Guy Garcia

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The ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights is hosting a Young Latino Male Symposium to discuss steps the community and nation should take to address the future of young Latino males in the 21st century. Author, journalist and entrepreneur, Guy Garcia, is the keynote speaker. Garcia talks his book, “THE DECLINE OF MEN: How the American Male Is Getting Axed, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future,” and the market for the multicultural consumer.


José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm Jose Cardenas. The economy has impacted the professions of men and women, but has it changed the roles both sexes have in society? Guy Garcia is an entrepreneur journalist, and the author of the book, "The Decline of Men: How the American Male is getting Axed, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future." He joins me to talk about his book and a whole lot more. Mr. Garcia, welcome to "Horizonte."

Guy Garcia: Thank you for having me.

José Cárdenas: You have a very interesting background, and as we discussed off camera, all of it ties into the things you've been doing, including the book that we're going to talk about in more detail, but let's talk about that a little later. Let's begin first with a brief overview of your background.

Guy Garcia: Well, I grew up in Los Angeles, I'm a Latino, Mexican heritage, went to school in California, then became a journalist, worked at "Time" magazine during the '80s and early '90s, and during that time covered a wide range of subjects, but included international and then was a relatively new phenomenon of the rising profile of Latino culture. So it led to a cover story with Edward James Olmos on the cover, "Stand and Deliver" was breakout hit, and it became -- I know it became a peg, an announcement of the arrival of Latinos as a cultural force in America.

José Cárdenas: How did that lead to your focus on multicultural advertising, marketing, and basically media focus?

Guy Garcia: What happened was, I wrote two novels, both of them had elements of multicultural elements, they were kind of existential mystery novels, so everything from Mayan Civilization to immigration, kind of seeped into the plots of these books. Eventually I left "Time" magazine and cofounded an internet company called Total New York, one of the first city sites, and --

José Cárdenas: With a focus on the city --

Guy Garcia: on New York, which is a very multicultural in its own right.

José Cárdenas: An interesting transition from a kid from east L.A. going to New York and focusing on that vibrancy, which is much different.

Guy Garcia: To get to "Time" magazine and suddenly my office is next door to the people I used to read the, magazine, you know, when I was a teenager, and I'm working with them, that was a big step. And then the internet was brand-new, to get involved in that was a tremendous opportunity, which then America Online bought Total New York, and I got involved in a joint venture with a group from Venezuela called AOL Latin America. I was one of the founding executives of that. In the course of going around the world in Latin America, talking to business people, I realized there was a huge interest in Hispanics in the U.S. as a market, Asians in the U.S., African-Americans, Brazil, very interested because black tourists were coming, and the Japanese in Brazil, Japanese banks were after these people, huge population of ethnic Japanese in Brazil as well, so suddenly I realized this was a whole new dimension of multicultural that went way beyond just population numbers, went way beyond just salsa over taking ketchup.

José Cárdenas: You weren't just focus order Hispanics or Latinos.

Guy Garcia: Suddenly my -- the dimensionality changed, and I realized there was an interaction going on between these groups. And if you took those groups together, with we discussed Richard Florida and the creative class, non-Hispanic white people who are multicultural, by interest, by choice, you had a majority, and we're talking now back in the mid '90s, not a majority on the horizon, not a majority coming at us, a marketing and consumer majority that exists now. So that was the beginning of that process.

José Cárdenas: And it led to the creation of your company?

Guy Garcia: It led to the creation of my company because I started getting invited to give talks and keynote addresses, and then eventually I got pulled into consulting directly to management, and marketers, and then eventually leading --

José Cárdenas: We've got a shot of your website on the screen.

Guy Garcia: Oh, right. So the reason there's the great seal of America is the Unfinished Pyramid, which was commissioned in 1776, was always meant to represent the United States could only be finished by succeeding population.

José Cárdenas: As depicted on the $1 bill.

Guy Garcia: Which Franklin Roosevelt put on there when he realized what that was, he was a great champion of immigration, and it's always been a great theme in the U.S. We live in a time, this is not the first time it's happened, where the cross currents go back and forth. There's always a certain level this country has always had an allergic reaction to the very thing that's kept it strong and healthy, it's contradictory, it's confusing, it can be violent, and unfortunate in many ways, but this also will pass.

José Cárdenas: One of the things you've done, you've written a number of books, but one of them is the New Mainstream. What do you mean?

Guy Garcia: It's exactly what I was saying came out of my international and multicultural background as a journalist, I realized that multicultural now is a driving force economically. And that if you included the creative class in this definition, you had a new mainstream market that was increasingly driving how companies operated, how they hired, how they marketed, and that also influenced images in the media, advertising, so this feedback loop of how we saw ourselves and we saw other people started to become a major factor in all businesses. We're talking about consumer goods, everything from banks, to the council on foreign relations, and that continues to this day. It's bigger than ever.

José Cárdenas: And you don't just write about these things, you have become quite a researcher in a number of areas related to this.

Guy Garcia: One of the things that happened along the way, as this idea of a new majority, a new mainstream coincided with the understanding that there was a huge amount of money at stake in these markets, companies started investing finally in measuring this quantitatively, qualitatively, statistically looking at who are these people, what are they doing, how -- what are the commonalities and differences across these groups. So these New Mainstream researchers, I was very interested in. And I was lucky enough to be involved in some of the big research at an early time, and it continues to this day.

José Cárdenas: And that includes the development of the implicit association.

Guy Garcia: One of the people I ran across in this journey, psychology professors, who had created a test that measured unconscious biases that were absorbed by our environment, by advertising, by the society at large, we realized people could have a bias against themselves. You could have African-Americans who are anti-- had an anti-African-American bias, Hispanics the same thing. So the utility of this, and we used it to measure biases towards multiculturalism. So we found out that, for example, Hispanics were much more likely to embrace the idea of multiculturalism if it was an acceptance of a cultural sharing. They did not like multiculturalism if it meant Hispanics were put in a silo, in a box, and told, you're accepted but you stay there. That's not really who Latinos want to be, and the younger you go, the more time passes, the greater the group expands in this country, more and more there's a diversity within what it means to be Latino, and Latinos, and more groups in this new mainstream see themselves as part of the new mainstream. They don't see themselves as outsiders. They're aware of their economic clout of their cultural clout and increasingly as we discussed, their political clout. So they don't want to be treated as outsiders. They don't want to be treated as a separate group. They see themselves as part of the fabric of this country, which is exactly who they are.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk about your book. I want to begin by reading a couple of sentences from one review. "Garcia offers an astute and well-searched meditation on how men might reclaim their identity and place in modern America and why such a transformation is important to future generations of both men and women." The book was first published in 2008. You've had a controversial reception.

Guy Garcia: Well, at the time -- it came about because when I was a staff writer at "Time" magazine, the leading magazines were the men's magazines, the top editors were men, the CEO of "Time" was a male, fast forward seven or eight years later, it all switched. It was all the women's magazines leading the way, making the most money, the men's magazines were lagging, the CEO of "Time" was a woman, got my attention. I had a lot of friends still working there, what's going on? And one of them said, well, we don't know what the guys are doing. They've disappeared. What do you mean, they've disappeared? Well, they don't seem to be reading anymore. They're playing video games. What are they doing? It started an investigation on my part that ended up starting to look like the new mainstream to me. There was a structural change going on. This was not about men being from Mars and women being from Venus, this was about a reorganization of how the genders were working, thinking, the way they were approaching education, their whole place in society. There was a shift that had happened that had not been really acknowledged or understood. So I ended up writing this book, which turned out to be somewhat correct in that guys were falling behind in education, they were falling behind in the workplace, and within just a couple of months of the first edition of the book coming out, women overtook men in the U.S. work force for the first time in American history. But the dimension of this downsize, this fragmentation of male identity has a lot of dangerously negative effects. Again, dropping out of school, guys dropping out of the work force, having less ambition, even in places like Harvard, I talked to Harvard professors who say they see a big difference in the motivation and ambition of male students versus female students. We're talking about Harvard University. If it's happening there, you can pretty much be sure it's happening all over the place. By then, of course, I spoke to hundreds of men and women, they said I see this all the time. My kids, I can't get them motivated, my brother-in-law, my husband. Now you add the -- what was dubbed the he-session, 80% of the job lost in the last recession were men's jobs, this restructuring, the jobs of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing jobs that fared men, they're gone. Or they're disappearing. The top 10 job categories to grow in the next 20 years only two of them favor men, all the rest favored the skills of women. So you put all this together and you have a crisis in maleness. And the key to this is you have to understand as a society we still tell guys, you're the patriarch, you should be the bread winner, you're the head of the household, you're the alpha male. Increasingly men can't live up to that. And increasingly men can't even afford to pay for their dates' dinner, let alone be the sole bread winner, let alone be the head of the household. Some men have adjusted to this better than others, but as a gender, we've lost our way. There's no single way for a guy to act or be. There's a lot of confusion, and there are a lot of down sides.

José Cárdenas: When it first came out there was some negative reaction. One reviewer described it as an extended whine and said while you were good about gathering information, you weren't very good about pulling the data together in a coherent thesis.

Guy Garcia: Well, look. This is the early stage. Fast forward within two years, the cover of Atlantic magazine announced the end of men. Made exactly the same points I did. So it's -- it takes -- it takes people -- sometimes a new idea is hard for them to accept. Now that a feminist writer has validated it -- I was also attacked for being antifeminist.

José Cárdenas: You do reference eco-feminism. What does that mean?

Guy Garcia: I'm not sure exactly what part you're talking about. There are themes that go back to really the beginning of Industrial Society, suppression of the sacred feminine. I think the fact women have come so far, there are many reasons for this. But again, they're better suited for the 21st century than men are. The information society, communication, collaboration, these are things that women are very good at. And they're empowered, they're energized by their ability to move into areas that were not open to them before. Guys, not so much. They're just not -- they're not as excited as being able to stay home and raise kids or become flight attendants, or work at the 7-Eleven for minimum wage, and I've talked to many women who say they don't expect guys to be excited about that. But more than anything, guys have lost their place. It's like are for they are no longer the head of the household, if they are no longer the bread winner, if they are no longer the alpha in the family, what is their role?

José Cárdenas: And when we spoke off camera, you admitted that maybe there was some validity to the criticism that you didn't offer solutions, but you think that is coming.

Guy Garcia: Yes. And this I think was true. I was aware of it at the time. I regretted that I was basically delivering bad news without a happy ending. At that time, we're only talking a couple years ago, when I was writing the book, there still wasn't a happy ending. All the things that were happening were just more bad news. Guys being replaced in the work force, guys losing traction at school, the other milestone that was crossed just recently, more single women than married women for the first time. The unraveling of the nuclear family, this is all very bad stuff. High rates of male depression, and suicide, so I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. What's happened since then, one of the reasons I'm here in Phoenix, as a result of finally starting to acknowledge to understand that there's really something going on here that affects everybody, you have things like the ASU row, young male -- Young Latino Male Symposium, which is trying to examine this and say if we have a problem, does it dis-proportionality affect Latino and men of color? Yes.

José Cárdenas: Why is that?

Guy Garcia: I think there are a number of reasons. And it's related to the fact Latino men have always been lower on the education scale. And now that all men are slipping, it affects them even more. Some of the cultural issues that you talk about --

José Cárdenas: You would think if anything Latino men at least the stereo typical macho head of the house with the stereo typical mother who takes care of the kids stays at home, they would be insulated from some of the issues that you describe in your book.

Guy Garcia: Well, that's just it. It intense fight problem, because there is this legacy of macho-ism, there is this stronger identification with the more traditional role of men. Unfortunately, the economics and educational statistics are even worse for Latino guys. So they have an increased pressure to live up to kind of father knows best classic, you know, head of the family, head of the household, but they have even less of the capability of fulfilling that. So you have an even larger gap, we know that Latino men suffered disproportionately from dropping out of school, from being represented in colleges, from having jobs -- graduating from college in the work force, and yet 40% of the future work force is dependent on them. So again, this becomes a national issue. This so the not just about gee, what do we do about that problem, it's a problem for the entire family, it's a problem for the next generation of guys, and daughters, it's a problem for the women who are increasingly shouldering the jobs, bringing money into the relationship, holding the relationships together. There are health implications, one of the things that's going on this weekend, I'm involved in the Hispanic Health and Fitness Forum that will be part of the Symposium on Saturday here at ASU, which is open to the community to examine the health effects that disproportionately affect men and Latino men from depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke. There are a number of things that have to be examined across the board as social issues that are American issues. They're issues for America, not just Latino, not just men.

José Cárdenas: You're not suggesting that women have quote unquote arrived this week, for example, "The New York Times" is talking about the gap in the numbers of female executives at the top level, the disparity for similar positions. There are still issues.

Guy Garcia: There are still issues, it's true that they're underrepresented in Congress, they're underrepresented in the corner offices in CEO suites, and if you put all those jobs together, it's probably 1% of the population. So when you talk about the other 99%, guys are falling behind pretty quickly. Already in the top 100-DMAs, women in their 20s out-earn men. And more importantly, and even now feminists acknowledge and point out that the trajectory, the overall trajectory of women overtaking men in education, they already make up almost 60% of all college students, they've already caught up to guys in almost every sector except software engineering, and it's just a matter of time before they overtake them in everything else. They're already -- they already outvote men. So do they have further to go? Sure. Meanwhile, the signs of guys having a problem adjusting to the change is absolutely obvious. You see it all the time.

José Cárdenas: But improved health, improved economic circumstances, aren't going to take us back to the days when men were men and women were women, at least that stereo typical view.

Guy Garcia: There's absolutely no turning back. There is a contingent that would like to resurrect the past. But that's not going to happen. And what has begun to happen just like multicultural America and the new mainstream, it's already embedded in the next two or three generations of women who are already -- they're going to have more jobs and earn more than men for the rest of our lifetime at least. The question is, first step is to acknowledge that there's an issue that everybody has a stake in. The second step is to see, are there concrete steps that can be taken to help guys in the work force to help them get more educated, to help them be the equals of these new empowered, educated women who are in a position now to really lead the way in American society, and the rest of the world, and not end up with a male population that feels humiliated or disenfranchised or marginalized or de-masculinized. Which if you think of the Al Qaeda terrorists, all of them fit that category. So these -- the -- not to mention the self-destructive side, where alcoholism and drug abuse, and illegal activities, you know, if you go back to rulers in the wild, wild west, most of the outlaws were cattle ranchers who lost their jobs when the big ranches were shut down and they became bandits. So people don't realize --

José Cárdenas: In your book you do talk about the cowboys in Wyoming and Montana and so forth, and what's happening to them.

Guy Garcia: Yeah. They all work on ranches until they lost their jobs, and they became outlaws. We can't afford as a society to let that happen on a large scale for so reasons that are obvious. So again, acknowledgment, understanding, recognizing that there's a problem, starting to address as we're going to do at ASU, what are the concretes -- what are the problems, what are the touch points, what are the concrete steps that can -- we can start to take to help this next generation of men, and Latino men and all men, increasingly need help. And then finally, what are the implications of this change? Where are guys going? I hope it's not as simple as saying, women will dress in suits and go to the office and the guys will stay home and raise the kids. I think that's a little simplistic. We're just beginning to see what might come next. You see a myriad of different versions, there is no single way to be a man anymore. You can be a metro sexual, you can be a retro sexual, you can be --

José Cárdenas: Isn't that what's threatening, there's no defined role?

Guy Garcia: Well, it's difficult for guys to know how they're supposed to act. I use the example of the death of Superman, when Superman died in the comic book, he came back in six different personas. Some of them fought each other, others teamed up. We're kind of in that stage right now. Where there is no defining archetype for what is it to be a man. So there's conflict, mixed signals from other guys, from women. Are you supposed to be sensitive, tough, make a lot of money, are you supposed to stay home? Now, over time that will shake out and we'll find out which of those versions, which one or which ones are the ones that will help men evolve into this new future.

José Cárdenas: We have about 30 seconds left. Your prediction as to what that new future will be? I know it's two or three generations out.

Guy Garcia: I know it won't be anything like we've seen before. Those days are gone. So it could be a combination or maybe an acceptance that there will never again be a single way to be a guy. But we haven't gotten there yet.

José Cárdenas: Hopefully in the interim it won't be too difficult, but I realize there's a lot of room for improvement. Thank you so much for joining us on "Horizonte."

Guy Garcia: Thank you.

Guy Garcia:author;

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