Arianna Huffington gets it. If there were ever a time when Hispanic-Americans needed to be heard, if there were ever a time for Latino Voices to launch, it is now.
Anyone who's seen the 2010 Census results should understand why. And consider this: by 2020, it's estimated that more than 50% of all teenagers in the US will be Hispanic-American.
I could probably stop right there and most people would get the point or at least understand the need for greater inclusion and representation of Hispanics.
But some--particularly in the media--still wouldn't.
So let's make it perfectly clear. Here's another group of Americans that represent 50% of the population: women. Imagine for just a moment what America would be like without the benefit of female voices in news, general media, advertising or Hollywood. We would be poorer for it.
And yet that's the reality Hispanic-Americans face today and may continue to face in the next decade: a glaring lack of representation in America's national conversation.
Not only are there no prominent Latino anchors or correspondents in prime time cable news, there aren't even many Hispanic guests. In fact, a 2008 Media Matters study found that although Latinos then comprised more than 15% of the US population, they made up only 2.7% of cable news guests. It's a jaw-dropping statistic.
A few months ago, a friend of mine who's a Hollywood producer did his own, back of the envelope math on Hispanics in new 2011 television shows. In the 2011 television pilot season, nearly 666 actors were hired. Only 33--less than 5%-- were Latino. Of the almost 450 "team members" (executive producers, directors, show runners, etc.), only 2 were Hispanic. The 16% of the US population that are Hispanic will watch this year's new shows only to see an America that doesn't see them.
Yes, you could argue that Latinos are represented on Spanish speaking outlets such as Univision and Telemundo. But guess what. That is of little or no value to Hispanic-American teens who, like my own children, speak English and not Spanish, and are more apt to watch the NFL than a soccer match. Doesn't it make good business sense to include them in the national conversation? Wouldn't their perspectives and insights be as important as those of Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans and all other groups who are now woven into the fabric of American society?
This is not a call for charity. It's a call for reality and inclusion. The Latino voice should be and will be an important part of the American voice. And when that happens, we'll all realize--as has been the case with other groups who've mixed into the America Melting pot--that we are all really much more the same than we are different. Let's do it America. I'll bring the cafesito.