Episode 2: Endless Loop

Viewers Like Us
Viewers Like Us
Episode 2: Endless Loop

Grace Lee and fellow Beyond Inclusion members meet with PBS leaders in spring 2021. Latinx organizers, journalists and filmmakers confront PBS about the erasure of Latinx voices and stories in Ken Burns’ 2007 seven-part series, The War. And in 1987 at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing, Chinese American filmmaker Loni Ding asks a prophetic question: “Where is the public in today’s public broadcasting?”

Cartoonist Hector Cantu created a character, Benito “Benny” Ramirez, as a composite based on true stories of several Latino WWII veterans. Cantu argued that Ken Burns' documentary about World War II failed to depict Latinx contributions in the war. / Courtesy of Hector Cantu/Carlos Castellanos, Reprinted with permission
Directing Open Studio
Loni Ding directing Open Studio at KQED in the 1970s. / Courtesy of Loni Ding Archives, Reprinted with permission
San Francisco kids on the set of Loni Ding’s Bean Sprouts. / Courtesy of Loni Ding Archives, Reprinted with permission
San Francisco kids on the set of Loni Ding’s Bean Sprouts. / Courtesy of Loni Ding Archives, Reprinted with permission
Viewers Like Us - KQED ID 1972
Loni Ding’s KQED ID card, 1972 / Courtesy of Loni Ding Archives, Reprinted with permission

Show Notes

“HBO’s Tiger Woods Series by Two White Directors Is a Flashpoint for ‘Decolonizing’ Docs,”

July 22, 2020 by Tambay Obenson, IndieWire.


“Tiger Woods HBO Series Faces Backlash Over Project’s Lack Of Diversity,”

July 16, 2020 by Tom Grater, Deadline


“’The War’ Neglects Latino Stories, Cartoonist Says,”

September 24, 2007, NPR’s Talk of the Nation


Beyond Resilience Series virtual event:
“After the Call Out: Towards Equity, Equality, and Racial Justice,”
featuring Grace Lee (award-winning filmmaker and host of Viewers Like Us), Marjan Safinia (documentary filmmaker), Iyabo Boyd (founder and director of Brown Girls Doc Mafia), and Geeta Gandbhir (award-winning director, producer, and editor), moderated by Marcia Smith (President of Firelight Media)


“A Letter to PBS from Viewers Like Us,”

March 29, 2021 by Beyond Inclusion


“PBS Content Represents the Diversity of America”

PBS data referenced during May 2021 virtual meeting with Beyond Inclusion


“In preparation for @firelightmedia panel at #CAAMFest2021, we checked senior leadership across stations making up the majority of @PBS primetime.

Twitter thread from May 20, 2021. Do they display the “diversity of perspectives” required to “meet the moment”? Behold, leadership at @GBH #PBSam #PBSsowhite #thread


Letter to Paula Kerger from (the organization formerly known as) National Council of La Raza (NCLR, La Raza), now UnidosUS, the United States’s largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization, signed by president Janet Murguía, March 20, 2007


“Hispanics upset with Ken Burns’ WWII film,”

March 30, 2007 via The Associated Press


“Hey, Ken Burns, why shun Latinos?”

May 11, 2007 by Daily News Columnist Juan Gonzalez


“Burns’ vision for The War now includes Latino vets,”

originally published in Current, May 14, 2007 by Karen Everhart


PBS NewsHour report about The War controversy


Voces Oral History Center and Defend the Honor, an archived website that includes letters and statements published following the release of the 14.5-hour World War II documentary by Ken Burns, which aired on PBS in 2007, and originally included no Latinx voices and stories.


Films referenced in Episode 2:

The War


Ancestors in the Americas


Learn more about Loni Ding (1931-2010): About Loni | Tribute Video

In November 1987, Loni Ding testified before Congress about public television, asking: “Where is the public in today’s public broadcasting?” The subcommittee finished hearings on the twentieth anniversary of public broadcasting with officials of various public broadcasting entities talking about the future of the government-supported service. Loni’s testimony starts around 21:40.


“A Formula for Change”: The Report of the Task Force on Minorities in Public Broadcasting circa November 1978, courtesy of Renee Tajima-Peña

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