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Assimilation and Acculturation

Assimilation is a process in which people with a different culture of origin completely adapt to the culture of residency, leaving behind traits from their culture of origin. That has been the expected social standard in the US. Yet, Latinos have not and will not assimilate. Latinos and Americans are “acculturating” to each other. Acculturation and assimilation are two different terms and should not be used interchangeably.

Aculturado, Retroaculturado y Asimilado

El aculturado vive en dos mundos—el del país donde creció—su cultura de origen y en la de residencia—donde vive; por ejemplo, Shakira.

El retroaculturado está más empapado de la cultura de residencia pero tiene interés en aprender la cultura de sus padres o abuelos; por ejemplo, Eva Longoria.

El asimilado es quien de tantas generaciones ha perdido conexión con la cultura de origen de sus padres o abuelos y socio-culturalmente funciona mejor en un solo mundo—el de residencia; por ejemplo, Jessica de Alba.

Sin embargo, la nueva generación de Latinos en EEUU tiene el privilegio de poder operar simultáneamente en la cultura de residencia y de origen ya que puede estar en constante contacto con familiares y amigos del país o paises de sus padres.

Aflac and Amateur Spanglish

Aflac

I’m yet to see how “Tu vales por two” resonates with bilinguals because “two” sounds contrived. The Spanish phrase is, “Vales por dos.” Replacing “dos” for “two” does not make this phrase Spanglish. It makes it incorrect in English and in Spanish and for that matter in Spanglish.

This is a good example of amateur Spanglish, non-fluent Spanglish or Spanglish for beginners. For Spanglish to work, it has to be a mix of emotionally-charged words in Spanish that are commonly known among Spanish speakers which do not translate in well English or words that were first learned in English and never learned in Spanish because they are too long or impractical.

Spanglish is an “insiders” language that is learned through socialization and mingling with other Spanglish-speakers. Spanglish is spoken among a subculture of in-group members who grew up speaking Spanish and English simultaneously.

“Latino” Preferred in California

By Mari D. González

The term Latino/a is preferred in California because it is associated with a sense of self-power, “for more educated Californians, ‘Latino’ is the new Chicano in that it evokes their indigenous roots, a shared history of struggle and the colonization of the people in Latin American countries.” Alcoff, L. M. (2005). Latino vs. Hispanic: The politics of ethnic names. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 31(4), 395-407.

Latinos in the U.S.

By Mari D. González

This is a comment I shared on the Hispanic Professionals LinkedIn Group discussion titled, “Bilingualism Key to Breach the Gap.”

“The hope for the advancement of Latinos in the U.S. lies among young educated and aware Latinos/Hispanics who are the product of bilingualism for they did not grow up during the time when speaking Spanish was prohibited.

Unfortunately, before the 1970′s  Latinos or Mexican Americans were either forced to identify  with the general, macro, dominant culture–white–or to be secluded in cluster communities up to the explosion of the Chicano Movement which proclaimed the recognition of the indigenous roots of Mexican culture and empowered Mexican Americans to advance politically.  As radical as it was, the painful conscientious movement was indeed needed.

As a result, young Latinos and Latinas are enjoying one of the greatest legacies from it–bilingualism. We are also more knowledgeable of the two cultures that makes us up. We are integrated. We are expanding our awareness of our culture of origin–Latin America–by socializing online, by traveling and by being more exposed to different cultures and places.

Young Latinos and Latinas are currently graduating from college in record numbers. This can be attributed to our collectivist values, or group efforts to mentor and tutor, to expand culturally appropriate program in colleges and high schools such as Puente and above all to having a willingness of being role models to upcoming students.

That is what differentiates Latinos from whites and blacks. Latinos have a strong commitment to improve their communities. Even when succeeding Latinos might leave their neighborhoods to study or work, most return to uplift others.

Who needs JLo, Jessica de Alba, Ted Cruz, or any of those washed out Latinos. While they might be popular, they have no true influence. Influence is acquired by taking responsibility for and by making an impact on others’ lives and by uplifting human values.

Being Latino is not a label. Being Latino is a strong community commitment to help Latinos in need. Yet, we need to move away from history to create a clear vision of the future as one cultural group. We must ask ourselves, What is it that we want as a group?  Where are we moving toward? What our direction should be?”

Super Bowl and American Ethos

By Mari D. González

If one wonders what the U.S. American ethos is, one can see it fully represented in the Super Bowl ads–the dreams, the myths, the wishes, the ideal values, the perceived beauty, the wishful thinking, and what should or could be.

It is great to witness that finally, those ideal values have been updated to be more inclusive and to reflect what most of us observe daily in the U.S. —an obvious ethnic diversity–made up of continuous waves of immigrants that keep moving this country forward.

¡Hola Venky! Indian and Mexican Cultures

By Mari D. González

Hola Venky

Every time I hear complaints about the lack of diversity in Hollywood movies, I wish those who are dissatisfied and passionate about portraying a more realistic picture of the world resolved to change things around.

The reality is that in recent years, white-Americans have become a minority group in California while Latinos and Asians have continued to grow in numbers.

The movie ¡Hola Venky! is a great example of being proactive. According to the Mexican Heritage Corporation based in San Jose, ¡Hola Venky! is a romantic comedy that highlights Mexican culture and music, and also spotlights Indian culture, creating a rich, modern fusion.  “The film follows Venky, a divorced Indian engineer, as he comes to Silicon Valley and falls in love with a Mexican woman, Inez, whose father was a noted mariachi musician.”

Most people who have had any contact with people from India and from Mexico will immediately notice the richness and colorfulness in both cultures’ music, food and dress. That does not mean we should minimize the gaps between these two cultures which can make interactions either captivating or cheerless, depending on how open you are.

But, for those of use who love intercultural communication, ¡Hola Venky! promises to be the perfect movie.

 

Missing the Mark on Culture

English: Black Hispanic and Latino Americans

By Mari D. González

The blog “Are Marketers Missing the Mark?” by Hispanic Market Weekly states that “An attitude-based acculturation model provides a more focused lens for looking at Latinos and capturing the estimated $500 billion in purchasing power held by bicultural Hispanics” based on a report from Culturati Research & Consulting.

Let’s clarify that the largest percentage of bilingual Latinos/Hispanics do not need to acculturate; they enculturate instead.  They acquire the culture in their first years of life through schooling and media in English. Acculturation is for people such as immigrants who move from one society or culture into another.

Ethnic marketing is prone to these wrong and misleading statements. Let’s also clarify that Hispanic marketers are not experts in cross-cultural theories or cultural anthropology and should not be haphazardly using terms that are outside their field or field-specific that they ignore. They need to either learn more about social sciences or leave such studies to the experts because they are “missing the mark.”

Targeting Latino Youth in the Digital Age

My academic research paper “Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Latino Youth in the Digital Age” has been published on the first issue of the Journal of Internationalisation and Localisation (JIAL).

You can access it with six more articles as a PDF or, you can purchase the journal from the publishing university at http://www.lessius.eu/jial/order.aspx

The George Lopez Phenomenon

By Mari D. González

As a Mexican household name who has made it into the English-language media, George Lopez is mainstreaming Latinos for which he is considered by many a hero. He uses the most recognizable and marketable Latino symbol —Spanish language— just enough to remind you that he is one from the hood. He is not political correct. He can dispose of cursing republicans publicly and yet, he has a large following across blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos alike.

So, What Is His Formula?

His Lopez Tonight Show is multicultural. He brings in and interviews white- and black-American celebrities. His diverse band plays diverse music and more importantly, he gets into issues that are close to Latinos and working-class Americans openly.

He brings in the urban flair popular among younger generations which has given way to fashionable music including regaetton, rap, and hip pop. He invites regular people to his show and make them feel at home, showing them respect and consideration.

He dresses elegantly. His shows around the country are sold-out, “even in a down economy” as he put it. His state-of-the-art studio is filled up with young people of all shades who will certainly come out with additional Spanish-language words that they did not or would not learn from their Spanish high school teacher.

Exploiting Culture and Humor

He brings racial issues into the open and even asks his guests for their opinion on them. He can certainly poke at Latinos and for that matter, working-class blacks and whites alike, because he is one of them. He grew up with those experiences; he is an insider and cannot be guilty of prejudice. He can be forgiven by those he represents for he talks about what he lived and endured. He is one of them thus, he can laugh at them.

There is a free flow at his shows. He converses with his audience and feels equally comfortable interviewing Clint Eastwood or the black pregnant dancer in a Corona bikini. He swiftly shifts between social classes and across ethnicities and that is a real skill.

He is attempting to demystify the difference between one’s ethnic label in the U.S. and one’s DNA. And, whether or not he is accurate, it is not the issue. The issue is that he is starting up these conversations in English-language national media.

De or Re-politicizing Chicanos

He is depoliticizing the term “Chicano” by calling himself “Tall, Dark and Chicano” among his fans who are beyond Latinos. Yet, he makes you feel that the Low Rider is still cool while he angrily gets into the political debate as to why some republicans did not vote for Sotomayor.

He might no be the funniest of all or even funny at all but, he has what a great majority of the U.S., so called, minorities have been waiting for –a charming, dark-skinned guy from a poor upbringing who is still in touch with his parent’s culture and has been able to secure a spot not in ethnic but in regular mainstream media where many with more influence have not made it.

Forget about his humor, which I can only stand for a few minutes, that ranges from off-color, vulgar, and borders black comedy. Even for those who find his jokes offensive, he is still looked up to and respected for he can definitely arouse multicultural crowds.