Where is everybody?

I was recently interviewed about how deportations are directly affecting small businesses in Southwest Detroit by Hub Detroit, a publication dedication to telling stories about the neighborhoods. As a consultant working with a number of nonprofit organizations in Southwest Detroit, I spend most of my days working directly with small business owners, helping them to access resources and to solve problems.

Over the last year, one of the greatest challenges for Southwest Detroit businesses is their shrinking client base due to immigration threats. People are in disaster preparation mode, staying out of public spaces and saving money in case of an emergency. The somber change in the vibe of the neighborhood was palpable right after the election, it has now evolved into a state of resignation as people attempt to continue living their lives. Stories of raids, detentions, and the hardship that children and spouses are suffering when the bread winner is deported have shifted from shocking to normalized.

November 2017 Issue of The Hub Detroit

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_1
HUB Detroit, November 22, 2017 misunderstood the name of my business in our phone interview. (Puente de) Conexion is the name of our nonprofit organization, the name of my company is Puente Cultural Integration.
La Posada Mexican Restaurant & Market
Both the image of the Southwest mural and the image above are from Posada Mexican Restaurant and Market, one of my absolute favorite hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican restaurants in the world. (This is a common scene in SW, owner, Juan Romo (right) sitting with me discussing business with the owner of DMex Printing, Cesar Escobedo. (My favorite butcher, Salvador Enriquez from Carnicería Guadalajara is seen in background.)

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_3

For some feel good stories about how amazing Southwest Detroit is and to find a directory of all the businesses in both Mexicantown and the West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, see the November 18, 2017 edition of The Hub Detroit.

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Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017

Equal Access to Resources in Southwest Detroit

I am really proud to be part of a bilingual collaborative that helps provide resources to the business owners in Southwest Detroit. We decided to join forces last year and have had wonderful results.

Estoy muy orgullosa de ser parte de una colaboración bilingüe que ayuda proporcionar recursos para los dueños de negocio en Southwest Detroit. Decidimos juntarnos hace un año y hemos tenido excelentes resultados.

In November, it was my honor to be the interpreter for Don Rodrigo Padilla, from Taquería el Nacimiento, as he received not only a grant award from the DEGC’s MotorCity Re-Store program, but was also asked to tell his story at the event. (He is also featured on billboards around the city!)

En Noviembre, tuve el honor de ser intérprete para el estimado Don Rodrigo Padilla, de la Taquería el Nacimiento cuando no solo recibió un premio por parte de Motor City Re-Store, sino también le pidieron que contara su historia en el evento.

Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017
Rodrigo Padilla with interpreter Bridget Espinosa, Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017 – as featured in Latino Press 12/7/2017 (Also a MMR Winner!)

Southwest Detroit received more awards than any other neighborhood, in part due to the hard work of our collaboration. Four businesses from the BID – West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, for which I provide outreach, received grants and eight TechTown SWOT City clients in in my Southwest Detroit portfolio received awards, including:

Follow these businesses on Facebook so you can see the progress as they help to beautify Southwest Detroit with new murals and other exterior improvements.

Southwest Detroit recibió más premios que cualquier otro vecindario, nuevo de cuarenta y uno, debido al trabajo colaborativo de nuestras agencias. Cuatro negocios en el BID – el Distrito Comercial de Mejoramiento de West Vernor – Springwells, por la cual apoyo en las comunicaciones, y ocho de mis clientes de TechTown SWOT City recibieron premios.

Sigue los negocios en Facebook para que puedas ver el progreso mientras ayuden embellecer a Southwest Detroit con murales nuevos y otras mejoras exteriores.

MCR_Taqueria El Nacimiento_Don Rodrigo
Don Rodrigo – Taquería el Nacimiento 7400 W. Vernor Detroit, MI 48209

Photos courtesy of Latino Press http://www.latinodetroit.com and MotorCity Re-Store.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

The cultural and linguistic diversity among the 21 official Spanish-speaking countries is great. Each country has their own unique cultures, accents, and expressions. Learning the different meanings of words and “¿Cómo se dice . . .? / How do you say . . .?” in different regions gives insight into the culture.

Matador Network is a great resource for international cultures and travel and I loved this post on Mexican Expressions. Learning the slang expressions when I lived in Mexico changed my language from textbook to native-like. These types of expressions exist in each country – with huge variations from one region to the next.

There is a also a huge variation in accents throughout the Spanish-speaking world.  It is similar to how different English speakers sound to each other. When someone from Scotland hears the accent from Texas or when someone from Boston speaks to a Jamaican, they might feel like they are listening to a foreign language! The same is true in Spanish. This video made me literally LOL with the examples of how different countries’ accents sound to native Spanish speakers.

If you are interested in a workshop or training series about the diverse cultures of the Spanish-speaking world or if your company needs a consultant with expertise in a specific region of Latin America, contact us here to set-up an appointment.

Why was I so affected by Sandra Bland’s arrest and death?

(Editor’s note: I originally wrote this in July. I was leery about posting a controversial piece. I decided it’s too important.)

I don’t know why the video footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest has me so shaken-up?

I can relate to the stress and annoyance Sandra felt that day. I hear it in her voice. She was smart and articulate. She was an “Angry Black Woman”. She was exasperated and tired.  She was “Driving While Black”.

If she had been a White woman, if that had been me? Would I have been treated the same way? Would I have been pulled over? Would I have been spoken to in the same way? Would I have been arrested? Would I have died?

I am a smart, outspoken, sassy and sarcastic (White) woman. It gets me in trouble sometimes. It’s never gotten me arrested. It’s never gotten me killed.

CNN debates and experts disagree why she was arrested.

Global Commerce: It’s tricky business!

When conducting business or hosting social events with people from various cultures it is important to learn the “do’s & don’ts”.  Each culture is unique; what is required in one setting may be offensive in another. This is a quick at-a-glance infographic reference to nine different countries created by a company named Zendesk that we found at Entrepreneur.com. 

35 Tips How Not to Offend International Business Partners From entrepreneur.com

Looking for more information about going global? Contact us for a consultation today!

If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff, please contact bridget@puenteci.com for a quote. 

Spanish? Hispanic? Latino? Ay, Dios Mío!

When working with people from a Spanish-speaking background it is important to understand that they are a diverse people.

It can be offensive to assume someone’s ethnicity. Asking someone if they are “Spanish” or if they speak “Mexican” is more common than you imagine and extremely insensitive.

  • Spanish = nationality referring only to people who are from Spain, in Europe; it is also the language spoken by millions of people in the US and Latin America.
  • Mexican = nationality referring ONLY to people who were born in the country of Mexico (south of our border). It is not a language, just like American is not a language.
  • Latino / Latina = people who have Latin American roots (includes Brazil, where they speak Portuguese, not Spanish).
  • Hispanic = people who have a Spanish-speaking heritage.
  • Mexican-American = typically 2nd or 3rd generation of Mexican descent (see above); may be racially &/or culturally Mexican, but may or may not speak Spanish fluently. Although the Mexican / Mexican-American populations are larger than other Hispanic populations, it is not okay to assume someone is “Mexican” because they are brown or speak Spanish.

If you are genuinely curious, an appropriate question might be, “What is your ethnic background?” This allows for the person to self-identify and will give you an idea if they are open to talking about their heritage.

Never ask, “What are you?” The best answer for that is, “Human!”

The Spanish vs. Hispanic vs. Latino question is really a personal preference. This four-minute video from Kat Lazo (who self-identifies as Indigenous-Latina) really breaks it down and also shows us that it is truly up to the individual to decide which label they prefer.

There are 21 countries that list Spanish as their official language. Each country has a distinct nationality. Every region has a unique cultural identity and their ethnic make-up is diverse. Some Latinos, especially those from the Caribbean, may be seen as Black or African-American even though they may not identify with that culture. Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and many people from Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Perú have a mixed racial heritage of Spanish + Indigenous + African roots. Black Latinos will identify with their home culture, but depending on their experiences in the African-American community, may be able to bounce between both groups in the US.

There are also millions of Hispanic-Americans who may be second or third generation from any of those cultures or whose families are originally from the southwest. Do not assume that someone with the last name Rodriguez or Garcia speaks Spanish.

There are huge differences between working in a Latin American country vs. working in the US with people who are of Hispanic heritage. Is your business in need of an expert on all things Hispanic, Spanish or Latino? Contact us here!

If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff, please contact bridget@puenteci.com for a quote.