Here's why the first official figures on Latinos in the media look better than some expected
Latinos remain widely underrepresented in the media and entertainment industries, according to preliminary results of a federal study.
AdvertisementSignificantly, the GAO did not delineate between jobs in English or mainstream-targeted media versus jobs in Spanish-language media, due to its data sets. Spanish-language media generally employ Hispanics in greater numbers and in some markets — such as Los Angeles — tend to dominate the tops of ratings.
Media activists have called for better representation expressly within mainstream-targeting storytelling in English, arguing that Spanish-language media do not readily reach the greater U.S. population. In the past, advocates have criticized major entertainment companies for padding their diversity figures by including Spanish-language programming and hiring in their internal analyses.
Spanish-language media is “doing some of the work of balancing things out, and they should be in there, because generally they’re not really treated as part of American broadcast culture,” Noriega said. “The same with music, right? But you have to parse out the difference between English- and Spanish-language.” headtopics.com
The GAO looked at responses to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, a random selection of households, from 2014 to 2019. The office compared those numbers with data collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2014 and 2018, from any related companies with four or more employees. (The study excluded employees of technology-specific, social media, and telecommunications companies.)
Advertisement“If four Latinos get together and form a production company, whether or not the film ends up on TV or in a movie theater becomes secondary,” Noriega said. “Their presence in the industry has been duly noted, but not their marginality.”Pew poll finds most Latinos haven’t heard of ‘Latinx.’ Only 3% use the term
Other data points jumped out at observers who responded to the report. Senior and executive managers were only 4% Latino or Hispanic in 2018, while professionals with degrees, including producers, directors, actors and journalists, were about 8% Latino. Service workers were 22% Latino in 2018, the GAO found.
The racial breakdown among Latinos (who can be of any race) is also noteworthy.AdvertisementThe GAO found that Latinos who were “white alone” accounted for 67% of the Hispanic workforce in the media in 2019. Black or Afro Latinos were 3% of the group; Asian Latinos made up 1%; Latinos who identified as American Indian (often a default for Indigenous-identifying people such as actor headtopics.com
Yalitza Aparicio) were 2%; and Latinos who identified as “some other race” or “two or more races” made up 27% of the total. This final subgroup is usually composed of mestizo Latinos who list their heritage as part Indigenous and part European.Brenda Castillo, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said on Monday that the new figures belie a more complex landscape at the industry level. On the day after the 2021 Emmys broadcast, in which no non-white actor captured a performance award, the early circulation of the GAO figures felt dissonant, she said.
“I mean, did you look at the Emmys last night?” Castillo said. “We’re turning [close to] 20% of the U.S. population, and we’re definitely not 20% of employees in publishing, television, entertainment.“Hollywood and the media companies, the majority are in California, where 40% of the population is Latino, and then the Emmys took place in L.A., which is 50% Latino,” Castillo added. “It’s just not moving fast enough.”
Advertisementanti-Latino gun massacre in El Paso in 2019, which prompted political leaders to question if Trump-era sentiments against immigrants fuel hateful or stereotypical depictions of Latinos in the public. Castro also noted Tuesday that states with large Hispanic populations such as California and Texas should not “subsidize exclusion” by offering tax incentives to media industries that don’t employ enough Latinos.Read more: Los Angeles Times »
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