Latino stereotypes may still abound in television shows and movies, but the Latino Rebels Foundation is looking to change that.
Latino businesses, communications and media professionals have banded together to create The Latino Rebels Foundation and start a new program to help Latino filmmakers and journalists break into the industry. The foundation has pledged to raise scholarship funds for Latinos to study journalism and film.
Charles Garcia, Co-Founder of the Latino Rebels Foundation, says he hopes more Latinos will enter Hollywood and newsrooms and change the perceptions and stereotypes around Hispanics. The new foundation is meant to be a funding arm for students to study at the American Film Institute.
“The best way to change public perceptions is to change stories coming out of Hollywood and make sure that we have journalists at news organizations and that have a Latino conscience and radar,” he says.
Garcia says that the idea for the pipeline started from the results of a Hilton Knowlton study that showed that there is a pervasive negative perception of Latinos in the United States. The study found that a majority of non-Hispanics overestimate the proportion of Hispanics who are here illegally, 75 percent of people do this.
An astounding 80 percent of Americans associate Hispanics with being involved in crime and gang violence. However, there were also some positive numbers such as the fact that 90 percent of people associate Hispanics with being hard-working.
Garcia says that the study confirms his suspicion that the “Latino brand was tarnished.”
However, the study did not receive widespread attention because of criticism over its methodology. The study was conducted online. Still, Garcia defends the results, citing statistician Nate Silver’s claim that online surveys are more accurate than public opinion polls.
Regardless of the study, Garcia believes that having Latinos working behind the scenes in media will change some of the depictions on the big screen.
“We don’t have many executives that are Latino. So what you have coming out of Hollywood are gangbangers, traffickers, criminals. That’s what Americans perceive,” he says.
Although foundation was just launched at Hispanicize 2013, it has already seen a lot of support. Jim McNamara, the CEO of Cine Latino and Chairman of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, has given a 100,000 match grant for the scholarship initiative. Top Obama fundraiser Andres Lopez has also gotten involved with the new pipeline program.
“Every contribution will help change the image of Latinos in this country,” Garcia says.