Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar Slams Media's “Silo” On Latino Voices
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Voto Latino president and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar called on the media to stop leaving Latinos and other minority groups out of issues that “impact all Americans,” noting that “until we understand that we have a vested interest in all these different topics we can’t actually come together with an American agenda.”
A Media Matters study in 2015 highlighted the media’s recurring failure to include Latino voices on Sunday News shows and to acknowledge the complexity of the Latino community, often reducing them to a constituency only concerned with immigration. Prominent advocates within the Latino community have campaigned for media to improve Latino representation, pointing out that the media fails Hispanics by not substantively covering issues that affect their lives, like the correlation between hateful rhetoric and anti-immigrant pieces of legislation.
During a July 7 event co-hosted by HuffPost Latino Voices and Twitter about “how the media fails to see the complexities of the Latino identity,” Kumar explained that, despite being the second largest group in the American population, Latinos are often left out of surveys and media narratives, adding that “the media does a great job of wanting to silo who we are as Americans.” According to Kumar, “If you don’t know what Americans feel that means you cannot actually create policies, you cannot actually create programming, you cannot actually solve and try to understand big issues.”
From the July 7 Huffington Post report:
The country was once again forced to grapple with issues of race and police brutality this week. But as conversations on the future of race relations continue, Voto Latino president and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar recently advised the media to take note on how these issues impact all Americans, including Latinos.
At the #ElectionVoices event, hosted by Twitter and HuffPost Latino Voices on Thursday, Kumar sat down with journalist Maria Hinojosa to explore the nuances of the Latino identity, the 2016 election and the importance of including Latinos in issues about race.
In a discussion about how the media fails to see the complexities of the Latino identity, Kumar gave the example of a New York Times article she read last year which had a survey about race relations in the U.S. She said the survey in the article only surveyed African-Americans and Whites, and soon after she also discovered it wasn’t the first time a survey left out Latinos and other minority groups like Native Americans and Asian Americans.
“Why is that a problem? That’s a problem because Latinos are the second largest group of Americans,” Kumar said, and later added that leaving Latinos and other minorities out means not getting the full picture of where all Americans stand. “If you don’t know what Americans feel that means you cannot actually create policies, you cannot actually create programming, you cannot actually solve and try to understand big issues.”
Kumar noted the media’s role in segregating coverage depending on the topic or issue.
“I think the media does a great job of wanting to silo who we are as Americans,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, that’s the immigrant issue, that’s the African-American issue, that’s the Asian issue.’ No, it’s us. And until we understand that we have a vested interest in all these different topics we can’t actually come together with an American agenda.”
Kumar added that the American agenda is currently a work in progress, as now there are people from all walks of life who are coming together for protests around LGBTQ issues, minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and more.
“We are living a historical moment, when Americans are saying ‘we are going back into the streets because this is not the country that defines us and that we want to see,’” Kumar said. “There’s something incredibly beautiful and special about that, but we’re allowing [the media] to create our narratives instead of us taking charge of our narratives, of who we want to be as Americans in the next 100 years.”