Hispanic Heritage Month

By October 30, 2014Sylvia's Blog

Sylvia Perez and Jesse WhiteHispanic Heritage Month just ended.  This year was very special to me because I was one of 6 people who received an award from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office  Jessie White. My award was given for Excellence in Broadcast.

It was a humbling experience. My family wasn’t able to make it which is too bad, my mother would have been thrilled.  But, I had the next best thing.  A group of amazing girlfriends who are like family to me.

I think this year this award meant more than it normally would because of something that recently happened to me.

In September, I went for a job interview in a fairly large city.  I watched the newscast the night before so I could see what this TV market was like.  I actually enjoyed the news that night and it made me very excited about the interview to come the next morning.

The day of the interview, the News Director asked me what I thought of the newscast.  I told him I liked it, and that it  was very much the style that I am used to in the Midwest.

Then I said to him, “but there was one thing that I noticed that stood out to me.” He asked what that was.  I replied,  there isn’t much diversity amongst the on air talent.  He said what do you mean? I said to him, I noticed there were NO people of color on your air.  His reply shocked me and made me realize why tributes like Hispanic Heritage Month, African American History month and so many others  are so important.  He said to me,…”well, we really don’t have many African Americans in this town.  Our largest minority group is Hispanic and they don’t really watch mainstream English speaking news.  They all watch the Spanish stations.”

I was shocked, but chose to keep my mouth shut and not argue.  After all, this was a job interview.  But I left there thinking two things: Do I really want to work for someone  who still thinks this way? And, it also made me aware that we really do need to recognize the diversity in our nation.  I am proud to be Latina.  As I’m sure people are proud to be Caucasian, African American, Asian, Indian etc…

No doubt, we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.  In this day and age especially in a high profile outlet such as TV news, those news anchors should represent and reflect the community they are serving.  I guess I was naive. I thought this was second nature.

And that’s why this years Hispanic Heritage Month Award had significant meaning to me. It doesn’t make me more special.  But what it does do is acknowledge accomplishments and contributions that “people of color” bring to our nation.

The Latino minority group represents a lot of people and we are diverse within our own culture. We are part of this nation and therefore should be represented in every way.

I’m sure there are people who would argue this point.  But having that experience was surreal.  It made me feel like I was going back in time. Back when everyone thought this way.

Was that news director racist? I can’t say.  I”m not an activist by any means. But I do know there are obviously still lessons to be learned.

Sylvia Perez

About Sylvia Perez

Sylvia Perez is an Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist, news and health reporter, and major market anchor. Her expertise in revealing the personal side of headline stories and drawing their impact into “news you can use” viewership is now the foundation of Sylvia Perez Productions, a multi-faceted company specializing in video production and event planning for non-profits.

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