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.
The truth is that minorities are more often than not the victims of predatory practices by unscrupulous banks and mortgage companies. Wells Fargo had to pay $175 million for predatory lending practices against minorities. Bank of America/Countrywide paid $335 million for similar tactics.
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.
Is the mortgage on your house more than what it’s worth?
Are you having a tough time selling your house?
Has the value of your house; the houses in your neighborhood gone down?
Well, now you know who to blame. It’s the Latinos, the minorities – of course!
Propaganda like the Bloomberg Businessweek cover 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.
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) and like kind minority journalism organizations offer assistance in ensuring that people of color are represented and portrayed fairly and accurately.
NAHJ extends its hand to Bloomberg Businessweek to help in meeting their commitment to excellence in journalism and championing diversity.
Hugo Balta is senior director of multicultural content at ESPN. He is a former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.