Univision reflects Latin America’s racial insensitivity


It happened again.

Spanish-language, Miami-area-based Univision — the nation’s fifth-largest television network — has another racial insensitivity mess to clean up.

On Wednesday, Univision talk show host and fashion commentator Rodner Figueroa said first lady Michelle Obama — America’s first African-American first lady — looks like an apocalyptic ape.

During a segment of El Gordo y la Flaca, the network’s long-running gossip show, Figueroa was discussing a make-up artist who painted himself to look like Obama. Figueroa told hosts Lili Estefan and Raul de Molina, “Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of Planet of the Apes, the movie.” He made the comment while photos of the first lady were shown. Univision released a statement Thursday saying the Venezuelan-born Figueroa had been fired immediately, and that his “reprehensible” comments “in no way reflect Univision’s values or views.”

Good, Univision. But you’re not in the clear yet.

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Maria Murriel is WLRN Public Media’s digital editor.