The Power of Chicano: Why Tailoring Your Campaign to Reach the Mexican American Community with Political Messages Using Mexican Spanish and Hispanic Accented English Voice-Overs Matters.

Chicano political messaging

Before we dive into this article, let’s establish the meaning of the word “Chicano.”

The word “Chicano” means Mexican-American, in other words, someone born in the United States of Mexican parents or of Mexican descent. The first recorded use of the word “Chicano” was in 1911 by the newspaper *La Cronica*. This term was used as a derogatory term to refer to less educated individuals of this background; however, it later became a word of empowerment and the identity for those of us who are *Ni de aquí ni de allá*, meaning “neither from here nor there,” referring to the struggle that many Chicanos or bicultural Latinos face as sometimes we don’t feel fully accepted as North Americans or “Americans”. As people like to refer to individuals born in the United States of North America, nor fully Mexican because we were born and raised in *El Otro Lado*, which means “the other side,”. This is the way Mexicans refer to people born in the United States or to refer to the United States since the border crossed us, which is a topic for an entirely different article.

So, whenever you hear someone say, “the other side,” they are referring to the other side of the border in the north. The phrase *Ni de aquí ni de allá* comes from a movie starring La India Maria and it’s a story of an immigrant migrating to the United States to earn money to support her family back home. In the process, she loses her identity while trying to fit in and at the end, feels neither from here nor there which is something that speaking for myself and from my conversations with other Chicanos we all at some point in our life have felt like La inida Maria.  Being a Chicano in the early 20th century, you were faced with the dilemma of not quite being accepted in both cultures because even though you were born in the United States, you weren’t of white descent, and you spoke with an accent. To the Mexican people, you weren’t truly Mexican because you were raised in *El Otro Lado* and spoke with an accent. 

Throughout the decades, things have changed, and as we venture into an era of being more accepting of our diverse cultural backgrounds and identities, this is becoming a less predominant feeling among Americans or bicultural Latinos. While the term “Chicano” was once a slur, today, the term “Chicano” is still used by many Mexican-Americans to identify themselves and it is now a source of pride and identity. Thanks to the Chicano movement that spoke up, organized, and rallied to empower Chicanos, the term is now used as a way to express political and cultural resistance to marginalization and discrimination.

Why focus on this demographic individually? Let’s talk numbers.

The largest Hispanic or Latino group in the United States is people of Mexican origin. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were approximately 38.6 million people of Mexican origin living in the United States as of 2020. This represents around 62.3% of the total Hispanic or Latino population in the country. [Source: United States Census Bureau (2020)]. Tailoring a campaign that focuses on the issues that this large demographic face is crucial in creating Latino and Hispanic outreach. Think diversification. In other words, due to the size of this demographic, putting a big chunk of your advertising eggs in this “basket” just makes sense.

How do you create a message that resonates with Chicanos by leveraging the power of Hispanic accented English voice-overs and Mexican Spanish voice-overs, or Chicano Spanish voice-overs?

It’s all about connecting with your audience authentically. I know you’ve heard this before, but how do you connect with Chicanos at a more personal, deeper level? It’s all about knowing who you are speaking to. I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. When it comes to political issues, Chicanos experience a mix of beliefs and political ideologies. For example, first-generation Mexican Americans might be more open to discussing immigration issues such as DACA or comprehensive immigration reform, abortion rights, and topics of that nature. Second, third generation, or even native Chicanos who have been in the United States since before the United States was this country may lean more towards issues related to economics, like fair wages to all, accessible health care, and social issues.

How do you connect? Each group is different. We are a very complex but amazing mix of bilingualism, biculturalism fused and turned into a whole new culture that is now known as Chicanos. So, for example, first-generation Mexican Americans or Chicanos might respond best to a more Spanglish approach or bi-cultural approach to deliver your message vs. older generations who would respond best to Hispanic accented English—a message that sounds like us, like them. It’s all about knowing and understanding the language, and by that, I don’t mean whether you run your campaigns in English, Spanish, or Spanish, but rather understanding the lingo and history of this unique group of people who represent the largest group of Hispanics in the United States today. Understanding the unique Chicano culture and its importance to the political movement in the United States is crucial to any political campaign that is looking to truly embrace diversity and inclusion. This article is just scratching the surface of what it means to be Chicano and my hope is that this article serves as a good start to understanding and embracing this trailblazing group that is Chicanos.