Sunday, September 4, 2011

So Few Latinos of Color on Spanish TV

Many Latinos  tell me that they are all one regardless of color. You would never know it from watching Spanish TV. 

When I first made up my mind to develop my Spanish as a second language, I knew I had my work cut out for me, especially if I was going to teach myself in lieu of formal classroom training. I did pretty good over the years, considering I've had jobs demanding the use of Spanish, and even received bilingual pay. One of the methods I used in teaching myself Spanish was television, mainly Univisión and Telemundo. I used to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily watching telenovelas and their advertisements.

What I found very disappointing was the fact that all of the actors, newscasters, and performers are white, and there was a blatant absence of darker-skinned Latinos, especially black Latinos. Spanish TV, to me, does not reflect the real world of Latinos that I've seen from my Latin-American travels and from living in living in New York and California.

A black Cuban confirmed what was on my conscience. He does not watch Spanish TV because they exclude blacks..

From my personal exposure to the Latino community, I've met people of European, indigenous, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern ancestry, not to mention many of those who are of mixed races. The best Chinese food I ever had was in Lima, Perú. If I didn't speak Spanish (or Cantonese), I would have not been fed.

I casually brought up my newly found hobby of Spanish television to a black Cuban friend of mine who bluntly confirmed what my conscience has been telling me for months—racial discrimination. Thus, he does not watch Spanish TV. That's when I myself stopped watching Spanish television and started watching Spanish videos with some black representation.

Spanish TV does not reflect the real world of Latin Americans that I've seen from my travels, and from living in New York and California.

As of this writing, it dawned on me to ask some Afro-Latinos if they watch Spanish-TV. And if they do, has anything changed in terms of racial diversity. The responses I received were a bunch of expletives, especially against Univisión and Telemundo. One person did acknowledge that Univision has a one black newscaster, an Afro-Colombian named Ilia Calderon.

You who are reading this blog post, and are fans of Spanish-TV, how do you justify such discrimination? I've been told by many Latinos that they are all one, regardless of color. You would never know it from watching Spanish TV. If it's anything other than racism within the Latino community, I'm open to reading your comments in the section below.


  1. i’m unplugged from t.v. on purpose, but I love netflix because i get to choose what i’m exposed to. hence, i’m in my own cocoon.

    when i watched t.v in the past, i found novellas amusing and i was happy NOT to see afro-latinos show cased in all that drama! however, i do understand the fact that the lack of afro-latino representation means there are missed opportunities for afro-latinos to work, entertain, and/or educate the masses if that is their dream.

    from what i’ve notice, latin t.v, latin magazines, and the total latin marketing machine uses the same marketing tactics as america circa 20 years ago (remember mj having to fight to be on mtv?) and it works! media, on a whole, markets to those who have money ,spend money, or can borrow money to spend. things will only change when minority groups demand a change or some marketing sme ( subject matter expert) does research and find out there is a target audience (with spending money) that they are missing.

    reference discrimination. it can never be justified. in my own opinion, it seems to stem from superiority complexes, inferiority complexes, ignorance, social upbringing, any or all of the above. that whole “we are one under the latino umbrella” is a bunch of crap.

  2. Yes, I was telling another Afro-Latino friend that instead of watching novelas, I watch movies that I own and those I rent from Netflix to see greater representation of Latinos of color. Unfortunately, they too, are caught up in drama just like you see on the the novelas, but at least I feel like I'm seeing the “real” Latino world.

  3. I used to watch a lot of telenovelas and teen soaps from different LA countries (Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela) and noticed the same thing. I suppose it didn't bother me much because I know how few blacks there are in some LA countries. However, another part of me thought perhaps there not being a lot of blacks on tv was good so that blacks didn't get typcasted into the same stereotypical roles.

    I have to say that my heart fluttered to see Ilia Calderon on Primer Impacto. She is just stunning and obviously very well spoken. There's a Colombian actor, Walter Diaz, who is the first black to head a telenovela. Perhaps you can check him out.

    If you consider Brazilians Latins, then you would have better luck trying to find blacks on Brazilian shows (Tais Araujo, etc).

  4. Actually, Colombia and Venezuela has a large black population. Both have regions that are predominately black. I need to check out Walter Diaz. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Yep, I know about Colombia and Venezuela. I meant that Argentina, Mexico, and Chile have very very small black populations.

  6. Thank you for sharing your knowledge & thoughts. When I was very young, I watched a lot of westerns. I knew Afro-Americans had been here a long time in this country. I couldn't figure out where did we all go when I didn't see any Black people in westerns, no Black cowboys. I'm making an assumption that the Latin American countries will begin to go through similiar types of political movements as in the U.S. as the Latin countries continue to think or hide discrimination and the thought that racism doesn't exist. As Afro-Latinos become more aware that they are not treated as well as Europeans in their country, and there is something they may be able to do about it, many movements will start taking place.

  7. Hi Anonymoud,
    You make very good points. Thank you for posting. There are civil rights organizations in Latin-American countries, as we speak. However, Spanish TV in the U.S. where Latinos themselves benefited from the American civil rights movement, are doing the same things to Latinos of color that white American American TV did to all people of color as well as those with non-Anglo names.

    There was a time actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger would have had to change his last name to something like “Samuels” or “Sanders” in order to get work, like Tony Curtis and Lee Marvin did. Their original last names were Jewish.

  8. I am sorry if I have to be frank or seem rude but the truth is what Univision & Telemundo represent is the True Latinos because obviously Latins originated in Europe. The Language originated in Italy. Spanish, Portuguese, French, & Romanian is all based off Latin.

    Just like blacks have their people so do Latinos and that who is they are promoting and showing. It is like BET were to actively promote White American shows instead of black programming. It would not make sense.

    Another truth is that many people in Latin America do not consider blacks in Latin America to be Latinos& their is discrimination. That is just BS. I mean even in Brazil their is much discrimination against blacks. In fact they are considered Negro not Latinos. If you use the term Hispanic then you are referring to someone of Spanish lineage coming from the word Hispano & if you use Latino you are referring to someone from an original Latin country. Not Sammy Sosa, not David Ortiz.

    check out this videos on youtube

    Encuesta sobre racismo en Perú

    The Dominican Republic is different because they are on an island and Afro descendants are the majority not Spanish/Europeans which left in great numbers in the island. In fact their were 12 Africans to every 1 Spanish citizens on the island of Hispaniola

    Look up Hispaniola wikipedia
    In 1574, a census taken of the Greater Antilles, reported 1,000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves on Hispaniola.

    Youtube video just copy & paste link below
    afro dominican republic education

  9. Spare me the apologies, please. I'm interested in seeing things from readers' point of view. That's what makes a good blog. We all learn from each other.

  10. Don't you dare tell Sammy Sosa to his face he's black. You'll might yourself into a fight. LOL.

  11. Actually well the problem is many people don't like the truth. Like Jack Nicholson said in a few good men You can't handle the truth. Not you but Bill but many others. Also I was just apologizing to people who don't like the truth and get easily offended by it. LOL Many people are very sensitive and love political correctness & I rather just straight shoot instead of being politically correct.

    As far as Sammy Sosa he actually admitted to being black on an interview on Univision after the skin whiting scandal broke out so I am sure he is well aware he is black and really wouldn't get offended by it. I mean it is good for Sammy to love Latin culture but do not diminish your own race by acting like a fool either. In order to wipe away his blackness the guy went to the extreme by bleaching his skin adding fake green contacts & straitening his hair.

    While Sammy Sosa may not be African American he is black. It was funny because I heard this one black woman comedian complain about a Dominican woman who was saying she was Latina but blacker then her.I forgot the comedian name but she is famous. Honey you say your what? Latina and then the comedian said you mean Black-tina. LOL

    To make a comparison it would be the same as an African American calling himself a Caucasian as when Sammy calls himself Latino.

    Now Dominicans excuse is because they are mixed but so are African Americans. A large percentage of African Americans have European DNA & even Indigenous Native America DNA. However,they won't be seen as Caucasian. Look at Charles Barkley and Snoop Dogg DNA results on Youtube. They both had European DNA & Native. Also Charles was more African then Snoop Dogg even though Charles was lighter skin. I think it comes down to people just researching and reading a lot of history to gain more knowledge on this subject.

  12. “As far as Sammy Sosa he actually admitted to being black on an interview on Univision”

    W-h-a-a-t? Oh my, the things you learn from blogging. Thanks.

  13. Here is the interview where he answers the question directly if he was ashamed of being black because he got a lot of criticism from Dominicans about his bleaching incident.

    Just copy and paste interview and insert in youtube search bar to see 4 yourself.

    Entrevista de Sammy Sosa donde aclara todo sobre su color de piel

  14. OH yeah and I forgot to mention that the report was done by another black reporter who works for Univision. It isn't just Hilda Calderon but you also have this guy & also a lady in the morning that works for Univision that I think is Dominican or Puerto rican her name is Birmania Rios and she comes out in Despierta America in the morning on univision as a reporter. Here she is doing a live segment on tv for Univision on Protagonistas plus their is a lot of Afrodescendientes trying out for the new show so Univision does it best to represent everybody not just the majority Latino group in Latin America however it is a business & they have to make a profit.

  15. To Anonymous, thanks for the link.

  16. De nada. I forgot to put the link from youtube of the Afro Latina Reporter

    Here it is Just copy and paste & put on youtube search bar.

    Las audiciones de Protagonistas de Nueva York

  17. I was on Latina magazine checking out the article on Zoe Saldana & was astonished when I read a person said that Zoe Saldana should only be known as Latina not Afro Latina. Why would she be ashamed to be an Afro Latina when she has stated she was?

    Especially since even Zoe Saldana in an interview in the D.R said yo soy una mujer negra. When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, "¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?" (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don't understand it, and it's the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, "Yo soy una mujer negra." ("I am a black woman.") [They go,] "Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita." ("Oh no, you are 'dark skinned'") I'm like, "No! Let's get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra." ("I am a black woman.")

  18. What a lot of Latinos (and non-Latinos) don't seem to get is that Latinos come in many colors and ethnic backgrounds, not just those with the stereotypical olive-colored complexions. If there were not so much racial discrimination in the Latin-American community, I might buy into the fact that she should just consider herself Latina and not Afro-Latina. I've been to Latin-American countries where blacks limited to certain types of jobs.

  19. Sorry it took so long to respond I got busy & knew I did not have the time to fully write what I wanted unless I had enough time to. Here it goes

    I would just like to point out that their are also many in many communities who don't want to represent the Latin community they want to represent their people. This is what many people also may not understand. Mainly because they feel excluded & ostracized. Which if you look in many parts of Latin America their are many separated communities of large portions of a certain population. Whether it be Asians, Muslims, Germans or Africans. While they may put on a Latin mask to try & fit in with mainstream Latins many understand it is just a mask. Yes, many want a better life but many people don't want to abandon who they are & where they come from just to get it. They don't want to represent a false version of who they are & live a lie. Look how hard it has been for LaLa Vasquez & Zoe Saldana to say we are Latinas also. Lala wrote a letter & Zoe been begging for a Latina parts & got a high profile one in Colombiana but with major backlash. The bottomline though is this is all about money & they know if they include them then they will be able to sell to a wider audience. It may be smart but it is not true reality. You have experienced true reality Bill when you traveled to Latin American places & have asked where are the black people. How Latin are they really? I guess this is what people need to debate & figure out what is the truth on this matter & what is just a veil or mask to hide behind.

    For example check out this on youtube a Dominican women who gets a lot of mean comments because she isn't afraid to speak the truth & represent her people humbly. Many people like it & some people don't. In Dominican Republic many more people are standing up for who they are & are not ashamed to represent their people despite all the haters who want to hate.

    Just copy & paste the link below in youtube search bar or google search bar. Their is also a part 2 so make sure you are on part 1 that has that is 15 minutes long. Part 2 is only 6 minutes long. Just adding this to avoid any confusion
    at about the 1:35 mark on the video he ask her a question.

    Venya Carolina en mas roberto

  20. It's the same thing on Brazilian tv. Hardly any black representation when a large portion of their population is either full African heritage or mixed. Sad

  21. I'm not Latino, nonetheless I find it interesting when I occasionally peruse the Spanish channels that their programming appear to reflect lots of 'knock-offs' of American programming. That aside, indeed it seems odd that their programming reflects no 'black Latinos'. Then again, I suspect one could argue that they should embrace their culture and stop trying to be something their not (white)


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