Why I Participated in NPR's #RaceOnTech Project

NPR_RaceOnTech_Viviana_Hurtado-TheWiseLatinaClub If you've been following my writing here on The Wise Latina Club and tweets and posts on social media, you know lately I have been focused on the lack of diversity in technology, specifically Silicon Valley. I've opened up the discussion to look at the micro and macro context, for example the impact of economic opportunity on a person, a community, the economy, and our global competitiveness. This is why when National Public Radio (NPR) asked me to join their #RaceOnTech project, I agreed.

#RaceOnTech is a multimedia examination of this issue through the lens of next generation science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) stars who are mentees to tech influencers/mentors. Click below to for the Storify wrap curated by NPR's senior producer Davar Ardalan:

This important conversation on the lack of women and techies of color in Silicon Valley and technology is an already diagnosed problem as I write in How to Change Silicon Valley's Brofest: Diversity. However, what continues to be missing are comprehensive actions that can be scaled on a national level. This means that our education system has to radically be re-imagined and re-tooled, in part because only a sliver of students are being exposed to computer skills as part of their curriculum as I write in 7 Coding Programs Targeting Diverse Students. In other words, our students must be coding years before they attend college to better prepare them to major and work in STEM fields.

We also must not leave adults behind--many the casualty of the global financial meltdown of 2008 and our slow economic recovery which has been exacerbated by the impact of technological advances and the globalization of our economy. As I write in 5 Coding Boot Camps for Adults, programs have cropped up to help adults gain the technical competency to help them transition and secure an IT job.

We know the problem. Innovative programs exist to address and rectify the issues, including a Google commitment pay women and minorities to learn how to code (disclosure: I co-founded a summer reading program for Latino children supported by Google). However, what continues to be lacking is a comprehensive solution that tackles both the immediate problem which is teaching students of all ages the technical skills required to code. As critical are the structural problems such as the quality of education, access to professional networks, mentoring, and the political will to scale smart solutions into a template for the national level, in this way solving the macro issue of economic empowerment and opportunity, as well as maintaining our tech global competitiveness.

Lack of diversity in technology and its impact can not be viewed exclusively as a human resources problem and solved in this company department. Creating parity in technology will require a coalition of stakeholders including government leaders, industries, local partners, the education sector, and the community plus the innovative thinking and practice that are the hallmarks of Silicon Valley.

May technology titans take the lead in solving this national problem by going back to the roots of this industry. Our economy, our communities, and our future are ready to be transformed.

Click here to read more posts on technology and diversity, including the role of education and politics.

 

We Created the Brian Williams Media Monster: Who Will Fall Next?

We_Created_the_Brian_Williams_Media_Monster_Who_Will_Fall_Next Brian Williams has no business embellishing his experiences reporting from the field. In falsely claiming his helicopter was hit by RPG fire, he made himself a hero and the story at the expense of the servicemen and women who fought an unpopular war, often times serving several tours. As is the case with many politicians who are war hawks, if the NBC newsman had served in the military, perhaps he would have resisted the temptation to spin his own war story. Still, I've been taken aback by the hypocrisy of those who are piling on, especially those who call themselves journalists (when in fact, they're entertainers or "suits"). These people hurling stones from high places are central to the culture that created the Brian Williams Media Monster.

Before coming to Washington, D.C., I came up as a local reporter through two Texas markets and Rhode Island. Veteran reporters and cameramen always warned:

We report the story. Never become the story.

This is yet one more reason why William's "misremembering" (in PR spin-ese) is a significant professional and ethical breach. But so is no one at 30 Rock reeling him in. The institutional silence is a sign of a deeper structural and cultural problem: his deification by a chorus of executives and producers, the latter who are supposed to work with a trained critical eye. This institutional #fail comes when broadcast news has transitioned to entertainment, with Brian Williams to date its biggest star and now emblematic victim.

Talent executives and producers who a final candidate meets during round robin interviews talk a good game when it comes to journalism. But even during the glory days of Edward R. Murrow with his dashing looks, TV news has always been more blow-dried Barbie and Ken than scrappy Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. Exceptions include the late CBS war correspondent Bob Simon who had the increasingly rare combination of good looks, better reporting, and decades of solid field experience. Competition brought by technology and the recession left the business model in the mid-20th century, ushering in the bald-faced Hollywoodization of network news.

With US Weekly apps and the whole concept of trending, we ourselves are complicit in the stories that become clickable. I see it on my Facebook page: stories about educational attainment and achievement and affordable housing barely register a blip. Stories about people--gossip--go viral, the many comments and likes proof of performance. Executives and anchor/reporters feel the pressure and use these very digital tools to brand and market themselves. It's within this context that TV journalists became and indeed, some see themselves as celebrities. Look no further than the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Reporters are asked: what are you wearing? Like the celebrities at their table, they respond! Who cares what the scholarship recipients are donning or how the funds will help them pay for college.

Celebrity status.

Executives prizing "likeability" and "looks" over field experience.

Brian Williams' glee when appearing on Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with David Letterman.

Vanity pervading "the business" comes at a time when critics slam networks for the increase in, for example, weather at the expense of foreign coverage. Yet Williams is not alone. In a video with sister network Fusion, ABC News rival anchor David Muir teaches his interviewers "how to make a listening but concerned anchor face." Click to watch the video:

From this point forward, can a viewer watch a David Muir interview and not wonder if Muir is acting and putting on his anchor face? What's really behind the mask--the passion to hold a person in power accountable who has abused his position or when appropriate, compassion when moved by human suffering or strength of spirit? Maybe he wishes he were playing Candy Crush?

When I was a local reporter in Rhode Island, investigative reporter Jim Taricani from the rival local NBC station (who was held under house arrest for not revealing a source) reminded me we weren't members of the media, but of the free press. In the media culture of 2015 and in the face of significant domestic and international crises, it's a given that our democracy needs a vibrant press to inform the citizenry. Actors or comedians who play journalists have a space on the small and big screen. But when it comes to the news, credibility and truth are a precious currency to the craft and calling of journalism. Keep an eye for those who don't honor this but rather embrace celebrity.

They'll be the next to fall.

Click here to read more of my media commentary and reporting.

 

ABC Waited 18 Years to Hire a Latina. Now The View May be Stuck with Rosie Perez.

ABC_Waited_18_Years_to_Hire_a_Latina_Now_The_View_May_be_Stuck_with_Rosie_Perez I didn't follow the news that actor and activist Rosie Perez was hired as a co-host of ABC's The View. The time had come and gone to make the hiring of the show's first Latina a social statement or game-changing for ratings. In eighteen years, technology has given us more choices to hear the point of view of the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Furthermore, the show has lost relevancy, reflected in part by vapid competitor The Talk on CBS closing the ratings gap. But when the rumors earlier this month trashed Rosie, in part for not being able to read a TelePrompter, I was offended.

I wasn't alone as the firestorm on my social media proved.

Writer and former Latina Magazine editor Sandra Guzmán tipped me off on Facebook. There and on Twitter, I saw:

#YoSoyRosie

Literally meaning "I am Rosie," the hashtag reveals how personally Latinos are taking the Hollywood Mean Girls tiki tiki likely generated by internal show staff, as reported in Variety. Soon afterwards, an open letter demanding an apology to Rosie from ABC executives circulated, generating hundreds of thousands of page views. Latino Rebels founder and media producer Julio Varela described the signatories a "rockstar-like" list of Hispanic women.

Then Perez Hilton picked up this list, sending our outrage into the ether's stratosphere.

Personally, I feel meh about Rosie--neither a critic nor a fan. But the egregious rumors sounded similar to the trashing of Sonia Sotomayor by the Senate Judiciary committee which I covered as a Washington, D.C. based correspondent for ABC News (which in a reorganization oversees The View). Remember when then Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) channeled his inner Ricky Ricardo, saying Sotomayor had a lot of: "'splainin' to do"?

Click to watch:

Translating for white network executives: the rumors went from the typical Hollywood playbook to oust someone to an ethnic slight not just to Rosie, but all Latinas:

  • Rosie can't read a TelePrompter = all Hispanic women are stupid (cuchi cuchi).
  • Sagging ratings are not the fault of cast chemistry, producer judgement, unimaginative guest bookers and writers but the fault of the Hispana (who can't read prompter).

The View, ABC executives, (who have a joint venture--Fusion--with Univision) and their diversity consultants have poured over reams of data which document the rise of Latina power--heading the consumer spending and decisions of Latino's $1 trillion dollar spending power. With rapid-fire organization and response reminiscent of the Karl Rove White House, this open letter's dozens of influencers in politics and business drew a line in the sand with their stilettos, catching the attention of the Latino advocacy community, TV execs, advertisers alike.

Soon afterwards, the rumor mill began churning again. But this time, the word on the street is that Rosie was never going to be fired but on leave to rehearse for her role in the Broadway show "Fish in the Dark" and is scheduled to return to The View this week.

With films such as Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, Broadway, and TV shows under her belt, there's little doubt that Rosie is talented. But is she the best choice for The View? In addition to better producers and management as noted above, a daytime co-host needs to be more Oprah than Bernadette Peters--informed, curious, sharp-witted yet warm, accessible, spontaneous, and confident. Rosie may not have that Q score magic--right now. But given how badly The View and ABC bungled the hire of their first Latina host, they may be stuck with her.

¡TWLC Wishes You a Happy New Year!

Whatever your tradition,

the close of the year

is an opportunity to renew

our Faith, nurtured by

gratitude for health, sustenance,

family, friends...

...and love.

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The Wise Latina Club is nearly three years old. We've changed and grown. We've tried new things. Sometimes we jumped and made it across the abyss. Other times, like Wile E. Coyote, we didn't. Always, you--our loyalists--have stood by our side, reading, engaging, sharing, and challenging us to be better as we work to bring you a current and fresh point of view on the issues that set our souls on fire.

From our families to yours, may your heart fill with inspiration during this season as we prepare to welcome like the Three Kings or Los Reyes Magos the possibilities and hope that come with new beginnings. Click here to read our holiday season newsletter with links to great posts on Viviana's media commentary, education, and vegetarian recipes.

Feliz Navidad, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and  to our champions for whom we are eternally grateful!

~ Viviana, Natalie, and Aundrea

What are you New Years resolutions?

AUDIO on NPR: Not One Latino Children's Author on New York Times' Best of List

Unfortunately, the New York Times not being able to find one children's book written or illustrated by a Latino for it's Notable Children’s Books of 2013 is not a surprise. This is not the first time. In fact, in the last ten years, the New York Times has only included one title written or illustrated by an Hispanic, notes Monica Olivera in an Op-Ed in NBC Latino. Together, Monica and I co-founded the literacy and education organization Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL), home of the first, nationwide online Latino children's summer reading program. AUDIO_NPR_Not_One_Latino_Childrens_Author_on_New_York_Times_Best_of_List

To help the Times, Monica published Remarkable Latino Children's Literature of 2013 featuring seven titles. However, it is not about needing "guidance." The Times' repeated omission points to a structural problem rooted in the lack of diversity at the decision-making level which is not exclusive to the New York Times as I discuss on CNN's Reliable Sources. You can read more and watch: VIDEO: On CNN for the First Time: Is Best Man Holiday a “Race-based” Film?

The editor and panel of reviewers are presenting an inaccurate view of American literature that is more representative of the mid-20th century when many of these "best of" lists began than 2013. Today, America is more mixed and diverse according to the U.S. Census data, but as important, Latino authors and illustrators have been producing award-winning fiction, since at least the 1980s, supported by independent presses. The literature is out there but the Times refuses to look outside its clubby, exclusive backyard of the New York publishing industry.

The repercussions reach far and wide: these lists wield the power to signal to publishing houses new authors and audiences to engage and reach; bookstores, libraries, and schools receive direction on the books that make it on bookshelves and into curricula; Latino children don't see themselves in these books which eliminates a powerful pedagogical tool for academic achievement--identification; others students' vistas aren't expanded to include the experiences of many of their classmates, crucial given that Latino children make up 25% of the public school student body.

These are some of the issues discussed on NPR's Tell Me More with guest host Celeste Headlee. Click to read my complete post On NPR: Latino Children’s Lit to Top Lists on Latinas for Latino Lit. Click below to hear the NPR complete interview which aired on December 9, 2013.

In 2013, why does the "liberal" media continue excluding whole groups under the auspices of accuracy?

Selected to the Women's Media Center's Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2013

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"You've come a long way, baby," goes the popular slogan to sell Virginia Slim cigarettes. #WomenRule is the female-centered conference and essays focus of Politico--a favorite information hub of the Washington, DC set.

Indeed, as Helen Ruddy croons, I am Woman. Hear me Roar:

Unless it's the media.  Although women make up 51% of our nation, men write front-page newspaper bylines at a 3 to 1 ration. Women make up 29% of Sunday morning public affairs shows roundtable guests. These statistics are taken from The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2013. If you drill down more, controlling for topics ("female" subjects such as work/life balance) and race and ethnicity, the paltry numbers I cited seem like a bonanza.

The lack of women in the media is one wrong the Women's Media Center (WMC) attempts to right. Founded in 2005 by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan, through different programs, WMC addresses if and how women are represented on issues that greatly affect our families, our communities, and our nation. Advancing progressive points of view, WMC has defended conservatives such as Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and CNN host S.E. Cupp with the belief that an attack to one, regardless of political persuasion, is an attack to all. In addition to this advocacy, WMC publishes SheSource to help journalists connect with female experts and runs a series of leadership and training workshops to best prepare women and girls to position themselves in the media landscape.

I am honored to be one of twenty selected into the Women's Media Center's Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2013 and give thanks to Voto Latino's María Teresa Kumar who tipped me off to this opportunity and recommended me. I began the year-long training last weekend in Washington, DC. Click here to read the press release to find out and connect with these "movers and shakers" including my nine DC classmates:

Heather Arnet

T.F. Charlton

Emma Davidson

Anna Therese Day

Julia Drost

Debbie Hines

Phronie Jackson

Shivana Jorawar

Diann Rust-Tierney

Our three day bootcamp took us through pitch preparations, Op-ed writing, and extensive media training. This is important because our work, though different, is underpinned by our refusal to accept the current status quo in each of our fields: whether it's Heather's forthcoming PBS documentary, "Madame Presidenta: How about U.S.?" which questions why our country hasn't elected a female President; T.F.'s research on race, adoption, and evangelical teachings; Emma's work to update South Carolina's Teen Health law to maximize their chances for a better life; Anna Therese's advocacy on behalf of Syrian refugees after spending years in the region; Julia's push to secure congressional support of the International Violence Against Women Act; Debbie's work to increase the reporting of sexual assault and help for victims; Phronie's quest to increase awareness, testing, and resources for African-American women, the group most likely to contract HIV/AIDS; Shivana's advocacy on behalf of legal im?migrant women to help them secure federal health benefits; Diann's quest to abolish the death penalty, or my own work to advocate for equal opportunities and social and economic parity for Latinos.

The media is arguably the most powerful tool to change public opinion on an issue. Now, we have more outlets to spread our message. But even new spaces continue to be stubbornly male and white. This year-long leadership and media program is critical because we are learning skills to help us break through the glass ceiling with clear, concise, and effective messages. Harnessed and focused, what we learn can turn passion into action that can eventually make our communities, our country, and our world more inclusive for all.

Where do you see the most glaring absence? Which media outlet is doing it right?

VIDEO: On CNN for the First Time: Is Best Man Holiday a "Race-based" Film?

In 1998, I stepped into the Washington bureau of CNN. I was an intern. Back in the day, interns didn't sue employers for not getting paid but instead were grateful for the opportunity to do more than answer phones, check the fax machine, and get cafecito. I did that for one week and asked my supervisor for more of a challenge. He called me "uppity."

At the time, I was a woman in a hurry--a Ph.D. candidate who found out her parachute was a very different color than the Yale blue academic regalia she would don at convocation and graduation. Older than most of my intern crew, I had to get my high heels dirty and garner experience to convince a future news director to give me a job--¡my first besides folding sweaters at The Limited in high school!--in Midland, Texas.

I've been back at CNN several times for CNN en Español--at the DC bureau and headquarters in Atlanta to speak about Election 2012 and women's issues. But I never made it on regular CNN until this past November when guest host and NPR TV critic Eric Deggans invited me to be a guest on Reliable Sources--the CNN show devoted to media matters which I have been watching since my Texas reporting days.

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Along with ThinkProgress.org's Alyssa Rosenberg (who is also another Yalie), we discussed the controversy around USA Today labeling The Best Man Holiday movie "race-based." Alyssa notes that if Best Man Holiday is "race-based", then so are ten movies not classified as such, including Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring. Do we classify these films as "wealthy white-privilege-themed"? Indeed, what is good for the goose should be good for the gander, no?

As Claytor Reports notes on my Facebook page, Best Man Holiday is about the daily things that affect most people not just the country but the world over--regardless of race and I would add ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

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Indeed, these values are universal and in the case of this film or the TV prime time drama Scandal on ABC, the lead characters are as multi-faceted as anyone else--with hopes, frailties, broken dreams, and struggles.

These characters, however, possess what I like to call, a +1 point of view. This perspective is diverse and mixed, a product of mingling with and marrying people from different backgrounds. My conclusion is not just anecdotal. It's a more representative view of our country, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Virtually every day, turn on the TV, read your newspaper online, go to the movies and what you see spotlights how out of touch Hollywood and media are, but not because they don't read the census report. The whole lot of studio heads, directors, agents, and network executives walk around with their "eyes wide shut," failing to see the changes all around them. With media centered in Los Angeles and New York City, two incredibly diverse, specifically Latino cities, the lack of diversity at the highest levels is more than an oversight. It's insight into a retro and myopic world that shapes the way our country is viewed.

The lack of diverse representation in Hollywood and media's top ranks hurts the bottom line. An off headline such as USA Today's Best Man Holiday blunder or the absence of a Latina host on The View generates the response:

Huh?/¿qué qué? They just don't "get it."

Thanks to our fragmented media word, we can click the remote or our smartphone to go to one of the ba-zillion sites that do get it. This is one business practice that eventually is bad for business.

The solution includes creating pipeline programs that recruit, retain, and promote diverse talent--easy fixes. Some are in place thanks to the continuous advocacy and efforts of organizations such as the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

But it will take a Hercules. More than a powerful person in a position of power, change requires a champion and a believer to reign in the clacking chorus.

I can think of some "Hercules" in Hollywood who can hire and promote diverse talent.

They have the power but do they have the will?

Click below to watch my first appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources which aired on Sunday, November 24, 2013.

Can you name some "Hercules" in Hollywood who have the power to hire and promote diverse talent? If so, please list them.

The Post Shutdown Agenda or How I Almost Hugged Thomas Roberts on MSNBC

FULL DISCLOSURE: I regularly contribute commentary to MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Show. It is also no secret that I am quite partial to him as the NPR ombudsman notes in a post about sex, looks, power, and the digital space.

"There was, for example, the author of The Wise Latina Club and NPR guest host Viviana Hurtado who wrote in a newsletter blast about MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. After appearing on his show, Hurtado described Roberts as a "smart hunk."

Her comment reflects the flippancy in the freewheeling Internet culture among young men and young women in talking about appearance. The prevalence of such comments may change their impact and make any rules in the mainstream news media seem, well, quaint."

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Although I am flattered by being grouped in the "young women" category, the ombudsman misses the new voices and nuances that the "freewheeling Internet culture" allows. The digital space is above all one that threatens the hegemony (yes, I said hegemony) of the so-called arbiters of taste, the gatekeepers who have historically excluded perspectives from different socio-economic, educational, geographic, generational, racial, and ethnic realities. Technology rights this wrong of exclusion, these "others" banding together, finding "voice," community, challenging each other, being informed, and participating as I discuss on NPR (where I occasionally contribute) and write about in Latinos and Social Media: So What? What's Next? Which is What I Said on NPR.

When you hear the buzz words spewed from the mouths of marketers and brands about Hispanics "over-indexing" on social media and mobile devices, they don't understand its true power and significance. Technology opens up spaces where power clusters making us not just consumers of products but decision makers.

If perspective and context are everything, the digital space allows for more, with multi-dimensional nuances creating opportunity to inform, discuss, and participate. This more accurate representation of politics, policies, and life turns up the heat on the gatekeepers. Who cares if ABC's The View doesn't have a Latina (which is a criticism I hear from people who think the show is stale)? That's why we have Latinos in Tech and Social Media (LATISM)'s weekly and predominantly female Twitter party where 11 million impressions are recorded on issues ranging from access to health care, education, civic participation, work/life balance, and immigration to name a few issues. This organization took its empowering message from the virtual space to real life, hosting the Top Blogueras leadership retreat in which I participated where the leading Latina bloggers got a crash course in business and marketing. Not only was there charla. We learned skills to not just "take a little time to enjoy the view" (the show's slogan) but change it.

I have often said that The Wise Latina Club gave me the courage to find my voice. This means that the digital space--my blog, my social media, my newsletters--not only gives me the vehicle to express my opinion grounded in solid reporting and contains the hopes, dreams, and disappointments of an emerging political class. It opens the opportunity to express the different elements of my identity including the tension between intelligence and sexuality. No longer driving a square peg into a round hole, no longer straitjacketed by the one dimension and unidirectional media that is broadcast, I can note, for example, that Thomas Roberts is a "smart hunk." In the next breathe, I talk obscure policy wonk-ese. Instead of undermining, each actually reinforces the other. This is what the NPR ombudsman doesn't grasp, not just about me, but about this brave, new world of the digital space.

Which brings us to my appearance on Thomas' show at MSNBC New York City headquarters at 30 Rock. With MSNBC contributor and LeHigh University professor Dr. James Peterson and Salon.com's editor-at-large Joan Walsh, the topic was the post government shutdown agenda with immigration and a possible new Homeland Security Secretary and the strains our drones attacks policy have created, particularly with our already complicated allies of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Click below to watch this roundtable discussion which aired on October 18, 2013.

Who "gets" integrating digital and traditional media?

LATISM Re-Cap: Latinos and Social Media: So What, What's Next? Which Is What I Said on NPR

At the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, I co-presented a panel on how to promote literacy at the fifth annual Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) representing the education organization Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) which I co-founded. With my partner, we also accepted an award--2013 Best Education blog for our work launching the first nationwide, online Latino children's summer reading program. LATISM_Re-Cap_Latinos_Social Media_So_What_What's_Next?_NPR

Undoubtedly, the digital space, particularly blogs and social media, has allowed Hispanics to organize, inform, and magnify a message. Why? Some of it has to do with the shifting technological tectonic plates. Whether it's the printing press or a mobile device, technology has historically created more access to information, participation, and independent thinking. These values are vital to a vibrant and healthy democracy.

Today's advancements are not different except in volume--production and consumption. But with marketers, brands, and politicians falling over themselves to gain an edge with Latinos--the coveted $1+ trillion dollar buying power and the vote--the question must be asked: how are Hispanics using the powerful tool of social media to effect change?

This is a question I posed on NPR's Tell Me More during their one hour Hispanic Heritage Month special which aired on September 17, 2013.

Click below to hear my participation along with Univision Radio's Fernando Espuelas on "Latinos and Social Media: So What and What's Next?"

The two questions I ask: "So What?" and "What's Next?" are crucial. The answers represent real power if it is used to insert our point of view where it matters--business, media, politics, and policies. That requires us to not just accept, for example, a cameo on a diversity panel but position ourselves with the proper credentials to, at minimum, be placed in the pipeline that will lead straight to the decision-making positions of power. It will require us to "lean in" a la Sheryl Sandberg. But it will also require us to stand and show up.

This time is exciting because we are witnessing the maturation of the Latino community--what I like to call the rise of a new political class that is wielding some power. Recognizing the glaring absence of cabinet and senior advisor-level political appointees in the Obama Administration, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda has re-focused its efforts to create and build a pipeline that grooms and positions qualified Hispanics to lead state and federal government agencies.

The Latino digital space is increasingly becoming crowded. Since The Wise Latina Club hung her web shingle in 2010, NBC Latino, Fox News Latino, ABC/Univision's joint venture Fusion, and countless Twitter handles and blogs have started with the important mission of presenting important information in culturally relevant ways.

But where's the power? It's in the mainstream, In the case of the media, we're woefully falling short as the President's snub to Spanish-language media during the Syria "round robin" interviews with the major broadcast and cable networks proves. Hispanic voices are still absent as Al Día managing editor Sabrina Vourvoulias argues, specifically criticizing NPR, (to which I occasionally contribute as noted above).

Same goes for business where Latinos open small businesses at three times the rate of the general market, yet overwhelmingly struggle to scale. On the corporate side, we are MIA in the so-called "C-Suite" and powerful corporate boards.

Hollywood and the arts? More of the same, as proved by the Kennedy Center Honors Awards, which in its 35 year history has only recognized two Latinos. Are we supposed to celebrate that it broke its "brown out," bestowing awards this year to Carlos Santana and opera singer Martina Arroyo? Perhaps. But let's give credit where credit is due--to the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts after years of lobbying. Let's also remember that one year doesn't a pattern make and thus we must stay vigilant.

My biggest takeaway from this year's LATISM conference is that the urgency to participate as decision makers at every level of society can't wait one more minute. Our time is now, if we make it ours. That will require the daily commitment to participation and action--voting with your ballot, your presence at local meetings, your remote control, your wallet, and your tweet.

This is where you come in.

And there is no voice more powerful than yours when you combine it with others to purposefully use it.

So: ¿what's next?

The Wise Latina Club's Moment of Zen...¡on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart!

A special kind of schizophrenia exists among television journalists--we want to one day be invited on The Daily Show with John Stewart, but we equally fear it. In this day when we're doing more with less, most of us are one second from being forever known, not for breaking a story about corruption or stealing public funds, but as the live shot reporter who was drenched when the sprinklers turned on.

Or the anchor who dropped an F-bomb.

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In my case, while on a panel discussing the latest tawdry chapter of Internet Privates Exhibitionist and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, well, a word was said as I write about in "Dem 'War on Women'? OR My First GIF Thanks to MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts."

Jon Stewart may be on hiatus but his staff isn't.

They watched.

They clipped the video to close the show.

And I am on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, for a nanosecond.

Click here to watch The Moment of Zen which aired on July 31, 2013.

How did you turn a moment of "Oh, bleep" in to a Moment of Zen?