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Friday, October 20, 2017

Columns

Latino civil rights need to be advocated and covered


Jennifer Rodriguez is a Latina activist shown protesting for DACA students. | Courtney of Raymond Ruiz

I think that we are all fascinated by the media’s coverage of political activism.

Political protests have a way of gathering our national attention, and we all have opinions about the protesters and their varied causes. Recently, that attention has been focused on organizations like the Black Lives Matter Movement and “alt-right” groups.

But when media coverage of other minority groups fails to shine a light on similar issues of discrimination, we are a party — perhaps a reluctant party — to an injustice.

People might have a tendency to believe that other groups’ protests and rallies don’t exist because we rarely see them, or that these groups are not actively protesting injustice because they don’t garner significant media attention.

Media coverage of African-Americans and Latinos in the United States is already sparse. Most of the time, when blacks and Latinos are referenced in the media, it is in a story regarding either crime or immigration. This type of media coverage spikes around significant events, especially when those events evoke a strong community response.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, media coverage of Hispanics is primarily event driven. Out of 34,452 news stories observed in a six-month period, only 645 of them involved Hispanics.

News stories that involve African-Americans are covered at similar rates. The difference in news coverage of protests that are most obviously connected to either black or Hispanic communities is that black protests receive more coverage because of our nation’s imagination about the black struggle.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15, and will end on Oct. 15. I think that we should dedicate some time to remembering the Hispanic activists.

Black Lives Matter activists are racially diverse. A lot of people are invested in its message. Cross-cultural activism has a long history of mobilizing in the aftermath of controversial events that involve one or more black victims.

People from Hispanic, white and Asian communities have shown support and solidarity with a tradition of an African-American struggle for justice and equality.

Black dissent has a unique gravity in the American consciousness. Though blacks and Latinos face similar issues in America, including incarceration, unemployment and discrimination, the groups mobilize differently, and as a result, public awareness of these issues vary.

Because of a long history of external oppression, African-Americans have experienced a large and visible history of activism. The Latino community, along with other minority groups, has had it as well and deserves just as much visibility in their causes.

Today, the optics are hard to ignore. So much of black oppression has been visible, and because of the magnitude of slavery, the public — both unwillingly and willingly — pays more attention to black protests.

While optics are important, we must also consider these injustices and the activists who are unseen.

Assistant Opinion Editor Mia Valdez is a creative writing senior. She can be reached at [email protected]

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