Pedro Herrera, III, also known as the artist, entrepreneur and renaissance man Chingo Bling, is calling the for support for Latino business owners. Even though he has always been familiar with Cesar Chavez, huelgas, and boycotts (including MLK Montgomery bus boycotts), it was after watching the Cesar Chavez movie that he decided to try his own social experiment, of sorts. A #BUYCOTT: Buy one product a day from a Latino business owner until the month of May. And then, share it on social media with hashtag #BUYCOTT.
It’s been going on throughout the month of April. It doesn’t have to be limited to just April but like Chingo Bling said, “It’s simple and it rhymes: One product a day ’til the month of May.”
Herrera recognizes the 1.3 Trillion dollar buying power that Latinos/Hispanics have in the U.S. today and began to wonder if we were spending that money back in our community or where it was really going. The experiement is also raising awareness of who the Latino business owners are and who they are not. With large chains like the Texas grocery store, HEB and their Houston stores Mi Tienda, Herrera says, “This BUYCOTT helps open people’s eyes to ‘Oh wait a minute, they’re selling US back to us because there are not enough of US selling it.’”
It’s not his first social experiment. One of his albums is named: They Can’t Deport Us All. “It’s a simple fact,” he says. It was an opportunity to be real about who is here and that it is about HUMAN rights.
“The deport statement was just all about respect and dignity. Like, can you just at least admit that we are not going anywhere? Logistically, its not possible.” ~Herrera states.
In our short interview, Chingo Bling reveals much more about why he is passionate about supporting Latino business owners. He shares the references of movies, history and Latino, Black and Asian communities that fueled his reasoning for beginning a #BUYCOTT for Latino business owners. The BUYCOTT is not something he wants to take credit for. He admits that his strength is in marketing. There is a challenge of having others take his idea seriously without any strings attached.
“I don’t want to take credit, all it is – is an idea that already existed. All I am trying to do is use my voice platform and give it a modern hip edge, that’s all … its fuckin’ idea, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, let’s just see how it goes.”
Below is the full transcript of the interview.
Melanie: I am very interested in hearing in your own words what this BUYCOTT is?
Chingo Bling: “Um, Ok…are you ready?”
CB: I have always…well, I will give you the short version. I saw the Cesar Chavez movie and I have always been familiar as a kid writing the reports on Cesar and the “huelgas” and the United Farm Workers movement, I always knew about boycotts in [during] the civil rights [with] MLK, like the Montgomery Bus boycott. [So] I have always known about the boycotts, and when I was walking out of theater, I was telling myself, “OK, what is something we can do with our Facebook audience in a modern way using social media; everybody has a cell phone. Times are different. We live in these urban cities, a lot of us and so we are not necessarily connected to the farm worker lifestyle.
With that being said, it was just a social experiment because as an artist, I love … it is just the way my brain works … I love doing stuff to get a rise out of people, ruffle feathers, raise eyebrows. The idea that occurred to me was: what is something that is really simple, because everyone has a cell phone, a lot of people support Latin businesses as it is and everybody says how do we connect the dots?
So, what’s an idea that can help get in people’s heads, be conscious of the 1.3 trillion dollar consumer buying power that we are estimated to have, Latinos, in 2014 alone a combined buying power of 1.3 trillion dollars. What percentage of that trillion dollars are spent in the community actually helping the Latin entrepreneurs, independent Latin businesses?
It is a proven fact that it is harder for us to get bank loans, it has already been widely documented. I need to take time to put together a whole thing on my website with links, chartables, so that when people are confused or want more info, I can send them there. But in a nutshell, that’s it.
Everybody has a cell phone, everybody has a Facebook and how do we share the photo using a hashtag to our friends, social circles. So they can be like, “Interesting…” because for me, it is like it is pretty revolutionary anytime somebody actually wants to, and actually participates, actually trusts what I am trying to do, that I am not trying to, actually trust that is not a scheme, that there is no trick to it, there’s no cash. There’s no nothin’. It’s just an idea. When people actually participate, for me, I feel like, Yo! You are a revolutionary, you have joined a revolution.
M: What is your immediate goal in doing this?
CB: Number 1, to raise awareness about the 1.3 Trillion [buying power], because we are not talking about a millions, we are not talking about billions. We are talking about a Trillion dollars. We need awareness about our power because we can only vote every 2 to 4 years depending on if its local or federal, BUT with our dollars we vote every day. So marches, and rallies and all that stuff can only go so far, holding up the picket signs … that can only go so far. When we, you, choose to use your money, your economic power, that’s what moves mountains. Money talks, bullshit walks.
M: You’re doing this until May, what are using to measure success?
CB: I proposed as simple as I could, just 1 item a day, every day until the month of May. For one, it rhymes. Two, as it is, people don’t like being told what to do. People don’t like preachy. People like entertainment, people like controversy, people like drama, I am aware of that. However, when it is something like “Wait a minute, I have to DO something? I don’t want this guilt trip, educational, VIVA La Raza shit”. You know what I mean? [they say] don’t try do drop knowledge or give me a history lesson. That is why ….so everybody can just do it on their own, so I don’t have the pressure of people, don’t have to look at me like the one in charge. I am not the one trying to be a leader, I am not trying to be voice or “organize” people, because my thing is marketing and branding.
So, I feel like I am kind of like P Diddy. He is always selling something. People can be kind of doubtful of you, if that’s your personality of “I want credit.” That’s why I want people to do it on their [own] page and it can run on its own and it can spread as idea. I don’t want to trademark my idea or copyright it, I am not trying to sell my idea that says BUYCOTT on it. It’s just a cool idea, it just a social experiment, almost like an art project, a living breathing art project and my vision is to be able to check the status on a hashtag and just like get CNN’s attention, get Conservatives’ attention.
There already has been some criticism that it is racist, that it is reverse racism and if a white person said to “support a white business” then everyone would be up in arms, but the fact of it would be racist. But the fact of the matter is “white” businesses will always be supported because the only way you can avoid supporting white businesses is living off the grid. Not using electricity, not using gasoline, not driving a car, not having a house, not going to Chick-fil-A, not going to Wendy’s, you know? That is just a stupid comparison, “Oh what if I said support white businesses”, WE DO! We always will. We don’t have a choice. There is a game called Monopoly and you’re gonna land on somebody’s property.
M: Okay, you say you don’t want to be the leader of this, but essentially, you are encouraging people to go out and find Latino business owners, if they don’t know where they are already. So that is in a sense … you are getting people to take action, in turn, does make you the leader of the movement?
CB: For the time being, until the political types see the value in it. I’ve learned that the political types, they like to play it safe and this type of idea is something that they might want to avoid because it is controversial. That’s why I am not a politician, I am an artist. I never claimed to be an activist.
When I came up with my slogan “They Can’t Deport Us All”, I named my album after it because I knew that Asylum Records would put money behind it and we moved the budgets around to where we could have billboards and not other things like radio play, like TV ads, like different stuff. I wanted something out there in the streets that said “They Can’t Deport Us All” and it was another one of those social experiments. It’s a fact, again it’s true. I am not expert, I am not an expert on immigration reform, I am not an expert on statistics. All I know is that this shit is a fact, I do know that. Anytime that NPR will call me or a conservative, people will call me and want to interview. I will tell them straight up, I am not an expert, I don’t know a whole lot.
This is my opinion and a lot of people do agree with me and we are not going to change our minds. It is a very polarizing concept. Some people that are against illegal immigrants, there is nothing you can say that will ever, ever change their minds. It’s just already been socialized in them and already ingrained in them that when they hear the word “illegal”, and they get mad when you tell them “Are you guys against all illegals? Or just the brown kind?” A lot people like to hide behind the law, a lot people like to say “But it’s the law”, and it’s like, come on man! It’s human rights, REALLY?
The deport statement was just all about respect and dignity. Like, can you just at least admit that we are not going anywhere? Logistically, it’s not possible. So, how do we establish that, how do we move on as a country, because we will always be here. So let’s talk about the real issues, let’s stop trying to talk about hypothetical issues, stuff about “well we have a plan to get them all out.” It’s not going to work. The only way it would be possible, logistically, resource wise and politically, is if we had some type of Hitler type dictatorship, to where they were able to do whatever the hell they wanted, so much power and so much brain washing and propaganda, because we are the scapegoats.
I heard a poem today, Gil Scott Durham, old poem from the 60’s. It was about a guy named Joe Torres that was killed by cops, here in Houston a long time ago, a Mexican guy. In his poem, powerful poem, well written, and he says “I wasn’t going to write poems like this anymore but someone in Texas said I heard, Mexican’s are the new n*ggas…” You know what I mean? “I heard someone in San Francisco say Asians are the new n*ggas” and he’s just, like, going on. I am just quoting poem. I am not trying to get people to say “Oh! He’s using the N word”, BUT it is a powerful poem and I need to post a link, it’s really good and well written. I even posted some stuff about the same concept, but related the black community that way people can read it, because sometimes it’s easier to look at our problems from the outside looking in instead of looking in on our own. A lot of common knowledge or a common stereotype, like blacks sometimes in the urban ghetto, tend to live in communities where they don’t not own a bunch of stuff but you’ll have Asians or Koreans, like in the movie Menace to Society, like the liquor stores are owned by somebody, all the convenience stores, the junk food, the fry food places, which I have seen it with my own two eyes in Gary, Indiana. You see, like, a fry fish place, a liquor store, a church, a fried chicken place, another liquor store, a shut-down school, another church. And it is, like, there is nothing but churches, the liquor stores and fry food places. The reason I brought up some of the black statistics is that so people can see if we all support each other. Well, guess what? We live in communities with no ownership. That was tough. Ownership is very important.
M: I have two last questions for you. Do you feel at any point this Buycott was maybe a way to put a positive spin on your last social experiment, They Can’t Deport us All? Second question, for somebody who hasn’t seen this yet, tell us what counts, what do we do every day to participate?
CB: To me, the Deport slogan was always positive, it was polarizing, it was controversial, but it had good intentions. I think that just the goal to raise awareness is a good goal, because that’s how everything starts. If you can’t connect to people to where they start to think for themselves, like my thing is, you have to change the culture before you can change anything else. People [we] grow up as kids and get taught things like racism, “you ain’t shit, ain’t never gonna be shit”, kids get taught that, “I am from the hood, I am really going to make it out of this muther fucker”, kids pick up on those things. That’s my thing. I think it is in the same vain, except, with “They Can’t Deport Us All” I was trying to sell something, trying to sell my album.
This time, I ain’t trying to sell shit. I am in a different place, I am more mature. I have a few businesses where I don’t have to come up with tricky schemes. I have things and products that people support. I have revenue streams, thank God, due to ownership, which is what I want to promote.
The second question, an example of how BUYCOTT or how one can participate; basically it is very simple, it has already opened people’s eyes to the fact that some things may appear to Latin owned but they are not. For example, there is a place out here called Mi Tienda which is owned by HEB. HEB is a great state Texas based company, I hear they treat employees great. I am a fan of HEB, their distribution system, and it’s home grown. I have nothing against them, I think they do a great job at providing Latin services or Latin products marketed toward Latinos; it’s a Mexi-centric product, HEB and Mi Tienda. But, this BUYCOTT helps open people’s eyes to “Oh wait a minute, they’re selling back to us because there are not enough of US selling it”.
How many times have you been to a fast food joint and they sell you a tortilla? It’s cold, its pale, and it’s disgusting, and might be called a wrap, and but they’re selling us back to us!. So, there’s all kinds of things that people, including myself are realizing.
I am also realizing that it is actually quite difficult to do because most of the shit we own is food related. If I am craving Asian food, why is it a Latino can’t own an Asian buffet? Why? Who says we can’t? Because we are going to be called sell outs? Asian can own Mexican food places. Why is it that more of us [Latinos] don’t own pizza places? ‘Cause I really don’t think Pizza Patron [Texas based] is owned by a Latino.
Why is it most of us can’t own more laundry mats? I mean I don’t have a list in front me but do you see where I am going with this?
M: I absolutely do, that’s why I asked you or brought up that you are making people have to look and say “Is this a Latino owned business?”
CB: [Yes] So, even if we fail and we can’t pull this shit off, of buying one thing, then in the very least we will be like “Oh shit, I tried and there is not enough in my community”. [So] just encourage people “Hey we can and will support each other and let’s open up some things”.
M: Awesome, that’s great. Pedro thank you for taking time out before your studio time. I appreciate you starting the “Bi-Cott”.
CB: [Yes] I don’t want to take credit, all it is – is an idea that already existed. All I am trying to do is use my voice platform and give it a modern hip edge, that’s all. Because I am not old enough to the point where I will come across as super “preachy”, out of touch, so I feel I am at an advantage by being [young] or have [more of] a use. I am not 65, a veteran, pioneer, where I am saying “You must do this”. Hey, its fucken idea, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, let’s just see how it goes.
More on CHINGO BLING: As one Texas’ premier underground rappers/entrepreneurs, Chingo Bling has achieved a level of independent success that only a few in his generation have accomplished. Dubbed the Latin Russell Simmons because of his ability to skillfully parley himself into a remarkably successful brand, selling thousands of CDs, bobble-head dolls, coloring books, DVDs, t-shirts, hot sauce and tamales. Visit ChingoBling.com for more information or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine.
Here is a link to the #BUYCOTT social media posts referring to Chingo Bling’s Latino Business Buycott on Storify. (The hashtag is also currently being used for the Buycott app to be able to find out which products are produced by companies.)