The Latino community has been in the headlines regularly since President Trump began his campaign in 2015. Our community is often referenced when people talk about the economy, undocumented immigrants, or the latest tweets from the president himself.
However, whatever the topic is, non-Latinos who are voicing an opinion about the subject should at least understand Latinos thoroughly. The internet is a savage place and things have a tendacy to go viral fast. That is the case for journalist Tom Brokaw who made sweeping generalizations that angered Latinos on this week’s “Meet the Press.”
On Jan. 27, famed journalist, Tom Brokaw, said on national TV that Latinos should “work harder” at assimilation while living in the U.S.
Tom Brokaw needs to STFU.
Assimilation ain’t it. Americans stay on that “speak English” bs yet will go to other countries and be mad folk want us to speak their language.
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) January 28, 2019
Brokaw, an NBC News special correspondent and former “Nightly News” anchor who’s won countless awards for his work as a journalist, said during “Meet the Press” that he’s been saying for a long time that Latinos should work harder at incorporating themselves into the U.S. especially by speaking English rather than Spanish.
“I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation,” the 78-year-old said on the program. “That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time, that they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English and that they feel comfortable in the communities.”
Haitian-American journalist and White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, Yamiche Alcindor, appeared on the same segment along with Brokaw and countered his comments by saying he needs to rethink what the U.S. is today.
“We also need to adjust what we think of as America,” Alcindor said. “You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”
Brokaw went even further and described Latino children as “brown grandbabies” and said that Republicans are against “intermarriage” meaning bi-racial relationships.
“A lot of this we don’t want to talk about but the fact is on the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinarily important new constituency in American politics — Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats,” Brokaw said. “I hear when I push people a little harder, ‘I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ That’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that’s going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.”
Social media — in particular, Latinos on Twitter such as Joaquin Castro — shot back at Brokaw over his comments.
.@tombrokaw, for a celebrated @NBCNews journalist who spent years chronicling American society you seem stunningly ignorant of the Hispanic community in this country. Unfortunate to see xenophobia pass for elevated political commentary @MeetThePress https://t.co/nKoLhjWdbk
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 27, 2019
Joaquin, whose twin brother of Julian Castro who is running for president in 2020, said Brokaw’s comments are xenophobic.
CNN journalist Jim Acosta poked fun at Brokaw for his candid opinion.
Man this son of a Cuban refugee is so assimilated I don't even speak fluent Spanish. Hope that passes the test Mr. Brokaw! 😀
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 28, 2019
It seems Brokaw, who should know facts, never read the Pew Research article that stated that “Latinos increasingly become English dominant by the second generation” and that “by the third generation or higher, Latinos are 75 percent English dominant and 24 percent are bilingual.”
Brokaw is getting schooled on what Latinos in the U.S. are all about.
Brokaw comments on @MeetThePress are basura 🚮. As brown Americans, we dont need to defend our language fluency or all the many ways we show up in our fullness as Latinx people. The assimilation charge is about control and oppression. It gives license to people's white supremacy.
— Mari Urbina (@TiaMari489) January 27, 2019
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) went further to denounce Brokaw’s comments saying his assertion that “the U.S. is not the melting pot that the country prides itself on being, is disinformation as the U.S. has always had immigrants and a mixture of races, religious beliefs, and languages in its history. It is these values in fact that makes the country fascinating and has spread the ‘American Dream.'”
“Assimilation is denying one culture for the other,” said Hugo Balta, NAHJ president and Senior Producer at MSNBC (NBC’s cable news network) in a statement. “Hispanics are no less American for embracing their country of origin or that of their ancestors…being bicultural and bilingual is a strength in an increasingly multi-ethnic, multilingual society.”
The Brokaw tried to apologize on Twitter but his apology didn’t help matters.
my tweet portal is whack
i hv been trying to say i am sorry i offended
and i so appreciate my colleague
— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) January 28, 2019
In a series of tweets, Brokaw’s apology came off as insincere.
“I feel terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture,” Brokaw tweeted, to which many Latinos found as passive aggressive. He later tweeted: “My twitter acct failed me at the worst time. I am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many. the great enduring American tradition of diversity is to be celebrated and cherished. Yamiche, thank u for your comments. let’s go forward together.”
He finished off his bizarre apology by tweeting: “it worked!Ii got your attention. ‘night”