Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > National Geographic Channel’s “Border Wars” game creator reaches out to Latino community with an apology

National Geographic Channel’s “Border Wars” game creator reaches out to Latino community with an apology

LatinaLista — In response to yesterday’s posting about the National Geographic Channel’s online game Border Wars, Latina Lista received a heartfelt apology from the game’s creator for having offended anyone regarding the game.

We accept his apology and believe there was no malicious intent but it is yet another telling example of how there exists an ignorance or a disconnect between mainstream society and the Latino experience in this country.

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Whether it’s Ken Burns and his total omission of Latino contributions in his WWII documentary (until he was forced to revise his documentary after a lengthy protest spearheaded by Latinos) or it’s the creation of this game at a time when more non-Latino citizens have a negative perception of Latinos overall:

A scene from the new National Geographic Channel series “Border Wars” where suspected undocumented immigrants are lined up along the wall in the border processing facility. © Kevin Cunningham / National Geographic Television

According to FBI statistics, anti-Latino hate crimes increased 40 percent between 2003 and 2007. Why? For one thing, demographics are in fact changing, leading some to feel angry about immigration policies, which can lead to anti-Latino violence.

a game that reinforces the negative perception of Latinos being drug dealers or undocumented immigrants, even if they are U.S. citizens, does more harm than good at this moment in time which is and will become increasingly volatile as the immigration reform debate gets underway.

While we understand the premise of the game and the desire of the National Geographic Channel to incorporate an interactive element in drawing viewers into the series, it still doesn’t erase the fact that there are people who believe the worse of Latinos, immigrant or not, and this game reinforces that perception.

Unfortunately, the only way to counter this misperception, aside from removing the game entirely, is for a disclaimer to be included to remind people that not all Latinos are undocumented immigrants or drug cartel members or trying to smuggle drugs across the border.

To some such a disclaimer may seem ludicrous but to those of us who have to defend against these accusations/misperceptions on a daily basis, such a disclaimer would go a long way in setting the record straight in reminding people that Latinos have a long and proud history with this country.

Thank you J.S. Earls for reaching out to the Latino community when you didn’t have to.



Greetings! My name is J.S. Earls — author of NatGeo’s Border Wars
games — and I just wanted to PERSONALLY apologize for offending you.
While I cannot speak on behalf of NatGeo, I know this was not their
intention either.

My wife is hispanic and both she and her family were not offended by
it. Nor was it my intention to offend them.

And I did want to point out that — in the 2nd scenario — it’s the
Mexican family that is nice and the American kid who’s the “bad guy”.
And, in the 4th scenario most of the Mexicans are victims…not bad

The object of the 1st game was to base it on realities Port-of-Entry
Border Agents deal with which is overwhelmingly illegal drugs which
cartels use other Mexicans to knowingly or unknowingly transport over
the border.

They also overwhelmingly find fake IDs, which — in my mind — doesn’t
mean they’re criminals. Most use fake ID’s to work hard in America.
She’s also not bad for mistakingly bringing harmful pests in her trunk.

And, thirdly, they deal with human-trafficking and the last ‘event’ —
as with all the events — was based on true encounters.

The fact that most (not all) of the people entering the US from Mexico
in the game was simply based on reality — the same way a game on
people entering from Canada would mostly be Canadians. I wasn’t trying
to stereotype anyone. Most hispanics I know are hard-working,
huge-hearted people and this will be shown in our 3rd game where you
play an immigrant trying to survive in the desert to find a good job to
feed your family.

I will say that — from what I understand — the film crews weren’t
legally allowed to talk to the immigrants as much as they would’ve
liked and the Mexican government wouldn’t allow them to even film much
of Mexico. So, legally, they’ve done the best they can and done as
balanced as job as they possibly could have.

Legally, it’s tough to equally show both sides. I really enjoyed the
Dying to Get In documentary film — which shows things almost totally
from the immigrant’s perspective. In that, the Border Patrol agent
they interview really comes across pretty arrogant.

In Border Wars, the agents talk about understanding why the immigrants
come across and how their heart goes out to them, but also how they
have to do their job. I believe it’s honestly, as balanced as they
could realistically/legally make it.

Again, I cannot speak on behalf of National Geographic, but you have my
most sincere apologies. I am personally very sorry of offending you
and will do my best to keep things exciting, but as balanced as I
possibly can.

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