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A Native American Thanksgiving

In observance of Thanksgiving, it is my pleasure to present a guest post from my friend Diane Mitchell, whom I have known since elementary school. Both of us grew up in the same rural area in western AZ. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

 

By Diane Mitchell


Old age must be getting to me, because my memory of Thanksgiving as I was growing up south of Poston is not entirely clear.  Unbelievable!

Anyway, in the 1940s, my Mom and Dad relocated from the Navajo Nation to the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), Parker/Poston area in western Arizona.  I went to many of the same locales and schools that Joe attended (but not at the same time, hah!).

We would go to some of the Thanksgiving Dinners at Irataba Hall, the Tribe’s gymnasium.  Growing up in this area, my brothers and sisters (8 total, but maybe only 7 grew up in Parker) were not familiar with a “traditional” Thanksgiving. But then again, tradition is what you make it.

One of my brothers reminded me of the times we would go hike in the mountains around Poston after the big dinner. I remember we tried sliding down the big dirt hill using cardboard boxes or whatever we had to use at the time (Native snow sledding!). We would hike up and around the top of these mountains east of Poston, and various mesas near our house. We never thought of the possibilities of rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, bobcats, lions-and-tigers-and-bears-oh my!

We were kids and we were fearless.

Most of my siblings were into sports, and some were distance runners. One time, my brother Jr. ran to a mesa and made a big letter “A”, running up and down, and sideways.  We could actually see the letter from our kitchen window.

I also remember that we often traveled back to my parents’ homelands on the Navajo Reservation to visit my Grandmother Marie and other relatives, for Thanksgiving, summers, and I believe most holidays. My parents would pack us (all the kids) into Dad’s truck camper and off we’d go. We would fight and yell as well as sleep in the camper. My parents never heard any of this commotion as they sat in the front of the pickup cab. Lucky them.

I remember eating a lot of mutton (lamb meat) that we Navajos are big fans of. My Grandma Marie had over 200 sheep, and she would herd the sheep around the mountains of her home. That’s probably what we had for Thanksgiving dinner, instead of turkey. In fact, I’m quite sure.

We would watch Grandma Marie and my Dad butcher a sheep with Mom’s help in preparing the meats. We kids would always stand around to watch the head being cut off and…

OK, I won’t go there. But as kids, we didn’t think of it a gory or sadistic. It was food, and it was delicious!  The meal was cooked over an open fire, with homemade frybread, tortillas, blue corn meal mush, and I won’t mention the blood pudding.  Mmm, mmm, mmmm (getting VERY hungry now!).

Now that I’m older, I recognize the importance of tradition. Maybe not so much a Navajo tradition, but to me a tradition of traveling back home to Parker/Poston from Utah (where we lived for a while).  I would pack up my kids (as my parents used to do) and travel back to Arizona through 3 states to make it back for Mom and Dad’s turkey. Each year, these family gatherings began to have several new faces as nieces and nephews would get together, some meeting for the first time.

Sometimes Dad would cook the Thanksgiving (or Christmas) turkey beneath the ground, staying up all night to check on the fire.  I could hear him wandering around early in the morning, doors opening and closing. The turkey was always cooked to perfection.

After my father’s passing, I decided to try that. Once.  Both my mother and my kids tried to remember how he prepared the turkey with all the wrappings, digging the hole, and getting plenty of firewood, etc.  My attempt turned out OK, but just not the same as Dad’s.  That was one of the times I wish I would have paid more attention when I was younger.  We would always try to help Mom with all the food preparations, but we could never match her frybread.  She was a true Frybread Queen.  Her creation was a fluffy golden brown delicacy…sigh!

Unfortunately, I never paid attention then either.

So now our tradition, as I think most of my brothers and sisters do, is a family gathering for Thanksgiving/Christmas as well as most holidays when possible. We do our best to meet at the home of whoever volunteers to play host and we’ll do potluck style dinners. Cook your best, and bring it over!

I’m sad to say, mutton is not on the menu much anymore. That’s a rare luxury.

So, this Thanksgiving, we’ll do our “tradition”. We’ll pack up the car with kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and whoever else, then get on the road to the Thanksgiving Family Dinner. Wherever that may be.

Diane Mitchell is a Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) member who now lives in a Phoenix suburb.

 

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Millennials: El Americano Nuevo has arrived

I just came across this excellent article in the Huff Post by Jose Tillan, GM/Executive VP at Tr3s: MTV Musica y Mas, and had to share it.

Hispanic Millennials

I was especially drawn to its provocative title, The Death of The Hispanic Adult Demo as We Know It. Plus, a friend shared it with me.

I like the fact that it challenges our thinking about conventional Latino demographics. We always hear about Latinos being a younger demographic and how by mid-century we will be in the majority.

So why do so many marketers and research people seem to over-focus on adults? Especially mom (la jefa)? Traditionally, this has been right on but by ignoring Millennials, are you insinuating that they’re kids and don’t really matter? Are you saying they’re a bunch of mama’s boys/girls?

Or is your thinking just behind where it should be?

Millennials are here. They tend to multi-task a heck of a lot better than the majority of us do. They’re more tolerant. They mix and match their worlds. They’re American youth.

Read the article and learn a little different insight. Let me know what you think about it.

Click here to read the article.

 

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Hispanic Heritage Month- It’s more than logoed trash cans & swag bags

We’re just past the halfway point of Hispanic Heritage Month.

I’m glad that our heritage is honored for the month. But it’s important to stop, reflect and ask questions of ourselves as to its meanings. Remember, it kicks off on El 16 de Septiembre with El Grito, based on Mexico’s revolt against Spain. It’s about liberation, celebration and heritage. It’s a time that we should be proudly celebrating and advancing our liberation as a people as well as individually.

Especially here in America.

We should be striving for excellence. We should be asking ourselves the tough questions, breaking out of the status quo as well as our comfort zones.

For corporations and brands reaching out to Latinos, what does it mean? Why do they do it? Some do it for little more than expressing an annually mandated gesture of tokenism.

How many ads do we see where employees stand in front of the building clapping, with a headline that states “We Applaud Hispanic Heritage Month”?

Puro pendejismo.

Excuse me, but I get the urge to puke when I see a Folklorico dancer in an ad or on a poster. This is fine if you’re promoting Folklorico. But otherwise…

Show some imagination.

Unfortunately, much of this crap is produced by a Latino agency (or freelancer) practicing mediocrity during this month. It’s thrown to them as a bone in the name of supplier diversity during this month. Is this genuine or is it more nonsense?

Is this the best we can do?

Unfortunately, many like the lap dog approach. You’ll hear “Don’t rock the boat, don’t make waves.” I’ve never been a radical or had militant tendencies, though I’ve known many through the years who were. Some still are. I think we need some of this ideology to be truly productive and move forward.

A friend once told me that corporations (and Govt. entities) reaching the US Latino market want tame Mexicans. “They want lap dogs. They don’t want their tunnel vision stereotypes upset”. I found this interesting. Sadly, there are always plenty of organizations ready to fill this niche.

In the meantime, many Latino groups are left to argue and bicker over logoed trash cans and swag bags filled with company pens and a variety of tchotchkes.

Is this the best we can do?  We expect no more?

A lot of marketing experts lay claim to knowing and reaching the Latino market very well. A lot do. And many don’t.

Being Latino doesn’t make you an expert.

Being non-Latino doesn’t exclude you.

I’m curious though, how well do you know us behind the doors and the windows? You may know our art (Diego, Frida, etc…yawn), music (La Bamba??), food and latest census numbers. But have you bothered to take the time and delve further into our backgrounds?

You may have read some very good and very valid marketing books, reports, etc. But have you read and understood the experiences of authors such as Luis Alberto Urrea and his writings about the US/Mexico border? Have you bothered to read and understand Stella Pope Duarte or Sandra Cisneros and their unique insights of life as Chicanas? How about Puerto Rican author Hector Varela?

Have you read anything from our perspective?

If not, I suggest you invest your time into some first hand experiences of these authors and numerous others. Reading about Latino demographics is good. It’s beneficial, but not enough. Especially, if you really want to know us.

And stop thinking that simply translating everything is the answer.

Hispanic Heritage Month is more than trite Folklorico images and beer signs.

It’s more than a propensity of logoed trash cans at events. And it’s certainly more than Latino organizations fighting over who gets the most trash cans.

We can do better.

Right?

 

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Auto Correct Features and The Perception/Pendejo Factor

By now I think we’ve all experienced irritating issues or embarrassing gaffes via pixels while typing/Swyping a message on our phone.

There are some pretty funny examples out there regarding some of these auto correct mistakes, obviously but these are all in English. So I began asking my network of bilingual friends and colleagues what issues they’ve encountered with some of these linguistic gaffes.

Especially when they fluctuate between English, Spanish and Spanglish.

One example I recently noticed was when I typed in the word Spanglish, but got spanflush. Then I typed in bien and got biennial.

Here are a few funny ones that popped up as I asked around:

“I swyped in abrazo and got scraps instead”

“Well you can never text a ñ and you end up with ano instead of año – so you get an anus instead of a year–just a tilde away from an ass.”

“Once when I was whining about the postal system con un amiga, ‘pinches cabrones’ became lips of camels.

“My last name is Medina but it always gets auto-corrected to Media. Speaking of Pinche, this gets auto-corrected to Pincher.”

“I get biennial all the time for biencabron turns into canto, bruto turns to neuro, eres becomes wrestling, perro becomes Petri, and guey becomes Huey.”

Then of course one of my good friends put it to the test with a tongue-n-Swype twister:

“Pinche nopalero arenero jodido sonoita sandinita hijo de cesar Castro. (asi esta bien)” I believe that was his way of telling me he had no problems with his texting.

I’m curious to hear some other examples you might have. Send them my way.

We’ll share them as part of our Secret Global Citizen Linguistic Code.

Special thanks to Gina, Juan, Suzi, Gennaro, M. Mujer, and Tony for sharing.

 

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Are You Familiar With Hispanic Patients’ Views on Health Care?

In my previous post I spoke of how a great deal of Hispanics’ spending power will be going towards healthcare expenses. Some by choice (wellness), and some not necessarily by choice, as well as the opportunity this presents for doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, others, and especially pharmaceuticals.

Having gone over that, how do you interact with Latinos/Hispanics patients compared to mainstream patients?

Do you think that simply translating your patient information materials is satisfactory?

Think again.

Don’t just translate. Consider cultural differences. Try to educate and communicate correctly while using values that are in-culture and align with their lives, backgrounds and belief systems.

Otherwise, you might not be saying anything.

Here are a few culturally relevant points to consider in regards to Hispanic/Latino patients who are Spanish language dominant:

  • Patients may assume the absence of a health risk unless told otherwise
  • Many times, go to the MD for sick visits only
  • Tend to have low interaction levels with the doctor
  • Do not participate in small talk with the doctor
  • Rely on family and friends (and comadres/compadres) in decision making
  • Tend to rely on home remedies for illnesses
  • Typically, the diet is different. This is something to consider when monitoring certain conditions & medications
  • May have a tendency to know less about disease states than their non-Hispanic White counterparts
  • Can have a perception of illness/disease that varies from the mainstream
  • Culturally, there’s a tendency to be more fatalistic, to see certain diseases as incurable (it’s God’s will), etc.

It’s important to note that these tendencies decrease with increasing socioeconomic factors rather than with cultural factors.

Knowing some of these cultural cues can allow you the opportunity to educate and build trust, rather than simply handing them materials that are translated into Spanish with little more than a stock photo of a smiling Latino doctor or nurse on the cover.

Where does wellness fit into this? How do you utilize a Direct to Patient (DTP) programs to educate these patients on the importance of health screenings (BP, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Cancer, etc.)?

Are your communication channels and materials effectively reaching Hispanic patients?

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Are You Missing An Opportunity By Not Marketing To Hispanic Patients?

According to the latest US Census, there are 50.5 million Hispanics in the US (1 in 6 adults, 1 in 4 children). The influence and buying power of the Hispanic/Latino population will continue to grow in the years to come.

Are you losing money by not engaging this large untapped market?

Much of Hispanics’ spending power will be going to healthcare expenses. Some by choice (wellness), and some not necessarily by choice. This presents opportunities for doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, others, and especially pharmaceuticals.

In 2009, US pharmaceutical companies spent $4.2 billion on DTC (Direct to Consumer Advertising).1 This is in addition to Direct to Patient (DTP) programs, which are more educational in nature. Of that amount, $38 million was spent on Spanish language advertising via traditional media (print, radio, TV), in addition to some electronic (New) media.2

Two of the biggest Hispanic health issues are diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes is 2.4 times greater than for non-Hispanic Whites.3 What do both of these say about obesity rates? How about cholesterol levels, sleep disorders, etc.?

Where do you fit in?

Much of the time, Hispanics are diagnosed and treated at lower rates. Reasons for this include a lack of awareness and disease state literacy. Often, the lack of information specifically targeting Hispanic patients can create obstacles to getting treatment.

Are health care professionals assuming that all that is necessary is translation? Or if Hispanic patients are fully fluent in English, that there is no need to back things up a little bit to educate and explain?

If you’re trying to reach Hispanics with generic messaging and translated materials, don’t waste your time. Make sure your materials include images of them. Speak to them on an emotional level that resonates. Educate.

It’s about communicating a culturally relevant message to people. You may have to change how you say something. What resonates with mainstream audiences may not resonate the same with Hispanics.

Also, it’s important to know that Hispanics generally have a perception of illness/disease that varies from the mainstream.

Where do you fit in?

Next up: Overall Characteristics of Hispanics and their view of healthcare and patient preferences and responses.

Sources:
1) SDI Health VONA audit, TRx comparison calendar year 2009
2) Univision, Nielsen AdViews
3) US Census

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Branding the Bronx Zoo Cobra

One of many brainstorming sketches w/ the cobra in mind

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s an Egyptian cobra that has been missing from the Bronx Zoo since Friday, March 25. They can’t find it.

However, the cobra has turned up on Twitter. As of today at noon EST, it has close to 200,000 followers at @BronxZoosCobra

Brilliant!

This is a cobra from the Land of the Pharaohs and obviously of higher intelligence. I’m in awe. At first I wasn’t but now I am.

Here are some musings as to why:

The first time I saw the cobra was in Tijuana, outside an upholstery shop. She had been drinking all night with a bunch of us when she got into a hissing spat with a zebra painted burro and a surfer dude from San Diego State wearing an SD Aztecs t-shirt. We had to break things up and scatter before the cops got there. That’s the last time I saw that pinche cobra peleonera. Who by the way still owes me $20.

Now, have you ever known a cobra to do all that?

I have a message for this cobra…come back! Please!

I’d like to talk about building your Cobra brand. Let us develop an identity and positioning for you, let me help with your entire image and packaging. Let’s go after the Latino market! You’re a natural fit as a multicultural entity. The Village Voice has said you’re the new Ed Hardy. We can do better than that.

You’ll be bigger than Quetzalcoatl ever was! You’ve got the social media buzz and a great cult following so far! Our Aztec ancestors worshiped that feathered serpent, and he never had any of that. You do.

I’ll go with you to the Luxor Pyramid in Vegas, plenty of feathered headdresses and boas to be found, and get you on Don Francisco’s show, along with Cristina’s stage as well.

For old school Lucha Libre fans, we’ll have you take on El Santo (okay, El Hijo del Santo), in 3-D and bill it as SANTO vs LA COBRA DEL BRONX ZOO.

We’ll package and brand Cobra energy drinks, cereal, tequila and a chingon clothing line. You’ll have your own reality show.

I want to spearhead your branding.

Come back, little Cobra!

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5 Points to Consider When Creating a Hispanic Focused Food/Beverage Brand

Buying power for Hispanics in the US is expected to reach $1.5 trillion during this decade.

This places food retailers (specialty and mainstream) in search of new brands and products to sell to this growing population. This includes authentic new and traditional foods & beverages for Hispanic consumers as well as the mainstream.

The mainstream/general population has also acquired a taste for authentic ethnic flavors and food trends. They’re looking to go beyond the “safe and unadventurous” flavors of yesteryear.

Here are some things to consider if you’re planning to develop a Hispanic focused brand:

  1. Is it something that Hispanics will recognize and be drawn to?
  2. Is it authentic? Is the name and positioning on target?
  3. Is it aspirational? In a clear and genuine manner? Inexpensive products don’t have to look cheap/generic. Everyone wants value, and consumers want a taste of the good life. Hispanic consumers are no different.
  4. Does it make an emotional connection? Will consumers have a desire to purchase this? Will they spread the word?
  5. Does the packaging and everything else about the brand support each of these 4 elements?

A successful brand will engage its audience (and others), as well as provide a positive and consistent experience which meets/exceeds their expectations. Many successful brands do great in the mainstream, yet forget (or disregard) due diligence and discipline when expanding into Hispanic food and beverage categories.

It’s important to be smart and invest wisely as you go into this category. Develop a strategy, be efficient and be innovative.

Source: Packaged Facts, 2009 and US Census Bureau

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Taking care of those dirty Texanas and Tejanas.

I was at an outdoor mercado in Phoenix the other day; enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells around me on a beautiful sunny day.

Walking in the area where all things vaquero are featured, I noticed a couple of hand written signs on some of the vendors’ stands that read SE HORMAN/LIMPIAN TEXANAS (see photo). I didn’t give it much thought till later.

If you were learning Spanish, you would probably have thought the sign to read something along the lines of WE SHAPE/FORM AND CLEAN TEXAN WOMEN. Tejanas.

The possibilities for a raunchy Tex-Mex song are pretty good here. Check out the photo. Think ZZ Top collaborating with Los Lonely Boys. What would Selena have said about this? Tish Hinojosa would probably punch someone.

This is just one more reason NOT to use literal translation when communicating with another language/culture. What the sign actually means is: WE SHAPE (FORM) AND CLEAN COWBOY HATS. The most common hat this refers to are felt cowboy hats. The Texanas in question here are felt hats, such as Stetsons.

They offer the shaping/reshaping and forming of felt cowboy hats.

Another reason to avoid literal and literal translations.

So, go into a bar and start talking about clean and shapely Tejanas and see where that gets you.

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¡A Huevos Me La Pagan, Cabrones!

In case you haven’t seen or heard about this online yet, here’s the what: On the BBC’s Top Gear, some comedic dialogue was going on about the development of a new sports car made in Mexico. They proceed to bash and poke fun about how flatulent and lazy Mexicans are, and how we sleep all day, etc. Typical outdated frat boy/morning shock-jock humor. By the way, the “guys with the best jobs in telly” call this car The Tortilla.

I originally saw this on Laura Martinez’s Mi blog es tu blog but today I wasn’t able to view the video again today. Seems the BBC has blocked it due to copyright issues. Maybe it’s on PutoVision now?

Anyway, it is offensive stuff.

Yes, I have a sense of humor but I’ve grown tired of hearing this type of mierda.

A lot of folks are offended. It’s said the Mexican consulate was demanding an apology. But as my cousin Carmen likes to say, “el gobierno vale puro sorbete.”

A friend of mine suggested a group of us head across the ocean to the Brits’ turf, armed with machetes, tequila and cumbia mixes. Once there, we will proceed to take their women. Only then will Brit women will finally see how much fun real men can be.

How much fun can these Brit guys possibly be? Besides Mick Jagger (who’s 67), how many of these guys even dance? Some shots, some margaritas (we’ll even bring the limes), some cumbias, some rock en Español and one big invasion, pachanga style. Courtesy of our neo-armada.

Danny Trejo (of Machete), will lead the charge on land and we’ll play a song like Rayando el Sol as their women gather around…

The Brit guys will all just stand around listening to each other with stiff upper lips and their arms crossed.

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