The Sad Effects of Anti-Migrant Hate: Latino Artists Silenced

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Image: World Wide Lens

With all the migrant suffering in the world, I do my best to stay upbeat and look for hope in the darkness. Unfortunately, this will not be one of those days.  This morning I happened upon a post at Brave New Films by famed Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, entitled "Latino artists bear the burden of anti-immigrant frenzy" on her own blog.  Valdes-Rodriguez's post filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread.  The United States and other parts of the world, through the U.S., are being deprived of an entire subset of viewpoints as a result of the hostile nativist attitudes that have emerged in recent years.

I don't know why this post affected me so much in the midst of everything else.  I think it's because when fighting injustice one has the tendency to believe that you can't kill an idea, that you can't silence the truth.  But here you have a clear case where truth is being silenced.  I'll let Valdes-Rodriguez take it from here:
In 2007, Mexican-born author Reyna Grande's first novel, "Across a Hundred Mountains," is released to critical acclaim, and wins the American Book Award – yet Grande's San Diego bookstore appearance is canceled after anti-immigrant patrons call the manager to protest their support of a novel by and about "illegals".

In 2004, the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, Calif., kills its Hispanic Playwright's Project, in part to appease donors who fear "illegals" benefiting from their money.

In 2007, Touchstone Pictures pulls the plug on "Deep in the Heart of Texas," a feature film starring Eva Longoria, about a fully assimilated Mexican American woman, saying there is nothing particularly "Latina" about an educated, professional shopaholic from Texas; meaning, the character is "too American" for audiences to believe as "Latina". (Meanwhile, Texas is no longer a majority-white state, and most Latinos there speak English…)

In 2005, The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles dismantles all four of its minority playwright development programs.

In 2008, People magazine puts Latina singer Christina Aguilera on the cover and sees the average number of copies sold drop by more than 100,000.

The Latin Grammys, created in 2000 with a mainstream English-language CBS audience in mind, have since been downgraded to Univision only, in part due to protests from anti-Latino viewers.

In 2007, ABC decides to pull the plug on The George Lopez Show, even though the show had better ratings than at least two other series that were renewed; he is replaced by a short-lived sitcom about cavemen.

Also in 2007, Jennifer Lopez wraps filming on the Gregory Nava movie "Bordertown," about serial killings of Mexican women along the US-Mexico border, only to find that it will not be released in the United States after all; hostile anti-Mexican reaction in screenings relegate the film to release in Europe only. Variety magazine savages the film's anti-NAFTA stance. The film goes on to win several awards at the Berlin film festival, including one from Amnesty International.

I, meanwhile, have seen my publisher decide to stop printing my books simultaneously in Spanish for the domestic market, citing a waning interest from booksellers for such material. Latina authors in my circle of friends all say times have gotten harder and harder for them over the past two or three years, with several telling me they, like I, have been on the receiving end of more and more hate-mail through their web sites and blogs. Personally, I have seen the advances paid on my books decline by 80 percent, and the size of my book tours slashed from 14 cities to 4.

Taken separately, these anecdotes might appear to be nothing more than bad luck, or flukes, a the natural ebb and flow of a career in the fickle entertainment industry. But taken together, and held up against a shifting corporate media climate that increasingly scapegoats and targets immigrants and Latinos (a trend both the ACLU and FBI blame for drastic rise in hate-crimes against Latinos), they paint a frightening picture of an increasingly hostile America for all Latinos - creative artists included.
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez - Multiplicative Identity

Valdes-Rodriguez has been credited with being the godmother of an entire genre of Literature and in 2005 she was selected as one of the "25 Most Influential Hispanics in America" by TIME magazine.  When she speaks.  People should listen.

And what Valdes-Rodriguez is saying here is that an entire population is being silenced in popular culture because of the nativist sentiment that has ensared Latinos.  Thank you for having the courage to speak out, Alisa.  We're listening.



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2 Comments

RickB said:

That is stunning. Of course that's what's so insidious about censorship, when it is used you don't know it is used!
It also has echoes of the organised Israeli lobby (cf The Rachel Corrie play being stopped in NY), stopping other viewpoints in cultural milieus to prevent debate and unpleasant truths coming out. Combine with nativism (which I think is an awfully polite word for retarded bigots) and some powerful forces are at work in suppression.
[it did put me in mind of this in that the psychology seems similar although I don't suggest something so dire is imminent
http://www.genocidewatch.org/8stages.htm]

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for stopping by again RickB. It stunned me to, and like you said, I had no idea because that's the way censorship works. I'm trying to think if the 8 stages of genocide applies in this case. Certainly there's the element of censorship is there, but I feel like this is different in that it's not state sponsored, it's worse than that. It's about perceived public opinion and censorship within the capitalistic supply and demand framework. Obviously that always makes for certain opinions to come forward more than others, always, but this has gone overboard in that nativism is causing executives to completely shut out latinos. I'm probably not articulating it right, but you certainly got me thinking. Keep up the good work RickB.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on March 3, 2008 1:56 PM.

Reshaping the Debate: Pro-Migrant Round-up was the previous entry in this blog.

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