Friday, February 29, 2008

The Latino Vote and Practical Pastoral Lessons

I am so tired of all the email I’d been receiving.
You know, the ones telling me how to vote.
I should vote for this one because as a Catholic
I should vote pro-life.
I should vote for this other because
as a Christian there really is no other choice.
As a woman, I should vote for this one.
As a minority, I should vote for the other one.

I wonder if it ever occurred to any of those folks
that I might just happen to be an informed voter?

And then I see this Youtube video.
I smiled
I laughed.
I cried.
And then I watched it again.
And again. . .
. . .and then I began to analyze this video. . .
. . .this wonderful, artistic grassroots publication.

Now, don’t read this all wrong.
What I am about to write
here in this blog
IS NOT a personal endorsement
for any one candidate or political party.

Rather, it’s an analysis of how something so simple,
something so cost efficient,
can rise from the grassroots community to make a difference.
And I’ll venture to say,
It will make or break this campaign.

I never thought I would write about politics
in my liturgy blog.
But as seems to be the case when I write,
I’ll connect the dots for you.
Just please bear with me.
There are a few practical pastoral lessons to be learned here.

This is NOT a political endorsement
of any candidate or party,
But an analysis of a grassroots cultural contribution.

I heard on Good Morning America this morning
That Hillary raised 35 million dollars
for her campaign this month.
Obama did 50 million dollars

Yet, what one media company did for the latter,
I am sure,
Will probably be worth more,
Will do more than what those millions of dollars will do.

You see,
these grassroots media folk cut to the chase.

Not one candidate in either political party
was really making a big dent in the Latino vote.
We are not invisible.
And we are not optional.
Although many haven’t realized it yet,
a lot of us are legal registered voters.

What these political campaigns have failed to realize
(or at least, failed to act upon)
is how to capture that Latino vote.

The Latino vote will not be harnessed in debates,
nor by filling auditoriums.
Oh, these are important.
But only if theses moments are evocative, emotive.

And the Latinos will not jump on board
because of celebrity endorsements or TV commercials.

But add a Mariachi,
And you’ve got our attention.

There’s just something about a mariachi band. .
. . . I’ve said it before. . .
I think it’s something in my DNA. . .
That trumpet just starts and I am in the moment. . .

Yes, this media company
did the Obama campaign a huge favor.

But, it’s not as simple as all that. . .
. . . there is creative genius in this video
and detail that you’ll miss
if you don’t pay attention.
Just blink and you’ll miss it.

The video starts off with a woman
Not just any woman.
She’s a Mexican Violin Playin’ Mariachi Latina.
The Mexican woman is one of the lowest paid workers
in the United States,
if not the lowest paid.
How’s that for starting off a video???

When the singer begins,
He tells you it’s a “corrido.”
A corrido is a song that tells story.
If you didn’t know the song was going to be a “corrido”
You do now because the singer just sang it and told you so.
So, you pay attention from the start
Because it is a corrido
And you want to hear the story.

So, with the Woman Violinist
and the word “corrido”
This video did in 12 seconds
what one year of campaigning and millions of dollars spent
have been unable to do. .
. . . capture the Latino audience attention. . .
. . .at least, hold their interest
to listen to what is about to be said.

This video isn’t buying anything with money.
It isn’t renting an auditorium.
It isn’t buying TV ad time.
It isn’t hosting a debate
(except for the electronic social network debates).
Youtube is letting it be played all over the world. . .
. . For FREE.

What it is doing is harnessing the grassroots Latino vote.
And the video is going to those places
where the grassroots folk are employed. .
. . .those places we go to every day. . .

The video shows images of workers. . .
. . .Construction workers, Restaurant workers,
Hair Stylists, Landscaping, the Auto Mechanic. . .

. . .The Mariachi band is strolling down the street.. .
. . .in front of a cell phone store,
a hair salon. . . .we see the lady at the laundromat.

We’ve probably even forwarded this video
to some of those very places.

This definitely hit home
to the grassroots working class Latino folks.

And it’s using language that makes a difference.
Now, I’m not talking Spanish / English here.

Words like “lucha.”
That’s a Spanish Power Word.
Literally, it means “struggle.”
Yet, it evokes all sorts of emotions and memories.
It is the “lucha” that forces us to make priorities.
It is the “lucha” that builds character.
It is the “lucha” the forces us, teaches us how to survive.
The video shows a man of color
and speaks of the fact this his struggle is our struggle.
No amount of money in any campaign
Can buy what those cleverly sung words evoke.

And some cleverly used
political buzzwords are used in this video:
Familia – Family
Unidos - United
Humilde – Humble
Plan de Salud – Health care plan.

And when the word “vision” is used,
We see images of people together,
Various races, united and smiling with their candidate.

And the greatest Power Word of all: VIVA
You can’t give the shout out “viva" unless it’s real,
Unless you mean it.
And yet, VIVA demands a response. . . .

. . If you can’t or won’t give your assent
with a shout back of “viva”
it forces you to think. . .
. . .forces you to articulate for yourself
where and to what you can say “Viva” to.

This grassroots effort is phenomenal.
If the Democratic party were smart,
They would hire this media company
To create an add for their party’s candidate,
Who ever that may be in the end.
If they Republicans were smart,
They would beat the Dems to it.

So. . .what are the pastoral lessons
to be learned from all of this?

Remember the value women add to your congregation.
Parish secretaries, catechists. . . the committee work. . .
. . .the grunt work. . .the kitchens. . . the fundraisers.
Women give birth in more ways than one.
Remember the women.
Honor them.
Treasure them.

Remember that the Power isn’t always in the pocketbook.
The parishioner with the biggest checkbook
may not be your congregation’s greatest treasure.
Find the pearl.
Find the diamond.
These will lead you to other such treasures.
Appreciate them all.
Celebrate them all.

Think creatively,
Especially now that times are hard in this country.
Nothing sparks creativity like the “lucha.”
Use this to your advantage.

Know your congregation.
Speak their language.
Even if this means you must learn a few new words every now and again.
Be aware that language doesn’t necessarily equal linguistics.

Use the power of Social Networking sites such as Youtube.
Video tape homilies.
Video tape missions,
Bible study, reflections.
And please video tape your youth group.
That’s a treasure beyond measure.
Post it all to Youtube.
And then post it to your parish website and/or blog.
You never know how much you’ll benefit.
For the truth is,
for better or for worse,
We are living in an age
that requires us to use Electronic Evangelization,
as well as traditional methods.
It’s free and it’s easy.

Use the shout out “Viva” where applicable.
It demands a response.
It will bring about that
“. . full, conscious, active participation”
called for in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

And finally,
And perhaps, most importantly,
don’t forget to hire a Mariachi Band.
It’s well worth the expense.
And it will be pay untold dividends.

¡Viva Cristo Rey!
¡Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!

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Video with Spanish Text

Video with English Text

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