Times Square Mural Reinforces Stereotypes of Black, Latina Women

Jeff Mays, Black Voices, March 22, 2010

I’m all for showing Black and Latina women who do not fit the traditional stereotype of being beautiful. I also support the rights of artists to be creative and interpretive. The mural at Times Square in New York City, though, misses the mark on both fronts.

Instead of showing the “non-traditional” beauty of Black, Latina and Caribbean women, I see two women on a couch who look like prostitutes. {snip} These images are anything but empowering. They represent the worst stereotypes about Black and Latina women.

{snip}

Unfortunately, [Sofia Maldonado, the artist] has failed with the two images that I saw.” {snip}

Other women agree. New York City Black Professionals and Phenomenal Women Group Inc. have staged a small protest and called for the head of the Times Square Alliance to remove the mural.

Another image of a young girl riding a skateboard doesn’t seem as bad but the young lady depicted is fully clothed. Black and Latina women already face the stereotype that they are loud, over-sexualized beings with nothing but attitude and sharp head movements for anyone who even looks at them for too long.

Images that would have broken the stereotype are ones that I see in my Harlem neighborhood every day.

I see women dressed professionally heading to work.

I see women in medical scrubs and white jackets heading to Harlem hospital.

{snip}

I see women entrepreneurs who own restaurants, salons and flower shops.

I see a Black woman lawyer with her own small practice.

{snip}

These are the images I see in my diverse neighborhood. I’m not sure what Maldonado is looking at.

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