Viral video combats negative Latino stereotypes

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

When’s the last time you met a Latino who hated grandma’s cooking or didn’t know who Marc Anthony was?

There are just some things you don’t expect to hear from Latinos, according to the creators of “Sh*t Latinos Don’t Say,” the latest in a long line of online video memes to tackle widely held stereotypes.

Sure, it’s yet another take on a trend that’s nearly played out, but with a tongue-in-cheek twist. Other versions– running the gamut from New Yorkers to medical students to things Latinos do say– worked when they got viewers to acknowledge, “that’s so me.”

But it turns out the things we’re not likely to say also say a lot about us. Like its predecessors, “Sh*t Latinos Don’t Say” appropriates shared beliefs, biases and experiences but reverses them, prompting collective responses of disbelief, because who ever met a Latino who complained about spicy food?

Except for riffs on Arizona (“if you could live anywhere in the world”) and Gov. Jan Brewer (“my idol”) the video’s creators said they tried to keep it light and avoid serious topics.

“We wanted to do something that Latinos and non-Latinos would walk away from laughing,” said Lance Rios, founder of Being Latino, an online portal for news and opinion aimed at second- or third-generation bilingual Latinos in the United States. “We didn’t want to perpetuate negative stereotypes.”

So, while the video features several instances of a young woman leading men into her bedroom and assuring them that her father won’t mind, there is no mention of teen pregnancy or other themes commonly applied to Latinos in mainstream media, Rios said.

“It’s meant to prove that yes, as a community, we have issues,” said Rios, a second-generation Puerto Rican who was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. “But we’re Americans, too, and just because we’re tied to other countries doesn’t mean we can’t make fun of ourselves just like everyone else in a way that’s not offensive.”

With more than 21,000 Youtube views since last Wednesday and numerous shout-outs on Latino blogs and mainstream media outlets, it’s an approach that seems to be gaining traction. Rios hopes its popularity demonstrates the need for more popular culture content relevant to English-speaking Latinos who identify with American culture and the cultural heritage of their families.

“The main thing we wanted to do was create something that would go viral and track back to our site and our audience,” he said. “Often, they’re ignored by the mainstream media, but this video shows that our audience is alive and well in the social media space and they’re looking for content.”

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