Joaquin Castro: “Americans Don’t Know Who Latinos Are”

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a preliminary report on the long-standing underrepresentation of Latinos in the media. While most people consider Hollywood a relatively liberal industry, “the system as a whole is actually quite regressive and . . . exclusionary,” Joaquin Castro, the representative of a Texas district that includes much of San Antonio, says. “I’m convinced that Americans don’t know who Latinos are,” Castro tells Stephania Taladrid. Unlike Black Americans, who are linked in the white imagination to the civil-rights era and other historical turning points, Castro says, non-Latinos “don’t associate us with any particular time period in American history. They don’t know who among us has contributed to the nation’s prosperity or success. And they have no sense where to place us within American society.” What Castro calls a “void” in America’s narrative gets filled by pernicious stereotypes of Latinos as criminals and “illegals.” “There has been now, for several years at least, this dangerous nexus between representation, portrayal, and the abuse of Latino stereotypes . . . by politicians who abuse them for their own political gain. And, in that dangerous mix, in its worst form, you get what happened in El Paso in August of 2019, where a madman drove ten hours and killed twenty-three people because he considered them Hispanic invaders.” Castro suggests that states and local governments should do more to hold the media accountable, for example, by tying tax breaks for entertainment production to improvements on diversity.

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