Afro Latina Experiences in Hollywood
In the wise words of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the marginalization of Black Latinos in African-American communities is African-American exceptionalism: the idea that the Black experience is the Black American experience (Chow). In Hollywood, the Afro-Latino perspective is quite invisible. The Latino looks according to Hollywood is looking or having features that are deemed Mexican.
"In terms of representation, almost all the biggest Latina entertainment stars including Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek are fair-sinned as gatekeepers perpetuate a narrow image of what it means to "look Latina." Afro-Latino actors are consistently shut out of roles due to not matching a specific image and on the rare occasion they are cast it is rare that they play afro-; Latina characters, rather they play Black or mixed-race characters that are not Latino (Chow). Speaking about Afro-Latino representation and experiences is important because in Encanto,"the Madrigals are a mestiza, or mixed-race, Colombian family. Each family member has different skin tones, hair types, and features, and one branch of the family is Afro-Latino, a group that is even more underrepresented like never before," (Medina). The possible communities envisioned by Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Latinas today presume that the present continues to be mediated by the colonial dynamics of power and that effective solutions to the social problems of black populations must emerge "from below," be it from their own negotiated practices of blackness and/ or from their own definitions of the community (Macmillan). Encanto embraced Colombian culture while promoting and ensuring the representation of afro-Latinas through hair and skin tones. The many people behind the production of Encanto took matters of Afro-Latin American representation into their own hands and allowed the misrepresentation to be dealt with from below. We do well to note that Afro-Latin American means people of African descent living in America while Afro-Latina means people living in the USA.