Latino Networks Grow Around The Country
Christina E. Rodríguez ::Café Media :: www.cafemagazine.com
Across the country now, you see that individuals are noticing the importance of the acculturated community among Latinos. There are plenty of people in key areas of the country who have put together fairly large networking systems in order to fill gaps that they have seen existing within our community. People are finding plenty of reasons to come together, even if it is to party it up one night out of the month at the hip new Latino-based club in Chicago, New York or San Francisco.
Being in San Francisco I met Giovanni Gonzalez, a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering at Berkeley. Not only is he a mechanical engineer, but he’s created a network of people within the San Francisco area, who get together to socialize, take trips (like to a wine vineyard) and he also DJs in the city. Well, not much different from Café’s strategies, but with a certain exclusivity that allows for his group to be among the select few, invited into the community of professionals who love the Latino culture. It’s called Latinos A Morir and can be found at http://lam-network.com. The next large event is at the top of the Hilton in San Francisco and is for the celebration of Latin American countries and their independence.
We talked about the problems that we both faced being the media realm and the successes and failures of Web sites and newsletters. I joined his fan pages on Facebook and shared what it’s like to work with Café Media’s initiatives. The similarities are vast, as it happens within social media. When he tells people that he’s collected about 2,700 people to network together, many are surprised to know that there are that many acculturated Latinos within the professional world and they’re all in one area. We as Latinos are all over the place, including San Francisco. Surprise! It’s a place to find people who are like you and like to do the things that you do and are proud of being Latino.
I know some of you saw the article I wrote about Lance Rios and the Being Latino fan page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beinglatino). This past week, he was on a panel discussion called Sobremesas hosted by GlobalHue in New York with people from all over the media community talking about Latinos and what they’ve learned and noticed from working within their circles. Michael Rivera, A&R for Spirit Music Group, talked about music and bands that he’s experienced who actually live in both worlds, singing in English and in Spanish, feeling comfortable in both and finding their own niche within the large, generalized music industry. He talked about patterns that he’s noticed among Latinos, these Cultural Chameleons (the title of the panel) and how it is they bend, mold and shape themselves into each particular market or community. Lance obviously talked about what he’s found within the realm of Facebook, pointing out (like Giovanni) that it’s important to have information in English because there may not be Latinos who speak Spanish, yet have the same pride the rest of their community does. The issue of Spanish language marketing came up and the one topic that I’ve seen relentlessly over and over again is the misconception that in order to cater to the Latino community, it must be in Spanish. Wrong. Nancy Tellet, vice president of MTV Tr3s research and consumer insights, knew exactly what she was talking about. She was pointing out all of these reasons as to why Latinos act, react and feel the way that they do, especially because the Latino culture is such an interesting demographic. Danny Hastings, trend analyst for Xbox live, Sprite Green, Si TV, pointed out that when he makes movies (his main attraction) he wants to show all the aspects to Latinas there are just because there’s been a stereotype as to what a Latina is supposed to be. I wrote about this some time ago. They all talked about the importance of the media when it comes to this issue of who Latinos are within the United States making really excellent points about language, age and conceptualization about what Latinos want and are looking for. The whole idea that generations cross without any issues is very insightful, especially when Latinos (of what I’ve seen in Chicago) don’t want to get old. They want to work hard and play hard, mingling and networking with the world around them that is available at arms’ length due to the networking parties and online communities that allows for this to happen. The Latino experience varies, but we have similar interests that keep us connected to every age, regardless of our own. It’s a very fascinating concept to tear apart and look at a little deeper.
We’re very social people, regardless of the actual daytime jobs that we have. So the fact that people are building networking systems around the country for not just social aspects but for fundraising and giving back to the community is another mark that Latinos are making for themselves. There are plenty of non-profits who work toward giving back, and it’s a growing part of Latinos who have the money and ability to give back in forms of scholarships, educational guides and mentorship programs. The Latino Community Foundation (http://www.latinocf.org/) in San Francisco is one of the groups who raises money to give back to the communities of which they were bred. Raquel Donoso pointed out that there is a misconception that Latinos don’t give back to their communities, when in reality, they do. Mind you, they aren’t hefty, six plus digits long that donors are contributing, but, she said, they have various small donors who together make up the large amount sum they raise every year. The philanthropy is strong among the community. It’s a mirror of the culture isn’t it? We work as a bigger team to get something done. Well, maybe not in the professional worlds is it like this, because people LOVE to fight for the lime light, but among families, microcosms, and other smaller examples of the beautiful Latino culture we have, this is exemplified. Always helping, nothing is too small. At least trying. They hold a gala every year, which is their biggest fundraiser (go figure) and they have a great time while collecting the big pot of cash to eventually hand over. Seems worthwhile to me.
So this is just a small example of the networks we have going around all over the country. Take part in one. Giovanni proudly pointed out that you are socializing with potential mates as well as friends. Two couples that are part of Latinos A Morir met through him. When Café first started throwing parties, our readers came out, not just for the free food and drinks, but to come and meet someone special. There are several benefits to finding the Latino network nearest you and getting out there.