We need Sephardic Jewish Latina representation

This story originally appeared on Alma.

A friend of mine, who’s the daughter of Chinese immigrants and married to another immigrant, recently decided that she would no longer buy her daughter a Barbie doll if it didn’t represent her little girl’s own traits, such as slightly darker skin and almond-shaped eyes. When she presented her 6-year-old with a Mulan doll, the little one was a bit confused that it actually looked like her instead of having blonde hair and blue eyes, like most dolls do.

I wasn’t as lucky as my friend’s daughter in my earlier years: As if Sephardic Jewish people weren’t already underrepresented in the media, I found myself being a Latina Sephardic Jew, on top of that. Needless to say, I never had a Barbie doll who looked like me (they still don’t make Barbies with big noses, even though we’re in 2019).

To this day, I still don’t know what to say when people spot my last name on a form or test and ask me where I’m “really from.” The moment I hear something like this, all my kind and patient answers (or sarcastic ones, depending on my mood) fade away and I’m taken back to my own childhood and the lonely, omnipresent feeling of belonging to nowhere.

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