Representation Matters


Although it’s just starting to feel like spring in Maryland, the spring equinox was about a week ago, meaning that spring is here. However, even more interestingly, it seems like March 20th was a universal trifecta of cosmic energy. In addition to welcoming in a new season, that day also had the pleasure of witnessing a solar eclipse and a super moon. I don’t know much about astronomy and the science behind these events, but that sounds pretty special if you ask me. Personally, my trust in cosmic energy and astrology is flaky. I’ll occasionally indulge in a horoscope reading and I proudly rep being a fiery Leo, but, on the whole, I don’t let any of it define me or my life.

On the other hand, a poet I follow on Twitter is better versed in that sense. She strongly believes in the effects of cosmic energy on our spirituality and she has a fairly deep knowledge of what these cosmic events mean. Through her, I learned that the energy being put out into the universe could be used as an opportunity for spiritual renewal. It could be said that it is the end of an era in a person’s life to make way for a new purpose to properly develop and grow. She explains that now is the time to state your intentions and, as the moon moves through its phases, your intentions will bloom, as well.

Again, I tend to only half believe in the power of the stars, simply because I don’t have a lot of experience with cosmic energy; however, I do believe in a power greater than all of us that may or may not use the cosmos as a tool, so, all in all, I was open to this possibility. More importantly, I was curious to see how, if at all, these events would affect my life and my spiritual course as a whole. My open-minded side was hoping for some kind of message from the universe, while the skeptic in me wasn’t allowing me to hold my breath.

So, on March 20th, my day went on as normal. Nothing particularly special happened until that night when I was taking a shower. Yes, the shower, the fountain of great ideas for every creative. So, being a writer, I was using my shower time as a time for reflection and thinking. I was thinking about my writing and which direction I should take. This was when the universe hit me with its gift. Representation matters.

Growing up, I don’t remember seeing any characters or celebrities who I could fully identify with. The closest thing I had was Scary Spice, but I definitely didn’t feel represented in books or shows. The vast majority of characters were white, while the few splashes of diversity I could see as a kid still only represented a minority of a minority. I couldn’t find any character that combined my physical features with my Afro-Latin roots. When it came to toys, Theresa, Barbie’s friend, was as good as it was going to get, but, I must admit, her brown, perfectly-tamed, wavy hair still made me feel out of place. But imagine. If it was hard enough for me to find a Hispanic representation that wasn’t from Central or South America, then imagine finding an accurate representation for each of my friends, who are even more diverse in their skin tones, hair types, and backgrounds. In other words, Susie Carmichael simply was never enough.

Unfortunately, fifteen years later and not too much has changed. DreamWorks is just now introducing the first black lead in a 3-D animated film and make-up lines have only recently expanded their products to include options for darker skin tones. There’s no doubt that this is a step in the right direction; however, it is also very clear that this movement could use some help, so that it can continue to foster positive change. This is where my intentions for the new moon come into play.

For me, representation matters, so, through my writing, I want to diversify the representations people are seeing. This means representing the minorities I identify with, the minorities around me, and the under-represented in general. I want to encourage character and perspective diversity, while also increasing options for those who feel under-represented. There is a spectrum between Theresa and Susie Carmichael that exists as a gap in media representation. With my writing, I hope to help lessen that gap because, simply put, representation matters.

But I do wonder, what else does the universe have in store?

About Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the mainland United States, I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and am a 2016 VONA Voices Alumna. I currently perform spoken-word in the greater Washington D.C. area and have previously performed in Philadelphia, Miami, and the Dominican Republic. Most recently, I have been published in Public Pool, Spillwords, and The Acentos Review, and Here Comes Everyone: East & West Issue.

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