Why It’s Important To Invest In The Latinx Community
The Latinx population is a major cultural and economic force in the United States. GDP among the U.S. Latinx population increased to $2.3 trillion in 2017, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010. To put that into context, that was the third-highest growth rate among all global economies during that time.
Culturally, we are at the vanguard of all of the emerging trends and styles from music to film to fashion. In many ways, we are defining the trends with examples like Cardi B, Daddy Yankee, and Bad Bunny who are among the largest selling artists globally.
Our success in entertainment isn’t a new phenomenon, however. Latinxs in the United States have been defining the sound of America for decades: from the mambo craze in the ’50s to pioneering Hip Hop which is now the most influential culture in the world.
Although we could outline this eloquently on paper, our influence and contributions are often lost in the greater conversation. Internally, we are not doing our part to demand inclusion and externally, racist sentiments prohibit our consideration. Nevertheless, the influence is still extremely powerful and has a unique ability to cross both cultural and generational boundaries, unlike any other cultural force.
One of the more important points to consider is the percentage of Generation Z that is Latinx. According to census reports, the Latinx population represents 23.5% of the total Gen Z population within the United States. In simpler terms, the Latinx population is a large part of the emerging population which translates to our influence standing to be even larger and more impactful in the coming decades.
Any brand that is wise enough to invest in this energy is capable of developing a relationship with our population that has tremendous brand loyalty and that will continue to define mainstream cultural trends for a long time. What brands and those looking to engage with us need to understand is that they can not interact with this dynamic and well-informed population with simplistic campaigns.
10 years ago, brands could simply translate their campaigns into Spanish or throw a flag on a product in order to be successful. Today, those strategies fall short on a population with high brand intelligence and one that demands investment in meaningful conversations in exchange for cultural buy-in.
Although there are shared values, there is also a wide spectrum of realities among the Latinx community. All of these realities must be considered when developing campaigns. What works in the Latinx community in Miami may not work in New York. For that matter, what works in Washington Heights may not work in the Bronx.
Many years ago I worked on a presidential campaign as the Youth Engagement Coordinator at the candidate’s Latinx outreach office in Orlando. The strategy of the party was built around translation of the campaign logo into Spanish and the addition of various flags to the campaign’s promotional items. The big, bold, bright idea was to have Willie Colon do meet and greets at various grocery stores for a couple of hours at a time.
Beyond this, no real investments were made in growing the political awareness and power of the community. I often found myself arguing with the campaign manager about this insensitive strategy but my arguments fell upon deaf ears.
While that candidate lost the nomination, he did win the youth vote. Let’s just say I was doing my own guerilla marketing and I had mastered campaigning in the club as a way to build rapport with our target demographic.
Fast forward to the present and I can hardly say either major political party has improved their investment in the Latinx community. Neither party has heightened their understanding of the complexities of what the Latinx community values or what we demand of our elected officials.
We are not a homogeneous community with a singular concern. Simplifying the Latinx community to a singular issue showcases the lack of real interest in learning and considering our concerns into their agendas.
By ignoring the diversity of our needs, politicians mute our collective voice. We make ourselves heard and our priorities known by way of every vehicle accessible to us. The Latinx community doesn’t have next, we have now. We need to understand and embrace this and move to inhabit all of the spaces we want to occupy.
As my mom always says about us in Puerto Rico, “nos matan con el ay bendito”. What she means is that our community’s attitude of forgiving those who have wronged us has allowed those the wrongdoers to persist in escaping blame.
Pero nah. Fuck that. You got to show us love.
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