Do Negative Messages Work?


I feel like I’m between two worlds of political savvy and some peaced out song about One Love. Yes, with incense too.

There was a rally recently at Madison’s State Capitol to protest a couple of laws being proposed that are racist and anti-immigration in nature. My family and I went and experienced the overwhelming power of love and support with 10,000 brown people marching together, chanting and standing up for justice. It was a POSITIVE experience!

Yet I felt tugged by many negative messages.


Wisconsin is not Arizona 

Poor Arizona. I don’t want to focus on what we don’t want to be…I want to focus on what we want Wisconsin to be. We tried this with the sign “Latinos are Wisconsin.” I want Wisconsin to be a welcoming state for all. We are the dairy state with many Latinos working on farms. Quoted from this article (link here), “Immigrants account for more than 40% of the hired help on dairy farms, according to a University of Wisconsin study. Without immigrants, mostly from Mexico, some farmers say they would be forced to quit milking cows because there aren’t enough other people willing to do the work.”


With Juan, Without Juan

This is another powerful sign. But wait…I don’t really want to be promoting that Latinos keep our economy strong because they are the ones willing to work the low paying jobs. I want to promote Latinos as people that deserve the right to live and work like everyone else, with FAIR wages and great working conditions.  42% of Hispanic workers earn a poverty wage (“Raise the Floor” report). This is not okay with me either. I don’t want legislators to be like, “oh wait, I forgot that White people don’t like working crappy jobs, so let’s figure out a way to keep the Latinos in the US.”

Dramatic? But that is what it feels like.

With Maria/Without Maria

There was another sign that had a picture of a clean toilet – With Maria – and another photo with a nasty, dirty toilet – Without Maria. But I couldn’t take a photo of it. The signs together were a bold statement to the intersectionality of skin color and gender.


Un dia sin Latinos – A day without Latinos.

That was the name of the rally. Powerful right? I mean, just think about what it would be like in Wisconsin (or the US for that matter) if there were no Latinos?
Yeah, no thank you. I don’t want to think like that or even put that energy out there. I want to imagine a world where we are all treated the same no matter what our skin color is, and there is forward movement to create solutions (read: immigration reform) for the millions of undocumented immigrants here so people can stop living in fear. I want to put our energy into imagining what kind of world we WANT. Not what we don’t want.


Why do you want to destroy my family?

Heartbreaking. So this is where the political savvy comes in, right? We play these message up in hopes of getting the people in power to listen, and most importantly FEEL different so they can look at solutions and quit trying to pass laws that will push people further into the shadows with their fear based tactics.

Does that even work? Because here I go again with the desire to send the message of positivity. Please work to keep families together because they belong together. And people are stronger when they have loving families supporting them. Communities and the economy are stronger when families are together.

12670473_10207215249594580_5960337677604787801_nJust get to know us
Latinos are a national resource

Positive messages. I’m privileged in that I do NOT live in fear of immigration officers and even though these laws would have a serious impact on our community, it would not impact my immediate family. So I imagine it feels real and true to some people that someone is trying to destroy their family.

The negative messages are strong but do they work? I think they have worked in ways. I wish the positive messages were just as intense and that love felt like a powerful strategy and not just an agreeable way of being in the world. Hate and anger feel righteous, certain and determined for change. Love feels fluffy, soft, and full of hope and faith.  I don’t know the answers. I just know what I see, feel and experience. The energy was overwhelming in the State Capitol as we sang and cheered for Latino rights.



There was massive brown power!

It felt good.
It felt positive.
It felt hopeful.
There was love and respect all around.
Love can feel powerful, strong and intense in romance, yet in politics for some reason, it loses its chutzpah, it’s boldness. Why?

I want more LOVE in all its POWER! On both sides. Thank you to all that came out on Thursday. Sigue adelante!

2 thoughts on “Do Negative Messages Work?”

  1. improbablemd says:

    I think real love is based on honesty, and feeling safe to speak your truth, even when it isn’t comfortable. I think what happened there was a display of hope that who this community is – in full – angry, self-confident, intelligent, powerful enough to bring down an economy, powerful enough to make the entire community whole – will be accepted and their worth given it’s real value. Love isn’t always soft and fluffy, sometimes it’s hard and requires more humility on one side than the other. That’s true in romantic love, too. But it is always full of hope and faith, and the fact that they were out there with their signs on a cold winter day, that was hope that you would see them, and faith that you would understand.

    1. says:

      You’re so right. I totally understand and feel angry too. I’ll have to dive a bit deeper because I’m certain I’m comfortable with anger, as I lean into conflict and have been known to rage. But I am clearly not comfortable with the perception of negativity. I think I perceived many of the messages as negative instead of seeing it the raw anger and that it came from a place of “we’ve had enough.”
      That helpful to differentiate…thank YOU.

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