While we were away, our huge media conglomerates decided to focus hard on the important and pressing news of the past year and of this new one. Important events such as "Jon Benet Ramsey's murder still unsolved" made the cover of some reputable magazines.
We heard loud media blitzes about the dangers of skiing, since two rich boys (Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy) were killed participating in the sport. They let us know that white, Christian, death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker is getting a wide range of support to have her sentence commuted. Not because she's innocent of killing two people, but because she's a white woman about to be put to death.
We saw that Paula Jones has a new lawyer, we heard that if you go watch Stephen Spielberg's Amistad you will understand slavery.
That some white woman had seven kids in one try (while if a Latina did the same, gang task forces would be on standby), that President Clinton has a new dog and that Oprah is getting sued by the meat industry because she did a show about E. coli and "Mad Cow Disease."
Oh! And Henry Cisneros is being indicted because he lied about his agreement with a mistress.
This is all fine - if you want to be entertained and not informed. I'm sure the size of Princess Di's underwear when she died has some place in
But what is lost is that stuff called actual news. News such as the recent slaughter of 45 Tzotzil Indians in Mexico by government trained right-wing paramilitary groups (not the Zapatistas as the government might claim) that made only a small splash.
Visas for refugees of the U.S.-backed Central American wars during the 1980s are about to expire before mass deportations start, yet this goes unheard.
The media also chose not to ponder a report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy that found that first-generation college applicants, children of divorced parents and welfare recipients, most of which are people of color, are finding it harder to get into and to stay in college these days.
We didn't hear about the Immigration and Naturalization Service's recent "Stay Alive, Stay Out" campaign to keep Mexicans from coming to the United States. They are running TV commercials in Mexico with images of dead Mexicans trying to cross the border.
We did not hear about a conservative coalition in Washington State recruiting black workers to go around the state gathering signatures for an anti-affirmative action measure. The black workers, looking for Christmas employment, thought they were working for a "civil rights bill" and did not know they were being used. Many were never paid.
This is my fifth year as a Daily Cougar columnist. My task of informing you about (and commenting slightly on) those who do not get their voices heard in the traditional printed pages, or the commercial-infested airwaves, has not changed.
I am a firm believer that silence is not written, which is why, unlike some of my other partners in crime, I choose not to be silent. Check out this column for the latest and most unheard voices in America. Roll down your window and drive through my barrio mind. What you will find is something more substantial that what you might see on Jerry Springer.
Do this only if "Hoochies who are loyal" and "Mack Daddies who can sing" are topics that do not interest you. If not, check out the Houston Chronicle and Channel 26 Fox. They would love to entertain you.
Russell Contreras is a
graduate history student.