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  • Writer's pictureEvelyn Soriano

Tenoch Huerta on the beauty of Representation and a fight against Racism

Tenoch Huerta Mejía is a well-known Mexican actor who has appeared in numerous movies in Latin America. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opened in theaters on November 11, 2022, moved his stardom furthermore as his character Namor, in the film, was very well-liked by the audience.

With his rise in popularity in the states, he took the opportunity to openly talk and praise how beautifully “Wakanda Forever” represented minority groups within the film. But even more so expressed why it is so important to have people see someone on screen that looks and equally represents them. This as well openly led him to express a stance to start having conversations to ultimately fight against racism.

In the film, Huerta plays a portrayal of a feathered serpent god K’uk’ulkan, Namor, to his enemies; of both Maya and Aztec influences. Tenoch felt that his role wasn't just important because it represented Latinidad, but rather in reflecting the people, lands, and culture. He stated that the film did great in representing its beauty “to give this background to Namor, the Mesoamerican culture, especially Maya culture, they nailed it.”

For Tenoch, playing the role of Namor allowed him to grow and break the tradition of Mexican actors of indigenous origin being cast in the roles of thieves and villains. His hope in his appearance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will help change narratives' as Huerta stated “compelling need to change racist narratives and practices, which have been normalized, reproduced, and perpetuated in the audiovisual industry.”

Like the film’s predecessor, diversity is seen shaping the film. It puts a spotlight on a community that is under-represented in Hollywood. This film gives an opportunity to also represent Latino Indigenous heritage. In a news segment for KTLA, he expressed “we have a big problem of racism. So, we deny our indigenous or African roots. I hope this helps people, especially kids, to embrace their roots and embrace this identity and feel proud of it.”

Representation is not about how others are perceived by how we perceive ourselves. With the success and likeness towards Namor, Huerta took a step forward and talked about racism and colorism, especially its integration in Mexico. As he sat down to have a conversation with Ruido En La Red, he spoke about the issue. Within the Mexican context, he stated the majority believe that racism doesn’t exist there. The reason he stated is, “we make it invisible.”.

He emphasizes how in most cases the roots of racism are taught at home, and even further created a scenario to explain racism and colorism. The scenario is of having a family member racialize your whole life. You have another family member who is always preferred because they are light-skinned, he added that it is a painful thing to experience.

Even further painting scenarios of being told to marry someone light to “better the race.” A change is what Huerta wants to see and to see that change in wider Mexican customs.

As an outspoken antiracism activist, he uses his platform to demand reparations for brown-skinned Mexicans, whether they identify as indigenous or not. With this, he is a target of racist attacks every time he shares his views on social justice. The release of the film and his portrayal of Namor exacerbated those attacks. But those attacks he stated prove him right about his stance on the issue.

With this, his first book “Orgullo Prieto” translated “Brown Pride” set to be released on December 13th, 2022 he intends his writing to help brown people feel proud of their Black and brownness and as well as to lay bare the racism deeply rooted in Mexican culture and system.

Even before the movie opened in theaters, Tenoch was all but grateful to play a character that he fell in love with. On July 24, 2022, at San Diego Comic Con, he was open about how honored he was to play someone who brings inclusion and to beautifully bring representation to the screen. Huerta said “Para todos los paisanos, y todo latinoamericanos…ustedes cruzaron el río y dejaron todo lo que amaban atrás, gracias a eso, yo estoy aquí!”

“For all the countrymen, and all Latin Americans…you crossed the river and left everything you loved behind, thanks to that, I am here!”


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