Cantrell has been arrested for the vandalism. The damage to the statue is estimated to be about $25,000 and Cantrell’s bail has been set at $20,500. El Pasoans are angered at the man for destroying the irreplaceable statue.
“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us,” Bishop Seitz said about the destruction of the historic Sacred Heart of Jesus statue. “I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass.”
Statues like the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue are important to communities that are used to seeing them. The destruction has left clergymen and parishioners angered and saddened by the loss of the statue. It is a historic part of the El Paso religious community having overseen masses since before World War II.
The Diocese of El Paso is raising money to help St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The funds raised by the Diocese of El Paso and the Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso will be used on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The money raised will be used to fix the shattered statue as well as add security and do renovations to the famed church.
“I am devastated at this irreplaceable loss as I know members of this parish community and the whole Church of El Paso will be,” Bishop Seitz said. “In this moment we will reach out in confidence to the One this statue represented and I know he will console us.”