The Dominican Republic and Haiti share an island in the Caribbean, and there are many racial, ethnic, and cultural similarities between the two nations. Though most Dominicans in the DR identify as mixed-race, the overwhelming majority of Dominicans, like Haitians, are Black by American racial standards (Black Excellence). About half of the population of the gentrifying neighborhood of Washington Heights, Manhattan, where In the Heights is set, is Dominican (U.S. Census Bureau). Washington Heights comprises one of the largest immigrant communities from the Dominican Republic within the U.S. (Furman Center). Unfortunately, In the Heights wildly misrepresents the Dominicans living in this culturally significant neighborhood, continuing a trend where Afro-Latinos are ignored on screen.
Last week, actor Ray Fisher shared the racism and inappropriate conduct he experienced while working onset for several superhero movies (The Hollywood Reporter). One of his allegations references discrimination that he heard happened on the set Krypton, a Syfy series that focuses on Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather. Actor Regé-Jean Page, the star of Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton, had auditioned for the role. But the producer rescinded, stating that Superman could not have a Black grandfather.
Law and Order. CSI. Hawaii-Five-Oh. American Sniper. TV shows and movies about law enforcement and the police permeate the screens of Americans across the country. Media portrayals about police officers, detectives, judges, crime fighters, and more firmly implemented into the cultural lexicon. Just because they are on TV does not mean that these shows exclusively exist for entertainment. Many shows actively depict criminal justice without showcasing the many ways it harms the lives of communities of color. These shows often work to bolster law enforcement in the eyes of white supremacy while simultaneously reducing compassion for the disproportionately Black victims of its system.