Tuesday, March 07, 2006

That should be a windfall for moi!

A friend sent me this item on Ad Age about how the NY Commission for Human Rights (who knew?) is conducting a probe of the advertising industry's apparently bad record of hiring minorities here in NY.
Well, Advertising Industry of New York, your troubles are over. You can hire me. What could be more minority than a Jewish Aztec Princess?
All kidding aside (I'm not kidding: HIRE. ME.), the issue brings up certain interesting points. I don't know exactly what they are but one seems to be making a whirring noise in my brain: People categorize others too much and too broadly. This happens to me every time I have to fill out a form that asks for ethnicity. I am given several monolithic choices, and I always feel I could fit in more than one: Caucasian (check: I'm as white as Wonder Bread and family hails from near the Caucasus in Eastern Europe). Hispanic: Born and raised in Mexico City, I am deeply attuned to Mexican culture and also to the culture of other Hispanics. I am certainly more Mexican than I am Lithuanian/Belorussian, but because I have been living in New York for 14 years, and I love this city to bits, I have embraced and adopted the more tolerant, diverse, liberal mentality of NY. I am very Americanized, as some friends point out when I exhibit deep impatience with impunctuality, incompetence, corruption and sundry Third World traits that others find charming and I can't really abide. I have less spelling mistakes and more vocabulary in English than many a native and my knowledge of American pop culture freaks out some peeps. So culturally I identify much more with New York than with Mexico City (except for the food: Mexican food rules and there's still none good enough to be had in this town yet. Getting close, but no cigar). If to that I add the Jewish thing (and a 4 year stint of college in Jerusalem), then I'm a sort of Taco Eating Female Woody Allen (albeit much prettier). Obviously, all this doesn't fit in a little box. And I suspect; in fact, I know this happens to a lot of people. People are boxed into absolute categories that do not quite describe them or do justice to them. I wonder if, when it comes to hiring, people unconsciously guide themselves by very crude stereotypes.
I swear to God, the other day a neighbor of mine, a man I only know from sharing the elevator but who is always extremely courteous and seems well educated, told me he thought that in Mexico City all the houses were made of adobe. OMG! The biggest freaking metropolis in the world and people still think it's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia! People ask me if Mexico City residents take the siesta in the afternoons. GET WITH THE PROGRAM, PEOPLE, IT'S NOT THAT HARD. With all due respect, Americans, God love em, tend to grossly oversimplify whatever lies outside their borders. A bit more curiosity about the world at large could come in handy. (And by the way, just so you know, it's "bandidos", not "banditos").
So my point is that people should expand their horizons, get a little info, look a little deeper. They may be astonished to find that among the darker of skin, heavy of accent, different of gender, there may be very talented, smart, sophisticated, urbane, hip people, who can certainly bring much more to the advertising party than it is generally believed.
I must add, however, that I believe that people should be hired for their talent and their smarts and their promise, not to fill out a quota. I am confident that you can be as ethnically diverse as Jackson Heights, Queens and kick total ass -- if you learn to look deeper.

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