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Marissa Hernandez

Professor Zawilski

RC 2001

November 19, 2017

A Community Silenced: The Lack of Publication of the Hispanic Plight in America

As the Hispanic population grows in the United States, social injustices plague the

community. Institutional racism within the American criminal justice system fuels racial

profiling and police brutality directed towards individuals of color. However, the issues that the

community faces are rarely publicized by broadcasting media. This research is important because

a mass group of individuals concerns are not being acknowledged in society, therefore there

cannot be any societal or political actions implemented that can be beneficial to the Hispanic

community. The public is constantly exposed to issues concerning the black and white majorities

of America. Therefore, a question arises: What are the injustices that Hispanics and African

Americans commonly share, how does the media depict minorities, and are the roles of

minorities progressively changing?

As a result of lasting prejudice and systematic discrimination, racism is still present in the

United States. Those that do not fit into the normative race, the white race in the United States,

are othered and are negatively compared. African Americans historically have been the

othered group. However, in 2016 the Hispanic population represent[ed] nearly 17% of the

total U.S. population, becoming the largest minority, and another othered group; due to the

jobs that Hispanic individuals typically obtain, such as fruit pickers, gardeners and cleaners,

there is a growing racialization of Hispanics into non-whites, without privileges (Arias).

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The news media promotes the idea that crime and violence derive from minorities such as

Hispanics and African Americans. Hispanics are depicted by the media as deviant subgroups

such as illegal aliens and drug users. (Arias) A 2014 study published by Columbia

University found that less than 1 percent of national news stories focused on Latinos. A majority

of those stories covered a Hispanic who was breaking the law. (Planas) Similarly, African

American are portrayed in a negative light by the news media. For example, African American

were twice as likely as whites to be portrayed as perpetrators of crime on local television news.


By the medias construction of criminal stereotypes of the Hispanic and African

American population, prejudice and discrimination are implemented against the people of color

by citizens and law enforcement, known as racial profiling. In the United States it results in

racism existing within the structures of institutions in society such as government and law

enforcement, extremely high rates of incarceration of colored people, and disproportionate

exposure to the possibility of police violence.

Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, and Ruben Garcia Villalpando were

victims of police brutality that resulted in death. All victims were said to be unarmed by

bystanders, but they were still shot and killed by police officers in 2015. None of the killings

were broadcasted on mainstream media. However, the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an

African American teenager, in August 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and

the death of Eric Gamer, an African American man who died after being put into a chokehold by

a New York City police officer in July 2014, led to a firestorm of protests under the moniker of

Black Lives Matter. (Lee)

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The performances of activism executed by the Black Lives Matter movement is the

leading force to what prompted mainstream media attention. Additionally, with the aid of social

media outlets, such as Twitter, it enabled the movement to gain even more publication. In 2014,

events in Ferguson, Missouri were discussed so frequently on social media that #Ferguson

became the most-tweeted hashtag in what was then Twitters ten-year history. (Bennett-

Swanson) Black activists are mobilized in a way that Hispanic activists are not. Hispanics

encounter obstacles, when attempting to mobilize such as language barrier and if illegal, fear of

deportation. The Black Lives Matter movement is source of empowerment for all minority

groups to stand up and seek resolution for the injustices they face.

Mass Media can range from a variety of communication mediums such as written,

broadcasted or spoke. This includes television, radio, advertising, newspapers, magazines and so

forth. The media employs several tactics in order to shape perception about a groups status and

value in society, influence intergroup dynamics, and impact individual self-concept

(Tukachinsky). Some examples of persuasion methods that the broadcast media employs are the

agenda setting effect, framing and priming.

The agenda-setting effect is, the media cueing people to think about some issues rather

than others; they make some considerations more salient than others. For example, the coverage

of crime, may include a report on every murder that happens in a large city. The priming tactic is

the use of media coverage to make the public take a particular view of an event or public

figure. News coverage of murders would likely make it seem that murder occurs much more

often than it actually does. Subsequently, framing the influence of the media over how events

and issues are interpreted occurs and a misperception might in turn give viewers an exaggerated

sense of risk of violent crime in their area.

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In addition, news media content may frame positively or negatively a specific ethnic

group. In turn, those narratives also shape individuals attitudes toward minorities. (Arais). For

example, the consistent promotion in conservative news outlets, that crime derives from

undocumented immigrants and the costs of illegal immigration in social services and taxes

directly result from the increase of Hispanics in the United States. Framing in this example,

depicts the Hispanic population as deviant and harmful group to society and shapes individuals

attitudes towards minorities in a negative manner. There is no definitive solution to cease the

negative misrepresentation of minority groups on news networks. In general, Hispanics and

Africans are underrepresented in the media. Consequently, when framing is employed it is

incredibly effective in persuading the viewers due to the audience being highly exposed to a

small representation of a group.

However, as time progresses, there is a possibility that (at least in particular years and

certain TV content) many of the more unflattering roles that dominated in previous years have

diminished, if not disappeared entirely when representing Black individuals in prime time

television (Tukachinsky). Prime time is the peak time is the block of broadcast time with the

most viewers. Since the 1980s, an improved image of Blacks has been displayed in prime time

television. Roles represented range from successful professionals to respected authority figures.

Despite being the largest minority group in the United States Hispanics are infrequently

seen on television a pattern that has persisted for decades. (Tukachinsky) When displayed they

are restricted [to a ] set of roles including criminals, exotic lovers/sex objects, servants/blue-

collar workers, and unintelligent objects of ridicule. (Tukachinsky) With the small amount of

studies conducted that examine Hispanics on television, the positive depiction of Hispanics is

minimal. However, Tukachinsky states that with the little research conducted, it is seen that
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more egregious portrayals are fading from television, including derisive roles and those

characterizing Latinos as unintelligent.

Hispanics and African Americans face similar issues: social injustice, by institutional

racism, racial profiling, and police brutality. Research conducted by experts exposes the very real

issues that both the Hispanic and African American community are facing and the amount of

attention outlets provide, that allow the concerns of the communities to be heard. The

weaknesses of existing research is the dichotomy of black and white conflict, which results in the

lack of acknowledgement of issues that other minority groups encounter. Although the Hispanic

community has difficulty acquiring the media attention, they can use similar methods that

African Americans exercise such as mobilizing the community and generating movements.

There is a need for the reformation of persuasive methods used in broadcasting media.

Negative framing, priming, and agenda setting are fueling undesirable attitudes towards

minorities. If framing, priming, and agenda setting are altered to not disproportionately display

minorities in a negative manner the creation of deviant stereotypes could potentially be

eliminated. Additionally, the media needs to take the initiative to cease the prescription of

stereotypically negative role upon minorities. Mass media outlets need to display minorities in

high status roles that the group has acquired today such as doctors, lawyers and teacher.

There is not one correct resolution to the issue of underrepresentation of minorities in the

media. However, there are actions that could be taken to gain access to outlets such as

mobilization, the use of social media as a platform of speech, and political activism.

Additionally, media outlets must cease the use of negative framing, priming, and agenda setting.

This research paper, displays the underrepresentation of the largest minority group in the United

States in broadcasting media. As the Hispanic population flourishes and becomes an arising
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majority, media outlets must initiate the publication of Hispanic plight so they are heard and later

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Works Cited

Arias, Santiago, and Lea Hellmueller. "Hispanics-And-Latinos and The U.S. Media: New Issues For

Future Research." Communication Research Trends 35.2 (2016): 4-21. Communication & Mass

Media Complete.

Bennett-Swanson, Meredith. "Media Coverage of Black Lives Matter." Critique: A Worldwide Student

Journal of Politics, Spring2017, pp. 98-130. EBSCOhost,


Dixon, Travis L., et al. "The Portrayal of Race and Crime on Television Network News." Journal of

Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 47, no. 4, Dec. 2003, pp. 498-523. EBSCOhost,


LEE, CYNTHIA. "Making Black And Brown Lives Matter: Incorporating Race Into The Criminal

Procedure Curriculum." St. Louis University Law Journal 60.3 (2016): 481-496. Academic

Search Complete.

Planas, Roque. The Fatal Police Shootings You Arent Hearing About. The Huffington Post, 28 Aug.



Tukachinsky, Riva, et al. "The Effect of Prime Time Television Ethnic/Racial Stereotypes on Latino

and Black Americans: A Longitudinal National Level Study." Journal of Broadcasting &

Electronic Media, vol. 61, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 538-556. EBSCOhost,