The recent release of the Netflix original show On My Block has created buzz all across social media. With its charming coming-of-age story and seemingly all people of color (POC) main cast, it is easy to see why this show has become a hit amongst teens and adults alike.
On My Block follows the lives of Latinx, Black, and Afro-Latinx kids growing up in inner-city Los Angeles, who are just entering high school. As they struggle to face the vicissitudes of teenage life and the gangs in their neighborhood, their friendships are put to the test.
However, this show does not come without its own problems. One of the main reasons this show has become such a hit is because of its all POC main cast, it is rare to find a show that is diverse and has POC as lead characters. This fairy tale came crashing down when it was revealed that actress Ronni Hawk, who plays Olivia, is not actually Mexican as portrayed in the show, but is non-Latinx white. Could they not find a Mexican actress to play the role of a Mexican girl? White people playing the roles of ethnicities and races that they know nothing about is not right. These roles are meant to be played by the POC that actually understand them. To make it even worse, Ronni Hawk also plays the role of another Latinx girl in Disney Channel’s Stuck In The Middle. She has avidly gone out for Latinx roles knowing she is not Latinx, this is not okay. The blame does not fall solely on her, but also the casting directors for making these horrendous mistakes.
To make matters regarding Ronni Hawk even worse, she is also a Trump supporter. This is especially deplorable because Hawk’s character Olivia has her parents deported to Mexico and must face the hardships of losing her family. With Trump being in office, immigrants and POC have become even more of a target for harassment and deportation. In reality, Hawk has never and will never face any problems like this. Many are calling for the recasting of Olivia’s character, which I believe is the right thing to do if the creators, writers and producers want the show to progress. It is just not morally right that an actor supports political views in real life that are oppressive to the character they are playing.
Though I believe On My Block is a good show and has much potential, these problems cannot go unnoticed. When white people are trying to speak over the voices of POC, it is the job of others to speak up on these problems. The show cannot be passed off as progressive if there are problems within itself. If the writers, creators and producers of On My Block want the show to be successful and make a difference in media, then I believe apologies and a recast are in order.
Photo via Netflix