For Latinos, the relationship with the media has always been kind of murky, lopsided… a sort of unrequited love. For all of our community’s eager loyalty and record consumption rates, all we ever get in return is little to no visibility, token-sized participation… and a greasy, generous side of “Rico Suave” stereotyping. Whether we pay attention or not, and as skin-deep as those characterizations may seem, the fact is that systematic assault on our community’s identity can leave profound psychological scars on our collective psyche.
With so much on the line, a proper conversation on this topic must cover the myriad of interwoven pieces, factors, circumstances and community needs at play: From representation, participation, the interpretation of said representation by others, the long term effects of it all on ourselves and the society at large, etc. My guests last week brought all these to light with such passion and conviction, our hangout ran overtime by half an hour!
Felix Sanchez of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, Michele Salcedo from the Associated Press and Sabrina Vourvoulias from Al Día News tackled the subject with the mastery that only seasoned veterans can. I urge you watch the whole conversation and contribute to the discussion in the comments below! In the meantime, here’s a sample taste of what we discussed:
Michele Salcedo on the role of corporatization on stereotyping:
“We are almost invisible, especially in mainstream media, except when it comes to certain issues and those issues are very much siloed.” [Tweet This!]
“With the corporatization of media there is tremendous amount of pressure to make sure the profits are high enough and this cuts across. It doesn’t matter whether it’s widgets whether it’s news or whether it’s programming. So I think it tends to become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and until there is more knowledge of the Latino community either by producers or by editors and viceversa — so that we understand how the mainstream works and the mainstream understands who we are — we are going to continue to get these stereotypes.”
Felix Sanchez on the need for media literacy:
“To me, it’s about media literacy. It’s about teaching people in context, what an image means, what a message is saying, what the impact could be long term, and getting our community to sort of dive deep into what media is doing to us, what is saying to us, what it’s perpetuating. Many in our community do not analyze any kind of a narrative of programming, casting, color lines, all of these different things and there has to be greater understanding because then we can have a force that will stand with us when we have issues.” [Tweet This!]
“The bottom line here is that we have a tremendous buying power, we know that. We over-index at the box office, we watch too much TV for our own good. But we can gather all of that power to support us in the newsrooms, to support us in terms of the narratives that we’re telling, to support us in the casting, to support our projects.”
Sabrina Vourvoulias on the need for us to reclaim our narrative:
“I think we do a disservice to our community, in micro and in macro, in thinking of ourselves as unsophisticated. The fare that we’re given is beneath us.” [Tweet This!]
“We can do two things, we can call it out, as Felix has, when we see really egregious instances where we doing ourselves damage. We can call it out when we see that we’re being erased or invisible. But mostly what we need to do is we need to tell our stories and we need to be storytellers and enable others to tell their stories and encourage those storytellers to not get discouraged at the lack of reception for our stories and we need to get people at the highest reaches whether it’s the entertainment media or news media who understand our stories, who are willing to listen to our stories, who see that just because the stories are told in a different way or from a different perspective doesn’t invalidate them. And I think ultimately, whether it’s the entertainment media, whether it’s the news media, we are all, as Felix has often said, we are reflecting a narrative. We are creating a narrative. And what I think, and this is one of Al Dia’s slogans, we need to be driving that narrative.”
I couldn’t possibly have defined the state of our relationship with the media any better myself. This conversation is by no means over, so watch this space for more hangouts on this topic soon! Let’s keep this conversation going — and the media in check! Please watch the whole discussion on YouTube or below, add your own thoughts in the comments, and please follow and support my guests’ work:
- Félix Sánchez at the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts
- Download the 2014 report “Latinos and the Media Gap”
- Sabrina Vourvoulias at Al Día News
- Michele Salcedo at the Associated Press
See you at my next Google Plus hangout. Until then, Be Blessed!
YOUR TURN: What do you think?