Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

10.2: Chicanx and Latinx Storytelling

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \(\newcommand{\avec}{\mathbf a}\) \(\newcommand{\bvec}{\mathbf b}\) \(\newcommand{\cvec}{\mathbf c}\) \(\newcommand{\dvec}{\mathbf d}\) \(\newcommand{\dtil}{\widetilde{\mathbf d}}\) \(\newcommand{\evec}{\mathbf e}\) \(\newcommand{\fvec}{\mathbf f}\) \(\newcommand{\nvec}{\mathbf n}\) \(\newcommand{\pvec}{\mathbf p}\) \(\newcommand{\qvec}{\mathbf q}\) \(\newcommand{\svec}{\mathbf s}\) \(\newcommand{\tvec}{\mathbf t}\) \(\newcommand{\uvec}{\mathbf u}\) \(\newcommand{\vvec}{\mathbf v}\) \(\newcommand{\wvec}{\mathbf w}\) \(\newcommand{\xvec}{\mathbf x}\) \(\newcommand{\yvec}{\mathbf y}\) \(\newcommand{\zvec}{\mathbf z}\) \(\newcommand{\rvec}{\mathbf r}\) \(\newcommand{\mvec}{\mathbf m}\) \(\newcommand{\zerovec}{\mathbf 0}\) \(\newcommand{\onevec}{\mathbf 1}\) \(\newcommand{\real}{\mathbb R}\) \(\newcommand{\twovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\ctwovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\threevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cthreevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\mattwo}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{rr}#1 \amp #2 \\ #3 \amp #4 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\laspan}[1]{\text{Span}\{#1\}}\) \(\newcommand{\bcal}{\cal B}\) \(\newcommand{\ccal}{\cal C}\) \(\newcommand{\scal}{\cal S}\) \(\newcommand{\wcal}{\cal W}\) \(\newcommand{\ecal}{\cal E}\) \(\newcommand{\coords}[2]{\left\{#1\right\}_{#2}}\) \(\newcommand{\gray}[1]{\color{gray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\lgray}[1]{\color{lightgray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\rank}{\operatorname{rank}}\) \(\newcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\col}{\text{Col}}\) \(\renewcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\nul}{\text{Nul}}\) \(\newcommand{\var}{\text{Var}}\) \(\newcommand{\corr}{\text{corr}}\) \(\newcommand{\len}[1]{\left|#1\right|}\) \(\newcommand{\bbar}{\overline{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bhat}{\widehat{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bperp}{\bvec^\perp}\) \(\newcommand{\xhat}{\widehat{\xvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\vhat}{\widehat{\vvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\uhat}{\widehat{\uvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\what}{\widehat{\wvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\Sighat}{\widehat{\Sigma}}\) \(\newcommand{\lt}{<}\) \(\newcommand{\gt}{>}\) \(\newcommand{\amp}{&}\) \(\definecolor{fillinmathshade}{gray}{0.9}\)

    Narratives and Identity

    Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have always used cultural tools, including storytelling and self-produced media, to build a sense of shared community and pride in one’s identity. Prior to written stories, oral traditions have communicated tales of tradition, culture, and meaning from generation to generation, evolving and growing with the times. This has led to the cultural scripts that form today’s literary contributions, ranging from bilingual children’s literature and stories for young adults to novellas and epic volumes. For example, in 2008, Junot Díaz won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which explores the experiences and identity of Dominican communities. Stories form the basis of shared identities and influence the meanings of day-to-day life. 

    Radio, Podcast, and News

    U.S. Latinx/a/o newsmaking can be analyzed as far back as 1848 when Mexicans were made immigrants on their own land by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The traditional forms of Latinx newsmaking were corridos (story-based ballads) that originated in the U.S.-Texas borderlands prior to this time. By the early 1900s, Latina/o/x newspapers that emerged, like El Heraldo de México, El Fronterizo, Arizona Citizen, and El Clamor Público (Public Clamor or Shouting). Most of these newspapers exposed injustices and demanded public services, all the while urging their readers to mobilize against the mistreatment of Mexicans in the United States.11

    The largest of the Los Angeles Spanish language newspapers (circulation of 4,000) was El Heraldo de Mexico (1916-1920), which billed itself as the "Defender of Mexicans in the United States." Its primary mission was combating discrimination and exploitation of Mexican immigrants. Headlines such as "The Exploiters Beware! Mexicans Beware!" illustrate calls for collective action, as do testimonials such as this one: 

    Excuse the molestation I bring in the name of more than 30 Mexicans who find ourselves here in the desert... They brought us with the hoax that we were going to camp at Salt Lake… A number of comrades have died on the road. The contractors promised us a wage of $ 1.75 daily, but it is a lie… Do me a favor and publish these words… so that they serve as a warning to other fellow countrymen: [that they] not allow themselves to be tricked.12

    Today, Spanish-language radio targets Latinx audiences through niche marketing. Advertising campaigns on Spanish-language radio are often developed with the ethnic groups in mind, such as Mexicans in Los Angeles or Cubans in Miami, each of whom has a unique set of Spanish words and cultural customs.13

    Media Spotlight: Tune In! Spanish Radio Stations

    You can find various radio stations, including Spanish-language stations, using the website Radio Locator. Some examples of local Spanish radio stations are listed here:

    Spanish International network (SIN), now known as Univisión, launched Noticiero Nacional in 1981 as the inaugural Spanish language news program. The first Noticiero National broadcast on June 1, 1981, opened with a dedication from President Ronald Reagan (sitting before the U.S. flag, his words translated to Spanish with subtitles):

    Buenas tardes. I want to say how happy I am to help inaugurate the first national news program carried in Spanish... I recognize the growing influence of Hispanic citizens in our communities and throughout the nation... The Supreme Court once wrote that a free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. The medium of television, in particular in a Special language newscast, is such an interpreter... Muchas gracias and buenas noches.14

    Two popular news sites that Latina/o/x viewers prefer today are Univision and Telemundo. As shown in Figure 10.2.1, Univision is an established institution in the community, supporting local events and celebrations, such as the Dominican Day Parade, celebrating the ethnic and cultural heritage of Dominican origin people.

    A group of adult people stand on a large float decorated with the Univision logo waving Dominican flags

    Figure 10.2.1: “Univision Float at the 2009 Dominican Day Parade” by André Natta, Wikimedia Commons, is licensed CC BY 2.0.

    In recent years, there has been massive consolidations between media conglomerates. The 2002 merger between the largest Spanish language television and radio station networks (Univisión and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation) in a 3-billion-dollar deal consolidated a range of diverse viewers under a single network’s influence.15 This was possible, in part due to the 1996 Telecommunications Act that passed to allow for increased competition, lower prices and higher quality telecommunication products. The Telecommunications Act virtually deregulated radio, which enabled it to become more privatized. Companies were now allowed to own as many radio stations as they wanted because there were no longer caps that prevented them from doing so.

    As of 2017, 699 Spanish-language radio stations existed in the U.S., out of 11,231 stations total (6%). These stations are widely utilized, with over 90% of self-identified Hispanics listening to the radio weekly. However, this is also an under-representation compared to the U.S. population, which was approximately 18% Latinx/Hispanic in 2017.16 Some Spanish Language radio networks emerge out of a need to keep the community entertained and informed (e.g., news and policy); as well as to benefit from the  "untapped' Latina/o/x consumer market. Latinx news producers assert that their audiences have needs and interests that are distinct from that of the general market news audience--and that it is their professional responsibility as journalists to address those particular concerns.17

    Community Spotlight: Radio Indígena

    Radio stations may also be inclusive of Indigenous Languages from Latin America. For example, Radio Indigena was started as an online-only access station in 2014 by the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP). By 2017, the station had raised enough funds to set up an FM station, which currently broadcasts to the greater Oxnard area on 94.1 FM. The station meets the needs of predominantly farm working, Latinx Indigenous migrant communities. The content is culturally appropriate and broadcasted in multiple Indigenous languages, including Mixetco, Zapoteco, and Purepecha. The programs feature health, relationships, Indigenous language, culture, and music. Listeners around the country and the world can listen live from the station’s app or a broadcast-by-phone number: 605-475-0090. For more information, including links to the apps for Android and Apple, as well as the station’s schedule, visit the MICOP webpage.

    With the emergence of independent and DIY media platforms, podcasts have become a popular venue for Latina/o/x audio productions and audiences. Show hosts and producers use platforms like National Public Radio (NPR), Apple Podcasts, Anchor FM, and Spotify to broadcast/stream to the public. Podcasts enable artists, journalists, and community members to resist the mainstream industry’s hegemonic culture. Shows like Chicas Politicas, Afro-Latinas, and Maria Hinojosa’s Latino USA utilize this platform to inform their audiences of local, state, and national politics, Latinx life, art, stories, and culture.

    Latinx newsmaking produces symbolic systems by capturing and sharing the reality that places Latina/o/x peoples everywhere: as presidential candidates, first responders, essential workers, etc. Latino journalism provides a prism through which to analyze Latino political culture. However, we should recognize the limitations and constraints on Latinx newsmaking as well. Like other media, Latinx news must attract and maintain an audience that can be sold to advertisers through the mediation of audience measurement rating systems. 

    Latinx news is also a site of participation in the U.S. political process. Univision and CNN Español are prime sites for electoral news, including debates, polls, and relevant U.S. and Latin American policies. Nationalisms are explicitly pronounced in the process. Contemporary Latinx newsmaking, and conceptualizations of race, language, and class, are evolving social, political and cultural processes.18 Latina/o/x news makers understand the complexity of U.S. Latinx Identity and often highlight the interconnectedness between American and Latin American culture and society.

    Sidebar: Maria Hinojosa, Futuro Media, and Latino USA

    Maria Hinojosa established her own award-winning studio, Futuro Media, to deliver culturally relevant content to Latina/o/x audiences. As a Latina journalist, Hinojosa has overcome and resisted the tokenization of her identity as the first Latina woman to be hired at National Public Radio (NPR). Hinojosa is known for hosting her show, Latino USA, which is aired on NPR. She helped to start the show in 1992, became the Executive Producer in 2000, and founded Futuro Media Group to take over production in 2010. She has been widely recognized for her reporting and impact on the field of journalism and is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize 2022, four Emmy Awards, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from DePaul University in 2010. Her work covers important social issues, including a frequent focus on communities of color, Latinx people, and immigrants. She is shown in Figure 10.2.2.

    Maria Hinojosa speaking in front of a microphone

    Figure 10.2.2:Maria Hinojosa” by United Church of Christ, Wikimedia Commons is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Video Games and Social Media

    While video games are sometimes left out of broader conversations about media, their importance and role in culture are undeniable. Video games make up a $100 billion industry with millions of users. Games offer an interactive site for storytelling, cultural production, and critique. However, stereotypes are often reinforced and perpetuated by production and writing teams that are not representative of the stories they are telling. Further, in multiplayer and online games, virtual communities can perpetuate bullying, racism, discrimination, white supremacy culture, sexism, settler-colonialism, and other forms of systemic marginalization. 

    The disparities in gaming culture are reflected in the industry that produces games. There are major opportunity gaps within the game industry, which exclude communities of color. Only 5% of game developers are Latinx, 2% are Arab/Middle Eastern, 2% are Aboriginal or Indigenous, and 1% are Black. Hardcore gamers are the imagined audience for many producers, with white cisgender males as the stereotypical expectation. Disregarding and diminishing casual gamers delegitimizes women and people of color, who are less likely to fit the cultural script of a hardcore gamer.19 Indie gaming industries have emerged to contest these dynamics and cultivate diverse narratives within games. However, they tend to have a much smaller reach than mainstream games with massive production and distribution budgets. Organized gatherings, like the Game Devs of Color Expo cultivate the positive representation of communities of color within gaming communities. 

    Latinxs make up a proportional segment of the gaming community and are more likely to identify as a "Gamer" (19%), compared to the general population.20 However, Latinxs make up only 4% of game producers, and games widely include negative stereotypes of Chicanx and Latinx people. For example, Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands falsely places a narrative of Mexican drug cartels in Bolivia, producing a harmful generalization of Latinos as "bad hombres"  Gamers and producers are coming together to combat the bias in the mainstream industry and misrepresentation of Latinx gamers and characters, like the Latinx in Gaming initiative and Latinx Games Festival.

    Historically underrepresented groups in video games have used new media and increased access to technology to resist racism and intersectional oppression in the gaming industry. For example, interactive platforms like Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube allow gamers to create supportive spaces for communities of color to exist and game together.  Expos, non-profits, and professional associations help support people of color throughout the gaming industry. Transforming the culture of oppression in gaming will require challenging long-held assumptions about who makes and who plays games.

    Relatedly, the widespread use of new media technologies has fundamentally shifted the dynamics of pop culture and storytelling. In some ways, new technologies lead to greater opportunities for historically underserved groups to gain recognition and produce cultural narratives. Changes in the industry create openings for new voices and encourage diversity and inclusion. Many of these changes are then sustained to retain viewers and gain new followers. New technologies can also reproduce existing dynamics, especially of racism, sexism, and capitalist exploitation. For example, while YouTube lowers the barriers to entry for contemporary artists, the DIY approach contributes to reproducing the status quo because the platform does not specifically invest in artists of color.


    11 América Rodriguez, “Local Latino News: Los Angeles and Miami,” in Making Latino News: Race, Language, Class (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 1999), 107–30,

    12 América Rodriguez, Making Latino News: Race, Language, Class (Thousand Oaks, California, 1999), 62,

    13 Mari Castaneda Paredes, “The Transformation of Spanish-Language Radio in the U.S,” Journal of Radio Studies 10, no. 1 (June 2003): 5–16.

    14 Rodriguez, Making Latino News, 79.

    15 Paredes, “The Transformation of Spanish-Language Radio in the U.S.”

    16 Paredes.

    17 América Rodriguez, “Nationhood, Nationalism, and Ethnicity in the Making of U.S. Latino News,” in Making Latino News: Race, Language, Class (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 1999), 75–106,

    18 Rodriguez, “Nationhood, Nationalism, and Ethnicity in the Making of U.S. Latino News.”

    19 Jacqueline Land. “Indigenous Video Games.” In Race and Media: Critical Approaches, edited by Lori Kido Lopez, 92–100. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2020.

    20 Spectr Gaming. Latinx Characters in Video Games: Where Are They?, 2018,

    This page titled 10.2: Chicanx and Latinx Storytelling is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mario Alberto Viveros Espinoza-Kulick (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.