If the lion does not tell his story, then the hunter will.
I remember first reading this proverb in Tell to Win by Peter Guber. The proverb emphasizes how there are always two sides to a story and how the storyteller with the stronger voice always controls the message. The storyteller that controls the message ultimately controls how they are perceived among those who hear it. There are two perspectives to this proverb: the lion, the king of the jungle revered and feared by all versus the skilled hunter which is respected among his tribe. The two different perspectives will yield two different stories that will ultimately lead to two different perceptions of the storyteller. If the lion wins, the hunter was not as skilled as initially believed; if the hunter wins, the lion was not as ferocious as once thought. Only the strong and bold win the right to tell their story, how they believe it to be not how it ought to be. Notice how I don’t say that the bold and strong are required to tell the truth or complete story. When lions allow hunters to tell their story, they are at their mercy despite the fact they are king of the jungle. The underlying takeaway from this proverb is to be a lion that exerts power and does not allow the hunter’s voice to overpower his own by eliminating the opportunity to tell a story that embellishes his skill at the lion’s expense.
After reading Tell to Win, I became fascinated with storytelling and wanted to learn more about its history as well as usage in business, specifically marketing. Modern storytelling, in a business context, still has many facets of ancient storytelling but the benefits are significantly greater. Storytelling wasn’t simply a matter of just cuentos de hadas para niños, I learned. Digital media and its tools have facilitated the unparalleled reach and scope of storytelling that makes it an even more powerful tool of influence, persuasion, and change. I became convinced that storytelling and having a more diverse Latino storyteller base was the key to diversifying the Latino narrative in the mainstream media which would result in not only eliminating stereotypes but provide the opportunity to finally control our narrative and public perception.
Using the African proverb in the beginning of this post, Latinos are the lions while the English and Spanish mainstream media are the hunters. Simply put: there are too many hunters and not enough lions in Latino storytelling. For far too long, we have allowed others to tell our stories. When our stories are told, they tend to be one-sided or focused on a single issue or controlled by a limited number of journalists. This limited scope and fragmentation gives way to stereotypes and perception that all Latinos are this monolithic group with the same values and interests that only care about a small number of issues. Once there are more Latino storytellers in areas of influence, there will be more stories and America will get a significantly richer idea of what Latino culture truly is like. My hope for this blog is to be a platform where new stories are told and the stories that perpetuate stereotypes rewritten.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook give me confidence that Latinos are the best storytellers in the world. There is such a massive Latino user base in the internet already telling their stories through photos, hashtags, and comments for anyone willing to listen. From time to time, Latinos take to Twitter to protest stereotypes (#thisiswhatlatinoslooklike ), express pride when fellow Latina Gina Rodriguez dedicated her Golden Globe to our community (#ICanandIWill), and remind everyone that though different we are united (#HispanicGirlsUnited). These hashtags gain steam for a day or weeks at the most and then dissipate. Hashtags give Latinos a voice albeit a temporary one. Hashtags are a great starting point and a way to organize ourselves but are ultimately ephemeral. Latinos are already 56 million strong and account for 17% of the U.S. population. We are here to stay and our numbers are expected to triple by 2050 and account for 30% of the U.S. population according to projections by the Pew Research Center. There is nothing ephemeral about these numbers. We are worth more than the transitory hashtag. Our voices and stories should be preserved in a medium that denotes permanence, substance, and value: stories. Unlike hashtags, stories provide context and have the ability to influence and persuade. It’s time for Latinos to tell our stories on our terms from our own fingertips and lips and not allow any hunters to censor, control, or silence our truth.
¡Y colorín colorado este cuento ni por cerca se ha acabado!