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Jun 7

What does it mean when people interpret Regina as White?

Before I start, I’d like to ask that Moff’s Law be kept firmly in mind. Race and representation in media is something that many of us feel very strongly about, so please honor the spirit of the discussion and refrain from dismissing or derailing the conversation.

That said, I want to open up a discussion to unpack something that has been nagging me about the way people talk about Regina. In particular, when they talk about racial diversity on the show, they often say that there are no main characters of color on the show (ignoring the fact that Lana Parrilla is Latina). Alternatively, when they acknowledge that Lana Parrilla is Latina, they still interpret Regina as White because there is no evidence that she is Latina.

Suffice it to say, there is a lot that is problematic about both of those ideas. However, I don’t want to focus on what’s wrong with them or why people believe that’s reasonable. Instead, I want to explore where statements like that come from. Why is it that even other people of color can so easily deny or dismiss even the possibility of Regina being Latina and/or a woman of color just like the actress who plays her*? What does this say about how even we, as people of color, construct our own identity?

(*NOTE: Yes, I know that her mom is Sicilian, but I guarantee you that if she got caught with a bag of weed at the airport, the tabloids won’t say, “Half Sicilian actress Lana Parrilla was arrested for drug possession.” They’ll say, “Latina actress Lana Parrilla was arrested for drug possession.”)