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UPLIFTT | November 1, 2014

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The New York Times’ Latino Problem: @nytimes #HireALatinoColumnist

The New York Times’ Latino Problem: @nytimes #HireALatinoColumnist

The New York Times. It’s time we put them in the cross hairs. Get a load of this observation from the New York Observer: “Of the 32 people who are either columnists or members of the editorial board, 26 are white, and 23 are male; 19 are—egad!—white males.” Not one Latino. Ni uno. At this day and age, this is shameful.

Please bear with me. These people are completely fine with a Latino cleaning their floors, delivering their food, driving them around, taking care of their kids, but they don’t want us outside of those environments because then they’ll be forced to see us as human beings. They only see us as manual automatons. As machines. It’s easier for them that way: To think that we don’t have emotions, dreams, talents, and that we are more than capable of thinking abstractly and expressing it. That we can be beautiful without the fetishism of being thought of as merely sexy and exotic sojourners. But we’re here to stay, so they rather turn their gaze away, invoke the meritocracy myth that only benefits them when their privilege is confronted, or use the debunked colorblind argument as a copout for their transgressions against our people. Otherwise they’ll be faced with their prejudice and nobody likes to be known as the bad guy.

Folks, what’s worse is that these hypocrites have the audacity to lampoon and harangue conservative entities for their Borg-like assimilation tactics, but at least they want us to be part of the collective however dark it may be. “Liberal” and “progressive” entities like The New York Times don’t. Although, as long as we are serving them, it’s all gravy. They will acknowledge maltreatment (but not the ones they’re guilt of) and even go as far as to bat for the Dream Act or anything to advance the cause, but once the children of that deliveryman and house cleaning lady grow up, armed with a degree, potential, and big dreams, they are not welcome to sit at the table with The New York Times. The Times won’t relinquish its privilege.

Now there’s another school of thought going around about the buddy system (or cronyism and nepotism), which  pretty much destroys any notions of a merit-based system. People tend to hire their family, friends, and networks, but these big and powerful institutions aren’t small mom and pop businesses that rely on friends and relatives to function. They reside in big cities comprised of millions of people. It always helps to know someone who knows someone, but it appears that it’s even better when that someone is the right white someone. (Then again, if your buddies got you in through the door and you succeeded, doesn’t that mean that mostly anyone is capable of doing so regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, and creed?) There are innumerable advantages to diversity and multiculturalism….for the individual, business, and to society as a whole. It’s been proven.

To those of you who will get wrongfully indignant and tell us to start our own: Quit the coded and predictable language of calling us “crazy” and dismissing our concerns as badly written “rants” to distract us while making you feel better about yourself because you are either apathetic or uncomfortable for being called out for doing nothing and contributing to the suffering and exploitation of a people. Pro-Latino doesn’t mean anti-everything else, by the way. It means anti-bigotry. If you have a better approach, by all means, carry it out or shut up and get out of the way. Writing on the outskirts and passively waiting with the hope that one day someone will notice has not made much of a difference either. You have to make noise to be heard. You have to unapologetically demand to be seen and be taken seriously.

To the Latino intelligentsia: It is your responsibility to publicly champion for your people. Not just for yourself. You didn’t bring yourself up by the bootstraps. That is a myth. It was an entire community who helped you. I’m not dismissing your talent, or the blood, sweat, and tears you shed to achieve whatever goals you may have set out to accomplish, but you didn’t get to where you are alone. No one does. It is your responsibility to publicly denounce the dismissal and mistreatment of your people. Any people, for that matter. There’s no going around that. You either rock the boat or become another catalyst or conduit of prejudice by staying silent.

Don’t take this anymore, pueblo. Rebel.

You can start by not tolerating indifference and intolerance. Don’t let them fool you by calling this reverse racism or anti-white. You actually have to have power over people for those terms to apply. Again, quit the coded language. We’re not “envious,” “bitter,”  “unnecessarily harsh,” “race hustlers.” I’ll tell you one thing: Ignorance, disparity, subtle, and blatant prejudice should be addressed quickly and with extreme unmerciful precision. Not silence. We don’t come in peace. Especially when the war on us was declared a long time ago. Be it openly or through hidden agendas such as keeping us out of sight and out of minds. This must end. Not next year or ten years from now. Today.

The right white someones are not doing much for us, but they sure are quick to take our money and enjoy our labor. Don’t consume their product unless they hire Latinos. Not just the proverbial token, but at least two who won’t be just covering Latino issues because we’re not just an ethnic group. We’re people. Así que reserve your Mal de Ojo for The New York Times and those who buy their paper. Let that sinking ship sink. It all starts with the writers, folks. They are our first line of defense into existence. The more of us are out there, the more your concerns, thoughts, talents, and dreams will be acknowledged, respected, and seen. This benefits us all.

According to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), 4 percent of newsroom employees are Latinos while 88 percent are white. Meanwhile, we are 17 percent of the population and growing. What’s worse, we lost 586 newsroom positions from 2001 to 2012 from a once 2,098 to 1,512. This is a crisis that must be addressed now. We lost an inexcusable and alarming amount of ground.

If you’d like to help improve our situation, you’re not helpless, share and/or “like” this article to spread awareness and tweet it to the @nytimes with the #HireALatinoColumnist hashtag. Join me. Don’t be afraid to make the world a better place for our people and for everybody else.

Addendum:
All major publications reached and those that had recently picked up my articles turned this one down without explanation.
Additional Points: 
More articles on the lack of diversity and the Latino experience:
 

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César Vargas is a producer, writer, director, and social media strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. You can reach him on Twitter at @CesarVargas365 and Facebook at facebook.com/vargas365

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  1. juanainez

    I was an opinion columnist for the Courant for 9 years. I am Latina and 3 of us (latinos) started together. I was the only one who didn’t quit in a few months. It’s hard work. Rewarding and provided me with a very large audience. I did get a lot of nasty “go back to your country” when I was not pro-war or pro-Bush among many insults because of my gender. Since I left years ago, they haven’t replaced me. Now they include Mary Sanchez from the wires
    every once in a while nobody local

  2. Amaury Negron

    Since my Nice is an exelent movie writer in Puerto Rico with a long expirince , can she ever get a part time work in New York?

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