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Media with a Latino perspective: interviews with Rosario Dawson and Janet Murguia

April 29, 2011

With changing demographics in the United States confirmed in the 2010 Census, there is a need for more Latinos to participate in media, so our voices can be heard and we can hear others.

This participation may include both the corporate-run media and the newer media outlets, such as blogs and internet social media, radio and even independent or community television, where we don’t see faces that remind us of ourselves.

Last night in Washington, DC, the vote-registration organization Voto Latino held the panel titled ON Series: “Emerging Voices in Media” which discussed “what current media companies, journalists, national figures and the Obama administration are doing to ensure a dynamic, vibrant media environment both on and off camera”.

Janet Murguia and Rosario Dawson

Participating at the panel were NCLR’s Janet Murguia, MSNBC host and political commentator and The Young Turks founder Cenk UygurHyperVocal founder Lee Brener, Voto Latino’s Rosario Dawson and Maria Teresa Kumar the Voto Latino co-founder and executive director. The opening remarks were given by Antoine Sanfuentes of NBC News Washington, and FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn. U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen couldn’t make it to the event.

After the event, I interviewed Janet Murguia the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza and Rosario Dawson, actor and co-founder of Voto Latino.

Janet Murguia said about last night’s event:

“It’s Important for our [Latino] community to be involved and hold media networks accountable, and it was very important get a sense of the different voices we heard [tonight]. Rosario Dowson of Voto Latino has talked a lot about making social media in the Latino youth to play a bigger role when it comes to civic engagement; we heard other experiences on the networks and the news and social media to empower constituencies, and from the Latino perspective.

I want to talk about the NCLR’s long time interest and concern in this area, and opening up more opportunities for Latinos and the Latino perspective to be represented in the media, weather is in the traditional TV networks or cable, or the new social media opportunities.”

About the lack of more Latinos blogging in Spanish language in the U.S. Murguia said “I think that is growing,” especially bloggers who write both in English and Spanish, “we are seeing a growing network and growing interest in filling that space, we’ve got to do more to encourage more people and that is what tonight’s event was about.”

Also I asked Janet Murguia about the Spanish-language TV in the U.S. which can be controversial for many, due to its racist and sexist content. Murguia said that Latinos can push for that to change:

“I think so, again we have a responsibility to hold everyone accountable, whether [this] happening in English or Spanish [language networks], by using their mechanisms, online or communicating with the executives, whether is organizing demands or taking these issues directly to those who are in control first. [That] is very important, making sure that we are trying to meet with those folks that can make that determination is really important. “

Murguia added “people in our community need to understand, that they have an opportunity to be heard and be involved, and with the new technology that is out there, with the new social media outlets, that can take different forms and I encourage them to participate.”

Latinos “have no choice”

I asked Rosario Dawson why there is not enough participation of Latinos in politics and she responded “I think they are and every year they are increasing in numbers. In one month we [Voto Latino} registered 10,000 people and over half of them voted which is a much larger number than others where normally [the turnout] is 15-20%,” she added “we are making the connection.”

“You have to understand the disproportion on how is affecting [Latinos] the recession, health care, everything that is going on with them, they showed up in the presidential elections but not necessarily at the mid-term elections, and that is something that needs to change, the culture of voting,” said Dowson.

“With everything that is going on, from SB-170 in Arizona to labor marches and issues in Wisconsin, there is a very clear and apparent message that is going out to people,” said Rosario Dowson. “I know you are hungry, I know you lost your job, I know you lost your house, everything is under attack but if you don’t use that to motivate yourself to get out to the polls and vote, you are going to see even worse things that will be coming your way.”

Dowson added that there will be a much bigger turnout in the upcoming 2012 elections, even though she thinks there will be measures to prevent voter registrations, “that’s what we are going to be combating, “ Latinos “have no other choice” than participating, not just once every four years, it’s a matter of “life or death”. She finished by mentioning the revolutions happening in the world “people are fighting for rights we already have here”.

Rosario Downson keeps the faith alive, “there is a connection of messages that people are beginning to understand, and “I think is going be very profound number coming out… I believe”.

(*) Latinos include people of several races.

See more information at Voto Latino Facebook

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2011 6:51 pm

    JM, the U.S. is a multilingual nation, the vast majority speaks English and I agree that it should be kept that way, but you can’t stop people from learning and creating media in other languages, it’s unrealistic and very much repressive and not democratic at all.

  2. April 29, 2011 6:46 pm

    i think its a rare opportunity for the US to officially become a bilingual country. more programming in spanish, more education of the language in schools etc. learning more than one language increases IQ and can only be beneficial in the long run, especially for foreign business.

  3. April 29, 2011 6:45 pm

    ‎”Latinos” have been participating in local media for decades in the US. ie NYC & Chicago & Florida, etc. Should more people participate? Sure. Should it be in Spanish? No, the US is not Latin America and it should never aspire to be what it isn’t.

    This is indeed the “melting pot”, so keeping separate will never get one accepted. If you want to achieve in the US, improve your English & participate in US culture (which btw is a mish-mash of all sorts of borrowed cultures).

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