A Comedian 'Rants' On Different Latino Cultures
The media portrayal of Latinos and Hispanic culture has come a long way. But the producers of comedy videos at the website The Flama still see room for improvement.
The Flama is a website from Univision and Bedrocket Media "created by, for and starring young Latinos." The site features a slew of comedy videos with people talking about things like Latino culture, food or something off the wall like what presidential candidates would look like as characters in The Hunger Games.
Joanna Hausmann is a Venezuelan comedian, writer and a full-time video creator for the site. One of her roles there is hosting a recurring video series called Joanna Rants, which covers everything from types of Spanish accents to political correctness.
She spoke with NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro about the differences among Latinos and the source of her comedy.
On differences between Latinos of different nationalities
I think it's incredibly important to point out the differences, because ironically that's the way to unify us. So something that I've noticed in a lot of my content is that videos in which I depict the differences between all the different countries and different cultures — how Venezuela's different than Colombia, how Colombia's different than Panama, how Panama's different than Mexico — is interestingly enough one of the most successful parts of what I do. Because people like seeing how their culture is manifested in a different way. Because here in the States, we're just put all in one group.
On her own story
I think it's interesting to look at my family history, because my family history is a lot about immigration. On my father's side my grandparents were Holocaust survivors that went to Venezuela. On my mother's side it's Cuban exiles from Fidel Castro's regime. And my parents found each other — first generation Venezuelans. I was second generation Venezuelan and then I had to leave. So it's a lot of moving, and a lot of creating a new home in a new place.
And I feel very very proud to be Venezuelan. Particularly because the Venezuela that I was taught of was the Venezuela of inclusion, the Venezuela that opened its doors to immigrants. The Venezuela where the son of a Jewish family met a Cuban exile and had a child.
On using her videos to reach out to non-Hispanics
I think that my generation in particular, we are cast in this world in an incredibly international way. I of course see myself as a Venezuelan, as do a lot of my friends, but I'm also incredibly bicultural. And what I've noticed is that there are a lot of bicultural people in this world and in this country. And you don't even have to be from another country to be bicultural. There's this interest and this sort of movement towards being more open to comparing yourself with other people.
And I think that comes along with the internet — how connected we are now. And how we've been able to converse with people from completely different cultures and find something with other cultures that we are akin to.
On the source of her comedy
I think that I grew up explaining who I was, right? As a white Latina with a Jewish last name. That does not make sense in the conceptualization of what a Latina should be. Also I'm not particularly suave, I'm incredibly awkward. There's something about my identity that does not mesh with what people think the identity should include. ...
[Growing up] I was trained in explaining my identity in a way that wasn't surface level. And it also opened me up in understanding that people can literally have absolutely any background and what we conceive to be their identity, or their reality or their background is usually not the case. There's a lot more to unpackage there. So I kind of see it as a gift now.
On presidential candidates
I believe that if they made a little bit more of an effort to talk within the pockets of the Latino identity — like if they went to Miami and talked specifically from a Cuban perspective ... went to California — specifically with a Mexican perspective. I think that that will alter the conversation. Venezuelans are going to come with completely different baggage than Mexicans. Cubans are going to come with different baggage than Venezuelans. ...
But I do think that just the conversation of inclusion and tolerance and acceptance is something that we all will happily embrace.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.