Election 2012: Latina Bloggers Go to the White House

“You’ve been selected as one of the Top Latina Bloggers to attend a mini-MBA and attend a special White House briefing.”

When this email popped up in my inbox, I exclaimed, ¡Bendito sea El Señor! As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Wise Latina Club, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a living from my passion on informing Latinas about the importance of politics, civic engagement, and the current election. Turns out, I’m not the only one.  Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), one of the most powerful online communities harnessing the power of the digital space to organize and educate Hispanics, identified that Hispanic female bloggers are not being paid at pace with their value and community influence. (Unfortunately, this is not only limited to blogging but most other professions, as documented in the Trabajadoras Labor Council for Latin American Advancement or LCLAA). Another discovery: most Latina bloggers do not feel they have political power.

To begin righting this “wrong,” LATISM hosted the first ever mini-Masters in Business Administration in Washington, DC, which included a history-making briefing at the White House geared toward Latinas, the leaders of a growing community and voting bloc.  Obama Administration officials promoted the policies most affecting Latinos, including the United States Department of Agriculture’s EBT electronic food stamp program that can be used in farmers markets, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which encourages exercise as a way to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity.  “We are not títeres (puppets),” LATISM founder Ana Roca-Castro reminded the administration officials, including Domestic Policy chair Cecilia Muñoz, who was asked the first question by a bloguera who wanted to know why President Obama had stepped up deportations under the controversial Secure Communities program that targets violent illegal immigrant felons or repeat border crossers but that has detained others such as the student DREAMers.  Other tough questions included why public schools don’t have more resources for special needs students.  I asked what President Obama is doing to lower the unemployment rate, especially among Latinos that’s trended two points higher than that of the general population.

Elianne Ramos, LATISM’s vice chair of communications says, “We can make all the noise we want to in cyberspace but it’s important that it gets to the right ears. And that happened yesterday at the White House.”

We also learned how to turn our blogs into a business by mastering valuable skills such as how to pitch a public relations company or brand personally and through our websites, as well as negotiating.  This is crucial because as the Hispanic community, its estimated $1 trillion dollar buying power, as well as social media and mobile device usage continue growing, corporations are trying to grow their profit margins by penetrating this market. Outreach to the Hispanic community through Latino bloggers is key to brands’ marketing strategy. The “mini-MBA” was taught by industry insiders from Southwest, Consumer Reporters, Comcast, McDonald’s, Google, Porter Novelli, and Fleishman-Hillard with support from Univision and Mary Kay.

Rachel Mátos of the art, style, and mommyhood blog The Art Muse says for Latina bloggers, it’s not just about our bottom line: “We all really care about each other’s success and we’re supportive of one another.  As much as we want our brands and businesses to grow, it’s important that our communities also grow.”

And that’s a wish echoed by all of us, me included--how we can do “well” for ourselves and do good for our community.