Mobilizing Communities of Color

mobilizing communities of color

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly multicultural, the electoral power of communities of color grows too. These communities are powerful sources of change, but mobilizing them can be difficult.

On February 28, 2018, we brought two leaders in advocacy together for a live webinar to share their insights on mobilizing these communities. We were lucky enough to sit down with NAACP’s Aba Blankson and Univision’s Ron Estrada, who have each spent years working with communities to effect change. Here are some key takeaways from the webinar.

When determining language for discussing communities of color, context is key.

Aba Blankson explained that NAACP uses “black” and “African-American” in different situations. They also discuss “communities of color” when addressing audiences that include members of other cultures. One word they shy away from, however, is “minority.” African-Americans are increasingly a majority in their communities, and the NAACP focuses on language of empowerment.

Estrada agreed, citing tone and positioning as important factors in choosing between “Hispanic” and “Latino” (though he did note that they’re generally interchangeable). Again, however, there are things that Univision avoids. They don’t refer to people by their country of origin, for example, and prefer “undocumented” to “illegal” when discussing immigration.

Segment your audience and adjust your communication channels accordingly.

The 109-year-old NAACP must cater to different communication preferences spanning several generations. Many long-time members prefer community meetings and local engagement, while younger generations respond better to digital campaigns. Both types of outreach are important, says Blankson.

Estrada recounted Univision’s 2016 get-out-the-vote effort, which included both national campaigns and local campaigns that were tailored for the geographic location. In Texas, they engaged authentic local voices and organizations and saw great success.

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Tap into emotion with simple, clear language

Estrada says to focus on how your organization makes people feel. People forget your words, but tapping into emotion is the key to effective communication and mobilization. Oftentimes, the more straightforward language is the best for eliciting emotion. “We all want to sound smart,” Blankson said. But her message was straightforward: simple, clear communication with communities is crucial. Visit Phone2Action’s Civic Action Center to help drive advocates to the voting booths and launch your own branded campaign. 

Want more than just the highlights? Hear Estrada tell the story of Univision’s 2016 GOTV campaign that mobilized over 100,000 voters, and Blankson explain what the common NAACP refrain “protest, polls, and policy” means. 

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Watch the full webinar here.


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