Rep. Don Young: Whoops. Did I Say That Out Loud?

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Alaskan Republican Congressman Don Young felt comfortable enough to use the term “wetbacks” in a recent interview and has since tried to walk it back.  His qualified apology was centered upon the fact that it was a commonly accepted term when he was growing up.  He was pleading enculturation.

The response was swift.  Calls for apologies even came from Republican colleagues reportedly concerned about the party brand among Latino voters (a relatively new concern that arose after the last presidential election revealed that Latinos are a constituency to be reckoned with).

The discussions around the slur were presuming that Young’s comments were an aberration and uncommon rather than an expression of a culture informed by one-note Latino stereotypes throughout our media.

To get a sense of the distorted messages that permeate our cultural attitudes and the attitudes of Congressman Young check out the trailer for the film Latinos Beyond Reel: 

In Latinos Beyond Reel, filmmakers Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun examine how US news and entertainment media portray — and do not portray — Latinos. Drawing on the insights of Latino scholars, journalists, community leaders, actors, directors, and producers, they uncover a pattern of gross misrepresentation and gross under-representation — a world in which Latinos tend to appear, if at all, as gangsters and Mexican bandits, harlots and prostitutes, drug dealers and welfare-leeching illegals.

Note: There will be a special screening of Latinos Beyond Reel at the National Conference for Media Reform next Saturday April 6, 2013 followed by a presentation: “The Impact of Hate Speech on Latinos”.