Is this 2012 all over again? After what seemed to be progress in 2013 when it came to addressing the Kennedy Center’s abysmal “Latino problem,” this morning the Kennedy Center released its 2014 list of honorees.
This morning’s news did not sit well with Felix Sanchez, chairman and co-founder of National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. Sanchez was a catalyst in getting the Kennedy Center to finally admit its problem in 2012. You would think the Kennedy Center learned from its mistakes after the 2013 announcements. However reading Sanchez’s post today on Facebook, such lessons haven’t really been absorbed at all.
This morning the 2014 #KennedyCenterHonorees were named and surprise, surprise there were no Latinos on the list. This is completely incomprehensible! In 2012, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda faced the wrath of an angry Kennedy Center President who did not want to address the lack of Latino honorees for over 3 decades. Finally, the Kennedy Center couldn’t ignore that it in fact has established a pattern and practice of excluding Latino artists from this American Achievement Award.
New practices were implemented. A Latino Advisory Council was formed, which had a total of one meeting. An Artistic Committee was established to explore and expand suggested honorees. And supposedly the decision-making process was removed from the show’s producer, the Center’s Board Chair and President. The new list of honorees would have to be approved by the full Board. A Board, I might add full of Obama appointees. The four leaders of Congress sit as Ex-Officio Members of the Kennedy Center Board—which receives annual federal funding from Congress. Even Michelle Obama, is an Ex-Officio member of this Board. All that oversight and we end up where we started? Empty-handed?
This comes on the heels of U.S. Latinos feeling besieged by the right for its rhetoric and on the left for its inaction. If the President’s Appointees voted for these honorees, knowing the history of Latino exclusion then either the President and Mrs. Obama attend the Kennedy Center Honors and endorse their action or the President and his staff grow a pair and fire these Presidential Appointees who serve at his pleasure.
Chairman and Co-founder
National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts