My favorite TED Talk is Lawrence Lessig's "3 Stories and an Argument on Laws That Choke Creativity." Here I offer the same rhetorical format to advocate Latina TED Talks -- perhaps even a TEDxLatina Summit. Here's why --
Story #1: On March 1, 2010, Congress ignored over 500,000 pro-immigrant folks on the National Mall, the Capitol's front lawn, by calling a Health Care vote. On the day of "March for America", 50-or-so "Kill The Bill" activists arrived on the Capitol doorstep to raise all kinds of hell for the unilingual Capitol Hill press corps, who were rewarded with a barrage of lunacy to feed a national media thirst for the polarizing emblems of American politics. I photographed several dozens of familiar, unauthorized faces on the Mall that day, as well as the tiny "Kill the Bill" crowd standing on the House-side entrance of the Capitol. "March for America" was the only fluidly collaborated event I've seen among the Washington powerhouses of Latino advocacy. Five hundred thousand was, at the time, the biggest rally on the Mall I'd seen since President Obama's inauguration.
El Pueblo, Unido in 2010 (Photo by Pablo Manriquez)
The "Kill the Bill" crowd (Photo by Pablo Manriquez)
That was 2010. Since then, according to Ruben Navarrette, "President Obama has shown political leaders that they can abuse Latinos."
Story #2: In late-September 2010, I received a phone call from a staggering Latina talent in photojournalism paying her dues in an obscure newsroom. She was distressed, in tears, waning hysterics. Her editor had summoned her to translate to the newsroom’s only other Latina, who cleaned the newsroom by night, that the house keeping Latina's employment arrangement with the newsroom honchos, which included the home in which she had raised her family, and her job, were terminated. And she owed tens of thousands of dollars to the newsroom honchos for living in it all those years. We talked, and decided that newsrooms doom newsroom whistleblowers, and with no viable professional advocacy organization, a Wise Latina journalist must look out for number one. So we didn't discuss it further. The Great Recession's decreased cash flow to the newspaper industry trickled down and I assume the housekeeping Latina was demolished.
Story #3: On May 12, 2010, I approached Victoria Alexander at the J.W. Marriott with a question. She was the media coordinator for Summit Series DC10, the greatest gathering of young entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors Washington, D.C. had ever seen. At the time, I was a freelance scoundrel, and the price for an all-access pass to the event was beyond by budget. The conversation went something like this --
● Me: I want all-access.
● VA: No, I got 1,200 media requests. I've granted fewer than ten.
● Me: No worries, I already have a story.
● VA: What's your story?
● Me: You have many, many dozens of presenters and fewer than ten are Latino.
● VA: Ok, let's start over. Hola Pablo. [kiss kiss]. Me llamo Victoria. Soy mexicana de Cuidad de Mexico.
An Argument: Wise Latinas are fully-Americanized to both North and Latin America. Like the photojournalist from above, Wise Latinas must watch their step en route to their American Dream. March for America's success, and failure to move policy makers, hinged managing editor Latinas in Washington’s existing newsroom. To my knowledge, there are still very, very few. Latina storytellers are difficult to find at TED.com, too. I enjoy my fellow Chilean Isabel Allende's "Tales of Passion" but her talk is not enough.
A TEDxLatina would probably bend or break several of TED's rules for these sorts of events. If it cannot be done, luckily, Lance Rios is building an empire without spending a single advertising dollar for his Being Latino brand. I spot few Latinos the higher I go...mostly Latinas, and few of them too. I see Rios as the obvious maestro to partner with TED for a Latina Talks series which I think should be held beside the White House. This way the First Lady can easier fit introductory remarks into her schedule (see below).
That said, I tend to agree with this fellow's assessment that Latinas are the future of America. At Summit Series DC10 I met Angelo Sotira, founder of deviantArt.com, who taught me much about the future. As I recall, only four years separates us in age, but he related to an 'older' generation of web developers who built the platforms upon which the greatest self-marketers in the world could create themselves. It's happening, and the chronic omission of Latinas at TED is yet another barrier to an America where Latina's needn't watch their step, and bilingual is recognized as an essential asset for careers in media.
It's time for TED to give Latinas, who as a sub-sect of the larger human species are not unknown to be talkative, what in basketball is called a 'make up call' by either announcing a TEDxLatina or partnering with Being Latino for a co-branded derivative summit. If agreeable, consider contacting Bisnow and crew at Summit Series via Victoria Alexander, if she's still in the game. Summit Series does super-collaborations best, and the following 18 Wise Latinas collaborating would be unstoppable --
Anyway, Chris, congratulations on all of your fine work at TED. This open letter does not intend to diminish what you've created or where TED Talks are going, only address the omission of Wise Latinas. I hope to hear from you very soon.
Pablo Manriquez's photojournalism at UN General Assemblies, a G20 Summit, the African Union Summit, the Africa Cup of Nations, and Obama '08 has appeared online in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, CBS News, El País (Spain), The Huffington Post, and The St. Louis Beacon. Hit him up @mnrqz on Twitter.
Pablo Manriquez works in Washington, D.C. He tweets at @vato.