Original publication date: September 29, 2010
What would you do? You’re downtown when you come upon a group of young men beating another man or teen, all the while yelling racial slurs as they pummel him. Suddenly you realize this person is being physically and verbally attacked for no other reason than he is Latino. Would you intervene? Would you call 911? Or would you leave the scene and do nothing? What if you were the victim, do you think others would come to your aid?
That’s the scenario ABC news journalist John Quiñones presented in a recent segment on the number one rated program appropriately titled “What would you do?” The program presents viewers with different real life situations to show how others react when they become part of a public display of something that is disturbing all the while challenging their reaction to that situation.
Quiñones, who has won seven national Emmys, a Peabody and many other prestigious wards for his work, was in Denver recently to promote Hispanic Heritage month. He talked with La Voz about his show, his life and how others can pursue their dreams even if like him, they have very little to begin with.
In the scenario presented above he said, “It’s called Mexican hunting, the hate act of seeking out Mexicans to assault, and it’s happening all around the country as anti-immigration/Hispanic sentiments get stirred up.” In the ABC show, actors were used to play the parts of attackers and victim. But it is a depiction of a real life dilemma that is occurring more and more often and not just to Latinos.
Earlier this year in Newark, N.J., an Ecuadorian man thought to be Mexican was beaten to death just because he spoke Spanish. Passersby including other Latinos watched and did nothing as he lay dying only 50 feet from his home. Just this month in Boulder on Sept. 18, a University of Colorado student from Nigeria was attacked by three men who called him a monkey that should go home to his country. Denver has been plagued with hate crimes on 16th Street Mall over the last year.
While many people may not help, Quiñones said he is inspired by those who do. “I truly believe there is a lot of good in humanity,” he said. He cited that while recording the segment of the Latino being attacked, a Latina, all five feet, two inches and 120 pounds, jumped from the car she was riding in to confront and stop the attackers. Another black man also intervened saying later that he had previously been assaulted simply because of his race and he was not going to allow that to happen to someone else. Sixty-seven of the 99 people recorded did nothing.
Quiñones’ award winning work has included reports on homeless children in Bogotá, Colombia, the Congo’s virgin rain forest, the search for the Zodiac killer and the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. He followed a group of immigrants as they tried to cross into the U.S. via the treacherous “Devil’s Highway.” He was with a mother and her daughters on Sept. 11, 2001 as they searched for the husband and father thought trapped in one of the fallen World Trade Center towers.
Prior to his current hit show, Quiñones has co-anchored “Primetime” and “20/20.” He won an Alma Award from the National Council of La Raza for his ABC News special called “Latin Beat.” He reported on the wave of Latin talent in the U.S and the impact of the recent population explosion and how it will affect the nation as a whole.
Quiñones said it has not been easy achieving the success he currently enjoys. He recognizes that he has become a role model and wants Latino youths to know that if someone like him who was a Texas migrant worker, his father a janitor and his mother a house cleaner, could make it to become a network anchorperson, then anything is possible in America.
While in Denver he told a group of students at the Auraria Campus, “If you really want something, you have to go after it and not quit until you get it.” He told them: “In today’s world no one is going to give you anything. If you want to be successful you have to keep after it. Go get it, don’t wait for someone to give it to you and don’t stop until you get it.”