So for the past few weeks, Being Latino on Facebook has been one of the hottest discussion spots online for people that are pro, anti and/or indifferent about CNN’s Latino in America and journalist Soledad O’Brien.
Being Latino has offered the platform to allow people the opportunity to voice how they felt, whether it was positive or negative. The multitudes of opinions surrounding this production have been tossed back and forth on Julio Varela’s Blog , Latino Comedians Mike Robles (Anti LIA) and Casper Martinez (Pro LIA) as well as the #Latism community on Twitter.
I have remained silent and have been wary of sharing any of my personal opinions before having the opportunity to hear Soledad speak about the project. Luckily, this past Thursday I was able to attend the Global Hue Latino Sobremesa, an exclusive event (with some great Colombian food from Cafecito Bogota) where she was speaking. There I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions.
My thoughts on CNN’s Latino in America:
Initially after seeing CNN’s Latino in America, I felt a mezcla of emotions. I’ll give you a simple breakdown, of the positive that I was able to gain from it as well as the not-so-positive.
1) I was uber-excited to see that FINALLY we were getting some time on NATIONAL TELEVISION to tell our stories.
2) I believe that there is no better time than NOW to show that Latinos are here. We’re diverse and we’re not going anywhere any time soon, therefore we must be recognized.
3) I think that the production served as a stepping stone to something with the potential to be great.
1) Not much on Afro-Latinos. I know that Soledad considers herself an Afro-Latino, but what about the people in the stories? Afro-Latinos make up a significant portion of Latinos in America, do they not?
2) What did non-Latinos who watched this special walk away with? It is hard, as a Latino, to even begin to think of what non-Latinos thought, but my general opinion on it… nothing that they didn’t know already.
3) More importantly what did LATINOS walk away with? Believe me, I now understand how difficult it is to cater to a large audience and I would be naive to sit back and even begin to say that it is possible to make everyone happy. BUT in that same sense, was this special really created for Latinos to see their own stories or was it an experiment to get a boost from a new demographic in their ratings?
My thoughts on CNN’s Soledad O’Brien:
Soledad O’Brien.. half Cubana/half Irish, born and raised in an all-white community in Long Island, can’t speak Spanish, married to an Anglo-American and quite possibly does not know how to dance Salsa. So is she truly a Latina? And the more importantly, is she a good fit to cover this special in the future?
My answers to those questions: Yes & Yes.
I will reiterate the fact that the term “Latino/a” is not set in stone. It is so inclusive of so many diverse and moving parts, that essentially the term itself becomes more of a state of mind rather than something that simply has a list of prerequisites.
The only thing about Soledad’s background which concerns me to an extent, is the mere fact that I believe her personal interactions with the Latino community as a whole has been limited. With that said, I truly believe that Soledad’s intent to bring light to Latino community is legit and I also think that she is making the effort to reach out to the communities through a multitude of routes.
Listed below is a summary of the Q&A that were brought up on Being Latino re: the production and addressed during the Sobremesa:
Q: Why did it lack success stories of Latinos? Are we not successful as well?
A: Success is perceptual depending on the individual. There is no true way to address that question given, there isn’t a real answer… it’s a formation of one’s opinion.
Q: Why no real Afro-Latino representation?
A: They realized that they were not included and are looking to definitely change that for the next production.
Q: What is Being Latino to Soledad?
A: No real way to answer the question. It becomes more of a combination of things that creates it for one’s self.
Q: Will there be another Latino in America?
A: She is already getting an idea together to pitch.
******Global Hue Latino has been so kind to offer the fans of Being Latino of the actual video footage after it is edited. All of the questions and answers will be addressed in the video. ****** ______________________________________________________________
My overall opinion:
CNN’s Latinos in America has a long way to go, but I believe they are beginning to recognize what needs to be addressed, they hear the critiques and willing to incorporate their findings into the next series.
As for Soledad O’Brien… I think she is Being Latino/a!