From the White House to Africa with a stop in NY

To me the most refreshing was the official beginning of a con-versation. A two way approach where El Pueblo speaks, asks, demands, blogs, tweets, vlogs, podcasts and the White House decides to engage by bringing us to the table. It all began with Stephanie Valencia and Jon Carson from the Office of Public Engagement. They confirmed their commitment to reaching out to the community. Part of this engagement is being delivered by the launch of http://www.whitehouse.gov/hispanic which is a website mainly dedicated Latinos. I checked out the site and really liked the fact that it is in both in English and Spanish. I think it can grow into a more engaging experience with interactive tools but it is certainly a great start

From the White House:

This week has been a tipping point for all Latinos in Social Media!  I have witnessed with my own eyes that we are being heard.  There wasn’t a state official at the Cinco de Mayo ceremony in the White House who wasn’t aware of LATISM.  I knew that some congressmen and senators joined our Twitter conversation often since they’ve learned to replace the hashtag #Latinos or #Hispanic with the #LATISM hashtag to join the epicenter of Latino influence online.  However you never know if their account is in the hands of an intern or a staff.  The amount of praise I received about the ongoing conversation, about the EduWEdnesdays, the SaludSaturdays were just unbelievable to me.

Right before the reception, we had a White House briefing on President Obama’s agenda and the Hispanic Community.   I feel it would be too long to share everything in one post but I will share the different links to help you facilitate the journey we are about to take.

To me the most refreshing was the official beginning of a con-versation.  A two way approach where El Pueblo speaks, asks, demands, blogs, tweets, vlogs, podcasts and the White House decides to engage by bringing us to the table. It all began with Stephanie Valencia and Jon Carson from the Office of Public Engagement.  They confirmed their commitment to reaching out to the community.  Part of this engagement is being delivered by the launch of http://www.whitehouse.gov/hispanic which is a website mainly dedicated Latinos. I checked out the site and really liked the fact that it is in both in English and Spanish.  I think it can grow into a more engaging experience with interactive tools but it is certainly a great start.

Cecilia Muñoz, the Deputy Assistant to the President, and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs talked about the Immigration Reform.  I was glad to hear that the conversation is still open.  However I would like to invite Cecilia to LATISM with a concrete action plan which includes key performance indicators, milestones and delivery dates.  It almost feels like the immigration reform has been used as the carrot for the Latino vote.  The failure with the Dream Act was a golpe bajo for me.  Now we need to SEE, TOUCH and FEEL real actions.  One concrete step will be to keep growing our Latino Vote and they pointed us to http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis which is the site dedicated to Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Something I found really intriguing was a leadership program presented by Kalpen Modi, Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement.  It’s perfect for people like me who are total ignorant about the way policies  are handled, how something gets to the congress, the senate, how it gets voted and rejected.  I think we Latinos in Social Media need this kind of training since we are influencing our respective communities about our causas.  But due to the lack of political knowledge this influence is often wasted and treated as mere noise.  So Kalpen, tell us more about it, give us a date and we will be there.

I must admit that the highlight of the briefing was when Juan Sepulveda, the Director of the White House Initiative on the Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans talked about their efforts.  Honestly, I didn’t even know that this office existed.  And in fact it seems to be living a renaissance at the moment.  The love was reciprocal and they are fully on board with our push to promote Latino Tech Start-Ups during the LATINO2 Conference.  STEM is a big focus and the best part is that they are on the road visiting communities across the country.  I am very impressed by this team’s commitment to “Winning the Future by Improving Education for the Latino Community” – which is the title of the paper they presented at the briefing and I’m sure we’ll write about it in one of our EduWednesdays.

Gabriela Lemus, the Director of Public Engagement of the Department of Labor talked about the continuous efforts to building awareness about immigrant workers rights.  They’re doing something really creative.  Reaching out to the Mexican Consulates to brief their citizens about labor laws in the US.  On Thursday they also had an amazing event: Creating Career Pathways and Building Pipelines to Post-Secondary Education for Latino Adult Learners to find new ways to reduce the highest incidence of unemployment among Latino(a)s.  I have no doubt that we will also continue the conversation with this team.

Last but not least, we heard from Henry Muñoz, Chairman of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission. I was very impressed with the progress they’ve made.  I am also rolling my sleeves here getting ready to help with whatever they need.  Our community is the only one that isn’t celebrated at a national level.  I think this is a gift I want to give to my 4 kids to make them feel proud of their RAZA and their History.

The reception was fun, informative, warm and full of sabor.  Of course the highlight there was when Michelle Obama said “Viva LATISM” and when I managed to talk to President Obama and realized that he knew about LATISM.  “The listening station to all things Latinos – not only the press or the media but the real people”  Can you imagine mi gente? that’s the collective power of social media.  Let’s keep the conversation going.  The real people is being heard.

To Africa:

Many of you might think that the White House news is enough for a post.  I must agree with that.  However I cannot ignore Mother’s day today and I have decided to dedicate this entire week (since one day ain’t enough).  Not to the commercial mother’s day.  But the one that honors all moms in this world.  If you have written a post to honor a mom, I would like you to list it here on your comments.  I also encourage you to make a dedication to the moms who have been or are mentors to you.  My first dedication goes to Maureen Olaka. An HIV-Positive mom from Kariobangi, Kenya who has turned her tragedy into an opportunity to serve as a mentor to other moms who are going through the same experience.  Maureen has four kids like me, she also faced the obstacles of a language barrier.

I remember coming to this country at the age of 16 and not understanding ni pio (a thing) of what anyone said.  This included doctors, teachers, administration offices and many others who shaped my life at that age.  I remember the embarrassment of having to share my privacy with strangers and having to call in a translator among the other patients when I had to visit a doctor.  Imagine for Maureen who is living the taboo of  HIV in her country.  Thanks to the Mothers 2 Mothers program, Maureen not only has hope, but she is also able to earn a living with the dignity that she deserves. She is also making an impact in the lives of many other moms. You can meet her here.

I also make a dedication this week to my Mom who isn’t on “Faibu ni na’ de esa vaina” (her cute way of calling Facebook and none of that stuff – referring to Social Media), but who is giving us an example of infinite love by caring for a husband who has been fighting for his life  during 8 long months.  My sister Aura, a single mother who has been an inspiration to me for her strength and hunger for wisdom.  My friend Roxanna who is always there like a sister in my new town when I need it the most.

I want to dedicate this week to all the moms in the LATISM family.  I can write forever here (you know I can!!) if I were to make the dedication to all those in my heart right now.  I can think of those who are using cyberspace to mentor other moms.  Angelica Perez-Litwin from New Latina who realized how difficult it was to go through her daughter’s college admission process and decided to help other Latina moms who are going through the same.  Jeannette Kaplun who has dedicated her career to promoting Viva La Familia de Todo Bebe and now with the Blogs de Mamas.  To Monica Villa who is fully dedicated to helping moms protect their kids online with The Online Mom. To Ana and Roxanna who decided to mentor other moms about raising bilingual kids with Spanglish baby.  To all the mamas blogueras who are mentoring fellow mamas with their mere life stories and parenting tips.  I’m sure I’m leaving tons of you out, so please make sure that you include your mom-mentor blog on the comments here.  The world needs to know about your work.

I also want to dedicate this week to the mentors I’ve met along the way in cyber space.  To Katie from MamaPundit who is helping other moms manage drug addiction in the family.  To Catherine from HerBadMother, Isabel from Alpha Mom, Heather from Dooce, Jyl from Mom It Forward, Niri from Mommy Niri, and Ellen from  Love That Max. These moms have embraced the Mentor Mothers project with great generosity.

Let’s Stop in NY

On our way to Africa, LATISM is making a stop in NY.  We have officially partnered with BlogWorld given the enormous interest our blogueros have expressed in the conference.  They will offer a 20% discount (Code: LATISM20) on the full pass and a 50% discount (code: LATISM50) on the expo pass.  Additionally, we will bring over 100 Latinos in Social Media through the scholarship application.  You have 2 more days to complete the survey to let your voice be heard and to apply for a conference scholarship.   Join us at BlogWorld while we unveil the results of the Latino Blogosphere survey.  If you haven’t completed the survey and want to avoid a Chancletazo next time me or Elianne see you, complete the survey here.

While in NY, Univision will open the fanciest room of their casita.  They are inviting 75 Latinos in Social Media to talk about “Los Estados Unidos and the emerging Hispanic political clout” – Let’s talk all things census, Latino vote and citizenship.  This will also be a great opportunity that the LATISM-NY Chapter is giving to all the Latino(a)s who come to BlogWorld to get together and turn cyber-relationships to those apretones (hugs) that only Latinos can give.  Abrazotes that leave you with no air in your lungs (literally!). You can RSVP here.

As you can see LATISM is traveling far but always coming back to the wounds of our mothers. Feliz Semana De Las Madres!


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