Recently I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Junot Díaz, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. As expected, this Pulitzer Prize winning author did not disappoint. He was candid and insightful in his discussion on how Latino culture has influenced the mainstream. From the effect of Latinas’ feminine style on hip-hop fashion in the 80’s, to metrosexual Dominicans promoting the benefits of dance ability on overall “swag” to the male community at large.
The thing that resonated the most with me though, was something that having immigrated to this country as a little girl, I felt was fundamentally true. It’s the idea, as he so eloquently put it, that people function across the axis of simultaneity. We so often are asked to choose a way to identify ourselves: Hispanic, Ecuadorian, American, New Yorker, Spanish-speaker, English-speaker, female, mom…but the truth is, a person can be all these at the same time. However, more often than not, marketers rely on demographics to surgically carve out their targets. If I say I prefer to speak English, does that make me any less Hispanic? And if I say I’m Hispanic, does that mean I can’t navigate American culture without missing a beat? It shouldn’t be one thing or the other, this against that. Recognizing that people live along the axis of simultaneity provides an opportunity to change our own marketing narrative and communicate through better, truer, more engaging stories.