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Diversify Diversity

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/03/2016 Jeff Valdez
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There has been a lot of criticism about this years Oscar telecast and it's lack of true diversity. Many felt that the Oscars were a very "Black and White," approach and missed the opportunity to showcase the diverse fabric of our industry and our country. We need to find solutions and the most obvious one I believe, is to, "Diversify Diversity."

Let's begin with GDP. The annual spending power of the African American community, is currently $900 billion dollars. That number, would make it the 16th wealthiest economy in the world, if left alone. When you "Diversify Diversity," one would then add American Asians GDP, at $1.1 trillion and American Latinos at $1.6 trillion, for a total of $3.6 Trillion, with a T! According to the World Bank, the $3.7 trillion, would position American Latinos, Blacks and Asians as the 4th largest economy in the world, only behind, the U.S, China and Japan. This cumulative amount would yield more power than Thor's hammer.

My father with his sixth grade education and minimum wage job, still understood basic economics. As a teen, he constantly lectured me saying, "Mijo, would you rather own a smaller percent of something big or a bigger percent of something small?" My point? If people are passionate about making a change across the system, it has to be done economically, not politically. As the old saying goes, "Money talks, bullshit walks."

These staggering spending power numbers, are naturally being driven by the massive shift in the makeup of the U.S. population. African Americans are currently 13% of the U.S. population. If you "Diversify Diversity," then one would add American Asians, who are 6 % of the population and American Latinos, who are 17% of the population. The cumulative result, is 36% of the U.S. population. As Bernie Sanders would say,"That's YUGE! And if you look at the percentages based on the coveted 18-34 year old demographics, the numbers soar above 51%, thus eliminating the need to be referred to as "minorities," anymore, but instead, we all need take the responsibility of collectively being, "The New Mainstream."

Let's look in Hollywood's own back yard, as an indication of things to come. According to my brilliant demographer friend, Dr. David Hayes Bautista, at UCLA, he said that currently Latinos are 63% of all babies born in Los Angeles, White is 17%, Black and Asian combined are 21%. In other words, 84% of all births in Los Angeles, are not white. Hollywood please take note.

Now let's talk about the specific economics of the movie industry. An industry too date, that has grossly missed the opportunity. According to 2014 Theatrical Market Statistics from the MPAA, (Motion Picture Association Of America) African Americans account for 10% of frequent movie-goers. If you "Diversify Diversity," then one would add American Asians at 9% and Latinos at 25% for a total of, are you ready for this? Cue the drum roll, 44% and growing. In the "Tickets Sold," category, African Americans account for 12%, again a nice number by itself, but as part of the "New Mainstream," Asians are 11% and Latinos are 23%. Now the argument is stronger than Donald Trumps hairspray, as "we" collectively buy 46% or almost half of all movie tickets sold today. Case in point, if American Latinos, Blacks and Asians didn't attend a movie opening, it wouldn't open.

American Latinos and American Asian economics can help to strengthen the need for more movies by and about the black community. In the converse, African Americans who have a significant higher amount of films made annually, a higher overall employment rate in the industry, and a higher diversity profile, can help to bolster the case to "Diversify Diversity" with Latinos and Asians. As the saying goes, "All boats rise in a high tide."

The New Mainstream, is the future strength of the American economic engine. I believe we need to stop thinking and acting as minorities, as none of the numbers support that concept anymore. We should even shun the term "People of Color," which feels a little too much like "Colored People" reversed, to me. Besides I would imagine if we used the term "People Without Color," that wouldn't set well with those that it would be a descriptor of. We are all Americans (every color race and creed) all with unique cultural contributions that are part of the greater fabric of this country. Do American Blacks, Latinos and Asians have a beef about a multitude of historical and current injustices? Absolutely! Is Hollywood "sorority racist," as Chris Rock said? You bet. But let's use this opportunity to educate, understand and change the situation. In other words, adalante, let's move forward.

To the point of "moving forward," I am working with a guy born in Austria and another born in Panama, both U.S citizens and we are soon to unveil a system that uses a cognitive approach to understanding media. The end result would be programing and ad buying that promotes "needs based" segmentation, not demographics or ethnicity, as has been the norm. Big data doesn't lie and this system and many more that will come on-line, will hopefully level the playing field, as decisions would have to be made based on real numbers, not the opinion of a non diverse Hollywood executive. To borrow the title from a popular Netflix show, Blacks, Latinos and Asians are the "New Green."

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