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Critics question local promotion video’s lack of Hispanic representation

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 19:12:40-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new video aiming to attract tourists and visitors to Grand Rapids has drawn some criticism in the community and on social media, including Facebook. While the video is well-produced and polished, some are asking if it neglected to adequately reflect the community it aims to promote.

Critics question a lack of Hispanic representation and acknowledgment in the video. The Hispanic community is one of the fastest-growing segments of the population in West Michigan, according to the most recent census data.

"We're here. We're staying. We're opening businesses. We are contributing," local entrepreneur and author Maria Erazo told FOX 17.

The video is two minutes and 30 seconds and is posted to Youtube. It highlights what nine local neighborhoods have to offer, with a focus on business. Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids, said the video is akin to a trailer. As part of a larger project, nine separate videos for each neighborhood were in the works. He said the focus is on businesses within the neighborhoods.

"We feel we fell a little short here," Small told FOX 17.

He said feedback about the video caused the organization to hit the pause button on the project and consult with community leaders. Small said Experience GR decided to halt releasing the other nine videos for now.

"Cultural competency is something we have to work on, on a daily basis - all of us - to sharpen," Small said.

He added, "I've got a young staff, and we've had that discussion with them that this was an oversight that should not happen; and we learn from that. We move on, and we do things better in the future."

The organization has a webpage dedicated to the Latino community that can be found by clicking here.

Darius Quinn serves on Experience Grand Rapids' Diversity Advisory Council and is the human resources manager for Kent County. He said Experience GR has relationships with citizens in the Hispanic community, but he echoes Small's sentiments in this situation.

"What we need to do is tighten up some systems and structures to make sure that before we send videos out that are supposed to be a reflection of our community, that we vet these through members of our community," Quinn explained.

"At the end of the day, I don't want folks to forget about the good that Experience has done in the community," Quinn said.