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”?
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.