Back to US Life Histories

Anjanette Garza

Product of the Media

While I was growing up Hispanic, I began to realize how important family values are. My family and I always went to my grandparent’s house with my cousins and uncles. I remember helping my grandma in the kitchen with cooking. We would make homemade tamales, and beans and rice. Then everyone would eat dinner together and play outside. It was not the best neighborhood where my grandparents lived. There were a lot of gangs and drug dealers in the neighborhood but we were young and it did not affect us.

I went to a Catholic grade school and I believe it was in junior high when I started to become aware of the way media portrayed Hispanics. My brother and I would go to my grandma’s house after school sometimes and watch television. I noticed that the after school shows I would watch with my brother, such as family ties and growing pains portrayed only white families. The only time I felt I would see my face would be on the Spanish station, there was one I think it was channel 44, before we got cable.

As I entered high school having predominantly white friends, I never felt out of place. Honestly I do not know how many Hispanic people were in my high school, but I know only three of them were my close friends and two of them were only half-Mexican. This never affected me though because I never felt like I was less Mexican because I would hang out mostly with white friends and although I was never taught Spanish, and did not go to Spanish dances, my family was all that was important to me. There was a movie I had seen called Mi familia, that showed the importance of family and how no matter what family will never turn their back on you. I realized this to be true with my family. For example when I was little, this kid was calling me “Weda” which means white girl and my cousins stuck up for me and never let my self-esteem go down.

However, towards the end of high school things started changing. Drugs and gangs began to tear my family apart. There was this movie that sticks out in my mind called Bound by honor. It is about two Hispanic brothers and their cousin growing up and choosing different paths in life. It was a movie, about drugs, gangs, prison, love, hate, death, and forgiveness. I can relate to this because I saw these kind of things happening with my uncle and cousin. However, I do not think it is cool that it seems at this time Mexicans were only being portrayed with characters like this. This movie made me cry and I was touched yet disturbed by it. I knew I never was going to let drugs or gangs get a hold of me. I am to strong to get taken in.

On a better note, one of my favorite movies is Selena. I can relate to it the most to. I love this movie. Selena knows Spanish growing up. She learned to sing it first. She was who she was and I think this made Mexican Americans understand her and really like her music, because she did not put up a front. I feel like this movie presents the Latin heritage in a great way. It did not stereotype anyone. She was Hispanic, talented, and not ashamed of whom she was. Her cross over album was a hit and everyone of every nationality probably knows her and admires her today. That movie made me want to learn Spanish, to be able to teach my children the language I was deprived of growing up. I love singing, especially in Spanish. I also think I sound better singing in Spanish than English.

Today, there are a lot of Hispanics breaking the mold. For example, Enrique Iglesius, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz, are in movies and in music, in fashion, and models. Hispanics are moving in and becoming more main stream, which is a good thing. Also there is an award show for Hispanics and they are on television more and not just the Spanish channel. I think television has influenced me in a way that I appreciate who I am and I can relate to both the American and Mexican cultures. I can see through the stereotypes and the superficial beings portrayed through it all.

Back to US Life Histories