Sometimes I wonder when I’m going to arrive at the White House and have security pluck me away, throw me in a Midnight Express cell, and throw away the key forever. Guilty of being critical, obsessively at times, and holding President Barack Obama accountable for not delivering on immigration reform while deportations spiked and the not giving the urgency needed to the economy (while giving him credit where credit is due on foreign policy and the Department of Education’s Race to the Top).
That’s not going to happen because:
1) this is America and I’m allowed to have and express my opinion
2) the President has wayyyy bigger fish to fry and I am small papas.
Still they could give me the cold shoulder. And while I’m not expecting a sit-down interview with the President to “come out” on immigration, they keep inviting me, they keep opening up the White House to new faces, perspectives, and voices, even if they’re critical.
That was on full display when LATISM’s Top Blogueras arrived for the first-ever White House briefing. The poll gurus are running the numbers and they understand that Latinos may be dissatisfied with this President, but they’re even more unhappy with the option–likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Months away from a close election, it’s smart política to invite a select group of key influencers, say hi, this is what we’re doing (with a few rah rah rahs) delivered by Latinas–people who look like them.
Was there a touch of dog and pony show? Jes, and with exclusively Mami bloggers making up about 1/2 of us, there may have been an assumption that unlike a briefing with the Bob Woodwards and Helen Thomases of the press corp, we were playing softball.
Until the questions came: my heart welled with pride as these women–yes many Mamis!–stood up to probe, point out gaps in policy and communication, make suggestions, and demand a follow up.
Would President George W. Bush have invited us to the White House? Perhaps. But three years ago, LATISM and Twitter, digital spaces where we have found community, didn’t exist in as organized a fashion as today. Then there’s the profound demographic, economic, political, and cultural transformation that’s unfolding led by the Hispanic population boom.
There’s a moment.
And Latina bloggers are in the middle it.
Continue reading or click on the link below to my latest Latina Magazine column:
By Viviana Hurtado
“You’ve been selected as one of the Top Latina Bloggers to attend a mini-MBA and attend a special White House briefing.”
When this email popped up in my inbox, I exclaimed, ¡Bendito sea El Señor! because as the founder and editor-in-chief of The Wise Latina Club, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a living from my passion on informing Latinas about the importance of politics, civic engagement, and Election 2012. Turns out, I’m not the only one. Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), one of the most powerful online communities harnessing the power of the digital space to organize and educate Hispanics, identified that Hispanic female bloggers are not being paid at pace with their value and community influence (unfortunately, this is not only limited to blogging but most other professions as documented in the Trabajadoras report by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) which you can read here. Another discovery: most Latina bloggers do not feel they have political power.
To begin righting this “wrong,” LATISM hosted the first ever mini-Masters in Business Administration in Washington, DC, which included a history-making briefing at the White House geared toward Latinas, the leaders of a growing community and voting bloc. Obama Administration officials promoted the policies most affecting Latinos, including the United States Department of Agriculture’s EBT electronic food stamp program that can be used in farmers markets, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign which is encouraging exercise as a way to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. “We are not títeres (puppets),” LATISM founder Ana Roca-Castro reminded the administration officials, including Domestic Policy chair Cecilia Muñoz, who was asked the first question by a bloguera who wanted to know why President Obama had stepped up deportations under the controversial Secure Communities program that targets violent illegal immigrant felons or repeat border crossers but that has detained others such as the student DREAMers. Other tough questions included why public schools don’t have more resources for special needs students. I asked what President Obama is doing to lower the unemployment rate, especially among Latinos that’s trended two points higher than that of the general population.
Elianne Ramos, LATISM’s vice chair of communications says, “We can make all the noise we want to in cyberspace but it’s important that it gets to the right ears. And that happened yesterday at the White House.”
We also learned how to turn our blogs into a business by mastering valuable skills such as how to pitch a public relations company or brand personally and through our websites, as well as negotiating. This is crucial because as the Hispanic community, its estimated $1 trillion dollar buying power, as well as social media and mobile device usage continue growing, corporations are trying to grow their profit margins by penetrating this market. Outreach to the Hispanic community through Latino bloggers is key to brands’ marketing strategy. The “mini-MBA” was taught by industry insiders from Southwest, Consumer Reporters, Comcast, McDonald’s, Google, Porter Novelli, and Fleishman-Hillard with support from Univision and Mary Kay.
Rachel Mátos of the art, style, and mommyhood blog The Art Muse says for Latina bloggers, it’s not just about our bottom line, “We all really care about each other’s success and we’re supportive of one another. As much as we want our brands and businesses to grow, it’s important that our communities also grow.”
And that’s a wish echoed by all of us, me included–how we can do “well” for ourselves and do good for our community.
To read more of Viviana’s politics pieces in Latina, click here.Is it possible to do “well” and do good and if so, how are you doing it (I really would like to know!)?