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Osborne letter to Univision, 6/00


Univision, like all too many latino media institutions throughout the Americas, has been criticized with increasing frequency for its white supremacist programing. Below we find an eloquent letter from Wendell Osborne on this topic. Though the folks in Cuba's TV and media industries have been similarly criticized, it is clear they are not alone.   In Cuba this is a hot topic and a number of high level meetings have taken place around it.

Wendell Osborne letter to Univision, 6/25/00

Wendell A. Osborne
Los Angeles, CA
June 25, 2000

Univision Personnel
50 Fremont St, 41st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

To whom it may concern:

Last year in the month of May, I emailed Mr. Cesar Plata at regarding racist programming at Univision. He sent a copy of my email to Marcela Medina in your San Francisco office and she forwarded this email to the Director of Programming in Miami. The basic message of this email pointed out the consistent use of racist remarks on various shows such as "El Ritmo De La Noche", "La Cosa", and various other shows, including in the award show "Lo Nuestro" (1999). After receiving word that my email was being sent to the proper authorities I was somewhat happy to hear that my message and the message of millions of your Black Latino viewers would be heard. However, it has been a year and Univision has yet to even acknowledge the fact that racist programming is taking place.

Today I was watching "Que Nos Pasa?" which is basically the same show as "La Cosa" since it is the same racist comedian who runs the same skits with the same themes, and I was appalled at the racist jokes he was making with his emulation of Black people as uncivilized and grotesque looking. I have heard countless arguments that it is only a joke and that it is part of our culture to poke fun at people. If this is so, why aren’t European features made fun of? Could it be that we are trying so hard to be and look like them that we denigrate that which is perceived to be opposite of them, namely Black or African features. By engaging in this Latinos may be perceived to be different from Blacks therefore more acceptable to whites, which is the inherent message in the recent Latino "crossover". Even with the fact that there are more Black Latinos than Black Americans in the western hemisphere. As a Black Latino I am deeply hurt and angered by this practice that is pervasive in the media and within Latino circles. It has even come as far as negating the existence of racism in Latin America by Cristina on her show.

Just because Univision uses Celia Cruz in a few commercials and a novela, does not mean that as a television station you are not promoting racism. Every time I turn on to watch Univision, I ask myself: where are the Black Latinos? Do we not exist to you? Do Latinos only range from light brown to "huero" (with hueros, especially among females, getting the most representation)? My previous message fell on deaf ears because I have yet to hear from anyone in your station about this issue. Latinos come in so many hues, yet we neglect or make fun of the darkest ones. I implore you to make an effort to change your programming because it is causing millions of your darker-skinned children to hate themselves. It is amazing that during the sixties and currently we are fighting against the negative depiction or lack thereof of Latinos on "mainstream" television networks. I ask you to look within and put your own house in order.

I look forward to hearing from Univision on this issue.


Wendell A. Osborne


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