Las Mariposas: The Butterfly Effect of Latinos in Social Media
By Vanessa Smith-Carrillo
It wasn´t until recently that I jumped in to the tweetchats, following, and visiting #LATISM bloggers, virtually. I know that the transformation of media has been here, but I never knew that something, so transcendental for our community, could bring me to feel the passion, courage and conviction of really understanding that one by one, and then united, que si se puede.
As I nervously set forth to Chicago from New York, I couldn´t help but keep churning in my head what IS it that they are doing, that is so evoking. I am admittedly, a freshman in the class, but nonetheless, that is not what this group is about. It transcended anything I could imagine (mind you, Figment of your Imagination aka ‘Figment” was my favorite character from Disneyworld as a little girl; a purple dragon that embodies the imagination: “it’s not about listening with your ears, it’s about listening with your IMAGINATION” ~Figment)
#LATISM evolved from a single courageous woman, Ana Roca-Castro. Founder of Premier Social Media, this movement came from a single tweet, when working with one of her client´s at Premier Social Media. Her Mariposa Effect was not the flap of her wings, but rather, in a simple tweet: ”Are there any Latinos out there?”
Two years young, and #LATISM has now transpired into the new movement of the Latino voice.
I have restlessly circled conventions, NGO’s, lobbied and sought for a true inspiration point, a place where I knew was the place where I had to stop, and look not more for a true working Latino NGO, working seamlessly from technology and the digital plight, into a true sovereign Latino community. I found a familia, and one that I couldn’t get enough of. In true Latino style.
What motivates me is knowing that there are others in life looking for the truth: transparency, genuine interest in being a catalyst of the Latino devolution of a plural nation. Because this is not a revolution. No, mis amig@s, it is taking back what should be ours, but like many social injustices of this world, are hugely miscontrued, history forgotten, and the foundation of a democratic nation completly miscontrued. Enter Latinos in Social Media, to take centerstage, damas y caballeros.
Latinos in Social Media (#LATISM as it’s widely know), is a transformation of the way we think about all things digital, to all things grassroots. In this years’ #Latism11 convention, which took place this week in Chicago, I was able to see what it was really all about.
I came early, and left late. I didn’t want to miss anything, and know I now why. My instinct told me that it was the place I needed to be. I was not mistaken, as I left feeling reignited with inspiration, the Mariposa Effect that is #LATISM.
Elianne Ramos, or as many in twitterlandia know her as, @ergeekgoddess, Co-Chairs this non-for-profit, being one of the busiest fingers behind the Latino voice online. Principal at her own company,Speak Hispanic, and an accomplished creative copywriter, Hispanic communication professional, and Hispanic marketer, Elianne is a champion in the movement of #LATISM and our community as a whole. Nominated for the prestigious “Miller Coors Lideres” Award for 2011, the rather quiet and demure until you get to know her Elianne, is quite the mastermind behind the Latino movement, and the Mariposa Effect. Who would guess this humble and gentle lady was such a powerful Latin@! The collaborative efforts of these Latin@s set pace to this fast moving and forward thinking movement, #LATISM
This years’ convention was my first, and boy was I wowed! Surprise upon surpise, and not the flashy kind, but surprises that caught your soul and captured the spirit. The highlight of this years’ convention where bountiful: identifying their field work, working in Monti Christi Dominican Republic, border of Haiti, and Chile, alongside strong supporter Johnson and Johnson, champions in understanding the importance of this mission, their grassroots efforts where presented in well developed bullets documenting their work in aiding those striken by natural disasters throughout LATAM. Thanks to #LATISM’s plurality, many people’s lives were embettered, and the Mariposa Effect of good will set forth.
We were honored to see and listen in on many great speakers, amongst the highlights for this Latina was Dolores Huerta, someone in which I had quoted in written essays in my studies in environmental sociology, and woman of which, if we all knew better, should be throwing roses at her feet as she walks. But of course, then it wouldn’t be Dolores Huerta, if there was pomp and circumstance surrounding her.
This 81 year old maven has been advocating for the Chicano farm worker’s right’s in an era before protests were popular in the 70′s, and long, long before any Latina had dared step up and speak out. Dolores Huerta is an icon, a woman written in history books, in life, movement maker and founder of the AFL-CIO and UFW (United Farm Workers), didn’t plant A seed, but planted many seeds, as she corrected me when I had a chance to catch up with her at the Intercontinetal in Chicago, still hip cracking jokes at 1am in the morning, ready to get up early on her way to her next speech.
I had the chance to ask her one question that resonates with me, and who else but Dolores Huerta to be the one to ask. ”Sra. Huerta”, I nervously said, trying to gather my toughts as to prepare myself for a question I knew oh so well, but stumbled when staring at, what, to me, is my idol. ”Do you feel that the Latino community is lacking a singular leader, a portavoz for our movement?” and thinking I might of known the answer, I was humbly mistaken.
“No,no,no” she replied, shaking her head, knowing very well. ”THIS is what we need. What this group is doing, a united voice” She went on to explain that organically leaders would arise, but that was not the thing to worry about. To focus on the movement, que unidos si se puede, as she had us chanting in Zulu during her keynote speech. And then the Mariposa Effect clicked in my head.
The finale was just as inspirational, with the lovely strumming of Tony Melendez, and for those of you unfamiliar with this inspirational Nicaraguan, he plays and sings so purely- all with his two feet, as he was born without any arms. But it wasn’t this that was the resonating message, it was his words he spoke from the heart to us while we all held back our tears. Tears, not for him, but I felt, for ourselves. As he strummed away, never resigning himself to anything in life, as he evoked, explained that there were many more people handicapped, but able bodied, prisoners of their own mind and reason. His brother spoke, as they travel and tour together, and told us about how they grew up, using HIS arms and hands to fight off those making fun of his little brother. But then, he said, I finally saw his arms one day. I finally saw his arms the way he did,”not with my eyes, but with my soul”.
The Mariposa Effect that #LATISM hails had me crying at every juncture, from one on one stories to, tears of laughter, tears of joy, tears of realism. I have never cried so much, despite not being blind to the woes of the world. Thanks to LATISM, I have found a new sense of reality in our community, one I have been looking for that spoke to me, and as the Butterfly Effect inherent nature runs, I was touched.
Next year’s conference will be held in Hoston, TX. I look forward to doing more work in discovering each of these indviuals involved, and how perhaps, I can also get my hands, literally dirty as well.
For more information about #LATISM http://blog.latism.org/