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Fernanda Should Not Have Been Fired

Diversity policies off base

by j. brotherlove

English-speaking radio and television executives aren’t the only ones implementing change after the Imus and Washington debacles. Monica Taher, media director of GLAAD, told La Opinión "we are seeing a radical cultural change in Spanish media, which makes us feel happy and proud." However, that "radical change" in policies may need some tweaking.

In June, when Telemundo TV personality Luisa Fernanda used the Cuban word for grouper on the show Cotorreando she had no idea the word also was a negative Cuban slur for gay men. The result, Telemundo executives fired Fernanda for conduct inconsistent with the company’s culture and its respect for diversity.

For the record, Fernanda — who is Mexican and had no knowledge of the Cuban slur — has taken the high road in the situation by not criticizing Telemundo. However, many in the LGBT community are upset. Even Taher admits ”We actually watched the clip, and the context wasn’t to insult gays and lesbians.”

The issue is further complicated because Fernando has documented support of the LGBT community. Yet, her ignorance of the Cuban slur led to her dismissal. Alfredo Richard, Telemundo’s vice president of corporate communications, is clear on the company’s position, stating “It’s part of the responsibility of talent to the community to know these things.”

While I can respect that position, it seems ludicrous that Telemundo executives cannot make distinctions in each incident.

On the blog Stuck On The Palmetto, Alex writes:

If Telemundo is going to get that sensitive about homosexual slurs, watch out. Other forbidden words would be snapper, bird, duck, crazy, avocado, understanding and a dozen other ones. Slang words vary so much from country to country it’s almost impossible for anybody not to use a word another Hispanic may find funny or offensive.

My chief fear is that we are creating a culture where non-gays are afraid to say anything relating to the LGBT community for fear of inadvertently insulting us (and getting fired). When we lose supporters like Fernanda over technicalities, it’s time to revisit our agenda.

pub: 07/09/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 3 | subscribe

It is ludicrous to expect one person to be able to keep up with the slang of every Latin country. that would be a full-time job for pete’s sake. and it’s funny to see telemundo acting so high and mighty when a quick peek at its programming wouldn’t exactly win them any awards for being progressive.

2. Molly-Jane

Well, while they are at it, maybe someone could also check out the racial slurs they hurl, particularly about blacks. The FCC really needs to regulate Spanish radio and television, they get away with far more than mainstream English broadcasters do.

3. Rik

Of course, public discourse on and off the airwaves is important. It just makes me very annoyed that these relatively unimportant things take up SOOOOO much time - that people forget their health benefits, pensions, (companies can borrow against them and they are woefully underfunded as it is); the future of social security, soaring crime and cost of prisons etc. gets pushed further and further to the back burner.

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