"Hollywood not Brown Enough" Do Latinos Care ?

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezFebruary 2, 2018

That time of the year, the 90th Annual Academy Awards is about to happen again. There is also that usual annual conversation about Hollywood not broadening the circle of opportunities in the acting categories for minorities. So much for Hollywood being a bastion of liberalism.There are those who argue that “competition” is not only in the best interest of the arts but said “competition” makes actors and actresses better.  Additionally, these defenders of the status quo assertively claim that “talent,” not ethnicity should be the primary consideration in awarding Oscars. Furthermore, they claim that it is silly to protest about Hollywood lacking diversity. Hollywood is driven by money and it shouldn’t engage in any exercise of affirmative action, they further argue.  They also stated that giving awards based on one’s color of the skin will utterly destroy excellence.   Why professional basketball a sport where players are overwhelmingly male and black is not being called out? They ask.

Of course, the counter-argument for the opinion above is that diversity is profoundly important for the stability of any pluralistic society.   It is not only consequential for making democratic institutions stronger but diversity also validates said institutions. Pluralistic societies enjoy stability as people respect and feel more represented seeing people like them running institutions that serve them

When it comes to the acting categories, Latinos actors and actresses are overlooked in this town.  We should use our economic power to demand more opportunities for our talented actors and actresses.  Yes, 23% of the moviegoers are Latinos.  That is, almost in 1 in 4 of these filling those movie theaters is a Latino.

Comedian Chris Rock wrote an essay back in 2013 for the Hollywood Reporter, in which he courageously wrote: “Forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans.” Yes, this is sadly true.  And when Latinos are hired they play characters usually reinforcing offensive stereotypes.

Those running Hollywood studios unbelievably think that having Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, and Sofia Vergara presenting at the Oscars is enough for Latinos. This is so offensive. Latinos in this industry desperately need more opportunities.  Sofia Vergara has literally humiliated Latinos with all her idiotic comments whenever she is on stage. This woman appears to sadly believe that the only way to survive in Hollywood is to humiliate herself and mocks our community {click here to watch her presenting on stage}.

Another attempt to give Latinos a false sense of representation in Hollywood was this recent film, “Coco.”  Lee Unkrich, a movie director who came up with this well-through-out idea about an animated film on an important cultural day among Latinos: “El Dia de Los Muertos.”  He knew, without Latinos, the studio was not going to be able to sell the film to Latinos.  Hence he recruited a Latino co-director, largely all voice Latino cast, and a whole bunch of sell-out Latino consultants.  It is not clear how animated characters can be equated with real Latino beings.  Yes, this movie about recognizing a Latino’s story while laughing all the way to the bank.  What is truly needed is recognition of our talented Latino actors and actresses by giving them more opportunities. Viola Davis got it right, “The only thing that separates people of color from anyone else is an opportunity.”

Some statistics here in order to get some perspective of what is the issue at hand; there are about 54 million Latinos here in the United States, approximately 18% of US population.  Any study shows that Latinos have been making great strides in politics.  Yes, Latinos have accumulated some political powers.  And economically speaking, Latinos’ purchasing power has gone up significantly.  We went from having a purchasing power of  $495 billion in 200o to almost $1,6 trillion last year. Have some strides been made? Yes. But in light of the 54 million Latinos living in this country, we are still grotesquely underrepresented in many institutions. A recent study done in the school of communication at USC shows that Latinos characters in Hollywood is a meager 3.1% despite us being 18% of the population.  Whenever conversations take place about race in Hollywood, the substance of said conversations is usually about opportunities for African-Americans.  Deservedly so, African-Americans are more organized for filing grievances for black actors and actresses.  Unlike Latinos in this country, African-Americans have national leaders that coordinate protests throughout the nation.  Many times these protests have forced those in positions of power to come to the table and negotiate. Latinos need to borrow a page from this playbook and demand more opportunities from those who run studios in Hollywood.

According to the Census, the population of African-Americans is about 13.4 or approximately 39 million. And the number of Black characters in Hollywood is about 13.6.  Evidently, African-Americans have done a very good job in forcing the elites from Hollywood to provide more opportunities to blacks actors and actresses.  Latinos don’t have national leaders that could unite the different factions among Latinos.  Indeed, Latinos neither have a Jessie Jackson, Cornel West, or Al Sharpton to mention a few nor Latinos have robust civil right organizations to militantly ask the question justice.

In 2015 and 2016 African-Americans accused Hollywood of not being “Black enough.”  Rightfully so, After two years of harsh and well-deserved criticism over “back-to-back slates of all-whites nominees” for the Oscars.  Things radically changed in 2017, this year was a year that people of color in Hollywood celebrated.  Seven minority actors got nominated and six of them were blacks.  Did that fall from the sky? Of course not. Leaders in the African-American community were successful in organizing and agitating their members in their community. They were in the streets protesting and calling out racist Hollywood.

There is that saying that we, Latinos, just care for immigration.  And that this is the only issue that we get us animated to hit the streets. Yes, it appears so.  We don’t have movements such “Brown lives matter,” or “Hollywood is not brown enough.” Even when many Latinos are killed yearly in the hands of law enforcement people and Hollywood utterly ignored brown people. There is so much need for agitating and organizing our community.  L.A. County, coroner’s data shows that in the last eight years half of all people killed by police were Latinos.  In 2015, Gardena police department was forced by a judge to release a video where Ricardo Diaz Zeferino who was unarmed was killed by officers from this city.  The media covered it but there was literally no protest other than family members demanding justice.

The struggle is real, Latinos are very complex and difficult to unite. We are the fastest minority group growing in this country. And we are facing profound challenges dealing with poverty, education, housing and lack of opportunities in Hollywood. We clearly need to re-align our mainstream image that we just march and protest for immigration reform.  We have to do the hard work of organizing and agitating our community.  We have the economic and political power that can be utilized to advance a broader Latino’s agenda.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
2/01/2018

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Sources consulted.
Barnes. Brooks. “After #OscarsSoWhite, Hispanics Seek Their Hollywood Moment.” New York Times 21 Jan. 2018. Web. 25 Jan. 2018.

Buckley, Cara. “The Oscars and Race: A Stir Over Rules to Change the Academy.” New York Times 27 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2018.

Moreno, Carolina. “The Oscars Are Happy To Recognize Latino Stories, But Not Latino Actors.” HuffPost-Latino Voices 18 Jan. 2018. Web. 1 Feb. 2018.

Santa Cruz, Nicole. Ruben Vives. Marisa Gerber. “Why the deaths of Latinos at the hands of police haven’t drawn as much attention.” Los Angeles Times 18 July 2015.  Web. 31 Jan.  2018.

Smith, Stacy L, Marc Choi, et al. “Inequality in 900 Popular Films: Examing Portrayals of Gender, Race,/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007-20016.” USC School for Communication and Journalism July 2017. Web. 1 Feb. 2018.

Riley, Janelle.  “Oscars: Record Six Black Actors Nominated, Diversity Improves After Controversy.” Variety 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 27 2018.

Rock, Chris. “Chris Rock Pens Blistering Essay on Hollywood’s Race Problem: “It’s a White Industry.” Hollywood Reporter 3 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2018.

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Photo Credit:  Photos above came from Bigstock

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