It’s time to confront the way we see and treat Latinos in America. As we grapple with the enduring effects of a horrific attack on Latinos doing their Saturday shopping, a government that locks Latino children in cages, and leaders and news media outlets who spin vile, racist rhetoric, it is clear something must be done.
But it’s not just those in the political sphere who have a role to play in combating the false and damaging narratives about Latinos in our society. Even our biggest, most popular stories exported around the globe — Hollywood movies — often erase and fail to show humanizing portrayals of Latinos.
It is no secret that fictional storytelling offers an opportunity to inspire and shape the views of an audience. Yet on Monday, a study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and Wise Entertainment found that across 1,200 of the most popular films released from 2007 to 2018, only 3% of protagonists were Latino, and Latinos made up just 4.5% of all speaking or named characters. This despite the fact that Latinos account for 18% of the U.S. population and 23% of movie ticket buyers.