It is only September 5 and the seeds for another Hispandering Heritage Month are already being planted. Take the case of Coca Cola, which released the following ‘Heritage Tattoo Cans’ campaign for the “Latino demographic,” because you know, we are so proud a people that we would jump at the chance to have a temporary tattoo of our last name get pasted from a Coke can onto our hard-working, family-loving and mega-proud Latin@ bodies. At one point in the video, someone is crying because she is so proud. She is crying. Maybe a Coke can cheer you up?
Nuestra gente, we are talking about Coke here. Flaunt all the pride you want, but it does feel a bit (no a lot) forced and contrived when Latin@ pride is directly linked to a soft drink, especially an unhealthy soft drink that is being consciously targeted to Latin@ youth, the same Latin@ youth (along with Black youth) who are suffering from major health disparities.
Oh yeah, did we mention the tattoo idea?
We know that there will be many who will say that we are “overreacting,” that there are more important things to worry about, that this sheds a positive light on Latin@s (tell us how?), etc. To them we say this: we really don’t care. And a tattoo of your Spanish-language name really looks good in the stereotype department, no? If others want to market and buy into the deeply personal feeling that is orgullo, that is their right. Make all the money you want. But to us, this attempt to come across as culturally authentic is just cheap, insulting and yucky. (Yes, we said yucky.) It says to us that orgullo will always be for sale to the right bidder. And it’s not like this hasn’t happened before.
So hate us all you want for saying that Coke gets a #NoMames with this one campaign. It really doesn’t matter to us. We just wish that Hispandering Heritage Month would magically disappear, because what might have started as a month with the right intent, has just turned into a window to exploit 24/7. Guess we truly have arrived in this country if that is happening more and more. Yet it still feels that such an arrival is all reliant on the terms of large brands and not as much as on the hopes, desires and wishes of the Latin@ community.
Others can tattoo their names all they want. We say no to Coke on this one.