#LatinaMade Is On A Mission To Change Google's Algorithm
Have you ever Googled the word, Latina? If so, then you're familiar with the glaring display of sexual content, porn site suggestions, and auto-corrections to 'maid'. Childhood friends, Ana Feliciano and Erika Hernandez are looking to change these search results. With their website LatinaMadeNotMaid and their hashtag movement #LatinaMade, they are aggressively trying to change Google's algorithm to show that Latinas are more than sexual fodder or maids. MBG spoke with Ana and Erika to learn about the movement and how anyone can help to advance the cause.
MBG: How was the movement #LatinaMade created?
I [Erika] was speaking at a panel at Montclair State University about entrepreneurship. Because I own an event-planning business and a t-shirt venture I wanted to do some research beforehand about Latina entrepreneurship and copyright. When I Googled the phrase "Latina Made" I was autocorrected into "Latina Maid". At first, I was shocked, then I became angry.
During my panel discussion, I mentioned to the students what had happened. I got the same reaction from them, that of shock and anger. I called Ana later that afternoon and asked, "what do you think about doing something about this?" She agreed and we began the movement. And here we are!
Ana: One of our Instagram followers @HealthyLatina experienced the same issue when searching for her domain name. It's just crazy. However, if we create enough content with the word Latina in it, we can propel change. Latinas are maids too, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We would never intend to downplay the important work that maids and other laborers do. We just want to show that Latinas can be other professions as well.
MBG: What does your website offer?
Our website is a resource to learn about the movement. We sell t-shirts, bracelets, iced coffee tumblers, and more. We want to use a portion of our proceeds to start a scholarship fund.
We also have Brand Ambassadors. The whole purpose behind that is to get the word out and to gain more recognition. We want to reach out to different audiences. Brand Ambassadors can be college students, professionals, and really any Latina from all walks of life who want to share their stories.
MBG: What challenges did you face, if any, growing up as Latinas?
Erika: I grew up in a predominantly Latino community. I was raised by my grandmother and mom. I was very proud to be Latina and didn't really face any issues. It wasn't until I started to branch off, in college and afterwards as an entrepreneur that I began to feel some push-back. There was always a sense that I wasn't good enough because I was a minority. It was more in-your-face when I started my company.
Ana: When I went off to college, it was a culture shock. [Ana and Erika grew up in the same community]. It was 10% minorities, and about 5% Latinos. After I graduated, I became an English teacher. I actually had parents approach me and be like, my son is failing Spanish, can you help? And I’m like, I’m the English teacher, not Spanish teacher! It was as if I wasn't skilled enough to teach students English.
MBG: What is your goal with the #LatinaMadeNotMaid movement? What would success look like to both of you?
Getting women to search, that’s the main goal. Changing the algorithms on search sites so that suggested porn sites, nude pictures of women and auto-corrections to 'maids' are not the first things you see when you search the word, Latina. Let’s change the algorithm! Search engines should not have the power to put us in a box. We define who we are. If you'r on social media, use the hashtag Latina [#Latina] in a more effective light. Tag women in the courtrooms, in the classrooms, in offices, caring for their kids, really anything that empowers us.
Looking to join the movement? Click here to learn more about #LatinaMade and how you can become a Brand Ambassador.