Latino? Local media may not see you, official says

Kaitlyn Carr | PNN contributor

For Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, it seems like in Greenville, Latinos are invisible.

The executive director of AMEXCAN said that compared to the rest of the city’s population, Latinos are far from receiving the amount of attention they deserve from the local newspaper and three TV news stations. “I don’t know if it has to do with economics and them wanting what sells,” he said.

Peralta said that when something positive happens in the Latino community, it deserves to be recognized. “This population is like any other. We consume, and we produce, but we don’t get any credit,” he said.

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2010, there were 3,184 Latino/Hispanic citizens among Greenville’s population of 84,554. That is the most recent year for such numbers. Greenville’s population in general has grown by about 8 percent since then.

AMEXCAN is a non-profit organization that serves Latinos in Pitt County and surrounding counties.

Economic development is a popular topic in Greenville and Pitt County but, Peralta said, Latinos are missing from the conversation because no one reaches out to them. He added that it is important to take any opportunity to address Latino issues.

Peralta did just that recently in a speech to the Minority Enterprise Development Week Luncheon in Greenville. It was covered by the local newspaper but not by the TV stations.

He told people attending the luncheon that most of the Latino businesses in Greenville are self-financed. He said that only 6 percent of the businesses are started with small bank loans, and that most Latino business owners are turned down the first time they apply for a loan.

Later, he told PNN that “people come to our office and tell us how they don’t get loans due to regulations and policies that turn certain people away.”

He suggested that more engagement with the Latino community take place, such as more conversations with local businesses. He said that regulations and policies need to be created or become more flexible to engage different needs.

As an example, Peralta said, businesses offer free seminars, but the events often are all in English. That doesn’t give parts of the Latino community the opportunity to participate. He said that having someone bilingual at such events is the type of policy he would like to see enacted.

Another example, he said, is that Latinos want the same education and opportunities as everyone else. But political forces have framed Latinos as people who come to the U.S. to take everyone else’s jobs.

“I understand that we live in a very rural area where people haven’t traveled to these kinds of places, but therefore, they should be more open-minded and sensitive,” Peralta said.

Peralta suggested culture-sensitivity training for businesses employees as another policy he would like to see enacted.

Carr produced this story for her fall 2017 Media Writing & Reporting class.