On the verge of a “rant” because I can’t understand the stupidity behind complacency. I am a firm believer in the adage, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” No me de complejos, if you aren’t willing to dig in the dirt and work hard to change things.
It seems that these days Latinos are more engrossed in the lives of celebrities. Do we still care if JLo and Marc Anthony’s sham marriage makes it?! Uh, no.
Seems like everywhere I look, Latinos are being included. More than ever before the Anglo-version of Latinos are showing up in commerciales and not just for Malta Goya. We are the new target audience for everything from beauty products to junk food. Are we the new “trend”, el nuevo “craze”? Are we getting our fifteen minutes?
¡Oye, mi gente!
When I think about this subject, a Billy Joel song quickly comes to mind: “It’s just a fantasy / It’s not the real thing”. The Latino marketing strategy is a simple one: get Hispanics to buy, buy, buy. Truth be told, we are buying…a lot. It’s not just the products, but the foodstuffs, the literature, and the technology. According to a 2003 Sun Times article, we are not only the largest growing minority group but “Hispanics are estimated to represent as much as $630 billion in annual spending power.”
Just toss a bag-full of goodies y cosas gratis, and watch the Hispanics line up.
But why aren’t Latinos participating in the more important things that can actively affect change? ¿Cual cosas? How about things like: “research studies”? According to a 5/13/05 article from Medical News Today, “At a time when the Hispanic population is growing at a rate faster than any other minority group, Hispanics still represent only a small portion of participants in clinical research studies.” ¿Y porque te importa? Por que this could provide researchers with important data for diseases and infirmities hitting Hispanics hard. Diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are no longer a chiste about mamí’s mal humor. As per Joel Escobedo, a University of Michigan Medical student: “These are diseases that are more prevalent among Hispanics.We need to understand how these conditions affect Hispanics, how treatments work for them, and what areas we need to pay particular attention to with Hispanic patients.”
This brings me to my next pensamiento: education. Without proper education, how can Hispanics understand and recognize the importance of research, historical data, and politics? This is the place where young minds are shaped and nurtured. Naturally there are a few barriers that Latinos need to first conquer in order to progress. Here are a few:
1. Language – Whether the child has immigrated into this country or was wrongfully moved through the school system (having learned little or nothing), it is imperative that they learn to speak the lenguaje.
2. Terminology and Testing – How can a Hispanic name something if the label is not easy to define? Much was made in the news about standardized testing being presented in a very Americano-centric way which prompted minority students to score poorly.
3. Bias – Inner-city schoolchildren can be cruel and they can muscle in on an already fragile self-esteem.
4. Old Habits and Customs – Just because your abuela back in the day didn’t go farther than high-school doesn’t mean that tu no puedes. ¡Por favor! No one is saying that it is facil, but it is essential.
5. Avoid the Traps – Teenage pregnancy and promiscuity may be a darker part of our heritage and culture (no te haga) but it doesn’t have to be. The trappings of our cultura should not affect our futuro. It is only considered the ‘norm’ because we choose to accept as such. Stop chasing historia and consigue otra moda de success.
Aún, Dennis Kelly’s USA Today article (2001), “Education’s Hispanic Gap” talks about the percentage rate of Hispanics going to collegios y universidades. According to Kelly, “The college completion rate runs about 27 percent for the entire U.S. adult population, [but] it is only about 10 percent for Hispanic adults.” That’s sad.
Finally, I think that we should also become more active in politics. Sure, most out there are crooks and corruption is everywhere, but where isn’t it? Si tienes que gritar, jump up and down on couches, dar una tremenda pela, go ahead. It is the quiet, passive ones that aren’t heard. So get active and volunteer your time at your local state offices. You should also participate in local government and maybe even run for public office. If for no other reason than to be heard, to have a voz amid the din of others. It is important.
Those bygone days of being represented by Juan Valdez and his burro are long over, people. It’s time to get moving, get shaking, and start being more selective in the items you purchase and the products you buy. Remember that you may be inadvertently supporting companies that are not as Latino-friendly as they should be.
¡Que viva, Latinoamerica!