Stereotypes of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States.

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Stereotypical representations of Hispanic and Latino Americans can be manifested in United States mass media, literature, theater and other creative expressions.

White U.S. Hispanics and Latinos, Asian U.S. Hispanics and Latinos, and Black U.S. Hispanics and Latinos are often overlooked in the U.S. mass media and in general American social perceptions, where being "Hispanic or Latino" is often incorrectly given a racial value, usually mixed-race, such as Mestizo or Mulatto,[1][2][3] but it is actually an ethnic grouping comprising many different races while, in turn, mixed-race and white U.S. Hispanics and Latinos are overrepresented and admired in the U.S. Hispanic mass media and social perceptions.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

News media and crime[edit]

In 2003, Serafín Méndez-Méndez or Diane Alverio of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists reported the following findings:[13]

  • Latino-related stories make up less than 1% of all the stories that appear on network newscasts, even though Latinos make up more than 13% of the U.S. population.
  • Crime, terrorism, poverty and welfare, and illegal immigration accounted for 66% of all network stories about Latinos in 2001.
  • The arrest of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla, for allegedly plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb", occupied a central role in the coverage of Latinos in 2002, with 21 network stories or 18% of all stories that aired on Latinos.
  • "The number of Latino-related crime and youth gang stories in 2002 was grossly excessive when compared to statistics on crimes involving Latinos."
  • "Illegal immigration continues to be an important focus of network news coverage of Latinos.", a minority empowerment organization, states: "Who we see, hear and read on television, radio, newspapers, and in movies has a great deal of influence on shaping the attitudes of all Americans. How African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans are portrayed in these mediums often stereotypes and reinforces negative images of each ethnic group."[14]

Progressive media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) points out that in contrast to the media's over-representation of minorities as criminals and drug users is their under representation as experts and analysts. FAIR's studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s documented that 92% of Nightline‍ '​s U.S. guests were white, 90% of the NewsHour‍ '​s guests were white, and 26 out of 27 repeat commentators on National Public Radio over a four-month period were white.[15]

Stereotypes and Misconceptions about Latin America[edit]

Depictions of Latin America in the U.S. fiction sometimes include misconceptions or mistakes which may be perceived as stereotypes. Apart from people, geography can be mistaken; for example, Iguazu Falls and the Amazon rainforest may be treated as if they were close to each other. Cities may be depicted with features which they do not have, or are in other countries. Cities may be depicted as shanty towns, with monkeys, big cats and alligators roaming free. When characters visit Brazil, it is usually during the Brazilian Carnival.[16]

As for the Latin American people, they may be depicted as being poor, and women as wearing Carmen Miranda-style fruit hats. They are also depicted as working in low-income labor jobs and most prominently for males the job is as a gardener and most prominently for women the job is as a maid. Fashion, technology and architecture is depicted between a colonial and a 1950s style.[16]

The same stereotypes prevail in U.S. Hispanic media (meaning media created by Hispanic Americans themselves), where most Latino Americans are often depicted as poor and those who are often depicted as poor are usually of either mixed race, black Hispanic, or indigenous Hispanic heritage. These perceptions of poverty among U.S. Hispanic media and even among the greater Hispanic American communities themselves are so great that Hispanic and Latino American groups that are usually not impoverished and lack widespread crime in their communities are portrayed as such by U.S. Hispanic media. U.S. Hispanic media also in turn do the same in their portrayal of Latin America where countries that are not known for their high crime or poverty rates are either portrayed as such or almost completely dismissed altogether by U.S. media. Countries that possess little to no crime in Latin America such as Uruguay, and Costa Rica have been portrayed as impoverished or heavily crime ridden in U.S. Hispanic media and U.S. media in general. Countries with moderately low crimes rates in Latin America are Haiti, Bolivia and Peru.

Female Hispanics[edit]

Sexual and racial stereotypes of Latinas are often demonstrated in the U.S. mainstream media. The women of this ethnic group are often portrayed as being overly sensual, passionate, curvaceous, olive-skinned women. The sexualization and fetishization of Latina women is exemplified by the attractive and often Puerto Rican mami in hip hop.[17]

While at times Latinas are shown in an overly provocative manner, in some instances they are illustrated in an opposing way: virginal, religious, conservative and family-oriented. One such example is Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, who has often been asked to alter her appearance to fit the Latina stereotype in her on screen roles.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Rodriguez. "A CULTURAL IDENTITY". 
  2. ^ "Separated by a common language: The case of the white Hispanic". 
  3. ^ "Hispanics:A Culture, Not a Race". Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Y Tu Black Mama Tambien". Newsweek. June 18, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Blond, Blue-Eyed Face of Spanish TV". The Washington Post. August 3, 2000. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ Blonde, Blue-Eyed Euro-Cute Latinos on Spanish TV
  7. ^ Latinos Not Reflected on Spanish TV
  8. ^ "What are Telenovelas? – Hispanic Culture". Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Racial Bias Charged On Spanish-Language TV". August 6, 2000. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Black Electorate". Black Electorate. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  11. ^ Jones, Vanessa E. (August 19, 2004). "Skin tone consciousness in Asian and Latin American populations". Boston Globe. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Differences Between American and Castilian Spanish". Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  13. ^ Serafín Méndez-Méndez; Diane Alverio (December 2003). "Network Brownout 2003: The Portrayal of Latinos in Network Television News, 2002" (PDF). National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Retrieved 2008-06-04. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Diversity in the Media and Entertainment Industries". Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  15. ^ Cohen, Jeff (1999-10-01). "Racism and Mainstream Media". Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  16. ^ a b "The capital of Brazil is Buenos Aires". April 21, 1960. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  17. ^ Laó-Montes, Agustín; Dávila, Arlene M. (2001). Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York. Columbia University Press. pp. 250–253. ISBN 0-231-11275-0. 
  18. ^ Hall, Katy (September 13, 2010). "Sofia Vergara In 'Self': I'm A Natural Blonde, Hated My Boobs". Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Celebrity Q+A: Sofia Vergara". Family Circle. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 

Further reading[edit]