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Univision apologizes for skit with African stereotypes

May 29, 2010 |  6:06 pm

Univision, the premier Spanish-language media network in the United States, apologized Saturday to Los Angeles civil rights leaders for a skit that was aired on the popular morning show "Despierta America" ("Wake Up America").

In the skit that aired Friday, hosts of the TV show wear big black Afro wigs and hold small spears. They dance to music and sometimes aim their spears at the cameras while confetti falls.

In a company statement released Saturday afternoon, Univision said it was already taking action: "It is completely unacceptable and against our policies, standards and practices. We sincerely apologize to our viewers and all who were offended."

Civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, applauded Univision's quick response. "They took corporate responsibility," Hutchinson said. "They acknowledge there was a major problem about a show on Univision promoting stereotypes about Africans."

Hutchinson said he was told about the skit and was given a copy of it Friday. "When I saw it I said, 'My God, it's far worse than what I had heard,' " he said. Hutchinson and Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, said the sketch was a racist portrayal of Africans and were calling on the Spanish-language network to apologize.

The skit was broadcast from Miami, where the show is recorded, in honor of the FIFA World Cup, which is being hosted by South Africa. Univision has partnered with FIFA to broadcast nonstop coverage of the soccer games, scheduled to begin June 11.

-- Ruben Vives