Thursday, October 6, 2011

Media Justice Mash-Up: Latino Heritage Month Edition

cross posted from my Media Justice column

’ve been struggling with what to write for this weeks article. I’ve fluctuated from writing about the protests and movements going on currently in NYC and all over the U.S. Then I’ve thought about writing about different topics that have come up for Latino Heritage Month (September-October). I also considered writing a longer piece about class and how that’s connected to so many ideas but our social realities of class and access are different. I’d still like to write about that topic sometime soon, but before I could write about that topic I had to get this out of my system: triflin’ and offensive advertisements.

It all seems to come together, those topics I wanted to discuss. The movements against corporate greed and wealth, class issues in this commercial for Verizon. There’s no transcript, but you can imagine just from the image what is going on or being sold.

In this advertisement Verizon has chosen to sell their latest cellular telephone using symbols that are appropriations of the Hindu religion. This occurring so close to when folks are dressing up for Halloween. I want to be clear with readers who are not familiar with this value and belief system: this is not okay. This is problematic on numerous levels! This advertisement is in no way praising or respecting any aspect of Hinduism. It is actually mocking the belief system and attempting to sell aspects of the religion to consumers.

And this is why this column exists. For media such as these. For us to be thoughtful and aware consumers and media makers. This is one of the reasons why when Latino Heritage Month comes around I try to focus attention on folks who are doing work that impacts reproductive justice movements. Often organizations and spaces celebrating this month often forget or consciously exclude topics of sexuality and reproductive justice. Instead of taking advantage of normalizing HIV testing (October 15 is the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day), or discussing how to combat transmisogny within our communities and prepare forTransgender Day of Remembrance (November 20), I’ve often experienced conversations that are about watching groups perform, having authors discuss their work and watching films. I see these forms of celebrations useful in a very general sense, yet there needs to be more of a challenge among us and from within our communities.

Do we know the geography of Central and South America and the Caribbean? What type of conversations do we have during Latino Heritage Month when it intersects with Columbus Day? Are any of the events bilingual or are they English-only? Do we include countries that are a part of South America but not colonized by the Spanish (i.e. Brazil, Guyana, Suriname)?

A small form of my activism during this month is to highlight Latinos doing work this month in the field of reproductive justice and will feature several folks. The first part of this series has been posted on my RH Reality Check blog along with a link on where you can read last year’s posts as well. I have several other folks in mind, but if there's someone you think must be included this year definitely let me know!

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite media that has been produced for Latino Heritage Month.

Cristo Negro is a film in production. This is the trailer. Here is what the film is about “In Countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Panama and more there are Black Christs found in many churches. These mystery images have interesting legends, connected with miracles and the practitioners do unique rituals. Get a sneak peek of this documentary that will discover the worshipers of the Black Christ.”

A quick history of the National Young Lords organization.

And yes, I still do adore elements of popular culture, so that is why this MTV Made “I want to be a rapper” featuring a young high school student in Florida, Rafael. He is a little person whose parents are Puerto Rican and Dominican. What I love about this episode is that his Made coach gave him assignments and “homework” that will help him for the rest of his life, not just to accomplish this goal he’s set for himself. For example, it was clear to me as a educator that Rafael was working on getting a good grasp on the English language (as many high school students do) and his Made coach gave him vocabulary to focus on. I really love this episode!

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