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HISPANIC

[Grace Kim]

Growing up in a very middle class suburb where 90% of the citizens were white, my interactions with Hispanic Americans were extremely limited. Only when I entered college and became good friends with a half-Mexican girl did I realize just how many stereotypes I had been bombarded with my whole life.

My friend�s Mexican heritage frequently became the basis of much of her humor, though she was extremely proud of who she was and where she came from. The jokes she made usually insinuated that Mexicans were stupid, cheap, poor, and more or less �ghetto.� And despite the fact that I had never had any personal experiences with Latinos that would make me think of them like that, I understood that these were stereotypical traits of Hispanics.

Television shows, movies, magazines, newspapers, peers, and even my parents had all reinforced these ideas while I was growing up. Though I harbor no negative feelings toward Hispanic Americans and know that stereotypes are gross generalizations, I can not deny that I associate the terms �cheap� and �poor� with them.

The following critiques and website as a whole are an attempt to challenge you to not just accept what you are given, but to dig down deeper and face the realities.


[Hispanic American Homepage]

CONTENT
The opening page of this site lists a number of stereotypes often associated with Hispanic Americans (i.e. illegal aliens, poverty, tacos, tequila, etc.) and does quite a thorough job of it. By stating those word associations outright, it clearly defines the negative image of Hispanics in America today. However, it manages to fail its purpose, ��to demolish the negative views that some people have against this group of Americans.�

The site is split up into four sections besides the introduction page: culture, history, literature, and food. The culture page basically consists of extremely short descriptions of holidays, two sentences on the importance of family, and limited descriptions of Hispanic Americans involved in the arts. Instead of illustrating the depth and richness of their culture, the life of Hispanic Americans is left a mystery.

Interestingly enough, their food page says, �So take out your maraccas, put on your ponchos, strap on that sombrero and get cooking!� Aside from the blatant misspelling of maracas, the site�s creator just reinforces the very stereotypes that they are trying to dispel. Sombreros and ponchos are even explicitly named on the introduction page. The recipes they provide do sound somewhat tasty though.

The history section glosses over Spanish conquistadors and the ancient history of Mexico but leaves gaping holes and does not mention anything after the sixteenth century. Many short poems can be found in the literature section along with a short biography of a Mexican poet. This is the best evidence anywhere on the site of positive imagery that breaks the Hispanic mold.

DESIGN
The fact that this site was designed by a high school student for a school project is clearly evident. The layout is horrible with text going off the edge of the screen (forcing you to scroll sideways), broken pictures, and inconsistent navigation. Links are sometimes missing or broken and the only way back to the introduction page is through the literature page. The overuse of the <pre> tag is both annoying and ugly. The color combinations are alright, though some of the text is hard to read (mainly the links and the bright yellow/red of the food page that burns into my eyeballs).

SUGGESTIONS
There is so much to fix on this site that it would be easier to throw it in the trash and start over. First of all, the spellings need to be fixed and the layout needs to be changed so that sideways scrolling is eliminated. The pages should be formatted such that they look somewhat related to each other rather than the current hodgepodge of colors and layouts. Aim for a website as opposed to a bunch of pages just linked to each other. Putting the links in a consistent place would improve the navigation tenfold. More information needs to be added, especially about the history of Hispanics in the United States, and stereotypes should be directly addressed if the purpose of the site is to �demolish� them. Overall, this page gets two big fat thumbs down.

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[League of United Latin American Citizens]

CONTENT
LULAC�s website wonderfully defies stereotypes by presenting Latin Americans as regular, assimilated Americans. Their codes and philosophies maintain the essence of their heritage (i.e. respect, honor, and loyalty) while slashing negative images (they encourage their members to educate themselves and be law-abiding citizens). There is no trace of the Mexican gangster, Latin lover, or lazy Mexican on this site. The site is empowering and mostly devoted to getting more Latin Americans involved in their community. Cheers to LULAC for a job well done!

DESIGN
The main colors used for this site are red, white, and blue, which again breaks the notion of �other� regarding the place of Hispanics in America. By using patriotic colors, LULAC asserts that Hispanics ARE Americans and NOT foreigners. The pictures of Latin Americans on the opening page just goes to show that they are thoroughly modern, average people.

The organization of the site is extremely well done. It may not be artistic or fun, but it�s very easy to navigate. The site map is a nice feature since there is so much material, and the uniform location of the navigation toolbar is good planning.

SUGGESTIONS
By and large, this site is fine the way it is. The background pattern and waving flags detract from the professionalism of the page and could be replaced by a solid color and photographs. Adding more pictures, particularly photographs, throughout the website would also make it more interesting. Finally, a search function would make retrieving information from the site even easier than it already is.

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LINKS
MEChA - UW Chapter
United Farm Workers of America
Latina Magazine
Tolerance.org - Test Yourself for Hidden Biases


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