Tokenism: A Case of the Token (New Video by César Vargas of UPLIFTT)

Looks like our friend and founder of UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) César Vargas keeps churning out more and more videos on some very important topics. The latest one is below. (You can catch other videos here.)

 

Tokenism: A Case of the TokenHola, Pueblo. Soy César Vargas. Founder of UPLIFTT ( United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) . Today, I’d like to speak to you about tokenism. According to the dictionary: tokenism is the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.Tokens are usually employed in corporate America, the media, foundations, and Hollywood. They are used as examples of benevolence by entities to make themselves look good in front of the community. They are band-aids to gaping wounds of inequality. Band-aids that only make a minute percentage of the population feel good about themselves, but just like the great Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”Tokens are not just beneficiaries of philanthropists or victims of circumstance. They, too [not all], participate, like apt pupils, in the oppression and discrimination of people they supposed to represent, assist, and work for. Despite the myth of merit–because tokens sometimes are not even hire for the job intended–but to be cutouts displays for a companies or an entity’s image, they believe in their hearts [not all] that they are better than those they serve because they are validated by corporate America and Hollywood. They are oblivious that sometimes sheer luck helps them attain these jobs. BUT there is something a lot more sinister about tokens: Tokens are picked exactly because of their passive nature. Exactly because they won’t complain about discrimination. Even when they experience it or see others experience discrimination. If you are an activist and vocal at whatever injustice you’re fighting, you best believe for every individual or corporation you take on, it’ll be used against you. I am aware that every time I write a hit piece on Hollywood, doors will be closed on me. I am aware I won’t be accepted into writing programs. I’m aware that I will be blackballed no matter how good my work is just because I had the cojones to be justly indignant about discrimination. But just like Benjamin Bratt said: “As a person of color, there’s no getting around the reality of its responsibility.” Otherwise, you’ll be an axe that tears down your people. Just like the African proverb says: “When the ax entered the forest, the trees said, ‘look, the handle is one is one of us!’”Are you a token? And if you are, are you an axe or do you fight and uplift your community?I’d love to read what you have to say about this. Comment below and don’t forget to share with your family and friends. Thank you.

Posted by César Vargas on Monday, June 15, 2015

 

Hola, Pueblo. Soy César Vargas. Founder of UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater).

Today, I’d like to speak to you about tokenism.

According to the dictionary: tokenism is the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.

Tokens are usually employed in corporate America, the media, foundations, and Hollywood. They are used as examples of benevolence by entities to make themselves look good in front of the community. They are band-aids to gaping wounds of inequality.

Band-aids that only make a minute percentage of the population feel good about themselves, but just like the great Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

Tokens are not just beneficiaries of philanthropists or victims of circumstance. They, too [not all], participate, like apt pupils, in the oppression and discrimination of people they supposed to represent, assist, and work for.

Despite the myth of merit —because tokens sometimes are not even hired for the job intended— but to be cutouts displays for a companies or an entity’s image, they believe in their hearts [not all] that they are better than those they serve because they are validated by corporate America and Hollywood. They are oblivious that sometimes sheer luck helps them attain these jobs. BUT there is something a lot more sinister about tokens: Tokens are picked exactly because of their passive nature. Exactly because they won’t complain about discrimination. Even when they experience it or see others experience discrimination.

If you are an activist and vocal at whatever injustice you’re fighting, you best believe for every individual or corporation you take on, it’ll be used against you.

I am aware that every time I write a hit piece on Hollywood, doors will be closed on me. I am aware I won’t be accepted into writing programs. I’m aware that I will be blackballed no matter how good my work is just because I had the cojones to be justly indignant about discrimination. But just like Benjamin Bratt said: “As a person of color, there’s no getting around the reality of its responsibility.”

Otherwise, you’ll be an axe that tears down your people. Just like the African proverb says: “When the ax entered the forest, the trees said, ‘look, the handle is one is one of us!’”

Are you a token? And if you are, are you an axe or do you fight and uplift your community?

I’d love to read what you have to say about this. Comment below and don’t forget to share with your family and friends. Thank you.

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