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Why Culture Matters

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Hispanic/Latinx people in the United States constitute over 18% of the US population. However, there is a dearth of representations of Hispanic/Latinx people in the media—television, theater, the movies, and journalism—relative to the number who live in this country. Researchers found, for example, that of 1,300 popular movies produced from 2007-2019, only 5 percent of all speaking characters on screen, and just 4 percent of directors, were Hispanic/Latinx (Smith, Choueiti, and Pieper, Inequity in 1300 Popular Films, 2020). Such a dearth of representations matters because the media is the primary way that most people in the US learn about others. The first problem is that there are not enough representations to give an accurate picture of the richness and complexity of the Hispanic/Latinx population in the US. The second is that many of those that do exist are negative and stereotypical and so atypical of the wide range of experiences had by people associated with that ethnicity. In other words, not only are Hispanic/Latinx people underrepresented, they are also frequently misrepresented. Creating a narrative featuring a Hispanic/Latinx family and their neighbors is then, on one level, a simple matter of putting additional representations of Hispanic/Latinx people out there in the world.