The new Fusion network, aimed at English-speaking Latino millennials, is following in the footsteps of its Spanish-language counterparts and so far is featuring only light-skinned Hispanics. Asked whether Afro-Latinos will be on the network, a joint venture of ABC News and Univision, spokesman David Ford told Journal-isms by email, “He’s not an Afro-Latino, but Derrick Ashong will be anchoring a nightly program on Fusion called ‘DNA.’ Born in Ghana and educated at Harvard, Derrick was raised in Brooklyn, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and New Jersey. Derrick previously anchored ‘The Derrick Ashong Experience’ on SIRIUS XM’s Oprah Radio and the Emmy-nominated ‘The Stream’ on Al Jazeera English.” Ashong is not Hispanic.
Arlene Davila, a professor of anthropology, social and cultural analysis at New York University and an expert on Latino identity and marketing to Latinos, saw the Oct. 9 news release about Fusion’s morning show and wrote on Facebook Monday: “Remember ABC/Univision ‘Fusion”s promise to represent ‘Latino millennials’?? well get ready for more of the same: super white anchors, no Mexican Americans or Puerto Ricans or US Latinos but same old cast you’d find in any Latin American exportable show — except they speak English! Whoever is heading this thing needs to hit our barrios and get a reality check!! ” One of her Facebook friends replied, “Well, but what can we expect from Blancovision?” and “The other phrase that we used was Uniblanco.” Davila told Journal-isms by telephone, “the racial blinders are still in place.” Hispanics can be white, black, Indian, Asian or a combination of those races.
A longstanding complaint about Spanish-language television is that only lighter-skinned Hispanics are featured, especially in the telenovelas. Latin American nations are not monolithic in their approach to race, but a country such as the Dominican Republic has been openly hostile to people of African descent. Blacks are encouraged to call themselves “Indios.” A Dominican court decision recently stripped citizenship from children of Haitian migrants, who are dark-skinned, rendering more than 200,000 people stateless. Yet of the estimated 11.2 million enslaved Africans who survived the Middle Passage from 1502 to 1866, most were taken to Latin America and the Caribbean, with only 450,000 landing in the United States. About 4.8 million went to Brazil alone, according to figures quoted by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his 2011 PBS series and book, “Black in Latin America.” In some countries, “white” and “black” are considered social, not racial terms, indicating status. Whites are at the top of the pecking order. In 2000, Brazil counted whites as 53.7 percent of its population, with mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5 percent and blacks 6.2 percent.
Fusion’s two-hour morning show features Brazilian journalist Pedro Andrade as one of three hosts. The others are Venezuelan-American Mariana Atencio of Univision News and comedian Yannis Pappas, a Greek-American born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. The media play their role in determining racial status. As Damarys Ocaña Perez wrote in 2012 for Latina magazine, “It doesn’t help that despite the high-profile black Latinas making it in Hollywood and other industries, black Latinas are rarely seen as such in movies (many black Latina actresses play African Americans on screen) and in ads, which generally depict Latinos as light-brown hued.” Ocana quoted Yvette Modestin, director of Boston’s nonprofit Encuentro Diaspora Afro as saying, “The effect on Afro-Latinas is the creation of a “very schizophrenic world” in which many are not understood or accepted. . . .’ ” Representatives of Spanish-language Univision, Telemundo and CNN en Español did not respond when asked about participation of Afro-Latinos in their programming.
To read full story: http://mije.org/richardprince/new-fusion-features-light-skinned-latinos#Fusion