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Talent and experience, not ethnicity, should matter in Hollywood

To the editor: Writers Jose Antonio Vargas and Janet Yang join a chorus of critics bemoaning the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the movie and television industries and their awards nominations. ("Hollywood's diversity problem beyond 'Selma': Asian, Latino stories are missing," op-ed, Feb. 19)

They rely mainly on the "numbers" game — that is, participation should be based on a group's percentage of overall population, or in this case, also the moviegoing population. They also cite freely from the "Hollywood Diversity Report" without mentioning that the group responsible for the report, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, just may have a political agenda.

Why don't these critics go after other industries, such as professional sports? After all, the NBA is mostly black, and the NHL is predominantly white. Perhaps it's because we long ago accepted the fact that participation in these fields should be based on ability and experience.

Some of the issues raised by Vargas and Yang are valid, but concentrating on numbers is simply "playing the race card."

Gary Watkins, Sun Valley

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To the editor: Vargas and Yang will have to take a number and stand in line behind all the journalists and cultural advocacy groups that have been fighting for fair representation in Hollywood for decades.

While it is wonderful to see that progress has been made by African Americans, and deservedly so, true diversity suggests representation of all ethnicities, races and identities. That is still in short supply.

What astounds me is that practically all major television dramas or sitcoms take place in large American cities, communities that are steeped in diversity; yet, surprisingly, very few diverse characters are represented, especially in positive roles.

Until changes are made, Hollywood will retain its nearly colorless landscape of exclusion.

Louisa B. Caucia, Montrose

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