The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


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BVNW Speaks

Challenging stereotypes

With the continual rise of POC representation in the media over the past decade, BVNW students reflect on its impact on communities of color.
Alyssa Gagnon
An example of increased representation and diversity in social media.

Growing up, Chinese and Taiwanese sophomore Caroline Lee said it was hard to find role models who looked like her due to the lack of people of color (POC) in mainstream media.

Lee emphasized how the lack of POC representation led to an increase in stereotypes, such as East Asian kids being characterized as extremely shy or quiet.

“In a lot of movies, whenever there was a POC member, they were stereotyped [as], “Oh yeah, that’s the smart kid,” or, “Oh yeah, that’s the quiet kid,” Lee said. “Or they were always that character, the side character who was either completely ignored or helped only by being smart.”

Lee said that although some stereotypes may be seen as positive, they are still stereotypes and are harmful to those targeted.

“​​Some people might think they’re positive stereotypes, but the studying stereotype has grown off of that, and a lot of traits, reputations and stereotypes were formed based off [the] media,” Lee said. 

Senior Krisha Kare said shows and movies such as “Never Have I Ever” on Netflix and “Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse” have greatly influenced how society views South Asians such as herself. 

“As the years go by, I feel like the rise in representation of my race is getting better and it is also receiving respect from other races and ethnicities too,” Kare said. 

Kare said specifically in “Never Have I Ever”, the character Devi Vishwakumar portrays the struggle of balancing her Indian identity and American culture simutaneously..

Kare also emphasized that one of the biggest things Never Have I Ever brought to light was the reality of living in a South Asian household.

“There’s many rules in an [Indian] household,” Kare said. “As the generations go by, I think parents are understanding now that they’re able to hear their children out… but I think in the show, it shows how it was back in the days, like how the mother was strict on Devi.”

Venezuelan sophomore Sophia Cepeda said the media has been especially influential in creating the incorrect narrative that Hispanics are only meant to do labor rather than jobs such as office work.

Cepeda also explained that the negative stereotypes of Hispanics impacted how she viewed herself growing up and increased her desire to look different. 

“I kept seeing these [white] people wearing different things and I [thought], ‘I really wish I was like that,’” Cepeda said. 

Similar to Cepeda, Lee said the stereotypes around her growing up shaped her personality and made her think she had to fit into a specific mold.

 “I never really could express myself in the ways I wanted to and I kind of conformed to that stereotype,” Lee said.

Lee said the increasing POC representation in the media is helping people of color realize they do not need to conform to stereotypes about their race.

“I’m really grateful because then no one else [has] to go through what I kind of had to go through about being confused about my own personality and identity,” Lee said.

However, Lee said that some media still reinforces the stereotypes, and she fears that people will still have to deal with them even with the rise in representation. 

“Representation and more public viewing isn’t always good. Just because we might be getting more representation doesn’t promise that POC won’t still have to deal with stereotypes.” Lee said. “Though I hope this doesn’t happen, there’s a small chance that [the] rising in representation for POC will only reinforce the stereotypes and show what people already assume.”

On the other hand, Cepeda said she sees the increased representation ultimately having a positive impact on society.

“We’re getting every different perspective and different lifestyle. Not every person of color is the same or has the same background or the same story,” Cepeda said. “Getting different stories [in media] is changing the society around us.”

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About the Contributors
Saraphina Wambi
Saraphina Wambi, Writer
Saraphina Wambi is a senior and a writer for “The Express” as well as the host of the “BVNWspeaks” podcast.  This is her second year on staff and outside of newspaper, Saraphina is student body President, BSU President, Model UN President, SNHS president, Gold Out KC (NW chapter) founder and president, and involved in girl’s tennis, HOSA, Mental Health Board, BVNW Ambassadors, NHS, Quill and Scroll, Chamber Symphony, Tri-M, and Medical Club. In her free time she likes to hang out with her friends, read, and play tennis. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to write for “The Express” and cannot wait to see what is in store for the year!
Rishitha Bonthu
Rishitha Bonthu, Writer
Rishi Bonthu is a sophomore and a writer for “The Express”. This is her first year on staff. Rishi is also involved in girls golf, DECA, Science Olympiad, and Kay Club. In her free time Rishi enjoys reading, baking, making clothes, and spending time with her friends. Rishi looks forward to being on staff and is excited to make new friends and develop her writing skills.
Alyssa Gagnon
Alyssa Gagnon, Writer
Alyssa Gagnon is a senior and writer for “The Express” as well as a designer. This is her third year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Alyssa is involved in soccer, Quill and Scroll, NHS, SNHS and Kay Club. In her free time, she loves to hang out with her friends, travel, play soccer, go to the gym, and listen to music. Alyssa is very thankful to be apart of “The Express” and is excited to see where this year takes her.

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