MEDIA AGGRESSIONS AGAINST THE LATINO COMMUNITY

by Tlecoz Huitzil/Efren Paredes, Jr. In typical fashion, Monday, December 31, 2007, an Associated Press article launched a media assault on the Latino community and used it's article title to demonize them and fuel tensions between the Latino and Black community. It was also an attempt to generate hysteria. The article, "Some Latino Gangs Kill on Race Alone, Authorities Say," (available at http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071231/NEWS07/712310337/1009) used a single act of violence to paint a grim picture of the state of the Latino community and evoke anti-Latino sentiment. This has been a recurring theme as various media outlets have vigorously worked to ratchet up their campaign against immigrants in this country, particularly Latino immigrants. Highlighting crime and violence committed by any member of the Latino community has been a tool utilized by the media to effectuate their nefarious campaign. The article's author could have elected to select a title that highlighted the fact that inter-racial crime is actually rare in contrast to intra-racial crime. Or, the reality that there has been a decline in crime in recent years in the Latino neighborhood that was the subject of the writing. Instead, the author opted for a denigrating title. The persistent malicious actions by anti-Latino media must be countered with a strong response from the Latino community. Any assault against a single member of the Latino community by the media is an assault on the entire community. With their sweeping generalizations and pools of ink, they create stories inaccurately portraying the entire Latino community. It is always a broad application. It is because of this that their actions must be condemned immediately by Latino media outlets and writers, by Latino leaders and organizations, and anyone else who seeks to defend and protect the image of Latino people. The best defense is a good offense. Mounting an effective media offensive in defense of our beloved gente will curtail the attacks unfairly targeting us. When Latinos are vilified in the media, along with condemning their actions, we need to demand apologies, write letters to the editors voicing our opposition, post responses on blogs, web sites, and social networking sites, call for boycotts against them, etc. They need to know that our collective voice will not tolerate their actions, and they will not be rewarded for mistreating us. Let the new year usher in the dawn of a new day, a new beginning; a year of healing in our community. Let it be the impetus to transform divisions into unity. We are one people with a shared legacy of victories and success. Our roots are deeply entrenched in a reservoir of infinite possibilities that races through the sangre in the veins of our brown bodies. Divisions have left us vulnerable to attacks through the media from myriad angles and sources. We have invited these onslaughts by being disjointed, disorganized, and putting individuality over the community. In essence we have fueled our demise through our ignorance.

I also ask that no Latino look down on any other members of the Latino community, and that we become more instrumental in assisting the less fortunate. Many of these people are seeking ways to be rescued from their unfortunate situations. They need our compassion and opportunities, not rejection and myopia. We do a disservice to ourselves when we look down upon other Latinos because they are struggling. If any member of the Latino community is struggling you and I are struggling as well. We are part of the shared struggle. There is no panacea for this situation. However, actively working to combat the negative stereotypes that seek to cast us in a negative light, and fostering cohesion, are steps in the right direction. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Nature has long held that a thing which does not protect itself does not deserve to live. Thus, it withers away and dies. The culmination of neglect, willful disregard for our future, and failure to thrive give birth to self-annihilation. Our silence has been interpreted as acceptance and docility. As the acceptance of assaults and aggressions against our total existence mentally, physically and spiritually. The response to our complacency has been the aggressor waging full-scale psychological warfare over the control of our psyche and collective consciousness. Violence, microaggressions, and invisible violence manifest in many forms, and their tentacles are widely felt. Left unchecked and they mutate into stronger, more sophisticated weapons to inflict harm upon us. In "Toward a Decolonizing Pedagogy: Social Justice Reconsidered" by Carlos Tejeda, Kris D. Gutierrez, and Manuel Espinoza, they defined violence as "any relation, process, or condition by which an individual or group violates the physical, social, and/or psychological integrity of another person or group." They further stated that, "violence inhibits human growth, negates inherent potential, limits productive living, and causes death." I join the argument advanced by these writers that we can not ignore this violence when calling for social justice. It is necessary for us to explicitly define our struggle and the components thereof, so that we properly develop effective ways to combat the various assaults inflicted upon us. When we allow others to define our struggle the framework established never allows us to triumph. We are given space and time to work within, and within such a system there exists only room for us to conform and succumb to what is made available to us in our borrowed space. If history has taught us anything it is that we are a continually evolving people with a resilient spirit. We have never suffered from a paucity of determination. We learn from our errors and we build upon them. We have prevailed before and we will prevail again. Adverse media portrayals and aggressions will not define or defeat us. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre! www.4Efren.com