June 27th, 2007
Editors: Watch for wide ranges of opinions, even in the same cultural group
By Leo Laurence
“Diversity is like a flower in that every petal is different, yet contributing to something beautiful.”
That statement is on a large sign on a chain-link fence surrounding an elementary school in San Diego. It caught my eye for its wisdom.
However, in each cultural or ethnic group usually identified with diversity (people of color and Gays), there are a wide range of differences to which editors and reporters need to be sensitive.
For example, whenever a major court decision comes down involving gay rights, San Diego TV stations typically send numerous crews to the local Gay Center to get reaction. The director of that center is a lesbian. Does she speak for all the Gay Community? No!
Editors and reporters need to be aware that there are some strong undercurrents of opposition by gay men (particularly middle age and seniors) against the increasingly persuasive power exercised by lesbians in many communities, such as in San Diego.
Also, in the Gay Community, there is everything from leather to lace and a wide range of customs in between. Leather boys often do not agree, or like, the drag queens or transgendered, although all are usually lumped together in that community.
To cover the Gay community, an editor needs to cover that wide range of customs from leather to lace. They also need to realize that Gays can also be people of color.
Diversity among Latinos
When covering immigration stories, editors and reporters often will think of the “illegal aliens” as being all Mexicans, largely because they are crossing the Mexican border with the United States.
But, while all Mexicans are Latinos, not all Latinos are Mexicans. Many of those immigrants are from Ecuador, Guatemala or South American countries.
Semantics is extremely important with diversity issues. For example, to refer to Gays as homosexuals today is similar to calling African-Americans as Negroes. It just isn’t done.
Similarly, many Chicanos prefer to be called Chicano or Latino, and not Hispanic, which they consider to be a white word.
The phrase “illegal aliens” is a no-no, also. It de-humanizes the Latinos to which it refers. The phrase editors and reporters ought to use instead is “undocumented immigrants.”