According to Katharine Capshaw Smith’s Keyword essay on Race, we know that “race” is no more a concept that could be simply used as a category due to the increasing amount of individuals of mixed backgrounds.
Netflix’s hit comedy series “One Day at A Time,” features episodes about racism, sexism in the workplace, immigration and LGBT issues. The Cuban-American Alvarez family also finds itself at the center of the heated immigration debate. In the episode The Turn of Season 2, the 13-year-old Alex hit a kid in his school as he does not want to be “different” while he was told to “go back to Mexico” and had a schoolmate chant, “Build the wall!” comments that he has been getting repeatedly. It doesn’t matter that he’s Cuban or that he was born in America; all the bullies hear and see is a brown boy speaking Spanish. The mother Penelope opens up the discussion on racism and tells him that he could not control the racists or stop the effects of racism. While he should know that “this is your country too, and you deserve to be happy in it.”
On the other hand, Alex’s sister Elena says that she has been lucky and never been called anything. Their mother Penelope says that might be because Elena and Alex are different shades of color. This reminds me of the notion of colorism where white supremacist ideas of beauty are part of US culture. In Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, through Freida and Claudia’s discussion about beauty, we get to know that whiteness always signifies beauty and cuteness while blackness is saying badness and ugliness. Moreover, Pecola was bullied because of her blackness and ugliness by people of a powerful position.
At the end of that episode The Turn, the whole family goes to an ice cream store. They start to sing again in Spanish and a white man comes up and tells them to keep their voices down with an offensive word fiesta. As Katharine discusses in the Keyword essay on Race, “Characters of color have been associated with libidinal energies and immoderate physical urges”, quite apparently, wildness is here the implicit racial stereotype added on Latinos. Back to the scenario, Penelope and Lydia go after to tell the white man off because he is stereotyping them. Penelope says that Americans might come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but they all have the same right to enjoy the rich diversity of the great nation.
Race should be a social construct and should be an idea that is displaced from biology. Also, it should be a way to articulate shared history, culture, and political goals.