From Assimilation to Annihilation: Puerto Rican Images ii U.S. Films
Discrimination against Puerto Ricans by the mass media takes three main forms: Exclusion--the mass media refuses to acknowledge that Puerto Ricans exist. This includes the failure of the news and television documentaries to report on our reality. Dehumanization--when we do appear in the mass media, we are the targets of consistent negative stereotyping, which includes ridicule of our culture and language. Job discrimination--Puerto Ricans are blocked from working in the mass communications industry as actors, actresses, writers, producers, editors, technicians, and reporters. We are thus prevented from bringing our unique sensibilities, awareness, concerns, and creativity to the media. This situation is not unique to Puerto Ricans. In fact, we share this problem with all people of color in America.
Media exclusion, dehumanization, and discrimination are part of the cultural domination inherent in unequal power relations, and a key feature of the historical process by which people of color have been and continue to be subordinated. Cultural domination involves racist omissions, stereotypes, lies, and fantasies which distort history and weaken the consciousness, organization, and resistance of oppressed people. Recycled in various forms, these repeated distortions become part of the societys belief system, forming the dominant myths, symbols, vocabulary, and beliefs which define the consciousness of the nation.
Among whites, the cumulative effect of media exclusion, dehumanization, and discrimination is to strengthen the historically-rooted belief in white supremacy and the inferiority of people of color. Among people of color the effect is to deprive our children of positive role models, and to rob our entire people of our history, culture, sense of pride, and self-respect. Thus, these discriminatory actions in the media contribute to maintaining Puerto Ricans in a subordinate position in America and are used to undermine the Puerto Rican freedom movement.