Friday, September 21, 2007

Positive Backlash to Negativism on Hispanic TV Commercial

I wasn’t going to write another column about the TV commercial that I did a couple of months ago in which I spoke Spanish with English subtitles but recent developments changed my mind.

I aired the commercial on English speaking TV channels, not Hispanic. Just in case you were out of the country or were somehow totally incommunicado for the past two months, there was a hue and cry to this ad like I’ve never seen to any commercial I’ve done in my 40+ years as a car dealer. It started with lots of very negative phone calls to me and the TV channels. One TV channel, fearing controversy, initially refused to run my commercial, but recanted when I threatened them with exposing their refusal to run my ad to their competition and the FCC. The negative groundswell grew to emails and letters. I have to admit that during the first two or three weeks, I began to doubt that I was doing the right thing. Almost every call, email, or letter threatened me with boycotting my dealership. After all, I’m a car dealer and my commercial was meant to help me sell more Toyotas, not make a political statement.

The negativism grew so intense that the media picked up on it. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel did a feature story on this, documenting a lot of the negative ads. The Palm Beach Post followed suit with a similar story. Channel 5 TV ran several news stories. Fox News interviewed me and this was carried on the network, nationwide, as well as XM and Sirius worldwide. Magazines, the Internet chat groups, blogs, World Net Daily, YouTube, and about every other kind of media jumped on this story.

That’s when the “positive backlash” began. What I had hoped for actually came to pass. The “silent majority” that we always hear about suddenly found their voice. The average American is a good person without prejudice and has lots of common sense, but she doesn’t get motivated enough from a TV commercial to make phone calls or send emails. The average American does get motivated when she sees someone being unjustly accused of being a traitor, called vulgar names, and being threatened with boycotts to his business. These good folks rallied to my support and now I am getting a steady flow of emails, blog postings, and phone calls supporting my Hispanic TV ad. The negative comments have died off to an occasional whimper.

Ironically, my initial motivation was only to sell more Toyotas. Not only did I do this [Last month I sold 375 new Toyotas, one of the best months in my 32 years as a Toyota dealer], but I got a bonus. That was a much better understanding of what makes us Americans tick. Don’t get me wrong. I was always proud to be an American, but after so many people sprang to my defense, after I was so viciously attached because of my Hispanic TV commercial, I was even more proud. Americans like to root for the underdog and they believe in standing up for what’s right. When they saw me being piled on by a bunch of nuts and bigots (not all of them were of this ilk; a few were simply uninformed or misunderstood my ad). 99% of Americans understand that we are all immigrants; we only differ in how long ago we, our parents, grandparents, et al were fortunate enough to find sanctuary in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

25 comments:

  1. Lets see Earl, No comments, neither positive or negative for three blogs (except mine), and that's good!? Been a long time since that has happened, hasn't it? Now I'm not saying it's a trend and I don't know your year over year or comparable month over month numbers but by your blog numbers 375 is 102 less than 477. That means you sold at least 20% less cars last month than your last claim of 477. You, like any other business person knows that it take years to build a business to the level you have, not weeks or months or one ad. Conversely, what may seem like a bright new promotional idea may take many (maybe more) months to find out that it works or sucks. I am not noticing the cockiness in your words as in past responses, although you are still referring to any Americans who disagree with you as "a bunch of nuts and bigots. OH and they are also ilky". Of course if they comprehend how smart you are and how uninformed they are combined with their total lack of understanding about their own personal views or about your "nonpolitical"? ad, well then they are Ok in your book. Throughout your blogs and responses to comments you have defended your position while asking for understanding, that you simply want to sell more Toyotas. All the while refusing to look at why what you were doing may cause offense and further damage to Americans with your pandering and promotion of a divisive idea. Multiple languages which create not unity but divisiveness as in the Balkan States. You take the position that it is OK to offend Americans and their views, but if they actually voice their displeasure then you dig deep into your intellect and pull forth the rallying cry of the intellectually perplexed and one that you hope will stop the Southern American man in his tracks,,, ummm,,,, bigot? So please explain , Earl, how does the desire for the single uniting language of English for the United States make a person a bigot. Why does taking offense at a foreign flag being flown on American soil, by foreigners speaking a foreign language, praising another country while deriding America and at the exact same time DEMANDING the rights and privileges that Americans have fought for, paid for and earned, make a person a bigot. Why does hearing the Spanish language as the primary language and English in SUB titles on an English station in America, upset Americans? Spanish is a language that has come to be associated in the United States with a group of people who illegally enter the United States, DEMAND American rights, DEMAND and collect American benefits, TAKE privileges Americans are prosecuted for, while they praise and fly another country's flag. So do tell Earl, how??? Does that make a person a bigot, and not just patriotically and financially pissed??? After touting your smarts and prowess as a seller of cars. Congrats are due on your after thought claim of being a proud American,,, at least you got it in this time, albeit at the end of your post. BTW with your "(spelling and grammatical errors intact):" comment on a previous blog you should probably change "attached" to attacked. Line six, para five. Fred13red@yahoo.com

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  2. Let me guess, Fred. The “13 Red” in your Yahoo email address refers to our 13 original colonies. J I will respond to your email piecemeal.

    Lets see Earl, No comments, neither positive or negative for three blogs (except mine), and that's good!?

    There are several additional positive comments, looking at all my postings on Hispanic TV.

    Been a long time since that has happened, hasn't it? Now I'm not saying it's a trend and I don't know your year over year or comparable month over month numbers but by your blog numbers 375 is 102 less than 477. That means you sold at least 20% less cars last month than your last claim of 477.

    If you read my postings more carefully, you have noticed that in the one that I mentioned 477 sales, this was for used and new cars. In the other posting I specifically said new cars. In August I sold 375 new Toyotas and 102 used cars.

    You, like any other business person knows that it take years to build a business to the level you have, not weeks or months or one ad. Conversely, what may seem like a bright new promotional idea may take many (maybe more) months to find out that it works or sucks.

    I appreciate your opinion on what it takes to build a business to the level I have. Where did you study business and what business are you in?

    I am not noticing the cockiness in your words as in past responses, although you are still referring to any Americans who disagree with you as "a bunch of nuts and bigots.

    Once more, my friend, you did not read my posting carefully. I specifically said that not all of the naysayer’s on my TV ad were bigots…some were misunderstood or were uninformed.

    OH and they are also ilky". Of course if they comprehend how smart you are and how uninformed they are combined with their total lack of understanding about their own personal views or about your "nonpolitical"? ad, well then they are Ok in your book. Throughout your blogs and responses to comments you have defended your position while asking for understanding, that you simply want to sell more Toyotas. All the while refusing to look at why what you were doing may cause offense and further damage to Americans with your pandering and promotion of a divisive idea. Multiple languages which create not unity but divisiveness as in the Balkan States. You take the position that it is OK to offend Americans and their views, but if they actually voice their displeasure then you dig deep into your intellect and pull forth the rallying cry of the intellectually perplexed and one that you hope will stop the Southern American man in his tracks,,, ummm,,,, bigot? So please explain , Earl, how does the desire for the single uniting language of English for the United States make a person a bigot. Why does taking offense at a foreign flag being flown on American soil, by foreigners speaking a foreign language, praising another country while deriding America and at the exact same time DEMANDING the rights and privileges that Americans have fought for, paid for and earned, make a person a bigot. Why does hearing the Spanish language as the primary language and English in SUB titles on an English station in America, upset Americans? Spanish is a language that has come to be associated in the United States with a group of people who illegally enter the United States, DEMAND American rights, DEMAND and collect American benefits, TAKE privileges Americans are prosecuted for, while they praise and fly another country's flag. So do tell Earl, how??? Does that make a person a bigot, and not just patriotically and financially pissed??? After touting your smarts and prowess as a seller of cars.

    I can only suggest that you look deep into your heart and ask yourself why you so fear and hate those Americans who are different from you.

    Congrats are due on your after thought claim of being a proud American,,, at least you got it in this time, albeit at the end of your post. BTW with your "(spelling and grammatical errors intact):" comment on a previous blog you should probably change "attached" to attacked. Line six, para five. Fred13red@yahoo.com

    Unlike you and others like you, I don’t find it necessary to continuously remind others that I am a patriot and a proud American. I don’t continuously wave a flag nor do I go public when I worship. My God and my patriotism are personal and private.

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  3. Thanks for the E-mail Earl , I will respond to you on your blog, where we started. In your opening questions you probe the meaning of my E-mail address and my back ground. Let me ask you Earl, will the color of my skin , where I was born, where I was educated, who my friends are or how I earn my income make my words, ideas and opinions any more or less worthy or valid.. While a question was posed to you in an ideological fashion ( which you did not or possibly don't wish to answer) you responded with an attempt to muddy the waters, first by separating Hispanic Americans and then by inference, Other Americans from each other in your title to your E-mail when the issue being discussed is foreign language, foreign allegiance, foreign flags and an in your English speaking face commercial YOU developed. While you take and took great pains to defend your position and to not offend one group you took no pains to research whether you would offend the other group. Not only that but you took an adversarial position to the second group whom you offended . Second, after probing you infer that anybody who thinks about the United States and what makes it united must be imbued with fear and hate when quite the contrary exists. Love of country and what it represents, love of fellow Americans , respect of the rules, respect of the laws and an understanding of what keeps a people united is not developed from, nor should it be painted as coming from hate and fear. Lastly, Earl, when you symbolically remove your flag and beliefs from public view to keep them "personal and private" you leave the field open. If someone comes along and plants their flag and beliefs in your field while you stay "personal and private" then you will eventually lose the field through inaction, unless of course you decide you want it back and then depending on how long you remained silent will determine the amount of force necessary to recover your field. Now that is a large and vague concept, so I'll bring it down to a few acres. How long would you allow your fellow car dealers to hand out fliers for their cars on your lot? How long would you let an employee stay at your business who refused to follow the rules everyone else did? How long would you let a fellow car dealers advertising sign stand on your lot, I presume you would yank it down BEFORE they erected one planted in concrete. So ya see Earl, you stand up for and fight for what you understand and believe in, your primary flag is your name on a sign, and you will fight for that , you understand that. You also say you are unlike me and unlike others like me, what crowd is that, Earl? You say that "you don't find it necessary to continuously remind others that you are a patriot and a proud American". Gee Earl, how is that done where it offends you and you don't want to be part of "that" crowd? Saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America? Standing and singing the American National Anthem at baseball games, football games, Nascar Races, NHRA Drag races with pride? Flying a flag on Memorial Day, Veterans Day? Saying thank you to an American Soldier, Policemen, Firefighter etc. who put their lives on the line for others? A flag on your shirt? A flag at your business? A flag at your house? Maybe it's when you wear an American flag on your uniform, like Police, Sheriffs and Deputies, Firefighters, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Boarder Patrol, Air Force or maybe Red White and Blue Postal Uniforms? Is that the crowd Earl. --I do know one thing that you remind people of LOUD, PROUD and constantly, and that is that you are EARL STEWART ---Used and new car salesman. ----Fred13red@yahoo.com---

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  4. This will be my last response to you, "anonymous person" a.k.a. Fred13red@yahoo.com. Your rambling, irrational style of writing reminds me of another "identity" who was using my blog for purposes of their futile attempt at personal character assasination. I told you a couple of weeks ago that I would not respond to anymore anonymous invective, so you made up a name. When I asked you, nicely, to call me, you did not...proving that you are afraid to "come out of the closet". Fred13red@yahoo.com is another false identity. I strongly suspect that you are a former disgruntled employee. I don't want to use this public forum to debate our differences, but my offer remains open for you to call me or visit with me personally at anytime.

    Goodbye

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  5. You think I'm rambling??? I am a patriotic AMERICAN who believes in what a good AMERICAN believes!! Conversely, your cockiness betrays that fact that your views on things ranging from business to chemistry to immigration reform and the larger issue of Amnesty is simply not on the plates of the average American tonight. You take pot shots at me, a simple citizen for errors in my arithmetic. Then you say that I rant and rave. How convenient it is for you to sit in your Ivory tower aboard your yacht and cast aspersions against the simple man. Let's see, Earl, are you afraid of the truth? Is the fact that I can see inside your mind a little frightening? I certainly feel no trepidation when you make your offer to call you on your red phone. What do I have to fear. Any reader of this exchange of moderate intelligence can see what is crystal clear: my logic is unassailable and you are the one who goes on and on like a raving lunatic. Fred13red@yahoo.com

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  6. Earl,

    If you're offending the small-minded bigots, then you're doing something right. Keep up the good work.

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  7. Nighthawk? Or should I say...EARL STEWART??? Let all who have the slightest doubt understand: FRED13RED@YAHOO.COM is the KING of the blog!

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  8. Hey Fred - get a life!!!

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  9. LOL Ricky! I think Earl Stewart needs to pay rent for the space he has in Fred13red's head!

    This is why I would neve want to be in the public eye - you are bound to attract crackpots with weird obesessions like Fred :)

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  10. Earl,

    You are a hoot!!!!!! You remind of Hitler. In your case the cause is your profits. All the crap you spew about how good you are. My Ass. Have a nice day Jerkoff.

    Fred13red@yahoo.com

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  11. Earl is a reawy nice guy. I like him a lot. what is all the fussyness about. He take care of me very well. Love you Earl.

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  12. What is the big deal? It's just a car ad in spanish, I can't believe people are so petty...Get a life. Or better yet get a real cause to fight about.

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  13. Carmen Borras ThomasOctober 09, 2007 4:23 AM

    I'm very proud of the fact that you had the guts to go ahead and air your ad on English TV and in a way, I found it amusing listening to you speak Spanish. As you found out it was a great idea to direct your ad to the the Spanish speaking public who watches English TV. To those whose comments I read, that your ad was directed at Mexicans, they really do not have a clue about Spanish speaking people and the fact that there are other countries in this world not just in Mexico where this language is spoken. I strongly suggest that they return to school and receive a proper education. I myself was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City and am now living in Lake Worth. I am an American citizen, although I do watch Spanish TV on occassion, most of my viewing is done on English TV. I'm extremely proud of being a Puerto Rican. In fact as Citizens, Puerto Ricans have fought for this country and given their lives in American wars since 1898. Much of the Puerto Rican community in Palm Beach County lives in Greenacres. You can readily receive a breakdown of our Spanish speaking community in the County from Mr. Jose Alou(whose father is Puerto Rican and a famous Puerto Rican baseball player, Felipe Alou) who is in charge of La Palma, the Spanish sister newspaper to the Palm Beach Post. By the way, I do owe a Toyota. An old one bought second hand. But from now on when I need to service this old work horse, I will make sure that I take it to one of your dealerships. Most sincerely, Carmen Borras Thomas

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  14. September 26, 2007 12:29 AM

    September 26, 2007 11:20 AM

    September 26, 2007 9:24 PM
    Fred13red said...

    6th Still deleting selectively I see, Earl.
    Fred13red said... 5TH ---Excellent point! Anonymous at (September 27, 2007 12:50 AM), which is exactly why you find out how somebody thinks BEFORE you accept a polite invite into the black widows lair. Earls extended action on this blog regarding a simple discussion coupled with the type of comments he allows to stay and the one he deletes, speaks volumes. It gives clear insight as to how you would be treated in person or on the phone were his (polite) invitation to be accepted.. If commenting is a weird obsession, why are you following these comments? Why is Earl so fearful and afraid to answer the questions that were asked. He sure spends a lot of time(rent?) deleting selective comments, which is a telling response (which he said he was not going to do) based on his selective deleting. But not to worry, soon I will tire of Earl's benighted little game.
    4th repost And we now are beginning to understand how this blog is run. Notice that all of the new blog comments are very short. Starting to get a real clear picture. 3RD repost .
    2ND repost-Selective deleting? Somebody wants to play?. Fred13red has been around awhile comment #5 is not one of them.. The one new comment has been copied and the style and word combinations will become apparent after a few random posts, just like finger prints. So post away, your wording will take on a recognizable form, just like a picture. . Whoever did post the comment on (September 25, 2007 6:26) has elitist tendencies along with an dripping envy and fascination of monetary wealth and who does and does not have it. I still stand by what I posted that was positive yesterday even though it was erased. I have been discussing an idea and an application of an idea not personal references or character assassination on Earl. Looks like some one posting on this blog is severely lacking in principles. Amazing thing is that when you try to get something by lying cheating or stealing you will, at some point, be found out. Whoever,,, it is. Comments #1,#3 and now #9 are mine as of 10:58 9-25-2007/2;58 9-26-2007 Unless (for whatever reason) more editing,deleting occurs. . Soooo,,, Post away, please. ----

    September 26, 2007 12:29 AM

    September 26, 2007 11:20 AM

    September 26, 2007 9:24 PM

    September 27, 2007 12:33 PM

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  15. Earl,

    First off, Congrats on the great sales job! It looks like you took a few knocks for your efforts, but in the end it all paid off. Kudos as well for extending a hand to your Spanish-speaking customers - I'm sure they will appreciate you going that extra mile.

    As for the bigots taking up bandwidth with invectives and bile... let them try to run a business. So long as the sale is made and the money's green, who cares what color the customers are, or what language they speak?

    Capitalism is color blind.

    Good luck in your future endeavors!

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  16. It amazes me how ignorant some people still are in this country. I am American of Cuban descent and live in S. FL. Earl you are just a smart buisness man who realized that running a spanish ad will attract more attention. I am glad that you realize how this country is changing and how hispancis are all over the place, so keep up the good work. And to all the bigots, get over it, as someone stated earlier IT'S JUST A CAR AD IN SPANISH.. this will not change anything except maybe get Earl more business!!

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  17. Hi Earl,
    I heard about the Spanish language commercial, and I applaude it. With so much hate against immigrants and against Spanish speaking people, it's refreshing to see a white guy reaching out to the Spanish speaking members of society. If I weren't 1,000 miles from you, I would certainly buy my next car from you. My wife refuses to buy anything other than a Toyota.

    It seems that Spanish speaking people appreciate your commercial. I've found that most people don't mind an outrageous accent. Instead they actually appreciate the fact that someone makes the effort to speak Spanish.

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  18. I think Fred13 whatever....needs to get a life. If your so gunho about your country why are you wasting your time with Earl who is just trying to boost sales. Give your history lesson to someone else.
    Earl, hope your ad continues to boost sales. Your a smart man reaching out to a population that is not going away but is continuing to grow and grow. Kudos to you.

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  19. By the way. My post was short because I made it short.

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  20. Txraql, What concept do you disagree with that I presented? Would you be opposed to a single common uniting language for the United States if the language were the Spanish language?

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  21. You know I checked this blog by accident and I was shocked to see how quickly you responded. Borderline Blog Stalker!

    If English become the official language for the US, will we start arresting people for speaking other languages? Fred13, you alone, nor your blog entries, can stop people from speaking Spanish!

    Adios y buena suerta....cabron!
    [write that one down]

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  22. Txraql, What concept do you disagree with that I presented? Would you be opposed to a single common uniting language for the United States if the language were spanish?

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  23. el spicarons shouldo learno to speaka the english & el earl stewarto shouldo speaka his el laungaugeo to hiso customers.

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  24. We are honored to have this extremely insightful and complimentarly editorial written about our Spanish language TV commercial by Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.



    Posted on Sun, Oct. 21, 2007

    English language not endangered
    By LEONARD PITTS

    La gente dice que Earl Stewart lo hizo sólo por el poderoso dólar.

    (People say Earl Stewart did it only for the almighty dollar.)

    El dice que tienen razón.

    (He says they're right.)

    What's that? The subtitles are distracting? Fine, I'll stop.

    But the point here is, all Stewart wanted to do was sell Toyotas. It's something he's been doing for 33 years as the proprietor of Earl Stewart Toyota in Palm Beach County. Then he hit upon an idea he thought might expand his market: Spanish-language commercials with English subtitles. The spots run on English-language television and, though he speaks no Spanish, Stewart stars in them himself.

    The subtitles, he says, were an afterthought. 'I said, `You know, I'm going to be talking to a lot of people that don't speak Spanish so, as a courtesy or to explain what I'm doing, maybe I should use English subtitles.' It was really an effort on my part, albeit a failure, to be nice to the monolingual folks.''

    The ''monolingual folks'' were not feeling the love -- putting it mildly. Stewart says the commercial brought him a ''flood'' of angry, often profane e-mails and phone calls, nine out of every 10 sharply critical of his commercial. As described by Stewart, the complaints tended to be longer on emotion than on logic.

    For instance, they said that by advertising in Spanish, he encouraged Spanish-speakers to avoid learning English. But he was advertising on English stations, so anyone watching presumably already spoke the language.

    And people kept referencing Mexico, usually in sentences that began with, ''Why don't you go back to . . . '' But anybody who knows South Florida knows that, while it is home to many Spanish speakers, the bulk of them are not Mexican.

    ''I think there's a lot of fear out there,'' says Stewart. ``All of the (presidential) candidates to some extent are using the immigration thing as a lever to get elected. They're appealing to the fear Americans have, some of this 9/11 stuff. And the rhetoric has a lot of the people who are not as informed or maybe don't listen carefully, convinced that most of the Spanish people in this country are illegal immigrants or they're terrorists.''

    It's a cogent analysis, but I think there's more going on here. One suspects that at bottom what set Stewart's critics off is a fear so visceral they might not even have words to express it. Put simply: Since when do we need subtitles in our own country?

    To which the best answer is probably another question. Who is ''we''? What is ``our''?

    The fact is that ''we'' is not what it used to be, and ''our'' reflects a nation more diverse than ever before. The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population of Palm Beach County stands at 16.7 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the national figure. Isn't it smart business to reach out to them? Why begrudge Stewart's efforts to do so?

    Granted, it's not hard to empathize with the sense of dislocation some people feel as they watch the nation changing around them. But to understand what they feel is not necessarily to share it.

    In the first place, hysterical predictions to the contrary notwithstanding, it's exceedingly unlikely that English is in danger of losing its position of primacy. In the second place, people will sooner or later have to understand that while change is frightening, change is also life, especially in a nation as susceptible as this one to the forces of the free market. Which is, for my money, the moral of Stewart's story.

    He says that as that story has become better known, the public response has done a 180-degree turnabout. The commercial -- and the notoriety -- have brought customers from as far away as Miami. And he's just had his best September, ever. All of which leaves Stewart with mixed emotions. He's disappointed in many of his fellow Americans.

    On the other hand, business is good.



    Leonard Pitts Jr.

    Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. His column runs every Monday and Friday. Email Leonard at lpitts@MiamiHerald.com or visit his website at www.leonardpittsjr.com

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  25. I have been watching your TV ads for some time now. I live in Vero Beach and drive 4 Toyotas within my family. I was even considering replacing my 2003 Highlander with a 2008 Hybrid Highlander and bypassing the dealerships between you and I to deal with you.
    Since seeing the spanish speaking TV ad, dealing with you is no longer a consideration for me. It's not the politics, it's making people speak the language of the homeland.

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Earl Stewart On Cars welcomes comments from everyone - supporters and critics alike. We'd like to keep the language and content "PG Rated" so please refrain from vulgarity and inappropriate language. We will delete any comment that violates these guidelines. Oh yeah - one more thing: no commercials! Other than that, comment-away!