I've loved you since I was a child but I have to say, I am more than a little disappointed that the latest Latina addition to Sesame Street, Nina (played by Suki Lopez) is a babysitter/laundress and works in a bike store. I love Sesame Street and I love that you've added a new Latina character — but does she have to be so stereotypical? This feels like so many wasted opportunities on television before. I'm glad a change.org petition was started to change Nina's role to be a college or graduate student who is working part-time jobs.
While I'm thrilled to see a Cuban-American on the show, just thought I should forward you the memo, we are NOT, I repeat, NOT all maids, nannies and gardeners. We don't all pick in the fields, have too many children and cross the Rio Grande. Some of us were born here and most of us aspire to be more than just the people who watch your kids, cut your grass and clean your houses.
The thing we are not afraid of is hard work. For example, while I was in university, I worked two jobs in retail to help pay for rent and tuition. I would have worked as a maid, a laundress, a nanny, a gardener or anything else I needed to to achieve my end goals.
I was taught from a very young age that an education is the key to bettering ourselves. My parents taught me that I had to work as hard as I needed to for a better life. They also taught me that I could be and do anything that I wanted to, as long as I was willing to work hard for it. This is the work ethic I was raised with. This is the work ethic most Latino families instill into their children.
Of course, we are not above doing an honest day's work to support our families and our dreams. Every role is important in the community but why not feature a Latina with a little more ambition? Why not give our little Latinas someone to look up to? That would be a more realistic reflection of today's Latina.
I'm thrilled Lopez said in an interview that she agrees with the petition on change.org. "A lot of times on TV or in Hollywood, we see Latinas get stereotyped," she said. "But Nina is a college student that lives on 'Sesame Street' and juggles all these other jobs, just like me." Outside of her role on "Sesame Street," Lopez also has a few other jobs on the side such as working in social media, designing logos and even teaching fitness classes.
Young children watch Sesame Street to learn about the world. It is the first introduction some children have to the world outside of their own home. Nina can be a role model. Sesame Street has the opportunity to inspire young Latino children—and all children—to go for their dreams and not be limited by the stereotypes that society shackles them with. But their best best to do that is by first calling her a student and not identifying her only by her part-time jobs.