An article in the January issue of Dairy Herd Management on understanding Hispanic culture generated a fair amount of controversy. Some people pointed out that the article over-generalized about Hispanics and even contained some offensive references.

For this, we apologize.

It certainly was not our intention to offend; we were simply looking for ways to bridge the understanding between Anglos and Hispanics, since Hispanics are so important to the U.S. dairy industry. There are some cultural differences, but our story obviously did not relate those as effectively as it should have.

It’s one thing to attend a conference and hear people verbally describe things. (Much of the information for the article did come from a conference.) But when you try to put the same message in black and white, as we did with a printed article, it can appear more stark than intended.

Again, the burden is on us to translate that information correctly.

It was a mistake on our part to say that Hispanics are socialistic. Just look at the number of people coming to this country from Mexico to embrace capitalism and the opportunities it has to offer. 

What about Mexico and the other Hispanic countries? Do they tend to be more socialistic than the U.S.? One reader commented that as far as he knows, the businesses in all of the countries where his dairy employees come from are privately owned and there is very little or no public or cooperative management by the government — the exception being oil in Mexico. 

Another section of the article read, “Hispanics are very intelligent, but they have been raised in countries that cannot put education at a high priority because of their economic situation.”

Hispanics do place a high value on education. Unfortunately, there are economic circumstances in some of the countries they were raised in that keep them from pursuing education as much as they would like.     

One of the biggest complaints about the article had to do with a reference we made to corruption.

The article stated, “Be aware that Hispanics come from a culture where corruption and mistrust are commonplace.”

Unfortunately, corruption is commonplace throughout the world. The same can be said of the United States. Just look at all of the scandals occurring here, including Bernie Madoff, Wall Street and the banking system.  

It is a mistake to generalize these things to one part of the world.

Even the attempts we made to be complimentary, such as pointing out the importance Hispanics place on family, seemed to fall flat. Some readers pointed out that many Anglos are family-oriented as well — to single one out over another is an over-generalization.

We have run other stories in the past, pointing out cultural differences, and we never got any negative comments. But our story in January got more than its share.

A number of comments came from Colorado. So, my response was to send one of my associate editors to Colorado to meet with some of the people in person. We ended up with a new article that appears on pages 26-31 of this month’s issue.

It is our intent to “set the record straight” and take a positive approach moving forward.

We are sorry for any misunderstanding and will work harder than ever to promote cultural understanding,