When Donald Trump spoke his now infamous words about Mexican immigrants (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”) back in June, the response from Telemundo and NBC was swift. Within two weeks, NBC Universal (the parent company to both networks) released a scathing statement severing all financial ties with the billionaire: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”
Four months later, Donald Trump hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live on November 7 amid protests and calls from Latino celebrities, advocacy organizations, and politicians for NBC Universal to stick to its promise to “Dump Trump.” Online petitions and open letters directed at SNL producer Lorne Michaels fell on deaf ears. Neither the show, the network, nor the parent company commented on the controversy.
To many Latinos, it felt like a slap in the face. Enter a handful of organizations that decided to apply grassroots pressure to the disrespectful move. LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) joined together with America’s Voice, National Council of La Raza, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and about other 20 Latino groups to coordinate two separate protests in front of NBC studios at Rockefeller Center.
A group of dedicated interns and staff members embarked on a road trip from LULAC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to New York for the rally on Wednesday, November 4. It was a small but mighty group of protestors.
Mariana Alvarenga, who helps with LULAC’s voter registrations efforts as a democracy intern, attended the protest because she felt Donald Trump’s comments were “insensitive and unacceptable.” She explains, “I did not want him hosting a show that people in the United States are going to be watching because it spreads his hate and I feel that he does not represent our country.”
The committed army of interns used a megaphone to lead the crowd in chants like “When I say dump, you say Trump!” and “Trump, eschucha! Estamos en la lucha!”
“I hope NBC realizes if they allow Trump to host SNL, they will be turning their backs on the Latino community and we will not tolerate this.”
LULAC’s Health and Advocacy Intern Helen Toloza, whose mother is from El Salvador, wanted to send a strong message to NBC. “Racism is not funny and I hope that with our protest NBC realizes that if they allow Trump to host SNL, they will be turning their backs to the Latino community and we will not tolerate this.”
For Elisa Aquino, a fourth-year student at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an education intern at LULAC, it was her first time in New York. After the requisite stop to take pictures in Times Square, Aquino joined the protest because she “thought it was important to make our voices heard, and to show NBC that someone with the caliber that Trump holds should not be hosting SNL, and they need to be held accountable.” She added, “By allowing him to host, we are allowing this racist language to be used against our community.”
Xiomara Santos, a policy and legislation intern of Salvadoran descent who grew up in D.C., felt it was necessary to protest NBC because “by having Donald Trump on SNL, they are supporting his racist comments, and it is a huge slap to the Latino community.”
At Wednesday’s protest, America’s Voice member Juan Escalante – still hoping to get SNL to call off Trump’s hosting duties – entered Rockefeller Center with hordes of news cameras following him. He delivered a box to NBC containing more than 500,000 signatures.
For a comparison, LULAC’s intern Santos recalled seeing a few counter-protestors who were less prepared for the media attention. “A woman who was a supporter of Donald Trump came to protest next to us but her banner has several misspelled words.” LOL.
Although Wednesday’s event sadly had more reporters than protesters, the Latino community was out in full force on Saturday, November 7. This time around, LULAC packed a bus full of supporters and headed north.
The imminent ratings boost Trump would bring to the show, scheduled to air that night, motivated hundreds to march from Trump Tower to NBC’s 30 Rock in opposition. The boisterous crowd flooded social media using the hashtags #RacismIsntFunny and #BastaTrump.