Recently, the first conference on the impact of social media on the Latina community took place in Dallas. One of the main speakers was Rudy Ruiz who the National Hispanic Institute calls a cultural visionary. A year ago, Rudy was running an ad agency, but he had little to do with Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social media tools. Still, he knew something was missing in the world of social media: multicultural perspectives. So he created Red, Brown and Blue, an online multicultural sociopolitical media organization. Here’s something from the email that came to me about Rudy and the site: “The blogsite has essentially grown from just an idea to being one of the most sought-after news and opinion resources dedicated to providing multicultural perspectives. It’s been hailed by many Washington Hispanic influencers as a blueprint for someone outside-the-beltway to become influential and vocal on political issues without ever having to step foot in Washington.” I thought that was pretty amazing so I asked if Rudy would participate in a Q&A here. Fortunately, he agreed, so here we go with part four (with special thanks to Rudy for his time):
Leslie: I watched a little of the interview between CNN’s Rick Sanchez and you regarding the growing unrest in our society, specifically our impatience with those who are different. In this case, the unrest was manifested at a Town Hall meeting during which a woman speaking about the cost of her meds—a woman in a wheelchair, by the way—was heckled by the crowd. You talked some about the fear and anger that is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. How do we fix that?
Rudy: We need to learn how to re-engage with each other and find common ground to build upon in achieving the goals we might share as Americans. We have to find ways to break out of the polarized bipartisan mode of debate that we are in. Unfortunately, all of our political leaders come from either the Democrat or Republican Party. Why isn’t there an American Party? Everything is an “us vs. them” situation and arguments become oversimplified. Many people don’t dive deep enough to understand the complexity of issues, their systemic nature, and invest the time it takes to come up with nuanced solutions to the challenges we face. It all boils down to a confluence of factors that I think are impeding our progress: the declining educational status of our country, coupled with the increasingly rapid pace of media consumption. Social media can play a negative role in this arena by confusing opinion and fact and by leading to a shallower type of interaction. On the other hand, using social media to connect people and raise awareness about issues and events is important. But we must still make the time to research and understand the facts on an issue, and then practice the rules of respectful civil discourse in order to benefit from a meaningful debate and discussion. Practicing empathy, patience and discipline in our conversations is also important. If you wouldn’t say it in person to a colleague or neighbor, you shouldn’t say it online or shout it at a stranger. Finally, looking beyond the two-party system, I think, would be beneficial to our country. If there’s anything a good education teaches you it’s that there’s usually more than one or two ways to solve a problem. That’s the way our nation must think to break out of the gridlock it’s in and move forward together.