The Cultivation of My Brand

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This past week I’ve been realized one thing, I am cultivating a brand. I started doing this years ago without realizing it. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I tried my hardest to be as consistent as possible.

I will admit that I had no idea exactly what I was doing but I figured being recognized under one screen name would be the best possible thing for me. This way when someone was looking for my blog they would always be able to find it. That is why my twitter and tumblr are the same. If you play me in world with friends or any game on the iphone, you will know how to find me: latinegro.

It is also that consistency that has also allowed me to have the same message. While, this particular blog tends to get personal at times. I still, for the most part, try to advocate for the recognition of Afro Latinos and to a much larger extent, Latinos. Then there is my overall feeling on the fight against racism and oppression that I have been so out spoken about. I also believe in education and easy access to it. I think that it is our responsibility to help our youth get a better education.10240G Brand Yourself

With that being said, I realize that I never mentioned how I am the president of the Latino Alumni Network of Syracuse University (LANSU). This is something that I’m very proud of but I don’t feel the need to brag about it. Quite simply, there is a lot of work to do to get this organization to where I envision it. Last week, we had our first collaborative event of 2013 that was very coincidentally called: Branding Yourself in the Global Marketplace.

While I also knew about branding myself, It was very interesting to see other people’s opinion on it. It made me reenforce what I had done the week prior to all this, which was using my ability to write to create a theme for LANSU that needs to be solidified. Quite frankly, I have never been comfortable asking for money. Even when I was a telemarketer for brief time in the late 90’s, I had trouble asking for money and that was my job! But, I have a passion for my former students at SU and for fellow alumni. My job is to bridge that gap through networking at the fulfillment of the LANSU Scholarship Fund.

I had spent the first few weeks of January really trying to get LANSU’s name out there through twitter, facebook, and Linkedin. I was in a very long meeting with Syracuse University to get what I need established. This almost lead me to forget the other side of my brand: The Latinegr@s Project. This was something that I figured was unforgivable in my book especially with Black History Month. I wanted to create a ripple in the water in a way that I have never done before.

The last time I wrote for The Huffington Post was in July of 2012. It had been weighing on me that I have access to this awesome medium and I was not taking advantage of it. While I had planned on writing my final SU based article in November, there was something about it that just fell through. It wasn’t strong enough.

People ask me all the time “How did you get to write for the Huffington Post?” Well, the answer is networking. I got lucky that I knew someone that knew someone that works for them. When the call went out for new bloggers, my name was given and I was contacted. This is one of those times when being a mentor to a fabulous person like Victoria Chan pays off. I will always be grateful for her because of this and I will always make sure I am there for her when she needs advice.

I was asked to only write about College and Higher Education topics, which I did and struggled with. I have a personal copy editor (my girlfriend) who tears my articles up, demanding I be more clear and concise. I noticed after the 3rd article I posted that there was way for me to submit a blog through Latino Voices (a branch of the Huff). I kept that in the back of my mind knowing that I will have to post about Afro Latinos one day and hopefully they will accept this.

Fast forward to last Friday. As busy as I was, I was debating on if I should even write something or wait until Monday. Most times, I would write a post and it would take a day for me to edit it and go back and forth with how good it may or may not be. I just decided to write something during my lunch hour. It was something really quick and straight forward that was barely 700 words if that. I fact checked it and sent it to my beautiful girlfriend to destroy (I tend to be vague with a lot of typos). She emailed it back with two edits! I was shocked. Later she would tell me that it was the most straight forward article I have written.

I submitted it to Latino Voices around 3pm. I was thinking that, if they do post this, it wont be until Monday. I was almost mad at myself about that because I had waited so long to write it. At 5m exactly…they posted the article. The rest has been a whirlwind of comments and praise that I was not expecting. I did a radio interview with a show out of Syracuse the very next day. It turns out to be the most read blog post I have written ever.

I was asked what was it like to create a brand for yourself? Simply put: Absolutely Amazing.

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A Little About Me…

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I feel the need for a little reintroduction. There is so much newness around me that has sparked an array of inspiration so far in 2013. New Office, New Apartment, and New Blog; I have to admit this is going well especially since I am getting new followers. This makes me think about the fact that many people are probably wondering what I am about…and even of you aren’t I should just explain anyway.

First and foremost, I consider myself a Latino man. More importantly, I consider myself Afro-Latino. I know that this term has gotten popular over the years and as plotted out my digital identity, I came up with the name Latinegro (which is something I did not invent). I got the name from Marta Cruz-Janzen who wrote some articles that lead me to write a major research paper for a graduate class I took a few years back. In my mind, she coined the phrase Latinegro and I have been using it every since.

It is important for me to state this because I believe that identity is important. It is one of things that makes us who were are. I cannot tell you how many college student I have run into over the years that simply do not know who they are…or perhaps they do know, but just have trouble accepting it. The acceptance of oneself is so very important in a lifetime because it is that catharsis that will really lead to success. That is why I have made sure I spend much of my blog about race and Afro Latinos in particular.

I define Afro Latino as someone who has African and Hispanic bloodlines (this does not exclude Haitians or Brazilians). This can include just about all Latinos, however, the real difference is their own acceptance. There are many of us who feel that Latinos are not Black or African American. Some will defend this point based on whatever facts they can try to dig up. There is a stigma to be being dark skinned and it a shame, but not all that surprising. What so many Latinos do not understand is that the plight on of the African American is also their plight because we live in a black and white world where you are either one or the other (based on skin color) in most cases.

Of course, Latinos have issues specific to them when it comes to immigration and places like Arizona that have made racial profiling a reality. Unfortunately, Latinos are used to this fight. We have been dealing with immigration and access issues well before World War 2. The commercialized version of Latinos look very much like the typical Mexican images you tend to see when we talk about immigration issues in the South West. The idealized version of Latinos tends to be the more the Rick Martin look; light skinned, dark (good) hair, light eyes, and over-sexualized. The less idealized look tends to be the David Ortiz look which is dark skinned, heavy accent, and wool hair (pelo malo). The great thing about understanding race is that Latinos are all three of these which can lead to a lot of scratching heads. The Census Bureau barely knows how to categorize us which leads us not understand what it is we are.

This is why the Latinegr@s Project had to be created. When I co-founded this group it was with the purpose of educating people about Afro Latinos and showing pride in what we are. This where we have lead to the discovery of and within ourselves as well as help people like us discover what they are. This is not just to say that we solely deal with Afro Latinos either. We champion those who are oppressed which is why posts can range from homosexuality to Native Americans.

Well, that seeed like such a long reintroduction, but I figured this is something I need to put on here now. As I get along in my new location here on wordpress, I am sure there will be other things I will feel the need to reiterate. While this blog is mostly about my life, there will be other things that will bleed into my posts. Just wait until I start writing about my other love…comic books.