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I’m seeing a lot of debate about racial and ethnic representation in In the Heights. I don’t doubt the merits of the arguments, and I can’t judge them until I’ve seen the movie myself. Something I can judge, though, is whether we usually examine racial representation with such immediacy and thoroughness. Here are a few movies that have received considerable praise in the past few years without much public comment about their racial and ethnic representation:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Director/writer, star, and leading actors all white non-Latinx.

The Irishman. Director, writers, and leading actors all white non-Latinx. (Also mostly men, but that’s another post.)

Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood. Director/writer, leading actors all white non-Latinx.

Downton Abbey. Um, yeah.

And now there’s In the Heights. Director: Asian-American. Writers: Latina and Latino. Stars and leading actors all Latinx and/or African-American. In the trailer I saw, everyone who spoke was a person of color–not a white non-Latinx in the lot. It was exhilarating. I should have known right then that it would come under the microscope.

I’m glad we are asking questions about the colorism and racism in Latinx cultures and how that shows up in the few, oh so few, movies by and about Latinx folks. But I would like to know why movies by and about white people so often get a pass.


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