Is Racism to Blame for the Lack of Latinos in Media?

Why is it that even in 2015, it's still not commonplace to stumble upon a media company that not only acknowledges the Hispanic community, but includes said community without apparent hesitation?
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I knew I wasn't going to get hired.

I had done my homework, further familiarizing myself with the celebrity gossip publication, compiling a succinct portfolio and creating samples that incorporated the tonality of the brand. Whatever the outcome, I was determined to leave no room for "What ifs." Notwithstanding my efforts, the interviewer was glued to his phone the entirety of our meeting, insisting that although he was barely glancing at my samples, he was, indeed, reading them.

A couple of days later, the rejection email came through, and I wondered if despite my qualifications I had failed to land the job because someone else was a better "cultural fit." But was it a matter of discrimination, or was I just one of a few -- if not, the only Hispanic -- applying for the reporter position at this publication?

As of July 1st, 2013, there are 54 million Hispanics in the United States, making up 17% of the U.S. population. As if these numbers weren't gripping enough, Adweek points out that Hispanics are a marketer's dream, both digitally savvy and connected.

To this point, a survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than Whites to use Twitter. So, then why is it that even in 2015, it's still not commonplace to stumble upon a media company that not only acknowledges the Hispanic community, but includes said community without apparent hesitation?

Just flip to the masthead or LinkedIn profile of the biggest U.S. women's magazines, and you're bound to notice some discrepancies. Sure, there are Hispanic employees throughout the Latino verticals of these publications (pertinent only to those publications that have launched one), but diversity within women's magazines, in general, is sparse -- yet a 2009 study revealed that diverse teams perform better because "the mere presence of socially distinct newcomers and the social concerns their presence stimulates among old timers motivates behavior that can convert affective pains into cognitive gains."

Additionally, more and more companies are starting to realize just how prevalent the Hispanic market actually is. In 2014, tech giant Google spent $115 million to increase workplace diversity, after getting flak for unveiling a lack thereof. Since Google's initiative, Intel and Apple followed suit, spending $600 million and $60 million, respectively.

Perhaps it's time media titans consider emulating these intentions, especially since Google revealed that increasing efforts to diversify the workplace has resulted in an increase in applicants of diverse backgrounds. Meanwhile, Univision alludes to a 43% growth in the Hispanic market since the last Census.

Adding to this point, Joe Uva, Chairman of Hispanic Enterprises and Content at NBCUniversal, says, "Hispanic America is the new mainstream" -- this in spite of the fact that the Department of Labor has concluded that only approximately one in six employed Latinos aged 25 and over has completed a bachelor's degree (less than half the amount amongst Whites).

While one might be tempted to assume that this means most Hispanics are not qualified to land the job, the aforementioned statistics do little to convey just how many Hispanics are applying for the positions typically filled by their counterparts. Furthermore, educational trends don't address the lack of non-stereotypical roles for Latinos in Hollywood -- yet another meager representation of Hispanics in the media.

Cuban-American actor Manny Alfaro, executive director of Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), an arts service and advocacy organization dedicated to expanding the presence of Hispanic artists in entertainment and media through the cultivation, education and recognition of emerging artists, says, "It's very hard for an actor to break the mold of a stereotype until he starts making a name for himself." And when an actor finally does, Alfaro claims, "There are improvements simply because they recognize the rather voluminous purchasing power that Latino audiences have."

Maybe Alfaro is on to something, and maybe the only way to invoke change is to call attention to the companies that fail to embody our stories...both in fiction and real life.

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