Why we need more Latinx journalists

Story and photos by BRITT BROOKS

When America sits down for breakfast what’s in front of them? The entire internet is literally at our fingertips, so reading the news is less impacted by time and place and more a matter of preference. Especially now when anyone can share their voice, journalists have the unique and exigent responsibility to create reliable, accurate and interesting publications.

Journalism is necessary to keep our communities connected, as well as educate readers with current perspectives. New voices are becoming increasingly popular in publications across the country as various marginalized groups gain platforms.

Utah’s Latinx population is at nearly half a million people, and in a perfect world that large community would be covered and represented accurately in the media. However, as reported by ReMezcla, white male voices tell the vast majority of stories in American media. In fact, throughout all the top newsrooms in the country, only 25 percent had at least one non-white editor. And minorities made up less than 17 percent of all newsroom employees combined.

Rebecca Chavez-Houck is a woman who understands why minority representation is important in all fields. Her experience as a Latina woman, and her career endeavors in journalism, public relations and politics, have given her insight as to what can be better in the world of media creators.

Starting her professional journey at the University of Utah, Chavez-Houck earned a B.A. in journalism and mass communication as well as a Master of Public Administration. After working in public relations, she said she realized she had a knack for “sleuthing” and wanted to try her hand at researching potential bills. Her career totally changed when running for public office morphed from an idea to a reality in 2008.

Chavez-Houck said she used her communication skills to ensure all possible effects of a bill were thoroughly considered and weighed, not glossed over during a long session on Capitol Hill. “You don’t say ‘no comment,’ you find a way to answer the question,” she said during a press pool interview.

Chavez-Houck explained that she decided to run for public office because she didn’t see anyone representing her community who actually reflected it.

The work Chavez-Houck accomplished during her time in the Utah State House of Representatives includes successfully passing a bill ensuring permanent Election Day voter registration as well as medical interpreter amendments that help non-English speakers of all dialects get the care they need in American medical offices.

As a Latina woman in a predominantly white, male career she’s had to navigate different ways to get her voice heard not only by constituents but her colleagues as well. Something she wants to improve is the Latinx image in the media, and that their stories are heard and respected. She’s frustrated with journalists who don’t search for new perspectives and said, “Find us, find us, find us. We’re there!”

Chavez-Houck wants more coverage that actually reflects the various personalities and ways of being for Latinx people. “We are as diverse as the greater community,” she said.

One way to ensure different demographics are covered well in a publication is to hire writers who accurately represent the community. Kiana Opre, 22, is a senior at the University of Utah studying gender studies and English. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Her Campus Utah, a branch of the international online magazine Her Campus written primarily for and by collegiate women.

Opre has worked to expand the topics covered by HCU, like trans rights and gender equality. She’s constantly reminding writers to use photos in their articles that have racial, cultural and gender variation so that the literal image of the magazine shows inclusivity. And she’s proud to say Her Campus at the U is ranked No. 1 out of more than 300 branches due to variables like the number of articles published, social media posts and chapter events.

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Kiana Opre

Opre and her fellow HCU council members try to recruit writers from all different majors, backgrounds, races, and genders. According to information published by College Factual, the U has fairly average numbers for diversity regarding race, gender, and age. But the U is more mixed than the national average, and ranks 314 for “Overall Diversity” when compared to nearly 2,500 other colleges nationwide.  

Opre said she advocates for a wide range of writers in all published content and aims to have all types of voices represented. However, she wants to be clear that HCU isn’t seeking out minority writers for no reason. Their voices actually need to be recognized and validated, not tokenized.

In an email interview Opre said, “Businesses, clubs and corporations are constantly seeking out ‘diversity’ but it never seems to be for the benefit for real lives or real people of color, but to fulfill a quota, to keep up with an image of what’s ideologically popular.”

But similar to other Utah-based publications, HCU was having a major gap between the representation the council wanted and the writers the branch actually had.

Stephany Cortez happened to be the first Latina member of HCU, but she said the decision to join was daunting, as going into a group of about 20 white women isn’t the easiest thing to do as a minority.

Cortez is a 23-year-old political science and criminology major at the U. Her roots are Mexican and though she said she loves the culture, community, and family that surround her, she doesn’t want to be defined by any one thing. She’s been part of the U’s Student Government (ASUU) and the Beacon Scholars program for first-generation students.

When Cortez joined the magazine, HCU’s editorial team was totally female, and totally white. On its surface the chapter reflected the stereotype of a sorority, and at one point Cortez said she didn’t know if she was at the right meeting. At the open house for the chapter, Cortez remembered seeing different genders and ethnicities, but soon found out she was the first Latina to join the magazine’s staff. “A lot of people of color don’t know about Her Campus, that it’s a community you can participate in,” she said.

While Cortez said she first felt a bit like “a fish out of water,” she also knew that sticking with Her Campus would improve her writing and possibly open the doors for more Latinx students to join. The people we see in certain positions plant the idea of what’s attainable and what isn’t depending on what you look or sound like. In other words, who we see in different industries and careers is who we believe belong there.

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Stephany Cortez

Cortez mentioned that Latinx families tend to stay within their smaller communities for various reasons, the most notable being fear. In a time where ICE is detaining and deporting Hispanic people every day and America’s president actively speaks against Latinxs it isn’t surprising that parents are concerned for their children on a daily basis.

Being repressed is one of the most frustrating feelings one can experience. But if something as common as getting a speeding ticket can end in deportation, fighting and speaking up can seem impossible or at the very least unsafe.

However, new territory is on the horizon for Cortez and other Latinx young adults. They find inspiration in the sacrifices that previous generations made, and use that to add to the culture and future of Latinx people in America.

Cortez is proud of her roots, but she’s also proud of herself for working hard and joining different communities and clubs no matter the preconceived notions. She said, “We need to break that mold.”

How a local Latinx makeup artist is transforming music into makeup

Story and gallery by KILEE THOMAS

Just like her bio says on her Twitter profile, Madeline Maldonado is a “local Starbucks barista with bold eye looks.” Maldonado is a Latinx makeup artist and beauty guru from West Jordan, Utah, who is gaining tremendous notoriety and recognition in the online beauty community. Her popularity comes from her creative, bold and artistic makeup looks that are often inspired by her favorite bands, their album covers and merchandise.

“I get inspiration from a bunch of different things, but I think the main thing is music. Just like drawing, you can listen to a song and draw what you’re feeling. It’s the same thing with makeup,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said music launched her makeup career in September 2018 when she posted a makeup look on Twitter that was inspired by one of the Meet You There Tour posters from Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer. The band’s lead guitarist, Michael Clifford, retweeted her look and provided Maldonado with a platform and the numbers to gain some major online recognition. As of today, this post has over 18,000 likes.

She approaches her looks like a painter approaches a canvas. Maldonado said the looks can take up to four hours, depending on the amount of detail and how much surface area on her face she is planning to cover with makeup.

Her looks are no small endeavor and makeup rookies should be forewarned. One look can be completed with the use of only one eye shadow palette, while other looks require four or five palettes, she said.

As a member of the Hispanic community, Maldonado said she believes her ethnicity will give her a leg up in the beauty industry. “My culture gives me an advantage. I feel that being a Latina helps inspire a wide range of culturally diverse individuals. It helps me connect with creators from all around the world and as I create a platform for myself, I aspire to spread cultural awareness through my message and my art,” she said.

She said she believes the makeup industry is growing in terms of diversity, but there’s still a lot of room to go. “All different types of people do makeup now, but the first makeup artist I started watching was Jaclyn Hill (one of the leading makeup personalities on YouTube). Because she had blue eyes, so many colors complemented them and it made me hate my dark brown eyes because the makeup didn’t make my eyes pop like hers did,” Maldonado said.

“My plan is to begin a YouTube channel where I am able to explicitly teach and inspire others. My hope is to create a diverse community where people can express their feelings, creativity and spread positivity,” Maldonado said.

According to Forbes, “It’s never been a better time to be a beauty entrepreneur.” And for good reason. The beauty industry is one of the largest markets in the sales industry, which is why it’s the perfect place for “women to self-start their way to big-time success,” according to Forbes.

Statista reports that in 2016, the cosmetics industry in the United States generated more than $62.46 billion and that videos on YouTube containing beauty-related content were viewed more than 169 billion times in 2018.

Maldonado said she believes YouTube and social media are the future of makeup. “You definitely need to have a large social following to get started. I think I could do makeup for a long time and not get a big response or recognition until someone with millions of followers notices me. That’s what sucks about the way the beauty industry is going. It’s not just about talent,” she said.

Anyone who takes a quick glance at her Instagram feed, which is jam packed with colorful makeup looks that resemble art more than they do makeup, could tell you that she has a gift. But, it wasn’t always this way, Maldonado said.

Maldonado said she has always been artistic. She danced her whole life, loved her painting and drawing classes in high school, but she didn’t have any idea that makeup would end up being her creative outlet.

She credits her older sister, Marisa Barber, for being the source of inspiration to get her started in makeup. “I had zero clue what I wanted to do after high school. I was a little lost until one day I was going through my sister’s makeup and took interest,” Maldonado said.

Barber is proud of her little sister’s accomplishments and said she believes she has the skill to be a successful social media influencer. “There is a huge platform set for these aspiring makeup artists and I feel that all Maddie needs to do to make it big is the right equipment. She definitely has the talent and personality to be entertaining,” Barber said in a text.

Until Maldonado creates her YouTube channel, she does recreational and experimental makeup looks for her close friends and family. Whether it be for senior pictures, portraits or her personal favorite, Halloween, she “creates a story with meaning behind it. The masterpieces she paints on faces are beautiful,” Barber said in a text.

Maldonado’s older sister is one of the people she feels comfortable experimenting her beauty looks on. Barber said she feels that her sister is always professional when she is sitting in her makeup chair. “She always makes sure that I am happy with my look by constantly checking throughout the process how I am feeling and self-assessing her work,” she said.

Barber appreciates how open Maldonado is to new ideas and collaboration when it comes to her clients, but thinks letting Maldonado work her magic without outside input generates the best results. “For me, I like having her work freely on my face. She gets in a zen type of state and the work she produces is magical,” Barber said.

Leigh Ventura, a previous makeup client of Maldonado’s, said she is in awe of how Maldonado takes a piece of art to new levels. “Most people, like myself, would just see the album cover and try to use the shades of the colors to create a look, but she does more than that. She thinks outside of the box and I think she actually goes into character. I’m a big fan of her work, huge,” Ventura said in a text.

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Maldonado was inspired to create this look after watching 5 Seconds of Summer’s Valentine music video. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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Maldonado created this makeup look based on the band BTS’ “Love Yourself: Answer” album cover. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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 Maldonado spent five hours creating this floral makeup look based on Shawn Mendes’ self-titled album. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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Maldonado spent four hours creating this look. The look was inspired by 5 Seconds of Summer’s Meet You There Tour Live album cover. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado. 

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 Maldonado created this makeup look based on the Meet You There Tour Poster. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado. 

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The products used to create Maldonado’s Shawn Mendes self-titled album makeup look, sprawled out across her vanity.

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Maldonado created this stormy eye look after listening to Forever Rain, written by RM of BTS. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado. 

Editor-in-chief in his veins

Story and gallery by Kara D. Rhodes

Utah loves local culture especially in Salt Lake Valley, from the local farmers market and local breweries to our very own local newspapers. One of the most popular independent newspapers in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City Weekly, has a stellar editor-in-chief you may not be aware of. Enrique Limón moved to the city after having lived in Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.

Limón comes from a long line of “newspapermen,” as he describes it. “My great grandfather, Hernando Limón, a general in the Mexican Army, was editor and publisher of a bilingual weekly in the SD/TJ (San Diego/Tijuana) region generations ago,” Limón says in an email interview. His family is very proud of this achievement, especially his mother.

Being Latinx is described by Limón as being an “invaluable tool.” This includes his language skills, current event knowledge and pop history knowledge. Limón wakes up every day with the energy to excel in his duties. “Careers in media are notorious for burning people out, so thinking about every day as a new adventure, is my accomplishment,” he says.

Not only is Limón a part of the Latinx community but he is also a member of the LGBTQ community. “I am aware of representation issues within those two communities (and beyond), and I do my best to contribute,” Limón says. He also explains how it shapes his day-to-day routine. Although there are many challenges one faces by being in both communities, Limón says he wouldn’t trade being a part of them for anything.  

Limón, like others, has concerns about the Latinx/LGBTQ community. “Higher risk of homelessness, drug addiction, and other life-altering situations. There is a good number of crimes against people on DACA, for example, that never go reported in this country, because victims think doing so might affect their immigration status. It’s heartbreaking,” Limón says.

Limón suggests several ways that Utah could better serve the Latinx/LGBTQ communities, including creating safe spaces, so that people may be themselves without fear of harm or ridicule. A larger spread of gay-straight alliances is important as well. “Normalization, ensuring kids don’t feel ostracized because of something that’s embedded in who they are, should become second-nature,” Limón says. Multiple organizations in Salt Lake City offer programs, such as Encircle and the Utah Pride Center.

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“Everyone could benefit by being a little kinder — parents, schoolmates, teachers, clergy, etc.,” he says.

Limón concludes by giving praise in an email. “Congrats to The University of Utah. For Voices of Utah, Westminster College for their office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and other educational institutions across the state for highlighting the importance of inclusiveness. Your efforts are positively affecting people, especially young people, in ways you might never know.”

Nick McGregor, a City Weekly employee, has worked with Limón for one year. “Enrique’s background and position at City Weekly help him think outside the box and seek out underrepresented voices to make sure they’re present,” McGregor says in an email interview. Having worked with over 25 editors in his 13 years of journalism, McGregor says he believes that what sets Limón apart from the numerous editors before is his passion for the city as well as his audience.  

Another City Weekly employee, Namoi Clegg, praises Limón, “Enrique is always willing to work with new ideas and people. He also has high expectations, which is a good thing, I think. You damn well better be prepared, because he is not putting up with bullshit from staff or writers. I think his skills really lie in the curation and community-building aspect of the paper,” Clegg says in an email interview.

Clegg says there is no doubt that Limón’s background plays a role in the way he is an editor. “Enrique is a gay, Latinx man. He’s also an excellent editor. It feels reductive to say that Enrique is an excellent editor because of his personal characteristics; at the same time, his background gives him a much-needed perspective that a white, straight man would most likely lack,” Clegg says.

When asked about her thoughts on diversifying the newsroom Clegg had a lot to say. “I really strongly believe that our lived experiences — as women or LGBT folks or people of color — allow us to see angles and stories that are really difficult to pick up on for people who haven’t been marginalized. It’s really, really easy to miss small pieces of the story, pieces that are really essential to the people living the story but pieces that privilege often doesn’t allow us to see, even if we’re doing a lot of work to get outside of our preconceived notions.”

Limón shows that where one comes from is a strength and should be used to one’s best ability. 

 

Finding success marketing in the Hispanic segment: Google Translate is not enough

Story and photo by JUSTIN TROMBETTI

What if I told you that the majority of marketers are missing out on close to 20 percent of their viable market?

They spend countless hours on strategy, execution, and data analysis, tirelessly working to drive results for their company. In the planning stages, this usually means determining different avenues for reaching their ideal customers. Why, then, is so much still missed when it comes to targeting the market segment with an estimated purchasing power in the trillions?

The short answer is that, even if businesses realize leaving out the Hispanic segment is a big miss, throwing ad copy into Google Translate and calling it a win is about as effective as windshield flyers at a local mall.

Understanding the Hispanic segment means going beyond language barriers. It also means figuring out how Latinx audiences are different from their non-ethnic counterparts (and perhaps more importantly, how they’re not).

Human beings don’t fit into a nicely labeled box, but stereotypes are not the same as purchase behaviors.

Alex Guzman, a former Guatemalan senator and the voice of Latin America’s version of Tony the Tiger, seems to agree. Guzman currently serves as the president and CEO of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the financial power of the Latinx segment is far from lost on him.

In an interview with the Voices of Utah press pool, he stressed that this power goes beyond population compositions. Hispanics as a cohort spend hard. A product of the cultural happy-go-lucky mentality, savings accounts are an oft fleeting concept when the latest product hits the market.

Guzman went as far as to say that some of the best market tests can be run on this segment, which has no fear of price points when they think the return on investment is there.

The struggle becomes finding the best ways to go about reaching this vibrant segment. Guzman agrees with the data sets; they show that millennials — who make up over half of the Hispanic population — are on social media, but TV is crucial. It accounts for almost half of all marketing spend in the Hispanic segment, and it’s the channel Guzman believes integral to reaching the older demographics.

Perhaps the most important point Guzman mentioned was that Hispanic segments are extremely brand loyal. Earning that loyalty means resonating on a cultural level, not just a lingual one.

But if reaching the Hispanic population is as much about culture as it is language — let’s not conflate a simple translation being insufficient with it being unimportant — how do we marketers tap into that?

Eric Nielsen is a Hispanic Utahn who works at Soundwell, a popular local club that hosts Latin nights on Fridays in downtown Salt Lake City. He gave some insight as both a Hispanic and someone with experience promoting the events.

He was straightforward about the community focus around these events, and how it makes them effective. “You get a lot of older people mixed in with the younger ones, more than you see at other kinds of events,” Nielsen said in a recent phone interview.

He continues that there is consistency with the people there, the DJs, and the atmosphere in general. The diversity comes from the variety of weekly themes for the events. Nielsen believes that when so few major venues have a Latin focus, the community element is crucial to the club’s success; the events tap in to the norms and idiosyncrasies of the average Hispanic family in order to deliver an experience that feels authentic.

It should be unsurprising by now that social media is integral in promoting these events, given the Hispanic millennial demographics mentioned above. Word of mouth, though, is also integral. While most older populations of Hispanics are watching TV, you’ll be hard-pressed to see any clubs promoting on those channels.

In this way, the success of events that focus on the community also rely on it to stay relevant.

Madelynn Conrad, a seasoned marketer with familial connections to Hispanic culture, knows firsthand how challenging overcoming this “marketing gap” can be. In a recent interview, she detailed her experience working with a Hispanic-owned bakery that saw an almost 10 percent increase in sales after two weeks working with her.

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Conrad speaks to Voices of Utah from her home office.

From a business to business standpoint, she sees vast room for improvement in the marketing sector.

Conrad had to earn the bakery’s business with old-school persistence; she was the first marketer to reach out, pitch, and successfully close the bakery on a contract for marketing services.

“A lot of people in [the owner’s] family owned their own businesses, or sold things in their own way, and none of them actually used any real form of marketing other than flyers,” Conrad stated.

“[The owner] didn’t actually realize that there were people out there that specifically do just marketing, and she didn’t think that it could be effective,” Conrad continued. “She generally assumed that marketing was a big corporation idea.

“All I really had to do was show her that I could make a difference. She was actually really determined to maintain the idea that marketing wouldn’t work for her business.”

There’s something to be said for the fact that not all service sector professionals are well-rounded marketers or businesspeople, but Conrad believes there were cultural barriers at play with this client.

She told me “there weren’t a lot of resources available to help [the bakery owner] in the first place, like a business association for a meet-up that educated small business owners in her community specifically.”

While resources like the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce seek to provide businesses with these tools, they’re still just one entity in a state where the Latinx population is booming. In closing, Conrad suggests that there are issues of capacity and awareness with these resources that lead businesses like her bakery client to feel like they’re on their own.

Next time you think of phoning in a Google Translate ad for your Facebook campaign, consider what you might be missing out on, and consider whether or not your message will permeate across cultural barriers.

Economic growth: Now is the time and Utah is the place

Story and photo by SARAH SAIDYKHAN

Utah is home to thriving companies, up-and-coming businesses, an eclectic array of restaurants, nightlife, recreations and so much more. For an eager entrepreneur, Utah is the home of opportunity. Since 1991, the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (UHCC) has worked in assisting people on their quest for economic development and stronger ties to their communities.

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The sign and coat of arms on the Salt Lake City building.

For almost 30 years, what began as a small handful of people looking for a change in Utah’s economy has grown into a large network now led by Alex Guzman, president and CEO, according to the Better Business Bureau of Utah. Now the chamber assists Utahns with networking opportunities to showcase their businesses, provides access to educational workshops, offers scholarship opportunities and more. In the four years that Guzman has been president of UHCC, he has revolutionized the chamber. He said he had a vision of what leaders in the Hispanic community must be doing and he set out to make it happen. Under Guzman’s direction, the chamber has moved away from the corporate office scene and ventured out into the community where he meets with the people of Utah.

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute reported in 2016 that Utah had a Hispanic community with over 400,000 residents. These numbers are growing each day. Utah’s Latino residents work hard, play hard and give back to their communities to help the state flourish. As Guzman said, “We take care of each other.”

One of the goals of a chamber of commerce is to help citizens understand what it takes to start a business. Guzman said he has taken this theory and put it into action. If you’ve thought about opening your own business, there are steps you must follow. For members of Utah’s Hispanic community, one of those first steps should be joining the UHCC. The possibilities to expand the business are then at one’s fingertips.

Esmeralda Avalos works for the chamber and is one of the first points of contact at UHCC. She said the opportunities offered through the chamber are beneficial to keeping a business running smoothly and she loves seeing business owners looking for new ways to explore the vision and mission of their companies.

One opportunity is the Business Academy, a 10-week course that specializes in essential business topics through education and training. It is only offered at UHCC.

“The Business Academy opens your mind to become more business wise; look at it as a business,” Avalos said. Participants must realize there is more to entrepreneurship than simply stating, “I want to open a business.” Avalos said the course entails in-depth education and hands-on learning. “Marketing, objectives, workshops, communications, customer service, goals, how to get funding” — these are just a few of the topics that are covered during the Business Academy courses, she said.

To obtain financing, loan institutions need to know that entrepreneurs have taken classes on accounting, marketing, distribution, licenses, fees, permits, employees and even taxes.

Juan Pascua is the membership director at UHCC. He said the chamber offers the skills to “help Hispanic businesses understand what they need.” Learning about owning and operating a successful company is all part of the membership, which includes media marketing on Alpha Media Radio, representation on the UHCC website and direct links to other members’ businesses.

Helping to support the Hispanic community in Salt Lake City is important. Pascua said. “If we don’t have the information, we can get the people to another member who has it.” For example, he explained that if someone has a question about business taxes that an employee can’t answer, an expert will be called in. “It’s all part of networking,” Pascua said.

The Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is growing. Right now, it has offices in Salt Lake, Ogden and St. George. These locations serve as information centers, places to hold seminars, workshops and the Business Academy courses.

With help from local sponsors like Zions Bank, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, Utah’s economy will continue to grow and provide for the residents for years to come.

For more information about UHCC or to become a sponsor, call Esmeralda Avalos at 801-532-3308.

 

Latinxs at work: stereotyping results from a lack of sympathy

Story and photo by SAYAKA KOCHI

The population of Latinx is increasing in the Western United States. The Census Bureau’s data says one in four Americans are supposed to be Latinx by 2045. Many people originating from Latin America have crossed the borders to seek high paying jobs for their own dreams to come true or for their families’ sake. On the way to get a better life, many Latinx immigrants encounter stereotypes in their workplaces.

Monica Carpentieri was born and raised in Brazil. After getting married there, she moved with her husband to the United States to pursue her master’s degree. Later on, she started working as a licensed acupuncturist. Monica and her husband have become residents in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Stereotyping was never overt,” Monica said in an email interview. “I personally had instances though that due to having a Latin accent, people immediately did not give me the credit of being highly educated. Unlike a friend of mine who had a British accent and no formal education.”

Monica’s husband, David, also faced the issue that the employers were ignorant. While he was in the medical residency training in the U.S., one hospital refused him to be a trainee for the following reason: they did not accept medical graduates from Europe. David is from Brazil, located in South America. The hiring manager at the hospital did not know where the country is.

“I was a bit shocked,” David said in an email interview. This case might be rare. But certainly, employers’ ignorance becomes an obstacle to get a job for Latinxs.

Stereotypes that are far from the truth are caused by ignoring true facts and cultural intolerance. The absence of true facts is highly contributed to by media productions. According to research done by an Eastern Washington University student, English-language television programs have often portrayed Hispanics and Latinxs as criminals or gangsters in the past few decades.

In fact, the data provided by the FBI in 2016 proves that more than 80 percent in total arrests were non-Hispanics. True facts are not on TV in many cases.

The same thing can be said about education. The Pew Research Center published a significant report in 2016. The report showed that even though the college enrollment rate of Hispanic U.S. citizens was still low compared to other ethnic groups, the rate of increase was outstandingly high.

Believe it or not, Whites and Hispanics have only 7 percent difference in the college enrollment rate. Recalling Monica’s experience, she has been stereotyped that she was not educated well because of her accent. Like Monica, Hispanics are sometimes unreasonably labeled to be uneducated no matter what kind of higher education degrees they have.

According to a 2017 poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, about one in three Latinx poll participants have ever felt discriminated against when applying for jobs because of their ethnicity. The same amount of Latinx participants have experienced that they couldn’t get promoted or a pay raise. What is the main cause of employment discrimination? One of the answers is a false portrayal that Latinx workers are lazy, violent, and uneducated.

Alex Guzman, president and CEO of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said, “Traditionally speaking, the Hispanic community members are very hard workers. They have one, two, or even actually three jobs. Mama works. Papa works. Grandma or grandpa works.”

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The Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is located at 1635 S. Redwood Road in Salt Lake City.

Guzman was born in Guatemala. He was a professional in the strategic marketing field there and also helped foreign companies reach out to the Hispanic community. While continuing his marketing career, he started a political career. However, his children were almost kidnapped twice. To escape from the threats throwing shadows over his family, he got out of his home country and moved to America in 2008. He became an advocate to support Latinx and Hispanic immigrants to become business owners, providing sources and connections.

“They become or became business owners without intent to be business owners. They are intent on surviving. For the business owners, they have to learn how to own a business. They need to know how to pay taxes,” Guzman said.

Utah is one of the states in which the Hispanic population is rapidly growing. According to the data by the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the population in Utah now exceeds  450,000. The data also show that Hispanic Utah residents are yearly contributing $9.5 billion to the local economy. Utah’s economy is highly supported by Hispanic hard workers.

Hispanic immigrants are citizens who have civil rights, including equal employment opportunity. Guzman considered equality as “one size does not fit all.” People have different backgrounds, ages, languages, and beliefs. Everyone cannot be treated in the same way.

“There are more than 13,700 Hispanic business owners registered at Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But actually, the number is more than that. Only 13,700 business owners had the courage to self-identify themselves as Hispanics or minority when they registered their own businesses,” Guzman said.

People tend to estimate who the person is by only looking at the group where he/she belongs in spite of their backgrounds. Stereotyping results from ignorance of who the person is. Hispanic workers and business owners can feel more comfortable with their ethnic identity in a society where they can live fully as citizens.

 

 

Misrepresentations of Pacific Islands culture in Disney movies

Story by DAYNA BAE

Cultural delineation in media frequently involves praises and criticisms at the same time. The Pacific Islands culture could not avoid such portrayal.

The Walt Disney Company Co., one of the major entertainment companies in the world, has depicted various cultures through its film productions.

As a result, Disney’s animated films gained large popularity and reputation for their diverse cultural representations. Up to the present, Disney has released numerous films including “Aladdin,” “Mulan” and “Pocahontas” based on different cultural backgrounds around the world.

With success of prior films, Disney released two animated films “Lilo and Stitch” and “Moana,” both of which describe Pacific Islands culture.

Two films depicted culture and stories of indigenous people in the Pacific Islands. The films starred a number of actual artists and professionals with Pacific Islands background.

Jacob Fitisemanu Jr., a clinical manager with Health Clinics of Utah and an associate instructor of ethnic studies at the University of Utah, said in an email interview, “Lots of Pacific Islander artists got into the production of the films and movies, and it became a good opportunity for them.”

The production and release of movies about the Pacific Islands not only aroused public attention about its mysterious and veiled culture, but also provided a good opportunity for Pacific Islanders working in the field of animation production.

“The major positive aspect of those films is the showcasing of the incredible potential and abilities of the Pacific Islander artists who lent their expertise and talents to the films,” Fitisemanu said.

According to the Guardian, the writer-director team of Disney’s “Moana” conducted a five-year research trip to Polynesia to interview elders and people living in Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji to have a better understanding about Pacific Islands cultures.

Despite the efforts of the research team, the public reactions to “Moana” varied. Some people showed optimism about the movie for displaying unique features of a minority culture, while others, reported the Guardian, criticized the movie for misrepresenting the culture and history of Pacific Islands.

Fitisemanu said, “Some people are very upset about Maui’s depiction and the way his legendary exploits are shown in the animation.” Maui is a main character who is a demigod in the movie. He also said that some people are uncomfortable with the fact that Maui is not put into context. According to Fitisemanu, Pacific Islands legends are in fact metaphors of actual historical events, unlike how the movie portrays them as mythological and fantastical ones.

Dr. Malie Arvin, an assistant professor of history and gender studies at the University of Utah, said, “The movie was not making sense to me, because Maui was described as a braggart, comical, and arrogant person in the movie.” She said that Pacific Islanders criticize the movie because many of the legendary stories of Maui’s are missing. “Maui has lots of stories such as slowing down the sun and fishing up islands,” Arvin said.

Another criticism of “Moana” deals with tourism. According to the Guardian, “Moana” caused a flurry of travel articles about the Pacific Islands triggered by the movie’s depiction of vibrant landscapes. Disney partnered with Hawaiian Airlines to promote the film and tourism catalyzed by “Moana” led to more ecological destruction of the Pacific Islands. The Guardian reported that the problem is due to the “merchandise and tourism machine [which] operates in direct opposition to the morals of Moana, a young girl who cares fiercely for her people and her island.”

According to the Huffington Post, one of the major flaws of the movie is its failure to mention Hina, a companion goddess of the god Maui. “In Polynesian lore, a goddess with a god creates symmetry that gives harmony and beauty to the story.” In this regard, “Moana” lacks a critical concept of “symmetry” in the story.

However, this is not Disney’s first time to be criticized for its misrepresentation of indigenous cultures. “Lilo and Stitch,” an animated film released in 2006, was also blamed for using inappropriate lyrics for a Hawaiian traditional song.

According to Arvin, “There is an aboriginal song about King Kalākaua, who was the last monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom before he was overthrown by the U.S. government.” The lyrics are a dedication to his honor, which is very respectful about his legacy. “However, ‘Lilo and Stitch’ just took that song and replaced his name with Lilo’s name. It was disrespectful and painful to see,” Arvin said. “And that was really depreciative of the history of Hawaii,” she added.

Although there are fierce criticisms toward Disney’s films about Pacific Islands culture, there are still positive voices that compliment the works for their valiant efforts and attempts.

Fitisemanu said, “If the Disney movie inspired Pacific Islanders to learn more by doing their own research, opening dialogue with family elders and cultural custodians, and increasing the sharing of our own stories with the next generation, then I think that is a good thing.”

To prevent and correct cultural misconceptions created by major film production and entertainment industry, Arvin said that there should be more Pacific Islands directors. “One of the most famous Pacific Islander directors is Taika Waititi. He is a Maori film director who directed Marvel’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’,” Arvin said.