Hispanic Heritage Month Outrage

Recently I’ve seen a couple of features online that seemed to rant on the commercialization of Latinos especially through Hispanic Heritage Month exploitations.

This left me feeling exasperated and upset so I thought I would address here. And, my feelings are the issue are rather complex.

I don’t think anyone is exploiting Latinos by marketing to them (in general). I, in particular, dislike promotional campaigns from alcoholic beverages aimed at Latinos. Every time I open a magazine or see a billboard in a poor area it seems to be one of these but at the same time I know some of these companies pour a lot of money into scholarships and community campaigns. I am also a big believer in free will and what people do is their business. When I see a Corona commercial, I want to hit the beach not the bottle – maybe that’s just me. And as long as the marketing is not patronizing or demeaning to Hispanics, I don’t mind it. In fact, I applaud the company’s offer to try to offer me something – it’s still up to me to buy it. I have the control and the power as a consumer.

Also it’s rather hypocritical to complain about being “targeted.” I think we, as Latinos, have successfully risen from being marginalized and rather invisible within American society. Even in saying that however, we still have a long way to go. Yet, I see the “targeting” as a sign that we have been recognized as a social group with immense financial power. We live in a capitalist society, many groups are “targeted.” Is this exploitation? It’s complicated. Should Latinos be targeted as a group or seen as mainstream… Personally, I feel like there is a sense of cultural loss attached to being mainstream. I like to support Hispanic initiatives when I can and when I agree and like the basis. I don’t preferentially choose them over others either. I choose what I like and when it happens to be a Hispanic business or author or project – it brings me an additional sense of happiness and pride. But is Hispanic pride a commodity? Don’t we want to support Hispanic ventures and business? Don’t we need to nurture this sort of productivity and success within our own community?

As a child, I enjoyed Black History Month lessons and plays and specials on TV because I learned about the rich history and lives of all the brothers and sisters who came before me. It gave me a sense of our world and society outside of my own personal scope, time, and window. Sadly, it was only when I got to college that I started learning of my own Puerto Rican history and still I continue to learn.

Cultural observances and celebrations allow others to learn and embrace the significance, diversity, and experiences of one particular group. “Others” in this sense meaning anyone who might be unfamiliar, even those of that group. I celebrate my heritage every day, it is matter of pride and identity – that doesn’t mean the buck stops there. Hispanic Heritage Month amplifies this sentiment, allows me to share it with others, and it allows me to receive a wealth of information. And, don’t we have a lot to celebrate?
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