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Univision fires Rodner Figueroa after racist comments about Michelle Obama

Rodner Figuero makes racist comments about Michelle Obama
Rodner Figuero makes racist comments about Michelle Obama

“El Fashionista”, Rodner Figueroa, was fired from Univision after comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to a cast member from “Planet of the Apes”. (Photo ‘El Gordo y la Flaca’ Instagram)

Renowned Spanish language television personality Rodner Figueroa was fired from Univision yesterday following a racist comment he made on air about United States First Lady Michelle Obama.

Figueroa, who is known as “El Fashionista”, presented a segment on the network’s “El Gordo y la Flaca” entertainment program in which he said: “You know Michelle Obama looks as if she’s part of the cast in the film “The Planet of the Apes”.

Immediately after, laughs were heard in the background and Rodner Figueroa continued on saying “I mean, it’s true, it’s true.”

Host Raul de Molina tried to save the day to no avail saying “I think Michelle Obama is a very attractive woman.” Figueroa continued on saying “But have you seen the movie? Raul, what’s the problem?”

However, Rodner’s comments didn’t sit well with Univision’s network executives who released an official statement declaring: “At Univision, there’s no room for racist comments.”

The statement which was provided for media distribution exclusively to magazine “People en Español” read: “During entertainment program ‘El Gordo y La Flaca’, Rodner Figueroa made comments about First Lady Michelle Obama which were completely blameworthy and in no way reflect the values or opinions of Univision. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was removed from working at the company immediately.”

While viewers have taken to social media, some in support of Univision’s decision and others in defense of Rodner Figueroa, “El Gordo y La Flaca” hosts Raul de Molina and Lili Estefan spoke to “People en Español” and backed the former contributor to the show.

“I think that Rodner definitely made a mistake but to dub him a racist is ridiculous,” said Estefan to the magazine. “Rodner makes fun of himself and for those people who might not know it his father is Black. He comes to the show and says ‘my raisin hair is rebellious today’ or ‘I just straightened my raisin hair'”

Whether this makes Rodner’s current situation better or worse is yet to be seen.

On the other hand de Molina said, “I’ve known Rodner for 20 years now, from the time we both worked in Telemundo. I worked on ‘Occurio Asi’ and he was the producer on ‘Pedro Sevcec’. Despite having conflicts on camera, I love him very much. I don’t think he made the comment with a racist undertone of that I’m sure. Rodner is indispensable for ‘El Gordo y la Flaca.”

Rodner Figueroa, 42, who is an Emmy award winning journalist has yet to make a comment about his release from Univision and has been unusually quiet on social media. However, his representative, Luis Belaguer, expressed his opinion about the situation saying that he believes Univision’s decision was hasty and that he was surprised about their reaction.

“Univision is making a decision without first opening an investigation about the topic,” he said.

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with Univision’s decision to fire Rodner Figueroa?

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Daysi Calavia-Robertson has a BA in Mass Communications from Florida International University. Her articles have appeared in The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, The Sun-Sentinel, The South Florida Times and The Huffington Post. She's also conducted entertainment reporting segments on local television. No matter what the medium, Daysi believes in the power of storytelling.

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