American perception of Latinos altered by media

Every week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff.

America is going through a period of change. The country is shifting from a predominantly white country to a more diverse country, with Hispanics being the largest minority. This shift has already occurred in numerous states throughout the union, including Texas. We can even see this shift at St. Edward’s, which is a Hispanic-serving institution, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

While Latinos are immigrating rapidly, the group is underrepresented in the media, especially in newsrooms across the country and in Hollywood. If Hispanics are not represented anywhere in the media, then the media does not truly represent the country as a whole. This trend is disturbing, especially for St. Edward’s students because the largest minority here is Hispanics.

Recently, NBC News shut down NBC Latino, a website focused on stories that impacted the Latino community. NBC quietly shut down the site, firing most of its staff, while those that did not lose their jobs were moved to other divisions. By closing down NBC Latino, NBC created a void in the news. This void could be filled by other news organizations creating a division tailored to Latinos, but this is unlikely to happen due to the “failure” of NBC Latino.

Students at St. Edward’s are encouraged to “take on [their] world” and advocate for social justice, but without places like NBC Latino, some Hispanic students will not be able to show the world the struggles they must deal with in the U.S. With very few news organizations taking a focus on Hispanic issues, it is up to us as students to work together to show the country that we live in a land of diversity.

But while the lack of Latinos in the news media is infuriating, the absence of Latinos in Hollywood is even more shocking.

Whenever Hispanics are portrayed in a movie or TV show, they usually fall under the four H’s, according to actor Esai Morales; the four H’s are hormonal, hysterical, hostile and humble. In the real world, Latinos do not fit into any of these four stereotypes. If they are not in one of those four H’s then Latinos are portrayed as exotic and sexy, a housekeeper or a gardener. Viewers usually never see a Latino as hero or leader in a movie or show because of these perpetual stereotypes.

The only way for these stereotypes to disappear is for Hollywood to pick more Hispanic actors in the roles of heroes and leaders. With more Latinos in a variety of roles on TV and movies the idea of “what a Latino is” will change, albeit slowly.

The media has a major impact on how Americans view Hispanics. If there are more Latinos reporting the news and saving people from imminent danger in movies, then that group will be viewed differently. They will be viewed as people, not their racial identity.

When Latinos are viewed differently by the media and Americans, the better the chances St. Edward’s students will be able to take on their world.