January 31, 2022
The Latinx Project at New York University recently published an op-ed from Christopher Chavez on the themes and issues shared in his new book, Sound of Exclusion: NPR and the Latinx Public, that dives into National Public Radio’s history of centering white listeners and relegating Latinx listeners to the side.
An except from the op-ed:
This is not NPR’s first public reckoning on race. Over the course of its fifty-year history, the network has frequently felt pressure to defend the ways in which it serves the needs of Black and Latinx listeners. NPR’s history tells us that the network has been caught up in a continuous cycle of public critique followed by internal reflection. Rarely, however, has this self-examination resulted in meaningful change. The network may make moves to hire Latinx journalists to headline its flagship programs, but the institution itself is never under question. Nor is there a wholesale reconceptualization of the public that it is tasked with serving.
And herein lies the problem. NPR’s inaction on diversity issues reflects a failure of imagination that prohibits the network from seeing Black and Latinx listeners as truly being members of the public for whom it creates programming. This complacency comes at an important time in American democracy, in which there are growing systematic efforts to exclude Latinx voters. The book calls for a reimagining of NPR as a public good that is meant to be accessed by the broader spectrum of the American public, not just the country’s most elite.
Read the entire op-ed here.