AMERICANS CONTINUE TO HOLD NEGATIVE VIEWS ON HISPANICS DUE TO MEDIA INFLUENCE
Despite the social progress the United States has made, it still has quite a way to go with the Latino community.
According to a new study by The National Hispanic Media Coalition, a third of non-Hispanic Americans, which includes whites, African-Americans and Asian-Americans, still believe that over half of the US Hispanic community is made up of large families of illegal immigrants with little education. These same people also believe the media portrayals of Hispanics as criminals, dropouts, maids and gardeners (to name a few) as the whole reality of this community.
The study also showed that Americans who watched the negative portrayals on news and entertainment programs held the most negative, in addition to hostile, views on the Latino community. It also pointed out that these negative portrayals can even influence people with positive views on Hispanics. And the portrayals are too common.
This all means the idea that negative racial stereotypes no longer plague our society is a false notion. It also illustrates the power the media has on influencing people’s views on issues like a growing ethnic community.
This study is worrisome on more than just the level of stereotyping. Some argue that if people hold such biased views, this could affect how they think about major political issues associated with the Latino community like immigration and economic mobility. Many of these people get their political thinking from the news as well so the fact that the Latino stereotypes are fueled by the media just adds to the fire.
It is depressing to think that stereotypes of any kind still exist in the 21st century, especially when we are all taught in school the dangers of prejudices. Unfortunately, the Latino community is now having to go through what the female and African-American communities have dealt with before. But even those communities still struggle with stereotypes to this day so the road ahead of Latinos is indeed a long one.
The solution to a problem of this magnitude and depth is not simple nor is there just one solution. As a society, we will have to take measures to stop fueling these stereotypes and we will have to perpetrate the truth, which is that the Latino community has plenty of successes like any other American ethnic community. For example, not every Latino is uneducated and many Latinos graduate college.
We don’t still segregate schools because we still believe African-Americans aren’t up to par with whites. We don’t still believe a woman’s place is at home and she needs a man to make decisions for her because she is too fraile and emotional to know any better. We’ve moved past the days of those stereotypes and one day, we will move past the days of Latino stereotyping as well, especially as the number of US Latinos continues to grow.
But until we learn to promote the story of successful Latinos and Latinas like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rather than entertain audiences with that stereotype of the Latina maid who doesn’t speak any English, we will continue this cycle of stereotyping. We will get there, it’s just a matter of when.