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Tag Archives: Hispanic and Latino Americans
By Mari D. González
I have recently started watching Telemundo’s “Una Maid en Manhattan” soap opera during my gym visits. For all the bad rap it got by Latina activists when it first came out, its plot, content, and characters are not as bad as I expected.
First, the main character, a maid, Marisa Lujan, is not the stereotypical uneducated and unsophisticated type represented in Latin American dramas where Power Distance by social class is more important than ethnicity.
Second, the maid is not being class ethnified or classed down because of her ethnicity, that is, where a Latina must be from a lower social class than her white middle class boss. Marisa Lujan’s supervisor is a Latino, her middle class peers are Latinos, and the father of her suitor, a U.S. Senator, is also a Latino. In other words, this is a less stereotypical scenario of Latinos in the U.S. The characters are not “caged” in the historically negative label where Latinas are cast as maids or servants of whites in Hollywood movies. “Una Maid en Manhattan” characters have been freed from that category.
Third, the “Una Maid en Manhattan” cast includes Hispanic/Latino diversity, namely black, blonde, and in-between. Although I am still waiting to see a more indigenous, dark face a la Mario Lopez in male roles, Marisa Lujan doesn’t fit the typical protagonist role of Mexican and Venezuelan telenovelas whose producers tend to prefer actresses who are blonde, European-looking, and heavily made-up by el bisturi , or a surgical instrument.
Lastly, Marisa Lujan is not half-dressed as are Univision’s telenovela actresses–and even most of their newscasters. The half-dressed image is more representative of white-American network executives’ obsession with the “hot-as-a-pepper” stereotype they have formed than with real Latina women in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, in general Latin American countries have warmer weather but only a small proportion of the population live by the beach and actually dress that informally.
Edited by Connie Cobb
By Mari D. González
We Marketers and Latinos who study intergenerational and broad-based Latinos/Hispanics can be both intrigued and frustrated by their complexities. Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. keep growing not only in numbers but in intricacy. Thus, over-simplifying them as a group simply does not cut it. Early demographic predictions indicate that “the final figure could surpass 55 million, or 17% of the U.S. population.” (Ruben Navarrette, March 2011, CNN Opinion). Complete U.S. Census data has not been released as of today.
We need both hard data and a continuous dose of culture to speak as up-to-date and savvy professionals. We need to be informed by statistics but also through collaboration, conversations, self-observation and self-directed research.
Below is my short exchange on Facebook’s Hispanic and Online Marketing group with one of its members and a Hispanic Marketing Consultant.
Mari: Because Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S form a very large and culturally heterogeneous group, one of the complexities relate to “what language marketers should use” when targeting them –Spanish, English, both, and/or the hybrid Spanglish. As you indicate, segmentation is also generational; 18-25 year-olds prefer “bilingual/Spanglish.” I recommend that you check what Univision radio has done, at least in the Bay Area. They have 2 very popular radio stations, La Kalle (bilingual/Spanglish with a good mix of English and Spanish pop music) and Radio Romántica (boleros, groups, rancheras in Spanish only). What Univision may have concluded is that the Spanish-dominants are from an older generation and/or hold onto their country-of-origin values.
HM: Hi Mari and thank you! I will check out your blog and look into your suggestions. Generationally speaking, I’m wondering how the 35-50 year old Hispanics like their content as well, since they make up the largest growing segment of online users. For me, radio is a slightly different animal. It seems I also need to get a current assessment of our main market, Miami, and break down the current profile of online users who live in or travel to this diverse city. And judging from Facebook’s research, their top Hispanic users come from Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. So I’ve got to overlay this somehow since these countries also represent a growing portion of the local Hispanic market. I believe the Colombians are now the second largest socioeconomic group behind the Cubans [in Miami, FL].
Mari: How do 35-50 year-old users prefer content? It all depends on the platform. Is it more professionally-oriented? Then it will be English. Is it more social? Then, it will be a combination of English and Spanish, and of their culture of origin and their culture of residence con un toque Colombiano, Cubano y/o Mexicano [with a Colombian, Cuban and/or Mexican touch]. However, there is this “Latino” encompassing layer that gives us a group identity. So spice it up “con un toque Latino” as well.
Edited by Connie Cobb
By Mari D. González
It is not uncommon to read outrageous statements in discussion forums and blog comments. The anonymity of users gives them more freedom to express their individual opinions without a second thought; this tendency is less common when people use their real names.
A few weeks ago, I read this comment on a well-liked Latino blog: “Mexicans have no clue, their Spanish it’s [is] the worst among the Central American people.”
I wrote the following response:
1) Mexico is part of North America not Central America, and NAFTA refers to the North America Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.
2) Mexican Spanish includes words from the 60 Indigenous languages officially recognized by the Mexican government. The extent of the Indigenous influence is due to Mesoamerica (Central Mexico southward through Central America) being the center of the first most developed pre-Hispanic civilizations in the Americas.
3) Most Mexicans are proud of their Indigenous background and cultural make up. As a Mexican, I speak Mexican Spanish because that is my mother tongue; I use Spanglish with my Latino(a) friends in the U.S.
While we acculturate and adapt to the United States by keeping up with the challenge of “straddling two cultures” that is a common topic among Latina bloggers, let us not forget where we come from and the values we learned there such as respect for language differences and the nuances of language use. Let us “preserve our unique cultural identities” and “continue defining ourselves” without shoving others out of the way.
Welcome to the sequel or Chicano movement Part II, which is now more about integration than differentiation, and should be termed the “Latino Movement.” The term Latino was officially established in 1997 by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. It indicated that the terms Hispanic and Latino were to be used interchangeably beginning January 1, 2001.
Edited by Connie Cobb
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.
Mari D. González
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center 11 percent of the nation’s 16 million Hispanic children are first generation or foreign-born; 52 percent are second generation or U.S.-born “sons or daughters of at least one foreign-born parent;” 37 percent are third generation or higher “meaning they’re U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents. 1
What does this mean for Spanish-language vs. English-language media and advertising?
That none of the two are reaching the largest bulk of Latinos/Hispanics -second-generation, bilingual ones.
Who is addressing this trend best?
Spanglish music-themed programming such as MTV3s and Mund2 and Hispanic/Latino oriented magazines are targeting this emerging group; not Univision or Telemundo and definitely not CNN, FOX, Target, or Amazon who have lately alienated Latinos with racially charged programming and/or products.
By infusing Latin elements -words, phrases, music, colors- into to their English-language content and including content that is relevant to this socio-cultural group such as positive news about Latinos/Hispanics and against-the-common-negative-stereotype stories (Gonzalez, M.D., 2009) companies, marketers, and even politicians, have won and will continue to win over Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S.
Let’s begin to feature Juan Martin del Potro, number-one tennis player; Lhasa de Sela, Mexican-American signer of Spanish, French and English; Alondra de la Parra, 27 year-old classical maestra; Lorena Ochoa, number-one female golfer; or the all-American rock band from Texas, Girl in a Comma whose members are Latinos/Hispanics.
With 48 million Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. and in states like California in the threshold of becoming more than 50 percent of their total population, and when “overall, Hispanics increased purchasing ‘deals’ by 16 percent, outpacing non-Hispanics shoppers,”2 news that Latino lives are about shooting, selling drugs, or school dropouts should be on the brink of getting too old.
1 Hispanic Magazine, 2009 October/November edition.
2 Hispanics and the New Economic Reality consumer report.