Well I’m either in LA or a wealthy South American country with a big tourist trade…it’s hard to tell which.
I came down here because there’s a specialist at UCLA who is helping me figure out a good educational program for my son. But I’ll write about that later. Right now I want to blog about the changing demographic of this area.
The bulk of my mother’s family lives in Los Angeles and my father used to live down here as well so while I’ve never lived here personally I have visited Southern California more times than I can count. It is due to my casual familiarity with the area that the comments of one of my San Francisco marketing professors back in the early 90s confused me. She was talking about pitching products to certain niche markets and she said, “Corporations recently became aware of a large Latino community in the Los Angeles area and they have begun to design marketing campaigns aimed at this demographic.”
I remember raising my hand and saying, “Wait, they just recently figured out there were a lot of Latinos in LA?”
My professor chuckled. “Clearly they should have been trying to market to Los Angeles’ Latino population years ago,” she conceded, “but the prejudices of executives often undermine the capitalistic interests of the corporations they work for.”
Whatever. All I know is that anyone who visited LA during the 20th century would have to be deaf and blind not to notice the ever-growing Latino community here and now in 2006…well lets just say that this year even Helen Keller would notice that the majority of the city’s restaurants serve tamales.
I grew up with the understanding that African Americans were the “main” minority group in this nation. We have changed the face of music, fashion, sports, dance and oh so much more and our influence and power shows no sign of diminishing. But now it seems that we’re sharing the spotlight in a really big way. As I was tuning into one of the dozen or so Latino hip-hop radio stations my mother (who accompanied me and my son on this trip) said that she understood why I liked the music because it was very “catchy.”
I hesitated for a moment and said, “Yes…that’s true but there’s more to it than that. When I listen to this it’s as if I’m listening to the beginnings of a huge cultural phenomenon. The genetic make-up of this country is changing and Latino culture is going to integrate itself into our every day lives in ways and to a degree that it never has before. It’s happening right now. These Spanish songs are already being played on the mainstream hip hop stations, J-Lo is the “it” girl and there are as many successful Latina chick lit authors as there are British ones. It’s all happening right now and we have front row seats, but front row seats are useless if you don’t watch the stage so…I’m watching the stage.”
And it really is an incredible show. As a woman of color I find there is nothing so exciting as watching a traditionally oppressed minority group (be it mine or someone else’s) rise in power and influence.
So now I’ve got to go out and find an adult Spanish language class because these kinds of shows are so much better when you don’t have to bother reading the subtitles.
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