I just was a panelist at San Diego Comic Con, where Chicano artists like me discussed our role in art and comics.
We talked about the importance of Chicana and Chicano characters in media, and how it represents us as a community.
Representation is a key aspect in our work, and after watching the video where bearded villain Carlos Hakas is harassing street vendor Benjamin Ramirez, I was reminded of the value of not only representation of our bodies, but representation of our stories.
I grew up listening to stories of relatives who overcame great obstacles with nothing but their sheer will and determination.
Without superpowers, the protagonists in these stories faced great challenges: a journey to the United States, and facing a new world while searching for a job and having to learn a new language.
And every story includes a few antagonists who attempt to discourage the protagonists, coming in the shape of bosses, immigration officers, and terrible musicians with a villain complex.
Representation means not only more brown characters, it also means seeing our stories in a way inspires our people to strive to become the best version of themselves for the betterment of the community.
In the case of Benjamin, our community saw the injustice committed to a hard working man and organized to oust a villain and bring justice to a man who was wronged.
In these times where an orange villain has slandered us as criminals, it makes me glad to see our people become their own heroes.
That has not always been the case, but I’m hoping that the story of Benjamin and others will be a catalyst for a new generation of barrio heroes.