One reason the 2016 presidential campaign is so charged is the result of tensions from a changing America.
It’s not without precedent, of course. Waves of immigration in every century radically remade the nation, but there were strains in those earlier remakings then, as now.
Massachusetts, where nearly one in four people are of Irish heritage, greeted the first waves of arriving immigrants from Ireland with infamous NINA signs (as in No Irish Need Apply). Today, Irish-Americans form the largest heritage group in the state and wield great political, cultural and economic influence.
Puerto Ricans, who have been U.S. citizens for nearly a century, nonetheless were met with resentment and discrimination in some places. Central Americans and Middle Easterners fleeing political unrest and violence at home have arrived en masse over the last three decades, both legally and illegally.
What that means for most organizations from public schools to churches to city governments, restaurants and clothing stores is that their base of customers and potential employees is changing, too. (In Massachusetts, about one in four residents was born outside the United States!).
Different cultures, different populations, different age groups each have their own means of getting and sharing information about you and the message you are trying to send. In cities like New Bedford and Fall River, where Portuguese-Americans constitute the largest demographic, every business, civic group or service agency must find ways to engage effectively and consistently with that key ethnic and language group.
Take the time to learn about your community. Which languages are spoken and by how many people? What are the key social and cultural institutions serving each demographic group? How many people under age 18 live in the community? How many over the age of 65?
The US Census Department at www.census.gov as well as your local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development office are excellent starting places for important information about your community….and your market.
— BARBARA LeBLANC