The Media Watch of Brown on Black

By Daisy Hernandez May 22, 2009

Remember two years when CNN discovered a race war in L.A.? Well, expect a new round of coverage from media outlets. A total of 63 people were arrested yesterday and there’s indictments now against 147 members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang, a Latino gang that allegedly targeted Blacks. I continue to have mixed feelings about the best way for media outlets to cover this. Sin duda, there’s a media fascination with Black on Brown violence that feeds (and feeds off) of viewers’ racist ideas that men of color are animalistic and predatory. And still….racial violence is news and needs to be reported. The problem is how little ongoing media coverage we have of Black-Latino relationships.
Reporters arrive on the scene when federal indictments of hate killings are issued, but they miss the fact that if you tune in to Spanish language TV shows, you largely find the faces of white Latinos. Racism in the Latino community isn’t confined to gang shootings. It’s in our homes on our telenovelas. On the flipside, the many instances of racial solidarity are also in our homes and in our communities. But daily media is often a lazy business. It goes after the quick headline so that TV crews show up when Black and brown men kill each other because of skin color or ethnic identity, but not when Black and brown folks are marching together, marrying each other and supporting each other’s work. And the blogs? People blog and comment and cross comment on gang killings but the rest of the time the racism in the Latino community—and the work to educate, to analyze, to change this—doesn’t reach most people. I like telling college students that “when one door closes, there’s always YouTube.” That is, when media outlets aren’t telling the stories you see in your neighborhood, then it’s up to you to do it. It doesn’t matter whether you do it with a reported piece or a blog or a video or a poem or a scholarly thesis or rap song. We can’t leave our stories for others to tell.