“Racism is an intimidating and uncomfortable issue, but it is important to generate a discussion that will contribute to progress in the country. Though the history of Puerto Rico differs in many ways from that of the mainland United States, racism is certainly still present. It's a problem that we have been grappling with for far too long and we can no longer stand silently by. It’s critical to speak up, for the benefit of the current generation and those to come, with the hope that, at some point, our children will not have to deal with painful, traumatic and otherwise negative acts that violate their dignity simply because of the color of their skin,” said Julio Rivera Saniel.
The special, which additionally examines classism’s inexorable links to racism, offers revealing testimony and paints a poignant and concrete picture about the reality that thousands of people contend with on the Island. Among those interviewed are a slate of renowned Puerto Rican personalities and academics: actor, director and writer Modesto Lacén, founder of the magazine, Revista Étnica, Gloriann Sacha Antonetty, researcher Palmira Ríos, writer Ana Teresa Toro, musician and composer William Cepeda, dancer Julianna Ortiz, host and entrepreneur Angelique Burgos and anthropologist Isar Godreau. Former Department of Education secretary, Eligio Hernández shares insights into the state of the Island’s educational system, delving into, among other topics, the history of Puerto Rico as portrayed by textbook publishers, and the very real social impact created, while clinical psychologist Yanelly Román analyzes the responses and opinions of a group of children on the issue of race. Additionally, businessman Luis Roberto Clemente recounts the difficult experiences his father, the late baseball player Roberto Clemente, and his family experienced before, during and after his becoming a player in the Major Leagues.
The two-hour documentary ends on a hopeful note and in acknowledgement that language has the ability to shape and reflect reality, the program offers guidance and alternatives for various popular but discriminatory and problematic terms and phrases.
“At a time when conversations around the impact that systemic racism and bias has on our behaviors and institutions, it felt necessary to explore the topic and the unique effect it has on the Puerto Rican community,” said Alan J. Sokol, President and CEO of Hemisphere Media Group, Inc. “Our aim was to present the issue with the sensitivity and nuance it deserved, and to help create a space for discussion on a topic that has been left neglected for far too long. We understand that the only way forward is to confront racism and classism head-on; we can no longer wait until people feel comfortable tackling these issues. As a media company, it is our responsibility to present the facts and to help our viewers make connections with the current political and social landscape and we’re thrilled to lead this historic effort and play a part in facilitating these conversations both with our audience and in the country at large. A huge thank you to our talented and dedicated team for creating a vehicle that raises awareness, combats misinformation and foments much needed discussion.”
The production effort was led by Lisette Letriz Cordero and Jimmy Arteaga Grustein.