By Dave Schechter, CNN Senior National Editor
Wed May 30, 2012
Not one 'Latino vote'
Conventional wisdom lumps together "the Latino vote." But that community includes millions of people claiming dozens of countries of origin, speaking more than just Spanish. It is not now -- nor in the future -- likely to be anything so homogenous.
Juan Guillermo Tornoe, owner of Hispanic Trending Inc., a marketing and advertising firm in Austin, Texas, and author of the Hispanic Trending blog, is "counting the days" until he is eligible to become a U.S. citizen in a couple of years and vote in a presidential election.
For several years, Tornoe, a Guatemala native who came to the United States 10 years ago and now has permanent resident status, has talked about the nuances of the Latino community, the kinds of things companies marketing products (and political parties marketing candidates) need to know.
"There is not one Latino Vote; there is a multitude of Latino votes and candidates, society, and the media need to fully understand this if they are ever going to connect with the different parts of the Hispanic community," he advised.
Tornoe cringes "every time someone refers to Latinos as a unified voting bloc or as a homogeneous market segment. We are way too diverse for this."
"There are many differences between Hispanics, depending upon the person's country of origin or heritage: Food and music preferences as well as the holidays they celebrate are some of the most obvious," Tornoe says. "The actual words they use to describe persons, places, actions and things can vary immensely as well. There is also a lot of ideological baggage that comes along with one's country of origin/heritage."
As for generational differences, Tornoe said: "It is a completely different worldview depending how far away generationally Hispanics are from their country of origin/heritage.
"First-generation (foreign-born) Latinos have experienced life outside the U.S., have gone through the immigration experience, and to different degrees, have embraced or become acquainted with living in America. Second-generation Latinos encounter a mixed experience, being born and growing up in the United States, but brought up by immigrants and thus heavily exposed and influenced by their parents' culture.
"Finally, Latinos who are third generation and beyond are the sons and daughters of U.S.-born parents. They are very much influenced by the general market but still connect to their roots through the values, traditions and culture passed on by their parents and grandparents."
When it comes to citizenship, Tornoe, who hopes to be officially an American in three years, is clear.
"Being a U.S.-born citizen puts you in a completely different frame of mind than that of a naturalized U.S. citizen, someone who's a permanent resident (who could be counting the days to becoming a citizen or simply choosing to never become one), someone here on a temporary work visa or an undocumented alien," he said. "All of these are part of the Latino population, but only a percentage of them are able to vote.
"Then, among the latter, it is not the same to be able to vote, than to be a registered voter and actually cast your vote. Lack of participation in the democratic process is one of the major problems among the Hispanic community."
Read the entire article @ CNN