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Activist and Jornalist

Jorge RamosJorge Ramos’ track record as one the best journalists in the U.S. cannot be dismissed by his activism. Yet, simple-minded people who see the world as either/or and feel threatened by his influence wished they could so.

European, Indigenous and African in Mexicans

I love personal stories and to see how they are part of that bigger picture. I have always been fascinated by the history of the borderlands. Although I majored in Business Management and Communications, I was allowed to do my senior research project on Chicano and Mexican-American literature.

As a lighter-skin Mexican who had grown up believing the myth of having mostly European ancestry, this project was a real eye opening. The more I learn about whom I considered the “other,” the more I feel connected with my indigenous side.

Culturally, Mexicans are more indigenous than we are ready to admit yet, “hay una directriz que nos separa,” there is fine line that separates us by color as a result of the almost gone colonialist ideas.

Let us reconcile our true history and embrace our indigenous people and the African-descent Mexicans as part of the Mexican society and who we are historically. By seeing them both as equal citizens, Mexicans will have acquired a broader ethnic identity.

“Spanglish” Speakers

To attract “Spanglish” speakers, you need to appeal, invite, and get close to a younger generation of Latinos who do not necessarily are fully fluent in Spanish but have acquired the emotional vocabulary of their parents’ language.

Speaking Spanglish represents having a dual and hybrid cultural identity. The language itself is a mix of what is relevant in Spanish but does not exist in English or cannot be completely expressed in English.

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.

Low-Context and High-Context at the Oscars

By Mari D. González

The Oscars’ controversial comment by Sean Penn when presenting Alejandro González Iñárritu is a great example on how communication between members of Low-context and High-context groups causes misinterpretation.

According to anthropologist and intercultural communication pioneer, Edward T. Hall, North European and North American macro-cultures would be defined as “Low-context” because their communication preference is characterized by explicit verbal messages. Hall further explains that in Low-context, “Effective verbal communication is expected to be direct and unambiguous.” On the other hand, societies from the rest of the world including Latin America, Asia, and Arab countries utilize “High-context” communication in which, “most of the information is part of the context or internalized in the person; very little is made explicit (Hall, as cited by de Mooij, 2014). In these countries, people are programmed to read context and meaning between words.

Low-context communication is related to an individualistic identity in which people are “I” conscious and express private opinions publicly. Conversely, in High-context or collectivist societies expressing personal opinions and disregarding group of reference’s perceptions is not recommended. There is a risk of making them feel humiliated or what Asians call “losing face.”

In collectivist cultures, personal identity is related to and not separate from that of the group of reference as in “we.” An offense to a person of that group is an offense to all members who identify with that in-group. Hence, a perceived offense to Iñárritu could be perceived as an offense to those who identify as Mexicans because their individual identity is not separate from that of the group of reference as it is for members of individualistic cultures.

Being Latino on Facebook

An Interview with Lance Rios

By Mari D. González

In preparation for my independent study research proposal on Social Media and cultural indicators, I interviewed Lance Rios, creator and administrator of Facebook’s Being Latino.

I became fascinated by Lance’s ability to attract a wealth of followers –“31,576 People Like This” as of today, to keep them engaged, and to maintain consistent and personalized contact with them. All of his posts are culturally relevant and promote individual opinions and collective discussion. Thirteen percent or 18 out of my 138 Facebook friends joined Being Latino after I suggested it.

How Does He Manage It?

Lance is a young English-speaking and bicultural blogger and social media addict –as he describes himself. He is of Puerto Rican descent and both his Latino cultural background and American values are alive and communicated throughout his posts.

He resonates with acculturated English-speaking Latinos across the board –Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Central American and South American. His posts range from informational and serious activism to entertaining on American popular culture, national news from Latin America, politics, statistics, biographies and other socio-cultural topics.

When I asked him about the role of Being Latino, he humbly replied, “It is something I created [which has] attracted a lot of people via word of mouth and it is bigger than I anticipated.”

Being Latino vs. Lance Rios

Lance recognizes that it is more effective to tone down individual views and reserve those for his personal page, “I’m more balanced, neutral, and less biased on Being Latino. I wanted to separate [myself from it]. It is not about me.”

Concurrently, he wants people to know that although Being Latino is an “open platform” he is behind the page by personally approaching people “who had their own agenda.”

Cultural Relevance – What Makes Being Latino, Latino

Being Latino has filled a huge gap in mass media communications with a conventional social media platform. There isn’t media that communicates to bicultural and acculturated Latinos. “Most media outlets use Spanish language” which doesn’t echo with American-born Latinos. Being Latino caters to “second- and third-generation Latinos” not only in the U.S. but also in Europe, South Africa and Latin America.

American-born Latinos have been raised in an English-speaking world surrounded by American media which unfortunately neither represents nor includes them. They are the majority, as compared to foreign-born, and prefer speaking English; yet, they also choose to unassimilate by continually sharing and communicating certain cultural values on- and off-line.

Lance recognizes that “[his] audience is more comfortable with Spanglish and English,” which speaks of their upbringing. Culturally relevant elements are communicated in the language that is more fitting. Spanglish is used for what cannot be translated without losing connotation, “I never spoke [Spanish] growing up; everything was in English, [except] certain words with meanings that cannot be transferred, [such as] words used in normal conversations [and] those words are identifiers and connectors.”

I do not consider myself another social media addict, however I am becoming addicted to Being Latino.

Why Facebook?

[To be continued].

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.