Are We Latinos Too Thin-Skinned?

Are We Latinos Too Thin-Skinned?

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A long batch of tweets excoriating ESPN for broadcasting the World Baseball Classic in Spanish (though the preferred term was actually “Mexican”) and Justin Timberlake’s Hugo Chavez skit on Saturday Night Live prompted a newsroom discussion about whether we — Latinos — are too sensitive about the way we are depicted, or referred to, by non-Latino Americans.

It is not a new conversation. We’ve discussed it before in pop culture terms when we’ve discussed Sofia Vergara’s role in the television show “Modern Family,” Will Ferrell’s turn as a telenovela star in the comedic “Casa de mi Padre” or Jack Black’s interpretation of a luchador in “Nacho Libre.”

We’ve discussed it as well in terms of more serious stories — the immigration discourse, Arizona’s SB 1070 and copycat bills that rely on profiling, and, of course, the pieces we’ve been running about ex Lt. Jonathan Josey being found not guilty of the assault of Aida Guzman by a judge with a lot of disparaging things to say about Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican neighborhood and celebration during which the videotaped incident took place.

Here is the gist of the contrasting arguments you might have heard if you were a fly on the wall of Al Día’s newsroom day before yesterday (when the aforementioned tweets came to light):

Older journalist: If we see but don’t call out derogatory language, stereotyped portrayals or victimization predicated on ethnicity, we fail, both as human beings and as newspaper people.

Younger journalist: We all know this type of behavior (speech, portrayal, etc.) exists, and certainly not only toward us. Why must we continually focus on it? It’s too much, let’s just get on with other things.

The same sort of discussion has taken place online, on Latino-centered social media venues, with much the same generational divide: the older journalists feeling compelled to focus on stories about challenges and injustices, the younger wanting to focus on attainments and advancements.

Is this the Latino generational divide?

We thought so.

But in digging around for studies about Latino studies about discrimination (and there are a lot of them out there) we came upon this: a 2012 secondary analysis of the 2007 National Survey of Latinos by an associate professor at Rutgers found that a whopping 63 percent of Latinos felt that they were discriminated against. One of that report’s findings was that 30-39 year old Latinos perceived the discrimination most acutely.

Then, we happened upon a 2010 NCLR study about Latino youths 15-17. It revealed that almost 83 percent of them reported experiencing discrimination, particularly with regard to stereotypes.


So the real difference, then, is how we, as individuals and as journalists, respond to perceived instances of discrimination.

We’d like to ask you, our reader, to weigh in. We’ve put a poll on our website with the same title of this editorial, and a simple yes or no option. Or, leave us your response and why you think what you do in the comment section of the editorial (it appears in English online as well). If you think you need even more room to respond, please consider sending us a longer response via e-mail.

Let’s keep this conversation going.