Letters to the Editor

From the issue of August 3, 2000

In all fairness NALIP's conference was a tribute to the empowering possibilities of working through regional, ethnic, and aesthetic differences to challenge discrimination and create opportunities. In only a year, NALIP managed to transform a possibly self-destructive argument over the defunding of the Latino public television consortium by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting into a process of consensus building with a commitment to respect differences, yet focus on common problems. As residents of post-Elian Miami, I am sure we can all attest to how difficult, albeit essential, this process of dialogue and action is to the well-being of any complex community.

Mr. Mangravite conspicuously and repeatedly refers to differences as “problems” for NALIP, implying that our diversity is a handicap. Yet, what is perhaps lost in translation is that while differences often pose challenges, they are an undeniable part of the Latino community's vitality, strength, and power. As the only Latin producers' organization that does not cater to exclusive interests, diversity is not only inevitable for us, it is desirable. The binary thinking that often dominates local debates, however, got the best of Mr. Mangravite when he miscast West Coast filmmakers as “left wing” and New Yorkers as Hollywood wannabes. Of course there is a bit of everything on both coasts. But if prominent west-coasters appear passionately critical of the industry, it's because Hollywood is, after all, the industry's home and there is much at stake for those who work there. Regardless NALIP is partially about contesting simplified representations of our community and this is a brand-new one to add to the list.

As both a Miami-based producer/director and conference co-chair (not cohost as noted in the piece), I consider this article a valuable contribution to a much-needed discussion on transforming Miami into a viable entertainment capital. The article's last thought -- that an industry based on “fashion,” “Latin culture,” and “tropical drinks” is laughable -- implies nonetheless that the totality of “Latin culture” is at the same level as some of its parts, including iced purple water under a miniature umbrella and queerly clad tall people looking blankly at the horizon. If Miami has any future at all as an international media center, one of its most substantial assets is that it is a bilingual and creative Latin community. Miami-Dade is unlikely ever to become Hollywood East, but it could well become a hub for U.S./Latin and multicultural entertainment at a scale that could realistically rival New York and Los Angeles. Florida's NALIP chapter currently is in formation and this effort could be part of assembling a bigger puzzle. Well-focused action can make the difference. Let's go for it.

Frances Negron-Muntaner
NALIP Steering Committee

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