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By Ed O’Keefe, Post Politics

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) participates in a reenacted swearing-in with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the Capitol on Jan. 3. She’ll be in Georgia on Thursday for the launch of a new political action committee. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

An organization that helped elect seven Latinos to Congress last year is now looking to make similar gains in several state capitals.

The Latino Victory Project, a group that has raised millions of dollars to train and recruit Latino candidates, on Thursday is formally launching its first state-based PAC in Georgia. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) — the nation’s first female Hispanic U.S. senator — is traveling to the Atlanta area on Thursday for the kickoff and will appear alongside state Rep. Brenda Lopez (D), elected last year as Georgia’s first female Hispanic state legislator.

LVP is working on launching similar state-based PACs in Arizona, Florida and New York, where the group would recruit or endorse candidates in city or state legislative races.

“Our goal is to help build a bench for Latino candidates from school board to Senate. We have not seen another organization undertake this before,” Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Fund, said in an interview.

A spokesman for Cortez Masto confirmed she would be attending the breakfast-time kickoff event to help an organization that endorsed her campaign last year.

Georgia might seem like an odd place for a Latino political group to start, but the Peach State caught the attention of national Democrats last year. The reason? Fast Latino voter growth. They comprised just 2.3 percent of the state’s 5.4 million voters as of last November — but that’s a threefold increase since 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. Latino voter registration climbed from 34,000 during the 2004 elections to 127,000 last year, Pew said.

Last summer, as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign appeared to be pulling away from Donald Trump in several key swing states, her campaign began deploying staffers to Georgia — a state Democrats hadn’t won in a presidential race since 1992 — in hopes of turning out Latino voters in the Atlanta area and towns like Gainesville, a poultry industry mecca that is home to thousands of working-class Hispanic families. A similar strategy was used in Arizona, North Carolina and to a lesser extent in Wisconsin and Iowa — but it did little to close Clinton’s margins against Trump.

[From August: As she gains in polls, Clinton seeks Latino support in unusual places]

Lopez, an attorney, won an uncontested race last year for a tiny state legislative district encompassing Norcross, a town in the northwestern part of metro Atlanta, where much of the region’s Latino population resides.

“We see Georgia as representative of the future of the country. Rapid demographic shifts, increasing Latino voter turnout and participation,” Alex said.

LVP is aiming to raise “into the six figures” for the Georgia PAC, he said, with the goal of recruiting and endorsing Latino candidates to win various local and state races in the coming years, mostly in the Atlanta area.

In 2016, LVP raised more than $4.2 million, distributed among 12 congressional and state legislative races. Of those, nine prevailed, including seven congressional candidates like Cortez Masto and Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.).

LVP’s shift in gaze away from Washington comes as national Democrats and other progressive organizations are turning their attention to rebuilding at the state and local level, where thousands of Democratic incumbents lost races over the course of Barack Obama’s presidency. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) announced this week that he’s funneling millions of dollars he’s raised for what appears to be an easy reelection campaign to help boost his state’s Democratic Party. At the Democratic National Committee, newly installed Chairman Tom Perez is in the midst of revamping the organization to focus on rebuilding state parties that felt neglected during the Obama years.

LVP plans to compete at the federal level again next year, with its eye on more races in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas especially. Founded originally as a nonpartisan group seeking to endorse Latinos in either party for the sake of Latino political advancement, it’s now focused on endorsing progressives.

The shift to the state level is also a tacit acknowledgment that with just one Latino set to join Trump’s Cabinet — Alexander Acosta, to be labor secretary — and few other senior Latinos serving in the White House, Latino groups have far fewer chances of advancing their agenda or accruing more power in Trump’s Washington.

For their state-based work, Alex cited as his model the League of Conservation Voters, which maintains a national super PAC that endorses political candidates, but also has state chapters that do political or advocacy work.

Plans for similar state-based PACs in Arizona, Florida and New York are in “advanced stages,” he said. In New York, the group plans would focus on citywide races in New York City and Syracuse this year and state legislative races next year. Given the growth of Puerto Rican, Dominican and Central American communities in New York City and Long Island, the group could seek out candidates to challenge incumbents who are not Latino, or endorse Latino candidates who enter crowded primaries as incumbents retire. That strategy helped elect Soto in an Orlando-based district and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) in a Los Angeles-area seat last year.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter who has covered congressional and presidential politics since 2008.

By Ronald Wong

There have always been “Two Americas.” More than 30 years ago, Governor Mario Cuomo described a “Tale of Two Cities” during his keynote address at the Democratic National Committee. Cuomo’s speech was in response to President Ronald Reagan’s characterization of America as a, “shining city on a hill.”

“But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one; where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate,” Cuomo declared in his keynote address.

The inequities and poverty which Cuomo spoke of in 1984 are even more dramatic today. Sadly, indeed, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor poorer.

But nothing has brought the divisions within America more to light than the recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and leader of the free world. America has never been more divided: divided by race; divided by class; divided by gender; and divided by most every attribute which defines human existence.

America is not only more divided, but it is more diverse and growing more diverse by the day. In the United States today, more than 21 of the top 25 most populated counties are more than 50% multicultural. In California, a majority of the population (57%) is Latino, Asian Pacific Islander (API) or African American–22.2 million out of California’s total population of 38.8 million are people of color. Latinos alone outnumber Caucasians in California (14.99 million vs 14.92 million, respectively).

Other states with more than 50% multicultural populations include Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia. Emerging majority-minority states include Nevada, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona, Florida and New York.

Immigration is fueling America’s increasing diversity. APIs are the fastest growing ethnic group in America, followed by Latinos. In California, Latinos and APIs will provide virtually all of the growth in California’s population over the next 45 years.

The U.S. Latino population topped 54 million (17%) as of July 2013, an increase of 2.1% over 2012. Meanwhile the API population grew to 19.4 million (6%), with a growth rate of 2.9%.

America’s diversity is inevitable–but are divisions as well? In our country’s brief history, we have embraced diversity; in fact, our country was built upon it. Immigration has always fueled our country’s growth and success.

Regardless of the current political climate and the views of our President, immigration has been and will always be an essential part of the American story–all of our stories; whether we are recent immigrants or have been here for generations.

Diversity is part of the American fabric. Companies which embrace and celebrate it are being richly rewarded. Here in California, most companies market and reach out to ethnic communities as a matter of course.

As the buying power and social influence of ethnic groups continues to expand, it becomes indispensable for marketers and advertisers to understand their expectations and preferences. The buying power of U.S. Latinos now exceeds $1.2 trillion annually. (Nielsen-Hispanic Spending on Packaged Goods, 2015). Latinos Consumer Spending is expected to grow by 85% over the next 10 years, compared to 50% of non-Latinos.

API buying power was $770 billion in 2014 and is expected to increase to $1 trillion by 2018. APIs are the most affluent of the multicultural segments.

In reaching the Latino and API communities it’s important to remember that these are immigrant communities and reaching them isn’t as easy as advertising in the mainstream English-language media. 90.4% of APIs speak a language other than English at home. Of that, 57.5% report speaking English less than “very well.” 74% of APIs and about half of Latino adults are foreign-born, so their preferred language may not be English.

Nearly half of people of color prefer watching ethnic television. 45% percent of all African American, Latino, API, Native American and Arab Americans prefer ethnic television, radio or newspapers to their mainstream counterparts. These “primary consumers” also indicated that they access ethnic media frequently. In addition to the 29 million “primary consumers,” ethnic media also reaches another 22 million ethnic adults on a regular basis. The overwhelming majority (80%) of the ethnic population is reached by ethnic media on a regular basis.

Communicating to ethnic audiences in their language of preference is only the first step. It’s not as easy as simple translation. To truly motivate behavioral change, sell a product, change an opinion, or create brand loyalty you have to meet the people where they are and talk to them in ways that demonstrate a sincere understanding of their hopes, their fears, their dreams and aspirations.

This is why we created Imprenta Communications Group, an award-winning public affairs, ethnic marketing and campaign firm which specializes in reaching diverse audiences. Imprenta’s mission is to empower communities of color by giving them a voice and communicating to them in ways which respects their diversity and understands their culture.

This respect of diversity and deep understanding of communities of color has fueled Imprenta’s radical growth and success. For 2 years in a row, Inc. Magazine has recognized Imprenta as one of the fastest growing companies in America. The company is also one of the most decorated public relations agencies in the country, including being recognized as the 2016 Boutique Agency of the Year, among many other awards and recognitions.

By embracing and celebrating diversity Imprenta is helping its clients succeed and win in the market place. Inclusion and tolerance has always made America a winner on the world stage – companies which are in tune to the changing dynamics and implications of a truly multi-ethnic global market will continue to thrive.

America has the most talented workforce and the strongest economy in the world. We can’t deny that our diversity as a nation has been a big part of that success – it’s a unique strength given added importance as our nation’s population becomes ever more diverse.

Whatever your political leanings or social views are, the market will speak and determine our fate. Companies that ignore or dismiss this evolution of the American consumer do so at their own peril.

Ronald Wong is the CEO of Imprenta Communications Group

By Emmy Favilla and Megan Paolone

This piece is being published jointly with BuzzFeed.

 Millennial. It’s a word that conjures the image of a crop-topped twentysomething attached to a smartphone. They sit at brunch with a table of other millennials on their phones, placing filters on their expertly curated selfies and perfectly lit photos of avocado toast, and they walk around texting friends rather than taking in the beauty of the world around them. (And, like, they never talk on the phone.)

Marketers and advertisers have wholeheartedly embraced this word—and, often, this stereotype—in their quest to control the millennial wallet. Their overeagerness has prompted predictable eyerolls among millions of actual, diverse, individual millennials. Here at BuzzFeed back in 2013, we tried to draw the line, establishing an internal policy that were we to use this word, “it should have real or implied quotation marks, or appear as a term of art, and with kind of a wink,” as Editor in Chief Ben Smith wrote in an email to our editorial staff in December 2013. And about two months later when we published our style guide, we made the ban public:

millennials (avoid using this term when possible; otherwise, generally use twentysomethings, twenty- and thirtysomethings, or teens and young adults, depending on context)

Millennial wasn’t always so fraught. It was coined in 1991 by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book Generations. They just needed a word, and this seemed apt, as the oldest of the generation would graduate high school in 2000. And of course rabid marketing firms almost instantaneously latched on to the term, succinct in its description of the generation larger than any other demographic, comprising 80 million people in the US and consuming information and products in vastly new ways. By 2001, Ad Age had declared, “The Millennials are here…Naturally, the most pressing question on Madison Avenue is not how they will change the world, but how will we market to them?”

And it didn’t take very long for the word to become a sort of a slur, perpetuated by the media and often based on research that doesn’t actually exist. That image, believed by boomers and millennials alike, was of a lazy and coddled generation full of special snowflakes, obsessed with finding ~fulfilling~ jobs, goddammit. (Because WHY would anyone want a job that they enjoy?!) Chances are, you too have found millennial a cringeworthy buzzword or a dismissive way to refer to an increasingly technology-reliant generation. Search the term on Amazon, for instance, and you’re met with a slew of slightly disparaging book titles, like Not Everybody Gets a Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials, or When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business. (As of March 2015, there were more millennials in the US workforce than Gen Xers or baby boomers, according to the Pew Research Center.)

The only people who didn’t immediately adopt millennial were…millennials themselves. Many (particularly, perhaps, those on the older end of the millennial spectrum) rejected the term and its associations with entitlement, narcissism, and short attention spans—along with a general distaste for being squeezed into tiny little boxes by the marketing industry.

As we liked to muse around the newsroom, sipping our pamplemousse LaCroix, it’s reductive and unproductive to think of a generation defined by its diversity as a singular, homogeneous entity. The term, we argued, was much like the word hipster—one that loosely connects people who share vaguely similar cultural interests slightly outside the mainstream—except one is either objectively a millennial or not, and they will be for the rest of their lives. (Fear of commitment: another millennial stereotype!)

And so at first millennial existed largely as a way for “olds” to refer to the younger generation. We spat it out ironically and rolled our eyes at its use. But perhaps every label used to describe the current coming-of-age generation has always leaned toward the pejorative, in a get-off-of-my-lawn kind of way. In fact, a 2015 Pew study found that while 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds don’t consider themselves a millennial, this rejection of a generational label isn’t unique—only 58 percent of Gen Xers identify as such, and 82 percent of the so-called silent generation don’t love their name either.

Over the last few years, though, the ground has gradually shifted despite our efforts to stand strong—as evidenced by a host of published stories bearing some iteration of the title “No, ‘millennial’ is not a dirty word,” as well as an entry for millennial in the Merriam-Webster dictionary online. In May 2015, even Smith acknowledged that “maybe this is a losing battle, but let’s not surrender yet,” citing a Public Religion Research Institute study. BuzzFeed News tech reporter Joseph Bernstein called our guideline “prescriptive and slightly dogmatic” when we pushed back on his use of the term—even though we’d admitted our alternative was “slightly clumsier.” We were stuck with a laughable number of imprecise, ever-changing words for this age group. And so we revised our entry in November 2015 to get a little more specific, making a note to avoid the term “except when referring specifically to demographics.” This is how it’s remained for the last year and a half or so.

It seems that millennials have now reclaimed millennial. Pretty soon, we were saying it grudgingly, ironically, with a bit of a wink of self-deprecation. (Yes, this is a thing we have done, and will probably continue to do, on BuzzFeed, in individualistic defiance of our style guide.)

And today we are today flying the white flag, announcing our surrender to the term’s unironic usage and acknowledging its journey from cheesy marketing buzzword we tried desperately to combat to just another everyday descriptive word in our vernacular. (But please make sure you use two n’s and lowercase it, per BuzzFeed style.)

By Rick Jervis , USA TODAY

Walking through the meeting halls of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami recently, I ran into a slew of Latino bloggers, Latino tech entrepreneurs and Latino journalists.

Noticeably missing: Latino filmmakers.

I was in Miami participating in Hispanicize, the annual gathering of top Latino bloggers, journalists and media execs, as I’ve done the past two years (I’m Cuban-American, born here in Miami). The conference — billed as the “SXSW for U.S. Hispanics” — is considered one of the largest gatherings of Latinos in the tech and media business.

This year, event organizers launched Hispanicize Pictures, with the goal of producing and showcasing films either featuring Latino actors or made by Latino filmmakers. Manny Ruiz, Hispanicize’s founder and someone I’ve known from our time together on the student newspaper at Miami Dade College two decades ago, said the hope is to boost Latino presence in Hollywood — something fiercely needed.

Despite comprising 17% of the population and buying one-fourth of all movie tickets in the U.S., Latinos represent less than 3% of film directors and 6% of screenwriters, according to a 2015 study commissioned by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

Other minority groups don’t fare much better. A University of Southern California study released last year showed film directors to be overwhelmingly white (87%); black, Latino and other “underrepresented racial/ethnic groups” make up just 13%. Female directors made up 15%, it said.

The dearth of minority filmmakers in Hollywood means a steady lack of films that depict the true stories of those groups — a cycle that perpetuates itself, Ruiz told me. “If Latino filmmakers are not reflected, you create the perception that it’s not possible,” he said. “You’re living in someone else’s world. It’s powerful to have stories you can relate to.”

On the conference’s third night, Hispanicize Pictures unveiled its debut production: Hold On, the tender story of a struggling singer in L.A. who teams up with a fledgling music producer. The film is based on the true-life story of Micayla De Ette, who lost a sister to addiction and persevered with her singing career while living behind a church.

After the screening, the cast and director Tarek Tohme took questions from the audience. Introducing the group, Ruiz pointed out the uniqueness of those gathered on stage: an Arab-American director, a mixed-race leading actress and several Hispanic actors, including Hollywood journeyman Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights, Carlito’s Way) and his son, actor/producer Cemi Guzmán.

In the audience, members of Black Hollywood, an investor group that backs minority projects, cheered on the cast, while Latino digital influencers spread the film’s praise on social media via smartphones.

“We’re all mixed: My mom is white, my dad is black, Pacific Islander, Native American,” De Ette told me later. “We have an opportunity to show the rest of the world who may not be able to see this type of thing happen.” She added: “You can choose to hate diversity, but it’s such a waste of time. It’s such a beautiful thing. It’s how God created us.”

Cemi Guzmán, who helped produce Hold On, said the project was unique not just for the diversity of its cast but for the financial backers now trying to distribute and promote the film.

“It’s not like people are taking our story, seeing that we’ve made a fantastic movie and running away with it,” he told me. “This group wants to empower so many different cultures and so many different types of people and walks of life. It’s inspiring.”

Hold On is now in the hands of the film distribution gods, a fickle and unpredictable realm where marketable films are often chosen over important ones. It’s yet unclear whether the film will reach wider distribution and find its way into a theater near you.

But, on many levels, it’s already a blockbuster.