American entertainment has reflected its Spanish-speaking citizens; as stated before, "I Love Lucy" has become a classic program, along with the more contemporary "The George Lopez Show."
International stars like Gael Garcia Bernal have American fan bases, and Univision and Telemundo have become or are part of major corporations. Occasionally, the American industry will fund a film such as "Spanglish" or "Real Women Have Curves," but there is still an image associated with people of Spanish-speaking origin and how they should look. Neither actress Cameron Diaz nor director George A. Romero meet this stereotype, and as a result, that both are half-Cuban is almost never brought up.
Another example is television star JoAnna Garcia. What is interesting about Ms. Garcia is that not only does she resemble the image of the all-American girl, but her roles, such as the teenaged mother or the cheerleader with coprolalia, play off and then satirize this image. Ms. Garcia was willing to speak with me on this issue. When asked about how being Cuban affects her own identity, she responded: "Looking the way I look, having blonde hair and green eyes, has obviously affected the roles I've been offered. I could easily have changed my name altogether, but I just never considered that, because it's my name and who I am."
This alone is a sign of good progress. Hollywood once seemed to only accept "vanilla Americans," but today more flavors are allowed to mix in the batter, resulting in a taste that's not quite the same vanilla. The new show "Ugly Betty" has been a good ideal of this fusion: an American remake of a Colombian show, featuring characters of various skin-colors, and aimed at everyone. The end result has proven a success. But a price has been paid for this success: "Ugly Betty" is no longer derivative specifically of Colombian culture, or Mexican or any other, but of the Surrogate Hispanic culture serving for all.
Now because Spanish-speaking Americans are made up of various cultures that are regarded as a single background, their various races are seen as a single color. Perhaps the heart of the matter is that what the media defines as "white" is periodically changing, sometimes referring to Caucasian, then American, then pure- blood American. What is politically correct is always irritating some person or another. So, if one speaks Spanish, then the color of his skin becomes "Hispanic" or "Latino," apparently a new color. And even these terms are tricky. A person living in France is literally a "Latino."
The problem is this: A significant percentage of Americans view "Hispanic" as a skin-color, an alternate to being "white." And a significant percentage of Hispanic Americans actually agree with this, referring to their own skin-color as 'Hispanic.' But since the majority of Cuban Americans have been Caucasian, thus enabling more opportunities for them here, they are sometimes thought of as "Uncle Toms." Look at the humor on an episode of "George Lopez:" The little Mexican boy believes his father is Santa Claus. Mr. Lopez responds: "Son, let me fill you in on a secret: Santa is a white man. If a Mexican was driving around with a bunch of packages, the cops would be after him in no time." This joke, in addition to making an effective point about American racism, drives home what it is like to be a minority in the U.S., perpetually seen as an outsider, and of color. Cubans may not know what this is like because, if you are Caucasian, many Americans cannot understand that you are Hispanic, even if you are speaking Spanish!
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