By Hugo Balta, NAHJ president
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what can be said about the Bloomberg Businessweek cover, The Great American Housing Rebound? It’s insensitive and ignorant. It stereotypes. Discriminates. Demonizes. Scapegoats. And it’s misleading.
Faces of color are cast as caricatures and the greedy benefactors of the housing crisis — when the truth is that Latinos were disproportionately the victims. With the United States’ economic crisis far from over, the magazine’s cover feeds ignorant fears that Latinos are to blame for the nation’s problems. This leads to feelings of resentment that can act to incite violence and hatred against Latinos, which is what has been happening when it comes to issues of immigration in this country. All this for a story in which race and ethnicity are not factors and are not even mentioned.
The truth is that Latino and African American homeowners and borrowers were more likely to be the victims of unscrupulous banks and mortgage companies. Wells Fargo had to pay $175 million for participating in predatory lending practices against people of color. Bank of America/Countrywide paid $335 millionfor similar tactics.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover also raises questions: Why didn’t anyone see that this cover was a problem? Where were the safeguards to make sure this kind of thing did not happen?
Josh Tyrangiel, Bloomberg Businessweek’s editor, has apologized, saying, “Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.”
That’s a start.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) offers its assistance to Mr. Tyrangiel. NAHJ extends its hand to Bloomberg Businessweek to help in meeting their commitment to excellence in journalism, championing diversity and the fair portrayal of Latinos.
Hugo Balta is a the President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a Coordinating Producer for ESPN. This blog post was originally published on the NAHJ Website.