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Chicano Studies 101

August 09, 1992

Regarding "Hangin' With the Homegirls," Jan Breslauer's story on the making of the film "Mi Vida Loca" (July 26):

Once again, the Latino community, whether it likes it or not, will be patronized with yet another stereotypical version of life in the barrio, courtesy of Hollywood and its incessant focus on gangs and violence while ignoring the larger community and the kids growing up in it.

The truth (if Hollywood and the media were ever concerned with it) is that most kids growing up in the barrio as well as South L.A. are not gangbangers, nor do they have any desire to be. Most are just normal, nonviolent human beings who have dreams and aspirations just like the kids growing up in the Westside--or Kansas, for that matter.

That they endure the perils of living in a dangerous environment on a day-to-day basis while maintaining their sanity is an achievement in and of itself.

But normal Latino or black kids don't interest Hollywood or the media. They're only interested in what sells, and what has traditionally sold in Hollywood is stereotype and violence.

Several years ago while I was working as a counselor at an East L.A. boys club, a young man once asked aloud: "Why not join a gang? They're the ones getting all the attention." I found his wisdom sadly profound.

JAMES RIVERA THOMAS

Pasadena

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