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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

Grammy snubs, Latino representation, and its importance

Written by: Angelina Santos 🇵🇷

Photo via Getty Images

Growing up young and Latino in America makes an individual realize that representation matters. How many main characters in TV or film can the average Latino say they felt truly represented by?

In a 2021 report by the Government Accountability Office it was revealed that only 7% of media workers are Latino and 3% are Latina; most of whom are service and craft members.

That being said, the discussion surrounding Latino representation matters; it will continue to matter while America’s media industry discriminates against people of color.

POC children see white people celebrated in the media while their own culture is rarely shown and it can develop feelings of self-hate, confusion, and sadness. For a long time, Latinos were shown in media as side and background characters, or as caricatures of the ethnic group.

The sexualization of Latina women still continues as one of those caricatures as well with the “toxica” Latina stereotype being played up as a part of that sexualization.

Occasionally, I felt isolated in my PWI High School. One of those days was when I came back to school after the Super Bowl performance of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez had aired.

My excitement from seeing my family’s flag being flown in front of the biggest night on TV in the United States was quickly diminished when I heard the boys in my classes sexualize the performances. They ignored the cultural references and traditions that had been celebrated in that performance.

The beauty of my culture and the culture of a lot of other ethnic groups had been minimized to sexualization. Repeatedly being referred to as inappropriate in my school and all over social media, it only further revealed that white perception of Latinas seemed to exclusively see sex.

At the time of the performance being aired, Donald Trump was president and his constituents had a field day criticizing the halftime show.

Public figure and Trump supporter Franklin Graham said on Twitter that he thought United States TV has “had a sense of moral decency…disappearing before our eyes.” Comments like these hurt and isolated Latin Americans.

Perhaps if they had frequent exposure to different cultures in the media, they would have been able to appreciate the beauty of something that was not what they were used to.

In a similar vein, there are other big nights on TV that tend to leave Latinos and other minority ethnic groups disappointed.

The Grammys infamously leaves people of color shocked at their inability to appropriately judge their award show.

Just this past year, Rosalia who is a Hispanic singer whose genre is mainly Latin Pop (but ranges between flamenco, trap, and reggaeton as well) won an award for best Latin Rock or alternative album. Although it was great to see some Hispanic recognition, these are simply not her genres.

A big snub that night surrounded Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican trap and reggaeton artist. After being the most streamed artist on Spotify for the third year in a row, Bad Bunny only won the Musica Urbana award, an award that’s category title is in Spanish, and fails to cover the other genres his album had.

He has yet to win a major award at the Grammys - where the awards are historically English-speaker-dominated - despite having been nominated for various awards nine times.

It may sound as if Latinos are complaining about not winning awards or not seeing themselves on TV, but the issue is much deeper than that.

I began to fall deeper in love with where I was from when I saw Bad Bunny and my Puerto Rican culture being celebrated. As a new generation of Latinos is learning to find their place in this country, I hope they can experience this feeling before they hit double digits.

To be Latino is to be a part of such a diverse and interesting ethnic group (Bad Bunny alone cannot and does not represent all of the Latino countries). All cultures Latino or not, deserve to feel that they belong in this country; they deserve the joy of being celebrated.

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