Your experience has led you to work with numerous brands within the multicultural space in respect to various forms of media. What would you say is important for brands to keep in mind when marketing to the Latino demographic?
It’s about understanding there are a couple of different ways to effectively engage Latinos. Latinos come from so many different countries across Latin America. There are different ways to celebrate and embrace that, but there are shared points that Latinos have. It’s understanding those shared points are critical. But also understanding opportunities to really relate to those unique insights that are intrinsic to this segment is so critical.
The segment is savvy, sophisticated; they’re multi-segmented and they have the ability to consume in multiple languages and multiple ways. It’s very unique more so than ever before. Being able to understand those insights makes the connection much more authentic.
How do you identify? Do you consider yourself Afro-Latina, or use another term?
I struggled with this question a lot growing up. Now, personally, I feel very comfortable with my identity as a Black Latina, or Afro-Latina. I do define myself by those terms because it’s apart of the history; it’s apart of the culture. They’re inextricably linked. There’s no reason for me to feel like I have to identify as Latina without acknowledging the fact that’s a huge part of the diversity of my culture, my roots.
I personally grew up understanding very young that I was not just Afro-Latina, but I was Garifuna. That was just a given for me growing. I was taught to embrace it. I think it’s been amazing for me to celebrate it. I spent a lot of my college years and adult years continuing to not just embrace it but to educate on it.
Was there a time where you had to educate your peers on your identity? If so, how did their response shape your experience and, ultimately, identity?
I’ve always been aware that my background has not been so clear-cut, if you will. Always. I did find that there were points as a kid where it was hard to choose. I hung out with the Black girls in my class; I hung out with the group of Latinas/other Latin American girls in my class. I think that because I grew up in Brooklyn that’s not unusual. But for me there would be certain moments where it would be hard. I felt like I had to kind of choose.
Something as simple as pronouncing my name Nuñez. People would ask me a lot, well, are you mixed? It’s like, no, both of my parents are from Honduras. I’m first generation born in the United States. I felt like I always had to quantify who I was. It was second nature. By the time I was 10, I was quantifying my last name and what that meant. Why I had the last name Nuñez when I typically may’ve not looked like what you would perceive a Nuñez to look like. I know there were probably a couple of points in time in my teens in which I would have folks speak in front of me in Spanish, thinking that I didn’t speak any Spanish and surprised when I responded to them.
Having stepped into a role where I lead national Hispanic communication efforts and people meet me, they’re taken aback. Not in a bad way, but almost fascinated. I think that I’ve done amazing things to help blow over perceptions in the interactions that I do.
You can follow Jenina on Twitter at @Jenina11207.
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