While it is true that we need more of a Latino presence on our TV screens ("Casting the Spotlight on TV's Brownout," by Greg Braxton and Jan Breslauer, March 5), all those activists who are crying discrimination should turn their heads to the Latino TV stations.
Night after night (in my area I have four Spanish channels) all we get is foreign soap operas and old movies. If the Spanish networks give very little chance to domestic Latino artists, why should we blame Hollywood for our lack of presence on TV?
Who do you usually see on those corny soap operas? Foreign artists that continue to gain fame and make money at the expense of our own artists.
If we are to push harder, as Carmen Zapata says, let's start with our own people.
RAUL DE CARDENAS
The article states that the Latino committee of the Writers Guild of America, West is responsible for "the establishment of a Latino writers program at CBS."
Please note that I and others were forced out of employment opportunities for declining to work under said access "program" for professional Latino writers at CBS. Under the program, Latino writers are hired at half-pay--half the minimum salary for work, as stipulated in our union contract. I find it disgraceful for guild representatives to be gloating about an "access program" which is discriminatory in nature and undermines every Latino guild member from working at full pay.
As a 17-year member of the Writers Guild of America, West, and founder of the Latino Writers Committee at my union, I denounce the lack of equal opportunities for Latinos in the entertainment industry. And I deplore the manner in which affirmative action is used by CBS and the Writers Guild to cover up racist practices.
Let's dispense with all those half-pay network trainee or server programs for Latino writers. Fetching coffee for the "real writers" is too challenging. Heck, why should they even have to see us? The Writers Guild can just round us up on Sawtelle Boulevard each night and take us in to clean up all those messy network conference rooms. That way, as we sift through their garbage, we'll discover all the "do's and don'ts" of screenwriting, right there on their crumpled-up first drafts. JULIO VERA
Thank you so much for your article about the paucity of Latinos on TV. But thank you even more for including the poem "No Chicanos on TV." Every morning my fifth-graders, all of whom are Mexican or Mexican American, are responsible for memorizing a poem. Coincidentally, last week they learned "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer (and didn't especially like it).
When I read them Lalo Guerrero's version, they were delighted and asked for the chance to memorize this more relevant rendition. JULIANNE ELLIOTT
Don't Latinos have their own programs broadcast in their own language over television stations geared exclusively to them? And isn't the reality that a large percentage of the "fastest-growing minority" don't speak the language of this country's majority, making it impossible for English-language programming to ever attract them as an audience?
In 1988 I attended a local writers' conference at which many of the participants had film and television experience. After reading an excerpt from one of my stories about Mexican American women, I heard comments ranging from "who cares" to "how non-commercial" from these Hollywood types. Why am I not surprised that their attitudes are no different in 1995?
Writing for TV was never my priority; I went on to publish short stories and two novels. Since TV execs think we do not belong on the small screen, I advise Chicanos and Latinos to turn off their sets. Instead, pick up the latest books by any of the multitude of Chicano and Latino authors these days. Remember, Raza, reading is the best revenge.
TERRI DE LA PENA
The article failed to mention the one program that kept half of the Latino acting community employed for eight years: "Santa Barbara." It launched the career of A Martinez (the first Latino to ever win a daytime Emmy; Henry Darrow, also on "Santa Barbara," was the second) and won multiple awards for its positive portrayals of Latinos.