Latino businesses, communications and media professionals have banded together to create The Latino Rebels Foundation and start a new program to help Latino filmmakers and journalists break into the industry.
Charles Garcia, Co-Founder of the Latino Rebels Foundation, says he hopes more Latinos will enter Hollywood and newsrooms and change the perceptions and stereotypes around Hispanics.
Garcia says that the idea for the pipeline started from the results of a Hilton Knowlton study that showed that there is a pervasive negative perception of Latinos in the United States. An astounding 80 percent of Americans associate Hispanics with being involved in crime and gang violence. However, the study did not receive widespread attention because of criticism over its methodology.
Regardless of the study, Garcia believes that having Latinos working behind the scenes in media will change some of the depictions on the big screen.
Although foundation was just launched at Hispanicize 2013, it has already seen a lot of support. For three years, Martoni, a fifth-year journalism and education major, has been the chairperson for the SUNY New Paltz Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention. Martoni said the walk is an event where people can feel safe speaking about suicide — a subject that continues to be stigmatized. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, following car accidents and addressing this fact is important because “suicide is preventable,” Martoni said.
During her time coordinating the Out of the Darkness Walk, Martoni said she has met neighbors, classmates and co-workers who are suicide survivors and felt comfortable talking about their experience.

The term “suicide survivor” encompasses anyone who has attempted suicide or has had a close friend or relative attempt or commit suicide, Martoni said.
Idoni said the goal is to make people comfortable speaking about suicide — much in the same way that in the past it was taboo to talk about drunk driving or child abuse. The Out of The Darkness Walk will raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Martoni said through working with the area AFSP, she “feels a part of a family,” and each year organizing the walk has gotten easier. At this year’s walk there will be three musical performances, a raffle and guest speakers from the school and from AFSP, Martoni said.
Martoni said the walk is “slow-paced and calming” and will culminate in a closing ceremony that involves announcing raffle winners, and a reading of names of lost loved ones given by participants at the beginning of the event. Biodegradable balloons will be released at the end to honor the victims of suicide, Martoni said.
The Hudson Valley and Westchester chapters of the AFSP will host another Out of the Darkness Walk on Sunday, May 19 at Clarkstown High School North, Idoni said. The foundation has pledged to raise scholarship funds for Latinos to study journalism and film. The new foundation is meant to be a funding arm for students to study at the American Film Institute.
The study found that a majority of non-Hispanics overestimate the proportion of Hispanics who are here illegally, 75 percent of people do this.

However, there were also some positive numbers such as the fact that 90 percent of people associate Hispanics with being hard-working. Jim McNamara, the CEO of Cine Latino and Chairman of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, has given a 100,000 match grant for the scholarship initiative. The thing is, you can go to a top tier school, work really hard, have a great script or body of work and STILL get nowhere in Hollywood because it is all run by the same people who have no interest in seeing REAL images of REAL Latinos on the screen, big or small.
Martoni said she’s been able to do more with this walk because of her experience from previous years.
Still, Garcia defends the results, citing statistician Nate Silver’s claim that online surveys are more accurate than public opinion polls. I would suggest creating grants to help with post & pre-production, networking events where we can meet each other and support each others works, etc. I think film and journalism can help a lot bring down the erroneous stereotype that exist out there about our community and other communities within the U.S. GUEST    Daniel Howes is business columnist and associate business editor of The Detroit News.

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