Sometimes, no matter how enthusiastic you are or how much you prepare for a given task or project, the results are ultimately defined by luck. Kind of like games we used to play around the schoolyard.
In the case of HuffPost LatinoVoices, we're aiming to to connect with a dynamic and growing segment of the population which has been under-served and is admittedly also somewhat undefined. Who are the American Latinos and what do they want?
I bring this up partially in reaction to Alicia Morga's recent blog where she asks "Should there be a HuffPost Latino?," and in which she relates how as a "born in the U.S. and English-dominant" Latina, Alicia has been reluctant to frequent media outlets that particularly cater to Hispanic audiences. She is not alone in this regard.
Most Hispanic media was born from the need for Spanish-speaking Hispanics in the U.S. to have their own venues to learn about news from their countries of origin, to stay connected to the popular trends which their own family members were experiencing back home. Not only was the language different, but in most cases, the news being reported was different. Much in the same way as a local paper focuses on its immediate community's interests, Hispanic media of the past decades has focused on the interests of the people who in many ways first defined what a Hispanic is: Spanish-speaking with the memory of immigration not more than one generation removed.
But times have changed. In a big way.
As the 2010 Census revealed, the 45% growth of Latinos in the U.S. - to 50 million - was not solely powered by immigration trends. The tremendous increase in births to Hispanic mothers has been as important, accounting for 1 in 4 births in the country.
This baby boom comes on the heels of the rise of a phenomenon known as retro-acculturation, where U.S.-born Hispanics seek out cultural relevancy, look to connect with their heritage and better understand their own psyche by learning to speak Spanish, by dancing salsa or tango every chance they get, by making their grandmother's tamale recipe, by drinking Inca Cola, by being informed of the socio-political relations between the U.S. and Latin America.
And yet, Hispanic media has generally not evolved in ways which relate to this growing audience. The largest and most successful Hispanic media companies made their fortunes in Spanish. With immigration trends and bilingualism helping to maintain a sizeable and increasingly wealthy segment of the Hispanic population, these media companies are not facing a crisis which demands they adapt or die. Hence Alicia's predicament.
For most interests, English-dominant Hispanics can essentially find what they seek in mainstream media. For this segment of the Hispanic population, the U.S. aspect of their personal cultural make-up is generally as important - if not more important - as their Hispanic aspect. There is a reason the terms 'American Latinos' or 'U.S. Hispanic' are used. But many of them do express similar frustrations as Alicia, who said in her blog "When I long for something that resonates on a more emotional level, as a brown gal I am usually out of luck."
And this is exactly why we launched HuffPost LatinoVoices, to create a place where stories and issues which resonate with Latinos can be found, where the authentic perspectives of Latino communities can be cultivated, presented, and shared.
We did not do this so as to develop an isolated site where only Hispanics would find value, but to be an equal partner in the mix of sites, reporters, editors, themes and blogs which comprise The Huffington Post. The fact that this new site is in English empowers the opportunity; we've removed the language barrier which has kept a large and growing portion of the Latino community from engaging the Hispanic-relevant content we produce, and which has also kept the non-Hispanic audience from being exposed to issues and positions particular to Latinos and with direct bearing on the larger mainstream.
In our first week, HuffPost LatinoVoices has directly led or collaborated on over a dozen originally reported pieces, of which half have been featured on the front page of The Huffington Post and circulated across various other HuffPost sites. This exposure was earned in the same way and by the same merits as the work of any other HuffPost editorial team, and has brought these stories - which have ranged from the issues facing Latino voters to the curious case of General Emiliano Zapata's grandson - to well over half a million people who may now have a slightly more informed idea as to what the Hispanic experience in the U.S. is about.
In the caustic political environment which dominates our country right now, we are also aware of the value which we can all gain from simply gaining clarity as to what inspires, motivates and impacts others. It's no secret that there is a lot of heat around issues directly related to U.S. Hispanics; such as immigration reform, the 2012 elections, employment and educational advancement to name a few. Too often, opinions are formed in an information vacuum.
By bringing HuffPost LatinoVoices into The Huffington Post, we can perhaps let some air in to the debates around these issues.
Who wants to play?