An Opportunity and a Challenge: Racism, Sexism, and Ethnic Biases Are Still Alive and Well. (Diversity of Opinion)

By Cortez, Angela | The Masthead, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview
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An Opportunity and a Challenge: Racism, Sexism, and Ethnic Biases Are Still Alive and Well. (Diversity of Opinion)


Cortez, Angela, The Masthead


When asked to write a piece for The Masthead on what it's like being a woman of color on the editorial board of The Denver Post, the first thing that came out of my mouth was: "Okay, but if I get fired, you're going to get me another job, right?"

After the laughing subsided and I began thinking about what I could write, I started to analyze the comment I made to Kay Semion, editor of The Masthead.

Why do I say such things--even in jest? With that question lingering, I began considering what I would write, how I would structure the article. Finally, I settled on the belief that being the first Latina on The Denver Post editorial board is an incredible opportunity--a blessing, really--but it can also be very challenging. I have to choose my battles carefully and even at that, my losses on the board outweigh my outright wins when it comes to pushing my ideals as a liberal-to-moderate Mexican-American woman.

So the bottom line is that I'm going to tell it like it is. The fact that I'm on the board and also have the opportunity to write a column in a major newspaper--while long overdue--is a fantastic step forward. I feel that I bring a fresh, new perspective to the editorial pages--a voice of many that has gone undelivered into the mainstream for too long.

My background in the study of oppression and disadvantaged populations also serves as a reminder of the horrors of the past that should not be repeated. Overall, it's a great position to be in. But racism, sexism, and ethnic biases are still alive and well, and in my position I have seen (more than once) what I believe was institutional discrimination. Yet, I have felt like someone who is of value partially because of her background, but also as someone who should strive to keep that background in check.

Several years ago, I knew a very bright Latina woman. She was hired by a city in Colorado to be its cultural director. This city has a large and growing Hispanic population, and the woman was seen as someone who could bridge the gap between the city and its predominately Mexican and Mexican-American groups. She was enormously talented and enthusiastic with ideas galore. Such ideas were explored during meetings with city department heads.

One day, she received an anonymous note in her box. It read, "We wanted a Hispanic, but you're being too Hispanic.

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