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‘The Real’ Screwed Up Real Bad

Photograph by ThinkStock

Do you guys watch "The Real"? I don't, but I always meant to check it out because as their YouTube channel points out, it's hosted "by five bold, diverse and outspoken hosts—Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley." I really wanted to like the show. It's unfortunate that the first time I actually got to see a segment from it was because Buzzfeed called them out for dressing up with bigotes, sombreros and sarapes for a cooking segment about dessert quesadillas. What the what?!

Before I got my chonies in a bunch and started getting all indignant, I actually watched the segment because I'm not one of those people who would judge it without watching it. I thought maybe it would be funny, maybe it would be satirical, maybe there would be a freakin' point to it, but you know what? It wasn't funny, it wasn't satirical and there was no point to it. I'm tired of seeing Mexicans portrayed as nothing more than a sombrero and poncho-wearing, moustache-clad man with maracas, or a maid, or any of the other stereotypes that I can recall seeing in the media during my childhood. It's 2015, people. Aren't we more evolved and aware at this point?

We have to question stereotypes, if only to teach our children how to face them and respond to them in the real world.

Three of the show's hosts dressed up like the tired stereotype of Mexican men I saw depicted on American TV when I was growing up, and they did it for no good reason. Anyone remember Frito Bandito, the Mexican bandit that would break into homes of unsuspecting Americans and steal their chips? Sigh. I thought those days were over.

My reaction to the segment was, "How the heck did this make it on air? Why didn't anyone point out that this isn't funny, necessary or in any way helpful to an otherwise innocuous segment about quesadilla-inspired desserts?"

I was sure that everyone and their freakin' abuela would agree with the reaction that I had, with the reaction that Buzzfeed had, but NO! There are actually people out there who not only don't see why this is offensive, but are actually getting their chonies in a bunch because there are people who are calling the show and its hosts out for their buffoon-style depiction of Mexican culture. What the what?!

Gente, let's break this down. If this segment where the hosts dressed up like a historically maligned Mexican stereotype to make fake Mexican food is, in fact, not offensive and actually funny, can I please get a show of hands as to how many people would like to see a segment where they make fried rice-inspired dishes while sporting a fake Fu Manchu moustache and some kind of Chinese hat and attire? Or what about a segment on fried chicken where the hosts dress up like the mammies of yore?

Do you see why this is not OK? A stereotype is a stereotype is a stereotype, and unless you are poking fun at the stereotype, then you are just disrespecting the people being stereotyped. That is not funny and it's also not OK.

What bothers me the most about this situation is not even the ridiculously embarrassing segment; it's that so many people think that it's all in good fun and that the show should get a pass. Those of us who are offended by what "The Real" did are not being too sensitive, or politically correct. We're being real; we're calling the show out for pandering to the lowest common stereotypical denominator for no good reason and we should be doing that because if we don't, then we are going to have a whole new generation of kids growing up with the same dang stereotypes that I grew up watching on TV. Seriously, I really want those days to be over.

We have to question stereotypes, if only to teach our children how to face them and respond to them in the real world.

Watch the segment and judge for yourself:

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