Opinion: Whose discrimination is it anyway?

Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Cleveland sports radio personality Chuck Booms threw a fit last week about the NBA’s Noche Latina [Latin Night] program, in which teams from cities with large Latin American populations honor their heritage during a particular game.

During a Noche Latina game, the arena might feature a Latin-themed musical performance or a giveaway related to a Latino player on the team. Most noticeable to people watching on television are the team’s bilingual uniforms. Booms, who is white, was referring to a recent nationally televised game between “El Heat” and “Los Lakers.”

“I don’t want to give a nod to a bunch of illegal immigrants crawling over the Rio Grande,” Booms whined. “I want English.”

This implies that the sole purpose of Noche Latina is to appease Spanish-speaking people who are here illegally, which is absurd.

Yes, the government’s inability to fix problems like illegal entry and visa overstay is a problem. Of the 50 million people of Hispanic origin in the United States, 12 million do not have authorization to be here.

However, that means the other 38 million Hispanics are citizens or have valid visas. To not market to this demographic would be moronic business.

Also, remember that the United States does not have an official language; actually, 18 percent of American households’ primary language spoken at home is not English. Why would any sports franchise want to ignore one-fifth of its potential customers?

Booms’ co-host, Kevin Kiley, mentioned that point: “Think of the little Spanish kids who are so excited when they see [the bilingual uniforms].” The NBA did research to confirm Latino fans refer to a team as “Los Bulls,” for example, and not “Los Toros.”

That argument didn’t please Booms. “How about the little white kids that don’t know what the hell it says?” he asked.

Then it serves as a wonderful learning experience for non-Hispanic kids, not as a reason to stop promoting to a substantial percentage of the community.

Team names are in English for every other game. Crying about the one time it isn’t reeks of white-privileged entitlement. But Booms continued to assert the Latino population doesn’t deserve special recognition because it’s unfair to everyone else.

“The whites have the power,” Kiley countered. “That’s horse crap, and you know it,” Booms replied. Really?

Hispanics’ unemployment rate is nearly three percentage points higher than that of white non-Hispanics. Their median household income is $14,000 less. They’re three times as likely to be in poverty and to not have health insurance. They’re about twice as likely to be in prison.

The average Latino student attends a school with more than twice as many poor classmates than the average white student’s school. White 12th graders score 22 points higher on reading tests than Hispanic students do.

Only six percent of prime-time television characters on broadcast networks are Latino or Latina, though that community makes up 16 percent of the U.S. population. Only seven Fortune 500 companies have Hispanic CEOs. Hispanic politicians only make up four percent of Congress.

But let’s continue complaining about a Spanish word on a basketball uniform.