Kennedy Center Practices 'Institutionalized Racism'


It’s been widely reported how Kennedy Center director Michael Kaiser screamed an obscenity into the telephone when confronted by Felix Sanchez, director of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts about the ongoing paucity of recognition for Latino artists in the last 35 years.
Lalo Alcaraz, an award-winning illustrator, writer and satirist, conducted an op-ed Q&A with Sanchez on the issue at Here are some of the highlights of their exchange (with Alcaraz asking and Sanchez answering):
Q. Even Led Zeppelin has been honored this year! This is a choice that many longhaired Chicano rockers and stoners from Texas to Califas would bang their heads in approval, but it only proves one thing: even the British are ahead in line of US Latinos, right?
A. Yes, even the last remaining member of Led Zeppelin, a British rocker can be honored before Latinos. And lesser known musicians, like Buddy Guy. Look, there’s a formula for the Kennedy Center TV show. Each year there’s one black person. Every few years there’s an Asian. Then a dancer or opera singer. And a major actor or comedian. So that’s the formula: black, white, occasionally Asian.
Q. This is official institutionalized racism, right? 
A. Here’s a very important way to get this: We get bigotry from the right. Like the stuff spewed by Jan Brewer [Arizona governor]. When we see it from the left, it’s just as harmful! These are bookends of bigotry. It’s infinitely harder to fight on the left. Art, news, entertainment, the bigotry of the left edits it out for us. And Latinos are excluded. This is what bigotry looks like. And nobody blinks.
Q. Every abuelita has a picture of Kennedy somewhere in their casa. What a disconnect! 
The Left sees us, but we are still invisible to them. We are kept on the periphery. We are unable to be seen in the mainstream. Both right and left Latinos get this issue.