Published August 3, 2018
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
mul·ti·cul·tur·al: məltēˈkəlCH(ə)rəl, adjective; multi-cultural: Relating to or constituting several cultural or ethnic groups within a society.
Excuse # 1:
“We don’t have the money” (Then they spend millions in consultants that do not even live in the state being campaigned and who do not understand its multicultural market)
“You are important but we really can reach out more through direct mail” (then they send a direct mail piece only in English in a high demographic area of people who speak another language)
“We do care about you, we just hired someone to engage your community for the ENTIRE state” (this said in July, usually before the August Primary, in a statewide campaign).
What we hear when we hear these excuses and we live and breathe in these communities is the following:
“We don’t really care about you.”
All the multicultural consultants know what I am talking about, because we have heard these excuses for decades from people who are the 98% of those hired in political campaigns or who do not understand our multicultural communities. The last study done by the Democratic minority advocacy firm PowerPAC in 2014 showed that out of the $514 million that Democrats spent in 2010 and 2012 election cycles, only 8.7 million went to minority consultants. That is 1.7%, and that was not too long ago.*
Many consultants have not stopped telling candidates, companies, elected officials for decades to reach out in English, but of course, also in languages that comprise your state. Sometimes I wonder from hearing their stories, how many more decades can these bilingual consultants continue to do give the same advice without being heard, and without the bilingual consultant being broken?
Company Mentality vs. Political Campaign Mentality
Some companies do listen, and even though they may get an angry customer who hates hearing “Para español presione el uno” (for Spanish press one); they are getting the big bucks from servicing the Spanish speaking community. According to a report headed by University of California, it estimates the Latino economic power is over two trillion dollars and would rank as the seventh largest in the world of the Latino (GDP) if it were its own country. But in politics, it is different as many ‘politicos” do not listen, and the same repetitive speech is given, sometimes begging to be heard as we repeat the important of inclusion and multicultural engagement year after year, loss after loss. We tell them they will lose, and most of the time–they do.
You would think that a light bulb would go on when we can show as an example the Latino’s economic power. I am sure Latino’s are willing to show their political power. The only thing is that someone has to take the first step, and the step has to come from those who want to win. But no, these politicos go through the usual political “hang over” loss–they cry, they tell us that we were right and they tell us they will change. Then, they create task force committees to address the issue of inclusion and engagement. Yet, like addicts, they only know one way and tend to ask their buddies that helped them lose to be on their task force. Then, they forget and go back to the same addiction: the same strategy and the need to make money for their buddies and them. They forget about the different communities that create a state like Florida, and if they don’t, they send one of “their” people to Hialeah, Florida (a large Cuban-American city) to engage the voters when “their buddies” don’t even speak Spanish. You cannot win within these communities without connecting to their culture and language.
Para la m…..
The other day talking to another bilingual political consultant, we discussed how out of tune people in campaigns are with reaching out to the community. His response was practically that many do not listen, but he still would do everything he can in his power for certain candidates to win because the United States was going to an extreme and we needed to shift the pendulum before it went too far. It sounded beautiful. It opens our eyes to understanding that we have amazing people in politics that care. It is a story we know well about that one Latino who will give their life for the principles they believe in and that are the foundation of their party. They try to change things with the meager crumbs given to him or her (if any crumbs are given to him or her at all). The sad part is that you can never win an election with that mentality. You must have these same people who wear their heart on their sleeve, be the ones to lead and train others.
Yet, what is seen in politics is fear. Fear that people within parties and consultants have for those who speak two languages. Those whose livelihood is supported by politics fear losing their job because the dual and multilinguals may take money or power away from them. The smart ones should see the bilingual as assets to their company or organization, making them more attractive in a place like Florida and other states.
Within the decades of conversations of hidden envy from the usual consultants vs the frustrated bilingual consultants who are never hired or are black listed because they are seen as a threat– there can be hope. Hope exists as long as we have people within these communities that stand up to the BS. The people who stop doing things for free all the time. The people who stop scratching others back in order for them to scratch theirs. The people who can believe that they can be the chair of an organization or party even if they have been called all their life a minority and are told it is not their time. Hope is there for all of us, when people stop the BS by getting on the bus and deciding to not sit in the back without even being asked to, and they must sit in the front when asked to sit in the back. Hope is there for the people who don’t wait for prince charming, or wait to be picked, and instead decide to lead.
There is hope because in the midst of the entire BS, we can see something different is happening. We have those out there that stand on their soap box and remind the voters that it is not about having money, it is about having people. That this is not about power or profit, it is about principles and values. We see organizations being built where people are donating because they are tired of those in power not listening. We are seeing a movement against the BS. We are seeing them call it BS. We see them not care of who gets the credit as long as they win.
Say “no” to conformism
We are seeing those that speak against the conformism’s of multicultural engagement. It is happening in Florida, and as we see the yearly “caveman” strategies happen in different states, we are seeing within different cultures, through Twitter and articles, complaints and suggestions of bilingual and multicultural political gurus finally speaking up. They say “no” to being made out to be just token minority for the picture unless it comes from a real place. They say “no” to that special meeting that helps people think that they really do care about our people unless they are allowed speak and something will be constructed upon those thoughts. That is how the BS stops. When every single one of us, inside and outside of the political parties ask for respect for our communities, and the respect starts with us respecting ourselves, our work and our time.
We will listen to those who respect us. Sadly many communities do not look at policies, they look at kindness. Did the candidate take the time to address them, their concerns as they embrace this new country they call home? Are they addressing the concerns they have for the people they care for who still live in another country? Did they take time to understand that they still struggle with English? For those who have those considerations, these communities will open their homes to them and will let them in regardless of who you are.
You have to understand that our communities are extremely sensitive right now, and that also makes us extremely alert to the way each campaign is being handled and how authentic it is.
The stakes are too high and our country is being affected by extreme racism, xenophobia and lack of respect and dignity to our communities, sometimes even from people who are part of our multicultural communities. When only 30% of the U.S. population has more than a high school education according to a U.S. Census, you can’t expect everyone to understand policy and how laws are passed. They want simplicity. They want to know if you are for or against them. The want to understand what it means to be a Democrat or Republican and they want to be reached in the language they struggle the less with.
Start by learning what a “cortadito” is. Drinking it will change your life.
So, if you want to stop and smell the “Cafecito”, you must know this: Florida is crucial in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Multicultural communities must be reached out to. Just looking at the Latino community in Florida, 26% of the population in the State of Florida is Hispanic, and in South Florida 66% of all registered voters are Spanish dominant according to a recent study presented by Telemundo 51 in South Florida. That is 2 out of every 3 Latino voters.
Nielsen Research’s definition of Spanish dominant Hispanics is: “those that speak Spanish only or mostly at home.” The Telemundo 51 study also shared that South Florida accounts for 51% of the Latino voters in Florida. They may be Republicans, Democrats or Independents, yet 87% support the DACA program, and for them one of the most important issues facing the country today is Gun Rights and Gun Control. That being said, if you want to win an election, you need to focus on everyone.
Remember in 2014 when Charlie Crist lost the election by 66,000 votes? Just one example of multicultural communities: Crist started his Hispanic engagement a month before the Primary Election. Rick Scott started in December of 2013 (before the 2014 midterm election and he did it again this year). History can repeat itself.
Pay attention to this:
The Primary Elections is around the corner and the General Election is near. Listen in order to win, and please do not fall in the trap of the conformism’s of multicultural engagement, or we will be watching you on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 with a political “hangover” loss.
If you are being told that you are failing with a certain community, it is time you listen to those who work in these communities, who understand how they think and feel. If different polls, studies, experts and focus groups tell you that you are not doing well, don’t blow them off. When you feel that failure is near, it is understandable how much it hurts to hear you are not doing well. But like a good friend who is also a pollster recently told me:
“When a doctor sits you down and shares with you that you have cancer, what do you do? Do you listen to the doctor and see what are the options to be cured, or do you prefer to go to another doctor that tells you are not sick?”
I write this honoring those who have stood up for decades and continue to stand up to BS.
*If someone has more recent numbers or studies on hiring of minority consultants in 2014 and 2016, I would love to see them. Also, it would be interesting to see how much do Republicans spend on minority consultants if anyone may have these numbers. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org