Latino leaders demand more from NBC, Brokaw, Meet the Press for xenophobic comments

Jan 28 · 9 min read

January 28, 2019
To: Steve Burke, President, NBCUniversal
cc: Andrew Lack, President, NBC News and MSNBC
cc: Chuck Todd, Host, Meet the Press
cc: Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent, NBC News

As Latino leaders active in politics, social justice, and the media, we could not let Tom Brokaw’s xenophobic and uneducated comments pass by without comment. Brokaw’s Sunday morning appearance featured comments that were completely unacceptable, and his subsequent tweets fell short of a real apology and acknowledgment of the extent of the ignorance of his comments. We expect more from someone who has spent his career covering and studying American history and culture, which appears to have some significant gaps about the Latino, Latinx and Hispanic communities and experience in the United States.

Though he has apologized, we are asking that:

  • Chuck Todd and Meet the Press production and booking team to integrate more regular and newer Latinx voices into the program to represent ourselves and our experiences;
  • The network makes a significant contribution to National Association of Hispanic Journalists to continue cultivating the bench of diverse reporters and analysts; and
  • Mr. Brokaw, Meet the Press and the network take actions to better educate themselves about the diversity of the fastest growing demographic in the country, including putting resources behind a series that highlights the diverse and complicated history and contributions of the community in the U.S.

For a man who claims to be a storyteller of American history, Brokaw’s comments did nothing more than repeat the ugly history of racist and xenophobic tropes that nearly every immigrant or ethnic group has had to endure. It is unacceptable that a major network news program would give a platform to one of their most well-respected personalities to repeat and extend these untrue and harmful stereotypes to Latinos. In California and Texas, Latinos submit more applications to college than any other racial group. By age five, English acquisition among U.S. born children of Latin American immigrants is 100%, higher than for previous waves of immigrants at the turn of the 20th century.

Our people and families come from places like Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, and Central America where decades of American foreign policy has lead to unsafe, unstable communities. We have had the courage to move, to seek freedom and opportunity in America. Our people and our families come from places like Puerto Rico- that in the 21st century, are still colonies of the United States — suffering from financial crisis and inattention in the face of increasing effects of climate change, without a fully democratic relationship with the mainland U.S. Our people and our families have inhabited the Southwest for many generations, since before manifest destiny was even a twinkle in the “settler’s” eyes. In fact, the 1911 Constitution of the State of New Mexico protected the right of its citizen to speak in English or Spanish. To assimilate means to be bilingual.

Indeed, we are a proud, diverse culture. Our food, music, and culture from the many countries we come from is woven into the tapestry of America. Despite decades of calls for assimilation, we have instead created the Latino American experience. Hispanic Americans are the quickest growing demographic in the country. Latinxs are proud multi-generational citizens and newly arrived immigrants, without whom this country could not run and surely would be less rich for our absence.

Mr. Brokaw’s comments are more than just out-of-touch musings. Mr. Brokaw’s comments are part of a legacy of anti-Latinx sentiment that is spreading freely in 2019. His comments were made at a time when the President and his allies in the right-wing media inflame his base by spreading lies about our community and he and his Administration have promulgated some of the most regressive anti-immigrant policies we have ever seen in this country. Not to mention, depictions of our community in popular culture continue to portray us in some of the most offensive terms.

Tom Brokaw’s comments also highlight another major oversight by NBC and Meet the Press: the consistent lack of representation of regular Latinx voices on the show. At a time when almost every week there are issues that are impacting this community disproportionately — immigration, political crisis in Venezuela and Central America, the impact of the Latino vote on politics in the U.S. — the network has done a woefully inadequate job of including more diverse voices that can speak about the current Latinx experience. It’s not for lack of a bench, there are plenty of operatives, reporters and analysts that could be more regular guests on the show, many have signed on to this letter.

We cannot let these comments pass. This has happened too many times and we will not let another egregious insult to our community go by without consequence. Our response to these xenophobic attacks will not be to hide or repress who we are or to be embarrassed or ashamed of our culture. To the contrary. We love this country. We are 100% American and 100% Latino. We are America, just the way we are.

Adrian Saenz, Senior Advisor, Latino Victory Project
Albert Romero
Alejandra Castañeda, Deputy Political Director, Priorities USA
Alejandra Gomez, Co-Executive Dir., LUCHA
Alejandra Montoya Boyer
Alexa Kissinger, Associate, Jenner & Block LLP
Alfredo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, California State University, Dominguez Hills
Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., Faculty, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Amanda Alvarez
Amanda Renteria, Chairwoman, Emerge America
Ana Flores, Founder, #WeAllGrow Latina Network
Ana Z. Licona,Community Advocate
Andrea Marta, Executive Director, Faith in Action Fund
Andrea Mercado, Executive Director, New Florida Majority
Andrea R Flores, Attorney
Andrea Ramos, Training Manager, ACRONYM
Andres Chong-Qui Torres, Mr., Columbia University
Andrés Macias
Angel Luis Molina, Jr., Ph.D., Researcher, Professor
Anna Sampaio, PhD, Associate Professor, Chair — Ethnic Studies Department, Santa Clara University
Armando Ortega
Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO
Atenogenes Villarreal
Beatriz Acevedo, President, Acevedo Foundation
Betina Cutaia Wilkinson, Associate Professor, Wake Forest University
Brad Jones, Professor, UC Davis
Caitlin Opperman, Deputy Director of Training and Fellowships, Priorities USA
Carlos Cuéllar,The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Carlos Mark Vera, Co-founder, Pay Our Interns
Carmen Lomellin, Ambassador (ret)
Carmen Perez-Jordan, Executive Director, The Gathering for Justice
Carmen Torres, Steering Committee Member, Vamos4PR Florida
Carolina Rubio -MacWright, Immigration Attorney and Activist
Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman, Director of Partnerships, Demos
Celeste Vega, Proud Puerto Rican, Ivy League Graduate
Chris Zepeda-Millan, Associate Professor of Public Policy, UCLA
Christian Arana, Policy Director, Latino Community Foundation
Christian La Mont
Christina Valdez,CenturyLink
Chuck Rocha, President, Solidarity Strategies
Clemson Smith Muñiz, President, Smith Muñiz Productions
Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor, New York University
Cristina Jimenez, Executive Director, Co-Founder, United We Dream
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, Executive Director, Jolt
Daisy Auger-Dominguez
Daniel Castan, Attorney, Castan and Lecca PC
Danielle Cendejas, Senior Vice President, The Strategy Group
David C. Wilson, Senior Associate Dean, Social Sciences, University of Delaware
Dayhanna Acosta, Entrepreneur
De’Ara Balenger, Co-Founder, Maestra
Dominic Lowell
Dora Tovar, President, Tovar Public Relations
Dr. Zulmara, Dr., CEO/Founder Roots and Wings
Ed Morales, Author, Professor, Columbia University
Eddie Lucero, Graduate Student, University of California, Merced
Edgar Calderon, President, Babylon MediaWorks
Edward D. Vargas, PhD, MPH, Senior Analyst, Latino Decisions
Elis Ribeiro
Elvis S. Cordova, Founder and Principal, Statecraft Strategies
Eneida I. DelValle
Estuardo V. Rodriguez, President & CEO, Friends of the American Latino Museum
Favianna Rodriguez, Artist and Executive Director, CultureStrike
Francesca de Quesada Covey
Franco Caliz-Aguilar, Director of Political Strategy, Way To Win
Frankie A. Martínez Blanco, Associate Director, Strategy & Engagement, XQ Institute
Frederick Pfaeffle Arana, Esq.
Gabriel R Sanchez, Professor, Political Science, UNM- Latino Decisions
Gabriel Sandoval, Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education (Obama)
Genny Castillo
George Soto, Scenic Designer, IATSE USA LOCAL 829
Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa, Consultant, Collective Strategies Group
Georgina C. Verdugo, Esq.
GinaLinn Espinoza, Founder & Activator, UpLatino, Get Wise Latinas, RiseUp Leadership, Million Latina March, WestenWoman, AlmaCorazon, La Casa que Cura
Gladys Esquivel, RN BSN
Heather Silber Mohamed, Assistant Professor, Clark University
Hector Cordero-Guzman, Professor, City University of New York
Henry Flores, Dean, St. Mary’s University
Hon. Lucy Flores, CEO, Luz Collective
Irene Sanchez, Ph.D., HS Latino Studies Teacher, Professor, and Poet, Bard College-Los Angeles
Irma Esparza Diggs
Ivelisse Cuevas-Molina, Assistant Professor, Fordham University
Janelle Henderson, Proud ally and citizen,
Jarred Cuellar, PhD Student/Latino Politics Scholar, University of Southern California
Jason L. Morín, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge
Javier Sierra, Associate director of communications, Sierra Club
Jayde Powell
Jeffrey Reynoso, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
Jennifer Baykan
Jennifer Bolanos, Founder, Vía Raíz
Jerónimo Saldaña,
Jess Morales Rocketto
Jesse Aman
Jessica L Lavariega Monforti, Dean, California Lutheran University
Jessie González Wakefield, Multicultural Strategist,
Joanne Urrutia, Bilingual Education Consultant, JHU Consulting
Joaquín Guerra, Founder, Más Power Group
Joe A Lopez, YN1, United States Navy (Retired),
Jose A. Campos, Atrisqueno since 1692, Retired, VC Older Americans Program
Jose A. Solorio, Founder, Latinos Engage
José Dante Parra, CEO, ProsperoLatino, ProsperoLatino
José Muñoz, Associate Professor, Cal State San Bernardino
Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Julia Moreno Perri, Creative Being,
Julie Martinez Ortega, JD PhD, Director, Washington Office and Chief Data Scientist, Sandler Phillips Center
Karla Monterroso, CEO, Code2040
Katherine Archuleta
Kelly Macías, Ph.D.
Kenia Morales, Nevada State Director, America Votes
Kennia Leonely Coronado, PhD Student
Lainie Copicotto-Green, President & Founder, The GreenHouse MGMT & PR
Lalo Alcaraz, Editorial Cartoonist
Larry Gonzalez, Founding Principal, LatinStrategies/The Raben Group
Laura Esquivel, National Advocacy Director, Hispanic Federation
Lendy Salazar
Leo Cruz, Veteran, U.S. Navy
Liliana Cruz
Linda Stella Manus Diaz
Lisa Flavia Garcia
Lisa Hunter
Loida L Tapia, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Michigan Department of State
Lorraine Selva-Speights
Lourdes Castro Ramirez, President, University Health System Foundation
Luis Avila, President, Iconico
Luis Melero,Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern School of Law
Manuel Avalos, Professor, University of Southern Maine
Marco A. Davis
Marco Suarez
Marcos Vilar, President, Alianza for Progress
Maria Chavez, Associate Professor and Chair, Pacific Lutheran University
María Urbina, National Political Director, Indivisible
Mariana Ruiz, Executive Director, Kairos
Mariela Silva
Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center
Mario Solis-Marich, Content Creator
Marissa Padilla
Maritza Perez, Esq.
Marsha Catron, Founding Partner, Swann Street Strategies
Marta Urquilla
Martha M. Escutia, Retired State Senator (CA)
Martin Cuellar
Martín Diego Garcia, Vice President, The Campaign Workshop
Maruxa Cardenas, President, Our Revolution Puerto Rico
Mary Rivera Cummins, President, Cummins Real Estate, Animal Advocates
Matt A. Barreto, Co-Founder, Latino Decisions
Mayra Azanza, Independent artist
Mayra Castillo
Melyssa Mendoza
Mercedes Marquez, HUD Assistant Secretary (Obama), CPD, Marquez Community Strategy
Michael Artime, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Pacific Lutheran University
Michael Frias
Michelle Mayorga, Vice President, GBA Strategies
Monica Ramirez, Founder, Justice for Migrant Women
Natalia Salgado, Senior Political Strategist, Center for Popular Democracy
Nate Snyder, Former Obama DHS Counterterrorism Official and Latinos44 Chair, Latinos44
Nathalie Sosa, Student, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Neidi Dominguez, National Director of Strategic Campaigns, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
Nury Castillo Crawford, President, Georgia Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents
Octavio Gonzalez, CEO, Fourth Street Bridge Strategies, LLC
Olivia Garcia, Ph.D.
Oscar Silva, Executive Director, Battleground Texas
Oscar T. Ramirez
Otto Santa Ana, Professor, UCLA
Paola Mendoza, Artist & Activist
Paola Ramos, Latinx Advocate
Patricia A Gonzales
Pauline Girvin-Montoya,Social, Environmental and Indigenous Justice
Pilar Marrero, Independent Journalist
Pili Tobar, Managing Director, America’s Voice
Rachel Pineda, Sports Emmy and Imagen Award winner, NALC Branch 86
Randy Villegas, PhD student, University of California, Santa Cruz
Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, Professor of Chicano Studies, UCLA
Rebecca L. Guerra
Rene Rocha, Associate Professor, University of Iowa
Renee Manrique
Roberto Rey Agudo, Language Program Director for Spanish and Portuguese, Dartmouth College
Roberto Valdez, NOW Strategies
Roger Salazar, President, ALZA Strategies
Roxanna Sarmiento, Partner, WeAllGrow Latina Network
Roy Herrera, Attorney
Sam Jammal, Civil Rights Attorney & Clean Energy Businessman
Santiago Martinez, Partner, Arena
Sarah Audelo, Executive Director, Alliance for Youth Action
Sean Marquez
Sergio Gonzalez
Sergio I Garcia-Rios, Assistant Professor, Coronell University
Shantel Meek, Professor of Practice, Arizona State University
Sky Gallegos, Executive Vice President, NextGen America
Soledad Roybal, Founder, Latino Tech Policy Initiative
Sonia Fernandez, Executive Director of Labor & Public Relations, Aava Dental
Sophia Jordán Wallace, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Stephanie Valencia
Steve Haro, Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce (Obama), Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas
Tammye Treviño, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Bexar County
Teresa Acuña,Harvard University
Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Councilmember, At Large — City of Seattle
Teresa Trujillo Montion
Thomas E. Franklin, Assistant Professor in Multiplatform Journalism Montclair State University
Tony Affigne, Professor of Political Science, Providence College
Tony Martinez, Former Chief of Staff, Wage & Hour Division, US Dept of Labor
Tory Gavito, President, Way to Win
Valerie Martinez-Ebers PH.D., University Distinguished Research Professor And Director of Latino and Mexican American Studies Program, University of North Texas
Vanessa Cruz Nichols, Assistant Professor, UC Riverside
Vanessa Mota, Founder, Content Creator, Smart Little Cookie Media, LLC
Veronica Gallegos
Victoria Ochoa, Law Student
Vivian Graubard
Wes Goodenough, LICSW, Principal, Goodenough Counseling
Xavier Medina Vidal, Diane D. Blair Professor of Latino Studies, University of Arkansas
Yol-Itzma Aguirre, Latinx Comms Outreach
Yoshira Macias-Mejia, PhD Candidate, UNM
Yvanna Cancela, State Senator, Nevada State Senate

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