Is Hollywood responsible for our unconscious bias against people that are different from us? At TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, Eva Longoria shared that growing up she was made fun of for being Mexican and if there were kids that looked like her on the big screen, there wouldn’t be such division.
“People of color are normally depicted in very narrow ways on-screen and unconscious bias comes from those repeated images that are deemed as a threat,” Longoria said to a group of industry leaders at Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
“So when you see young black men in movies that are deemed ‘dangerous’ or when you see you Latino men that are deemed ‘sketchy’ you begin to form an opinion, especially if you don’t have any interaction with these communities. You begin to form an idea about who these people are…and it’s exactly those repeated images that normalize the words ‘criminal’, ‘illegal’, ‘dangerous’, which in turn end up synonymous with the broader term of Latino.”
The actress gave a few examples of how characters on-screen have affected us off-screen. “When The Hunger Games came out,” Longoria said, “Young girls became interested in archery. All the girls were saying they were inspired by Katniss. When CSI came out…there was a surge in forensics studies across the nation. I believe the stakes are much higher for my community because it’s not about archery. People of color are disenfranchised, that’s on us. Women who are constantly underpaid, undervalued, under-protected, that is on us to do something.”
“I’m asking you to help me change the way people see my community,” Longoria said. “How people see people of color, how people see my brothers and sisters, how people see me, how people are going to see my son…I was that little girl on the bus that someone whispered ‘She’s Mexcian’ as if it was something horrible, and I don’t want my son to grow up in that world. I hope that by the time Santi is watching TV and movies, that some of us in this room will show him that he can be a hero too…even though he is Mexican, and maybe he can be a hero because he is Mexican.”