The Time Has Come for an English Language Latino Network

Tim Padgett, Time, September 5, 2012

Stealing Tuesday night’s show at the Democratic National Convention along with First Lady Michelle Obama was Julián Castro—the first Latino ever to deliver a convention keynote address. Yet while the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio represents perhaps the most coveted bloc of swing voters in this presidential election, there’s one thing about the Stanford- and Harvard-educated Castro that might seem counterintuitive to non-Latinos: He doesn’t speak Spanish. He knows enough of it to recall his Mexican-born grandmother, as he did in his speech, telling him, “Que Dios los bendiga.” (May God bless you.) But he admits that your average white kid studying Spanish in high school probably speaks the language as well as he does.

{snip} A recent Pew Hispanic Center study found almost two-thirds of Latinos (or Hispanics) living in the U.S. are either bilingual or English-dominant. A majority (51%) of Latinos born in the U.S. are now English-dominant. That doesn’t mean all those Spanish-language ads Craig Romney is narrating for his dad’s presidential campaign are a waste of time. But it does suggest that the U.S.’s largest and fastest-growing minority group, despite its still strong connection to its Latin American roots, has become much more linguistically and culturally assimilated, a la Julián Castro, than mainstream America had anticipated. “For Hispanics,” notes Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision, the U.S.’s largest Spanish-language television network, “birth rates are now higher than immigration rates.”

That’s the kind of demographic shift that media executives as well as politicians ignore at their peril—which is why Lee and his boss, Univision President Cesar Conde, got together with ABC News President Ben Sherwood last year to brainstorm a new, English-language cable TV network targeted at Latinos. The still unnamed venture, announced in May, will debut online next month (Univision has already begun a social media outreach via English-language Tumblr and Twitter sites) and plans to hit the airwaves next summer with both news and lifestyle programming. It could mark one of the biggest developments in Latino-oriented media since networks like Telemundo, CNN en Español and the Miami-based Univision (now the U.S.’s fourth largest network overall) began broadcasting in the late 1900s. That’s especially true given the distribution muscle of the Disney corporation, which owns ABC.


The Black Entertainment Television (BET) network has thrived on much the same premise vis-à-vis African-Americans. It’s more than welcome, if not overdue, that major media like ABC and Univision have seen the light regarding Latinos, says Colombian-American journalist Viviana Hurtado, who authors the popular Wise Latina Club blog and is a regular columnist for Fox News Latino, an online version of what Univision and ABC are bringing to cable. {snip}


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Anonymous

    The time has come for them to go back home and never come back.  I’m sick of being told to ‘have a heart’ and feel sorry for these people when they break in here, can’t/won’t speak English, we’re paying for their children, we’re paying for their medical bills, they are taking jobs white guys could be doing much better, they are not patriotic to America, they don’t like, they bring crime with them, they are ruining the nice midwestern towns I am very familar with, they get reduced tuition rates and they are displacing us.  I’m sorry, but I’m supposed to be nice to people like that?  I’m supposed to ‘have a heart’ and have compassion for them?  Are you kidding me?

    • IstvanIN

       Don’t mutter something like “I wish they would speak English” or you will go to jail.  It really happened to a woman coming out of a restaurant.  Wish I could remember where.

      • IKantunderstand

        It happened in Northern Michigan. Sorry, I can’t remember all the details, although I think that I recall, the hispanic who overheard her was involved in law enforcement. (Or something).

        • IstvanIN

           Yes, she was a sheriff or corrections officer.

  • Enar_Larsson

    Oh, good. Half of the
    population that will soon be the majority in the U.S. can speak the language of the U.S. I guess they really are assimilating well/really are
    Americans and we have nothing to fear about being displaced.


  • I’d just like to work one shift at my new job without having to find a translator. 

  • Defiant White

    I’ll take whatever good news I can get wherever I find it. 

    Look, if someone is European or mostly European, I don’t care what language he speaks when he first gets here . . .  French, Spanish, Mexican, Cuban . . . as long as he eventually learns english and George Washington and the Constitution and Robert E Lee and the Lone Ranger and Tarzan and  etc and etc.  I want them working, assimilated and a tax-paying, non-wlefare sucking part of white society.

    If someone is non-European . . . I don’t care if he has a PhD in english.  He ain’t welcome.  Go home.

  • Don’t write White Hispanics off just like that. Of course, I agree about Mestizos.

  • crystal evans

    I think it is a great undertaking because it shows that not all Latinos are Spanish-dominant. In the case of Castro, he is a third generation in the US.  This generation cannot usually speak their mother tongue, whether it is Spanish, Korean, or whatever.

    • The__Bobster

      Big deal. Somehow they “discover” their roots and identify more with thier home countries than with America.

  • With intermarriage they quickly lose identity. See for instance James Jesus Angleton.

  • I like you and I don’t like Hispanic culture and Mestizos very much.  Mestizos are always telling me I’m too white (Both in culture and skin color).  I don’t have much in common with them and when I’m around them I feel out of place. It’s been something that’s bothered me for  a long time.  I’ve always felt more comfortable around and more accepted by Anglo whites than by Mestizos.

    Granted there are those who are as you say.

    A Hispanic

  • Ed_NY

    I have met Hispanics born and raised in N.Y. City who do not speak or understand english.  They never left their spanish speaking neighborhoods nor did they attend school.  They usually worked in the family business, usually a bodega.  So much for assimilation.

  • jj astor

    I wonder if this English language Latino network will be jam-packed with the kinds of white looking people that are a common sight on Univision and Telemundo? Would blondes like Jorge Ramos and Cristina Saralegui really appeal to the mestizos masses speaking in English? 

  • Julian Castro is not the first Latino. Actually is not a Latino at all. He is an Ibero-Indian. If you want to know the story go to :
    You can also visit the Mexicans at :
    The first Latina Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate speaking at the Democratic Convention was the Italo-American Geraldine Ferraro, a real Latina in 1984.

    • The__Bobster

      Castro can’t even speak Spanish. He has a jewish woman teaching him the language.

      “Early in his administration, Castro assigned his chief of staff, Robbie Greenblum—a Jewish lawyer from the border town of Laredo whose own Spanish is impeccable—to discreetly find him a tutor. Rosie Castro’s son is now being taught Spanish by a woman named Marta Bronstein. Greenblum met her in shul.”

  • MrGJG

    Why would an English language Latino network be necessary? Unless of course  it’s to keep them alien from the mainstream and thus perpetuate victim-hood ad infintum. It’s just more evidence that they have zero desire to assimilate, proving once again that they are different from the European immigrants. 

  • Danimalius

    One would think that if Latinos are assimilating so well, as the article claims, they would not therefore need a television network pandering to them.

  • The__Bobster

    So once immigrants are in, they’re in. And the problem with “sanctuary cities” and “sanctuary states” is that the problems they cause don’t affect only the sanctuaries themselves, but all the other states. I wrote in 2001 that

    For example, you wouldn’t expect Manistee County, which is in northern Michigan, to have a large Hispanic population. It’s literally about as far from the Mexican border as you can go and still be in the Continental United States.

    But Manistee County not only has Hispanic residents, it has a female Hispanic Sherriff’s Deputy, who had an American woman arrested and jailed for saying the word “spi c”  to her own mother in a restaurant “I wish these damned ‘spi cs’ would learn to speak English.”

    • bluffcreek1967

      Yes, and the situation in Manistee County is an abberation. I’m not saying extreme things like this don’t happen now and then, but it’s very unusual. From what I gather, the ordinance has been on the books for some time, and it was most likely enacted to prohibit persons who were unusually loud, confrontational or utterly disruptive in public. It’s a local ordinance as opposed to a statute within the Penal Code enacted by State law. I don’t have the police report to refer to, but from what I gathered, the woman was not arrested at the scene but merely issued a complaint citation.

      Clearly, the Deputy Sheriff completely overstepped the intention of the ordinance, and the woman was wrongly charged with its violation. In no way did it constitute “fighting words” as her defense attorney reasonably argued. The woman did tell her mother that she wished the ‘spics’ would learn to speak English. Later, she told the off-duty Deputy something to the effect that she wished they would learn to speak English. It was all very benign to the say the least.  

      Although the woman apparently served 45 days in jail, I’m not sure how much further she contested or appealed it. I tend to think that if it were to be appealed to their State’s Supreme Court or even went as high as the Federal Supreme Court, it would clearly be rejected as violation of the First Amendment.  

      So again, such instances like what occurred in Manistee County are very unusual. This is not as common as one might assume. We may end up seeing more of this in the months or years to come. However, having a some knowledge of law enforcement and how our criminal courts work, I was initially very suspicious that there wasn’t more to the case than first stated.

  • Pinemntn

    I’m like Julián Castro,  since I’m mixed,  (part Latino, part Anglo), and I can hardly speak any Spanish at all.   I’m plenty happy to speak English.   I wish more people would simply refer to me as “An American”…