There were tears–lots of them, as fierce Latina entrepreneurs who are busting serious hump to advance their families and communities bared their souls on how hard their journeys have been.
No playbook of success like the Romney’s or Kennedy’s receive, along with silver spoons, at birth.
No inheritance like CNN anchor Anderson Cooper–aka the son of Gloria Vanderbilt–risking his life in the former Yugoslavia where he one-man banded. He made a name for himself because he could afford to be there, dodging bullets.
No Bill Gates who could drop out of Harvard and return to his ‘rents’ upper middle class home and re-group.
When I contemplated accepting a job as a stringer for the New York Times in Mexico City and start my career as a journalist, it would have meant leaving Yale with this title: A.B.D. (All. But. Dissertation.) This is the only time Mami threw down the gauntlet: Mijita, you HAVE to finish. You can lose your job (check), your savings (on the way), your looks (enlisting warrior Mary Kay to fight the effects of gravity) but no one can take away your education.
Latina women are at the head of the demographic boom that is changing the face of America while strengthening its core aspirational values–envied and imitated throughout the world. The very same group of the mythological $1 trillion dollar buying power. Stand alone, U.S. Hispanics Are a Top 20 World Economy! ¡Yo apruebo este político ado! Corporate America and political parties’ heads are spinning.
Yet we’re not getting ahead and in some cases we’re behind. Let’s set aside what we talk about A LOT here: low educational attainment, health disparities, and anemic political clout. Latinas make a fraction of their white counterparts–as in 1/3–according to research by Dr. Angélica Pérez-Litwin of New Latina. Hispanic women in MFA programs like the magnificent lioness of a mother Lisa Quiñones-Fontanez of Autism Wonderland are told that they won’t be published because editors believe Latinos don’t read or buy books.
I wish I could say this was not true–an exception–but I heard this too when I tried to shop The Wise Latina Club as a collection of inspirational essays on personal success written by household names such as Univision anchor María Elena Salinas and Broadway trailblazer and legend Chita Rivera.
Yes, a peeling-back-the-onion essay WRITTEN by Chita Rivera is gathering dust, archived on my computer.
From that failure was born this blog because the incredible technological advances in the form of my MacBook Pro, Twitter, WordPress, and my LATISM community have allowed me and other Regular Josés to become publishers, authors, curators, experts, commentators.
But we need to harness that power, connect all the points of light and together, shine a bright beam. We must build wealth, heck many of us, we just need to be able to pay the bills each month.
How can I get paid what I’m worth in terms of my influence that reaches thousands?
How do I negotiate with the world’s most powerful brands and receive the same compensation as my white or male counterparts for the same work performed?
Do I have a voice and if I speak, who’s really listening, not to manipulate me but acting on what I’m saying?
As it appears in Fox News Latino where I am a regular politics columnist.
By: Viviana Hurtado
I was privileged to be selected as one of the top Latina blogueras to participate in a mini-MBA that also included a White House briefing. This is a first, organized by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), one of the most powerful online communities harnessing the power of the digital space to organize and educate Hispanics. LATISM identified an issue dogging Hispanic female bloggers–not being compensated at pace with their value and influence as well as a perceived lack of political clout.
Roxana A. Soto, one of the co-founders of Spanglish Baby–a website and forthcoming book on raising children bilingually–says the workshops taught her to use her audience reach and website traffic as a business tool when negotiating with companies and brands, “I learned not just to accept what they offered. You need to ask and negotiate what you deserve because only you know what you’re worth.”
The demographic boom of the Latino community, its corresponding buying power estimated at $1 trillion dollars, and over-indexing in social media and mobile device usage has corporate America trying to corner this segment of the population to grow market share. As with the general market, outreach to Latino bloggers is a key component of marketing strategy because it’s a way to reach consumers, while influencing buying habits. Latinas learned how to turn their blogs into a business by mastering valuable skills such as how to pitch a public relations company personally and with your website, as well as negotiating. The crash-course 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.
Las Blogueras also were welcomed at the White House by members of the Obama Administration to promote the policies with most impact to Latinos, including the United States Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs and school meals programs as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which aims to combat childhood obesity by encouraging a more active lifestyle.
“We are not títeres (puppets),” LATISM founder Ana Roca-Castro reminded the administration officials, including Domestic Policy chair Cecilia Muñoz, who answered the first bloguera question on why President Obama had sped up deportations under the controversial Secure Communities program intended to target violent undocumented immigrant felons or repeat border crossers but that has ensnared others such as the student DREAMers. Other tough questions included the slow pace of the economic recovery and demanding more resources for special needs students.
Elianne Ramos, LATISM’s vice chair of communications says, “The bloggers have so much power but they don’t know it yet. When they see a bloguera that’s awakening to that power, they take it as theirs and they start projecting to their families, neighborhoods, and communities. That’s the only way we’ll be able to effect real change.”
All–me included–are now one step closer to being, not just passionate, but smarter social entrepreneurs–business leaders with a heart.
Click here to read my other Fox News Latino politics columns.Are you as successful as you should be?