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Joaquin Castro calls on Hollywood for better Latino representation in film

Joaquin Castro calls on Hollywood for better Latino representation in film
© Greg Nash

Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroState Department establishes chief officer in charge of diversity Texas governor faces criticism over handling of winter storm fallout DC bureau chief for The Intercept: Impeachment managers became 'like the dog who caught the car' when permitted to call witnesses MORE (D-Texas) is calling on Hollywood to improve Latino representation in the entertainment industry, arguing that stereotypical depictions are leading to hate crimes. 

“I bet most studio executives are progressives, yet the industry is regressive. Hollywood looks like an America of yesteryear,” Castro wrote in a column published Tuesday by Variety

“You can draw a clear line from the pervasive lack of positive Latino representation on-screen to the rise in hate crimes against our communities, including in El Paso,” he added, referring to the mass shooting at a Texas Walmart last year that killed 23 people and injured 23 more. 

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“What motivated such monstrous hate? I am asking this question not only as the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but also as the father of two Latino children. Today there is a dangerous nexus between the racist political rhetoric and the negative images of Latinos as criminals and invaders that Americans see on their screens,” Castro wrote. 

The congressman wrote that Latinos in entertainment are “often depicted as stereotypes, if we’re represented at all," with those “negative depictions” sometimes the only images of Latinos to which millions of Americans are exposed. 

He also said when positive stories are told, they are often overlooked, and underscored his argument by noting that generations of Latino actors have felt the need to change their names and appearances in order to secure roles. 

Castro said a lack of diversity in the industry among writers, producers, directors and executives is “at the heart of this failure.” He said the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been meeting with studios and industry stakeholders since last year, but that many executives make the “lazy argument” that since “Latinos disproportionately go to the movies” it is an indication “that we’re OK with the status quo.”

That line of thinking, “places the onus on the excluded group to counter discrimination,” he added. 

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Castro’s twin brother, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, highlighted similar issues in an interview with “Axios on HBO” released Tuesday.

“I think in every way, in American society, in the media, in Hollywood, in many professions, there's this image of the Latino community as though everybody got here five minutes ago, and the community has also been demonized, especially in the era of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE, as other, as foreign,” said Julián Castro, who was the only Latino candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. 

He also warned that Democrats could lose support from Latinos even if presumptive presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE wins in November, saying that the Latino community is often viewed as “invisible” or “an afterthought” despite making up the largest nonwhite voting bloc in this year’s election.