When Miss Mexico and former Mt. SAC student Beatriz Cazares, 27, walked into the spotlights and microphones of the press in Hollywood, she greeted them with grace, style and enthusiasm. Little did she know that entertainment news show TMZ would not only ridicule her for being a Mexican without an accent, but would also go on to bash her for attending Mt. SAC Community College and pursuing a community college education.
Although the TMZ interview with Cazares may have consisted of other questions, producers chose to air only one: “How was it tonight?”
She gushed as she talked of her wonderful experience as a contestant in the Miss Queen of the Universe contest. Immediately after her response, TMZ commented on her nonexistent Mexican accent and went on to attack her for attending Mt. SAC. They continued using Mt. SAC as the brunt of their jokes, making fun of a community college education and throwing out insults like saying that only seven students have ever graduated the college. TMZ host Harvey Levin continued to laugh hysterically at the idea of someone attending a community college.
Their only chance at redemption was lost when one of their staff members admitted to attending the college, but even after his failed attempt to defend Mt. SAC, he joined his peers as they mocked not only Miss Mexico, but the more than 60,000 students attending Mt. SAC. Cazares said she was at a loss for words when she saw the TMZ footage that aired on Monday.
“Shame on them,” said Cazares. “It was really insulting. I was shocked and disgusted.” She said that discrediting someone’s reputation and talking bad against their education is unfair and that so many amazing people come out of community colleges.
“I feel very proud of this community college, especially the help,” Cazares said. “Don’t go putting down a community college. Some of us simply do not have the resources to attend a university.”
This is not the first time TMZ has been accused of racism. Kim Kardashian recently called out TMZ for being racist against her and Kanye West as an interracial couple. In 2012, TMZ interviewed the Mexican rock group Mana and asked them a racist question, “American rock bands get underwear thrown at them; do you get underwear thrown at you or Tapatio packets?”
As for the insults flung at Mt. SAC, the college is not only known for its academic achievements, but also for its outstanding athletics program, which has turned out NFL superstars such as Delanie Walker and Superbowl winners Antonio Pierce and Bruce Irvin and a stadium that will host the 2020 Olympic Trials. Various programs, such as forensics, journalism, theatre, and music to name just a few, have gone on to win national competitions beating major universities for first place. The student success stories are endless, with transfer students going on to attend the most prestigious universities.
Jim Jenkins, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, was appalled.
“I think it’s always difficult to watch something where people who have an established voice within the system, [and] use that voice to put people down who don’t have the same voice,” said Jenkins. “Who knows what this achievement means to her, but it is hard won and hard worked for, and for them to mock it is rather pathetic.”
In response to the claim by TMZ that only seven students have graduated from Mt. SAC, last year alone, 2,100 students earned a degree, and 946 transferred to a four-year institution. TMZ could not be reached for comment.
Jenkins wanted to remind students of not only why they attend Mt. SAC, but also why the faculty and staff keep coming to work every day.
“Teachers, managers, and faculty deeply, profoundly, and genuinely care about their time here, no one is doing it for the money. It is for the opportunity to change [students] lives,” said Jenkins. “We believe in them and their potential, there is nothing more worthy of our time than their future, keep going.”
Cazares, who was born in Mexico and raised in California since the age of 3, is representing her native country as Miss Mexico in the Queen of the Universe 2014 pageant. She was pursuing a business degree at Mt. SAC and planned to transfer UCLA but put her plans on hold in the summer of 2013 to focus on the pageant. Cazares said she wants to be a role model for Hispanic women and children.
“If I can be a role model to anyone, I feel blessed,” Cazares said.