César Vargas: Media Portrayals of Afrolatinos

In the following excerpt from AfrolatinTalks hosted by The Afrolatin@ Project (a series of scholarly, relaxed conversations held at Cubana Social during the second day of Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015), César Vargas discusses media portrayals of Afrolatinos.

Reflection: Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015

First watch the video. Then read the transcription while listening to the excerpt. Later reflect on these questions.

Transcription: César Vargas – AfrolatinTalks

I also work, this is how I make my money, in PR and marketing. I was hired recently to gig for a PR and marketing agency and I wrote, once I got in there, I started to see that even in a marketing agency there are certain portrayals of Afrolatinos and just Latinos in general, that the ones you mostly see are white Latinos in the media. And that’s one of the issues it tackled on. My article that I wrote about it is called The Dark Side of Hispanic PR, Marketing and Media.

That’s what happened with Rodner. It’s sort of the perfect example of that. Latin American media, they’ve gotten away with making fun of blackface. They’ve had blackface for such a long time. They’ve gotten away with making fun of Afrolatinos. My friend here, William García, actually wrote an article about that recently, that it justs happens. Even today there are images of blackface, there are literally people putting on blackface and making fun of Haitians, making fun of Dominicans, and hardly you don’t read about that in the media, of course, in Latin America.

When I wrote that article about Rodner, for me it was like… for you in these spaces in the media, you actually want to have a job, for me, you know, sh… can we curse? [estamos hablando] because the gentlemen already that came in [Ariel Fernández-Díaz], the gentleman was saying that you have to be careful about speaking about racial issues within the Latin America diaspora and every time I speak about it, I’m afraid I’m not going to find any gigs, I’m not going to find any work because people have accused me of being divisive. That whole ‘divide and conquer’ thing, which pisses me off more than anything. Every time somebody says, “Oh, you’re just dividing and conquering”, and I say the divisions are already there. Speak to any Afrolatino. They’ll tell you we don’t have access to so many things.

Additional Resources

To learn more about César Vargas, visit his bio on UPLIFTT. Come back each day throughout August to see new interviews carried out during the Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015.

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