Did Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser really curse out the Chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts?
That’s what the chairman says. Chairman Felix Sanchez, along with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, wrote members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Kennedy Center, and President Barack Obama asking for more recognition of Latino artists in the Kennedy Center Honors. Then Sanchez wrote an opinion piece for Fox News Latino criticizing the awards for snubbing Latino artists. He told Politico that when he called Kaiser to discuss the issue, Kaiser allegedly said “go fuck yourself,” and hung up the phone.
When asked for comment, the Kennedy Center released a statement reminding everyone of how supportive it has been of Latino artists, but didn’t actually deny that Kaiser cussed out Sanchez. I’ve reached out to Kennedy Center spokesperson John Dow, but no word back yet. Update: Dow says in an email that Kennedy Center has neither confirmed nor denied Sanchez’s allegations, and he reiterates the center’s prior statement about its commitment to Latino artists. Update: Kaiser tells the Washington Post he regrets the “strong language” he used in his conversation with Sanchez. “I’ve spent much of the last 20 years working with organizations of color in this country—-African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American … This is a real part of who I am, and so when someone insinuates that I am a racist, it gets me extremely upset.”
The Kennedy Center Honors’ selection process is fairly ripe for scrutiny: Winners are primarily chosen based on “excellence.” Excellence! What that’s meant in the past is that the honorees are usually, well, 40 and older, frequently white, and utterly noncontroversial. This year’s list of honorees is no exception: it’s milquetoast—-even with the inclusion of Led Zeppelin—-not to mention mostly the color of milk.