More Than Black And White

The American society sometimes have difficulties seeing beyond the demographic categories of non-Hispanic White and Black, thus ignoring Latinos. This is reflected especially when seeking for Latino representation at a national level.

The latest example is the “Concert For Valor,” which HBO will air on Nov. 11, with the partnership of Starbucks and Chase. Nine artists will sing honoring war veterans and their families.

None of the participants is Latino, allegedly because HBO couldn’t find any Latin talent available for that date. George López, in a special appearance, is the only Hispanic in the 21-artist lineup.

It is remarkable that an event recognizing soldiers doesn’t have a significant Latin presence, and that producers are not really worried about it.

Latinos are the country’s main minority group, accounting for 17% of the population. The Hispanic presence in this country is long established, and its culture has integrated – for the most part – in the American society. But, unlike African-American culture, it’s not yet seen as having its own characteristics and contributions.

Another example is the absence of Latino honorees for the Kennedy Center’s lifetime achievement in the arts awards. A protest in 2012 for this same reason resulted in the recognition in 2013 of guitar player Carlos Santana and opera singer Martina Arroyo. But yet again no Latinos will be honored in 2014. Out of 195 artists, actors, singers, dancers and other honorees since 1978 to date, only four have been Hispanics.

Similarly, a few years ago Ken Burns’ documentary “The War” – about World War II and broadcast on public TV – managed to ignore for 14 hours the participation of half a million Latino soldiers in that conflict.

There is sometimes a tendency to see diversity as a matter of black and white, overlooking the brown. In a society so aware of its differences this is a serious mistake.