When Daisy Manzo was a little girl, she mastered the art of faking colds and stomachaches so she could be taken to the local clinic and see doctors at work. There, she ogled the medical professionals bringing comfort to the ill and injured, while dreaming of the day she’d wear a white coat of her own.
She had no way of knowing how much time, money and determination it would take to get there, she said. When the Modesto-born child of Mexican immigrants got into UC Davis on a scholarship, she was ecstatic. But once on campus, the classes were much harder than what she’d taken in high school and she felt like she was falling behind other pre-medical students, who had been shadowing doctors in clinics while she’d been working at the local Dollar Tree to support her family, she said.
“I felt like (the advisers) didn’t understand my struggles,” she said. “I was discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine because they didn’t see me as being up to par with my pre-med colleagues. … I felt like it was trial and error because I just didn’t know how it worked.”
Manzo faced the kinds of financial and social obstacles that have blocked other aspiring Latino professionals from entering the field and serving Spanish-speaking communities in California. As the state’s Latino population continues to expand and older Latino physicians move toward retirement, hospitals and medical schools are responding to the need by charging forward with plans to recruit the next generation of Spanish-speaking medical professionals.
Manzo, 24 and a first-year medical student at UC Davis, volunteers at a midtown Sacramento facility for Latino patients and wears her white coat proudly. She said she worries whether enough medical school students will step up to serve communities that often go without proper medical care because they can’t find medical professionals they understand or trust.
“I always see patients who resemble my own family. I see my grandmother in these patients, my mom, my brother, my sister,” she said. “At the end of the day they don’t have other places to go. … We need more places like this. We need more physicians willing to work with these populations.”
The midtown clinic, called Clínica Tepati, is staffed by a mix of people hoping to meet that need – volunteer undergraduates, medical students and supervising physicians. Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act, which gave thousands of previously uninsured Latino residents much-needed access to physicians, demand has spiked for the free checkups, counseling and minor medical procedures offered at the clinic, students said.
In California, 69 percent of Latino adults are overweight or obese, which puts them at additional risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers, according to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. At the same time, the state’s Latino population enjoys health advantages such as the lowest rates of infant mortality among any ethnic group and the longest average lifespan – outcomes that experts attribute to strong family networks and other cultural factors.
Latino doctors have historically been underrepesented in the state’s physician workforce – a problem highlighted last fall in a report from the Latino Physicians of California. The statewide advocacy group pushes for better college preparatory programs for young Latino students, more financial assistance for medical school hopefuls and, ultimately, a healthier ratio of Latino physicians to Latino patients.
In California, just 6 percent of doctors identify as Latino, compared with almost 40 percent of all state residents. Latinos were underrepresented among doctors in every California county, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of data from the California Medical Board. About 29 percent of Californians speak Spanish at home, but less than 20 percent of the state’s physicians speak the language, according to the Latino Physicians of California report.
Black physicians are also in short supply in most counties, although some counties have relatively few black residents.
White doctors and Asian doctors are overrepresented. Fifty-two percent of the state’s physicians are white, compared with about 38 percent of the state’s residents; 31 percent of doctors are Asian, compared with 15 percent of the state’s residents.
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of UC Davis’ Center for Reducing Health Disparities who helped produce the Latino physicians report, said the problem will only get worse if urgent measures aren’t taken.
“These dire situations require thinking out of the box,” he said. “What is critically important from a health perspective is to provide health services that are comprehensive and that are adequate. That’s not happening with some population groups.”
Patients are more likely to follow doctor’s recommendations when they understand the language, but there are also more nuanced needs in the Latino population that only physicians from the same background are likely to understand, said David Acosta, associate vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at UC Davis. For example, some Latino patients may be treating their own illnesses with alternative healing methods such as herbs and traditional foods that could interfere with certain prescriptions, but may be afraid to mention those beliefs and treatments to a white doctor.
“If a patient knew I was Latino and I spoke to them in their language, they may share with me something they may not share with someone who doesn’t understand the cultures and beliefs of the Latino population,” Acosta said. “Racial and ethnic minorities think of illness through a cultural narrative.”
“I’ve had so much to say over the past two years, wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened,” she says in the trailer for the four-part documentary, which debuts March 23. The trailer dropped Wednesday during the virtual Television Critics Assn. press tour.
“FYI, I’m just going to say it all, and if we don’t want to use any of it, we can take it out,” the “Confident” singer adds. “Any time that you suppress a part of yourself, it’s gonna overflow.”
Lovato, 28, who has publicly struggled with her sobriety and physical and mental health, revealed in the trailer that she’d had three strokes and a heart attack. She said her doctors told her she had “five to 10 more minutes” to live when she was hospitalized for two weeks before entering an in-patient rehab facility.
She survived, of course, and told interviewers that, like her cat, she’d had a lot of lives and now she was on her “ninth life.”
In a video call Wednesday, Lovato told the Associated Press that she still was dealing with the effects: “I don’t drive a car because I have blind spots in my vision. For a long time, I had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read a book, which was, like, two months later, because my vision was so blurry.”
But her endurance is surprising to those around her.
Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.
The Microsoft founder and mega-philanthropist, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $1 billion to help combat the coronavirus pandemic especially in developing countries, told me that in the best case scenario the vaccines will control the virus in Latin America six months after the United States. But he cautioned that the delay could be much longer, perhaps of up to 12 months.
If things go well with the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines, “the inequity will be about a six-month” delay. “If things don’t go well with those vaccines, it could be nine to twelve months,” he said.
Gates lamented that, under the Trump administration, the United States failed to support the World Health Organization’s COVAX global vaccination program to help developing countries get 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year.
While president, Donald Trump withdrew from the WHO, and did not contribute funds for the COVAX program. His measures were strongly criticized by the scientific community, because you can’t defeat a pandemic if the rest of the world gets infected.
In addition, “the previous administration said that every American should have a vaccine before a single vaccine gets out of the country, which, you know, I don’t agree with,” Gates told me.
Fortunately, the Biden administration’s $900 billion COVID relief package includes $4 billion for the COVAX initiative, and “we encourage the Congress to finally show up to help the global effort,” Gates said. He added that “the Biden administration is very engaged in saying no, it’s not just America.”
Experts are urging Biden administration officials to better understand the source behind Covid-19 vaccine skepticism across different Latino communities to improve vaccine rollout strategies nationwide.
Surveys have found an “element of fear and mistrust” about the vaccine, but such fears manifest differently across different Latino subgroups, according to researchers Gabriel Sanchez and Juan Peña in a Brookings Institution analysis published Monday.
At least 28 percent of all Latinos surveyed by the Latino advocacy nonprofit UnidosUS in October reported that they were unlikely to get vaccinated for Covid-19. Latinos of Puerto Rican and Mexican origins were the most likely to report they would not get vaccinated, overwhelmingly citing concerns over potential negative long-term health effects and side effects from the vaccine, according to disaggregated data from the UnidosUS survey.
Over a third of all Latinas surveyed by UnidosUS stated they will likely not get vaccinated, compared to 22 percent of Latino men.
“This gender gap in the likelihood of vaccination identifies how important it will be to conduct more in-depth research with the Latino population and to better understand what is driving fear and concerns about the vaccine to help devise solutions,” Sanchez and Peña said.
While President Joe Biden “has taken an important first step” by establishing a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force within the Department of Health and Human Services, Sanchez and Peña said more needs to be done in order to improve trust in the vaccine among Latinos.
Many Black and Hispanic Americans mistrust government officials, and instead have turned to physicians they have long known.
Like many Black and rural Americans, Denese Rankin, a 55-year-old retired bookkeeper and receptionist in Castleberry, Ala., did not want the Covid-19 vaccine.
Ms. Rankin worried about side effects — she had seen stories on social media about people developing Bell’s palsy, for example, after they were vaccinated. She thought the vaccines had come about too quickly to be safe. And she worried that the vaccinations might turn out to be (Image Credit – The New York Times) another example in the government’s long history of medical experimentation on Black people.
Then, one recent weekend, her niece, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University in Atlanta, came to town. Dr. Zanthia Wiley said one of her goals in making the trip was to talk to friends and family back home in Alabama, letting them hear the truth about the vaccines from someone they knew, someone who is Black.
Across the country, Black and Hispanic physicians like Dr. Wiley are reaching out to Americans in minority communities who are suspicious of Covid-19 vaccines and often mistrustful of the officials they see on television telling them to get vaccinated. Many are dismissive of public service announcements, the doctors say, and of the federal government.
The ACA has narrowed racial gaps in access to health care, but Latinos are still nearly three times more likely to be uninsured.
As a little girl, I would accompany my immigrant mother to her numerous doctor’s appointments; I didn’t know it, but at the time, she was fighting a brain tumor. By the tender age of 7, I had translated most medical terminology from English to Spanish; see, my mother did not speak any English and when she went to the doctor’s office, I was her tiny translator, not that I knew much, but I tried my best.
By the time I was 13, I understood what was happening to my mother and knew how to discuss her symptoms with all her physicians, including neurologists and radiologists. I had my mom buy me a Spanish-to-English medical dictionary and became well-versed in the processes that happen at every one of my mother’s appointments: blood pressure check, weight check, neurological tests. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 24, she stopped going to her doctor’s appointments regularly and chose which doctors she “felt” like going to at the time. I have heard all of the excuses in the book: “I don’t know if they will have an interpreter,” “I feel fine, why do I need to go?” and the most recent one, “I don’t have the money to go to the doctor.”
NPR’s Rachel Martin talks to Dr. Eva Galvez about the issue of vaccination hesitancy among the Latino community she serves in Oregon. Polling shows Latinos are less likely to trust a vaccine.
New data from the CDC this month continues to show the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on certain communities. Those numbers show that Latinos are being hospitalized at almost four times the rate of whites. Polling has also shown that Latinos are less likely to trust a vaccine.
(Photo Credit – BBC News)
So why is that? I spoke with Dr. Eva Galvez. She’s a family physician at Virginia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro, Ore. Most of her patients are first and second-generation Latinos.
EVA GALVEZ: There continues to be just a lack of accurate information available to the community about the vaccine. So in other words, information that we are reading in different media platforms is often not in a language or at a literacy level that my patients can understand. So definitely this leads to many questions and also leads to much misinformation. What often happens is when people don’t have access to accurate information, they rely on other platforms, word of mouth, social media, and those are often not accurate. And we have seen anti-immigrant rhetoric. We’ve seen anti-immigrant policies. And there’s just mistrust, I think, of the federal government. And so when you have what they perceive as a federal government trying to bring a vaccine to the community, naturally there is some mistrust, and there is fear.
MARTIN: Do you see that fear and distrust across the board, or is it more acute among undocumented immigrants?
GALVEZ: We have a lot of mixed-status families, so even families who maybe have the documents to be in this country, they’re worried about grandma or aunt or uncle or Mom and Dad who don’t have documents. So, really, this fear is being seen whether or not people have legal status.
MARTIN: Is there a particular anecdote you can share, a conversation you’ve had with someone who was honest about those fears or concerns?
GALVEZ: Yeah, absolutely. It was a family who came in to get care for their children. And so the visit really was not a visit for Mom and Dad. But Mom asked me if the vaccine was safe, and she had heard some information on a social media platform that the vaccine had long-term side effects and that the vaccine was actually risky. And then she asked me, how can you ensure that this vaccine is safe? And then what I told her was that we had done very many studies, and it had gone through a rigorous process and that, based on my reading, that it was safe. And what I conveyed to her was that all vaccines have side effects, but that the risks of the side effects generally are less than the benefits of getting the vaccine. And that was how we ended up leaving the conversation. So she didn’t tell me that she was going to get the vaccine, but she certainly seemed open to the vaccine. And so it’s really fighting two battles here. One is trying to convince people that the vaccine is safe and that it is important, but at the same time is also trying to rectify all of those messages that they have been getting from other sources. So these conversations really do take time.
This year has been a huge year for Zoom, as families and friends around the world have turned to the video chat service to stay in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft Teams just barreled into the room to make Zoom look a little silly by comparison.
According to The Verge, Microsoft’s primarily business-focused video call app is getting a free tier with a 24-hour time limit on calls just in time for the holidays.
As many as 300 people can jam into one room, with a gallery view that can display up to 49 of them on one screen. (Zoom has a max of 100 participants for Basic and Pro users.) There’s also a feature called Together Mode that will arrange everyone’s video feeds so it looks like they’re sitting together in a theater or coffee shop. If your family is that big, feel free to go nuts with Microsoft Teams — and good luck following the conversation.
Calls can be started and joined from a web browser so you don’t need to download an app. Whoever starts the call will need a Microsoft account, which you should have on hand if you’ve ever used Office or an Xbox but is pretty easy to set up if you haven’t. Crucially, folks who don’t have Microsoft accounts can join calls.
Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.
This inspiring group of innovators is changing the Latinx community’s perspective, featuring plus-size model Ady Del Valle, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, WNBA Diana Taurasi, writer, actor, rapper, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and activist Luis Miranda, supreme court judge Sonia Sotomayor, fiction and non-fiction author Carmen Maria Machado.
Luis A. Miranda, Jr., left and Lin-Manuel Miranda at the
IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village.
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Acura)
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda Writer, actor, rapper, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has grown quite the platform since the success of his Broadway hit musical Hamilton. But even before the hip-hop musical’s success, Miranda has used his growing platform to advocate for causes that are important to him, from issues of racial equality to the need to vote, and has done so with his long-time activist father, Luis Miranda. Luis has been an integral part of Latino rights in the United States, working directly on Senate campaigns, serving as the Director of Hispanic Affairs in New York City, educating Latinx people on voting, and in his latest endeavor, providing direct relief to Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In honor of Luis’s dedication to activism, Lin and Luis have produced the HBO documentary, Siempre, Luis, which follows Luis Miranda’s life fighting for equality and preservation. The documentary aired on October 6, with the goal of using the Miranda family’s platform to educate more people and to raise awareness of Latinx issues.
Ady Del Valle and the Latinx Creative The modeling and fashion industries have shaped the world’s perception of beauty for years, but the models displaying these beauty standards are often portraying only one body type, race, and sexuality. However, plus-size Latinx model Ady Del Valle decided it was time to share the voices that often aren’t heard. Through his organization, The Latinx Creative, Del Valle has showcased an array of Hispanic creatives and their work, including other plus-size models. Del Valle, in collaboration with other Latinx plus size models Frankie Tavares, Luis Cruz, Taylee De Castro, Yaznil Baez, and Kengie Smith, has been credited to sparking a “plus-size revolution” serving as a representation of beauty that defies the norm. De Valle further uses his platform for inclusivity to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and defying gender norms.
Alex Padilla California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has been a beacon of change throughout his entire political career. Padilla has been on government committees since he was just 26 years old and served as the first Latino and youngest president of the Los Angeles City Council at age 28. Working in the very community he was brought up in when his parents immigrated to the United States, Padilla has used his role on City Council and as the Chair of the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications to advocate for the needs of the community. Under Padilla’s leadership, Los Angeles has received improved legislations on public and private educations, stopping crime rates, increasing budget, decreasing obesity and diabetes cases, better utilize technology, and much more. In Padilla’s new position as State Secretary, he has focused much of 2020 on properly handling COVID-19 health procedures and ensuring voting accessibility throughout the state of California.
Diana Taurasi The recipient of countless WNBA awards, four Olympic gold medals, five scoring titles, three FIBA world cups, and numerous offers to play for the All-Star teams, Diana Taurasi is one of the biggest names in basketball in the modern age. Playing for the Phoenix Mercury since 2004, Taurasi has become the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, often making the crucial last-minute plays that give Phoenix its victories. Despite suffering recent injuries, Taurasi has been using this year to better improve her game and the world around her. She worked diligently to honor Kobe Bryant after his passing in early March, is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and is back to playing at peak performance post-injury, giving her great consideration to be the WNBA’s MVP of the Year.
Sonia Sotomayor Even before she became the first Latina supreme court judge in 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has always worked hard for her success. Being inspired by her single mother, who always emphasized the importance of receiving an education, Sotomayor attended Princeton University and Yale Law School, earning her J.D. and passing the bar exam by the age of 26. After working as a trial lawyer for a District Attorney and within her own practice, Sotomayor was appointed to the Southern District of New York at age 38, Bush the U.S. Second Circuit Court at age 43, and the Supreme Court at age 55. On the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has played an integral role in advocating for equal opportunity and civil liberties, helping pass the Affordable Health Care Act and the legalization of gay marriage. As of 2020, Sonia Sotomayor has been donating much of her time to advocating for immigrants, racial equality, and protection from COVID-19.
Carmen Maria Machado Carmen Maria Machado is a fiction and non-fiction author who uses a blend of genres to create stories that raise awareness of social issues in a Jordan Peele like fashion. Of the 20 plus stories she has written, Machado has received an especially high amount of success for her books, Her Body and Other Parties, an analogy on the dehumanization of the woman’s body, and In the Dream House, the heavily inspired true story of Machado’s abusive relationship. Her stories have earned her published spots in big-name titles such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, has received tremendous praise and an overwhelming number of awards, nominations, fellowships, grants, and residencies. Machado’s non-fiction works also contribute to enhancing conversation and bringing awareness as she often writes of personal experiences, Latinx culture, and women’s rights.
It takes a special village to raise a Native doctor, and in the case of Kelsey Motanic, Umatilla, and Coeur d’Alene, the village includes the AISES family.
As her father, I can take credit for starting her AISES family connection. I’ve been a member since 1981 and served on the Board of Directors (1999–2002), the Winds of Change Editorial Advisory Council (2001), the Local Planning Committees for several National Conferences (1988, 1993, 2000, and 2009), and the AISES Finance Committee (2000–2020). I also was an exhibitor at the National Conference Career Fair for more than three decades (1986–2019). My wife, and Kelsey’s mother, Mary Beth, a registered nurse, has also been a part of the AISES family volunteering at National Conferences. During the 1980s, most exhibitors were engineering companies, and health care students used to stop by my forestry exhibit to thank me for being about the environment. Happily, these days all exhibitors, including the engineering companies, have an environmental and sustainability focus.
Kelsey first encountered the AISES family when she was a 12-year-old doing her homework in a room at the BPA Building in Portland during a 2000 National Conference planning meeting. At the 2009 National Conference, she heard Dr. Bret Benally Thompson talk about his experience as a medical student and doctor, which helped inspire her to apply to and complete medical school at the University of New Mexico. During that conference, she also sat next to John Herrington, and they compared their GRE and MCAT preparation exams toward the Ph.D. and MD they would achieve, respectively. Kelsey also received her Sequoyah medal at that 2009 conference. I worked with Shirley Jaramillo on National Conferences at that time, and Shirley would become an extended family member for Kelsey in Albuquerque while she completed her four years of medical school.
The importance of our AISES family circle was underscored this spring when Kelsey finished her three-year medical residency with the Seattle Indian Health Board at Swedish Medical Center. During her last three years, she reconnected with a mentor, Polly Olsen, Yakama, who had helped Kelsey apply to medical school programs in 2009. Kelsey found out that Polly’s family picked huckleberries in the same fields as my family. This AISES family reconnection is also multi-generational because Polly’s uncle was the late Richard “Dick” French, an Ely S. Parker Award recipient and the person who inspired me to become involved with the AISES family in 1981.
Kelsey spent the last challenging months of her residency working the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle at the hospitals while also living next to Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (a focus of international news during the George Floyd protests). She found out that I had also lived in that same Capitol Hill area while I attended the University of Washington during the time of the Fort Lawton Native Occupation and the 1975 George Jackson Brigade attack on the Seattle watershed. I was then a firefighter for the City of Seattle and on the watch for any Brigade attack.
Kelsey and I were both first responders living and working in the same location during historic Seattle events, but nearly 45 years apart, and we’ve both lived to share our stories. Kelsey will continue putting “family” into family practice because she will start her own practice near family as a physician with the Puyallup Tribe.
For the past 25 years, Don Motanic, Umatilla and Coeur d’ Alene, has been a technical specialist for the Intertribal Timber Council. Motanic spent most of his career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, starting in 1978 after receiving his forest engineering degree at the University of Washington. He was a forest engineer at Yakama and a forest manager with his Umatilla Tribe as well as with the Spokane Tribe, where his mother grew up. He’s been president and vice president of the Lower Columbia/Willamette River AISES Professional Chapter (1995–2020) and lives in Brush Prairie, Wash.
“Sí se puede” is a powerful phrase that was coined by labor activist Dolores Huerta, who pushed for better working conditions and rights for farmworkers.
(It was also used as an empowering chant by a group of Latina cheerleaders in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Gotta Kick it Up! featuring award-winning actress America Ferrera).
Today, the phrase continues to serve as an empowering message for Latinas in the form of a new nonpartisan digital community platform known as “She Se Puede” (with a particular emphasis on the word, “she”).
She Se Puede—launched by actress-activists Eva Longoria Baston and America Ferrera, and a group of passionate Latina leaders—aims to empower Latinas “to realize and act on their own power.”
The platform gives Latinas an opportunity to celebrate their impact and achievements, connect with community resources, and be inspired by diverse lifestyle content highlighting Latinas.
“America and I worked with Dolores for decades and we just wanted to have her blessings because there’s such history in ‘Sí se puede,'” Eva told GMA.
“It was birthed from me and America and Zoe Saldana, and we were all campaigning in Florida, advocating for yet another candidate on a stage, giving talking points and we were going, ‘Why aren’t we advocating for ourselves? Where’s the community? And not only of Latinos, but specifically of Latinas,'” Eva said.
Too often, Latinas are underrepresented in entertainment, government, and other aspects of society. Their voices are often excluded from the narrative, which is why the idea for “She Se Puede” came into conception to embolden and inspire Latinas to trust in their power.
“Unless and until we believe in our own potential and realize our own power, we will remain underrepresented as a political and cultural force,” said America Ferrera.
The goal for “She Se Puede” is to build a unique digital community and lifestyle platform “for Latinas, by Latinas” by publishing relatable and inspiring, everyday lifestyle content ranging from health, food parenting, beauty, to civic engagement. It’s also an opportunity to help provide Latinas with the tools they need to own their power.
Eva and America have both encouraged Latinas to share their “She Se Puede” moments on social media to engage and inspire a growing and close-knit Latina community where women see themselves reflected through everyday, raw moments.
Eva recently shared a Facebook photo of herself breastfeeding her son while working on set as a director. Eva posted, “This is my She Se Puede moment! This [photograph] was taken when I was directing right after my son was born. Breastfeeding on set, pumping milk on my breaks, and directing a television show was challenging. But I did it! And I knew I could because we (Latinas) can accomplish anything! Follow @she_sepuede and celebrate a moment you’re proud of with #shesepuede for a chance to be featured.”
In September—just a few weeks before the presidential election—She Se Puede posted a call out on Instagram encouraging Latinas interested to join the “She Se Puede Power Squad.” It was part of an effort to encourage Latinas from across the country to step up and transform their lives, communities, and country by acting as community ambassadors.
For Eva, the platform is very much an empowering state of mind for Latinas:
“So when we say empowerment, we mean we want Latinas to feel empowered in everything that they do, from their careers, to their workouts, to what food they eat, and even how they can request their mail-in ballot,” said Eva.
The digital platform was officially created by a team of Latina leaders passionate about mobilizing and creating change in the community: Alex Martínez Kondracke, America Ferrera, Carmen Perez, Christy Haubegger, Elsa Collins, Eva Longoria Bastón, Jess Morales Rocketto, Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura, and Stephanie Valencia.
Eva Longoria: From Desperate Housewives to Political Activist
Eva has used her influence as a Latina actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist to make a positive impact in the Latina community.
Known as the character Gabrielle Solis in the comedy-drama series, Desperate Housewives, Eva has often looked to the show’s storytelling and execution in her own journey as a producer. The show first aired its pilot in October 2004, putting her in the spotlight.
“For her, the Desperate Housewives pilot was a masterclass in how to create and launch a TV show, and she says she still uses what she learned from that experience as a producer launching her own shows,” Variety said.
The 2017 Philanthropist of the Year has also used her platform as an actress to shed light on other critical issues ranging from politics to better education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Latinas.
Eva has also been a prominent advocate for disability rights and amplifying the voices of Latinos in politics.
She has been associated with many different charities and foundations over the years, with a focus on advocating for various causes affecting women and children.
In 2006, she co-founded Eva’s Heroes, an organization that aims to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual special needs.
Eva’s Heroes is an organization that is very near and dear to her heart, as she has a sister with special needs. “I am blessed with a sister who has special needs. Now, I want to impact the lives of similar young adults nationwide,” said Eva.
With her entrepreneurial spirit and inspiring advocacy career, Eva has long been fighting for more representation of Latino political leaders, co-founding Latino Victory Fund, a progressive political committee to help grow Latino political power and influence.
Most recently, she headlined and opened up the 2020 Democratic National Convention with an inspiring speech about saving our democracy and making our voices heard:
“So, tonight we stand together, united by the values we cherish: Decency, respect, justice, and the opportunity to rise up. We always hear that line about this being the most important election of our lifetimes, but this year, it really is.”
In her keynote speech, she also acknowledged the lives lost and impacted by COVID-19, compounded by immense job loss and division. “Yet, in the middle of the fear and sorrow and uncertainty, people have come together because they know we are better than this. America is better than this,” she added.
It wasn’t long until Eva received criticism for headlining the convention from Marco Rubio in a tweet that said, “Brilliant move! No one is more in touch with the challenges & obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors & celebrities.”
Eva hosted the DNC, not just as an actress, but also as a Latina woman with immense influence and advocacy for different important causes affecting women and the Latino community, said Refinery29.
Beyond her trailblazing work and committing to better Latino representation, she is also committed to empowering and supporting the Latino community through education and entrepreneurship opportunities.
In 2013, Eva received her master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge. She has also worked tirelessly to help advocate for more Latino representation and job opportunities for Latinos in the Hollywood entertainment industry. USC Annenberg reported that between 2007 and 2013, only 3 percent of films featured leads or co-leads with Latino actors. And, of the films that were analyzed, only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters were Latino in the past decade.
Through her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, Eva has been committed to investing in Latino community leaders and entrepreneurs. She recently joined forces with the Latino Community Foundation to continue supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California during the “Coming of Age” 15th anniversary gala in May 2020.
During the gala, Eva announced a new initiative aimed at investing and supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California. Proceeds from the gala supported Latino organizations that provide vital services to low-income families that are impacted by wage loss as well as California farmworkers and their families.
Eva has long been an outspoken advocate for Latino representation and has empowered Latina youth through various mentorship and STEM programs at the Eva Longoria Foundation.
The foundation’s programs help narrow the opportunity gap that many Latinas face through culturally relevant programs, such as STEM education, mentorship, parent engagement, and entrepreneurship.
The Eva Longoria Foundation says Latinas are a rapidly growing demographic with immense potential, but they “disproportionately lack educational opportunities and face economic challenges.”
The goal of the foundation is to close the education gap and help Latinas build better futures through education and entrepreneurship.
Along with supporting and empowering Latino youth, Eva is passionate about civic engagement, empowering Latino voters, and advocating for more Latino representation in politics.
She co-founded the Latino Victory Project—a progressive political action committee–to elevate the voices of Latinos through politics and increase representation “at every level of government.”
In July, Eva headlined a kickoff event announcing Latino Victory Fund’s launch of the First Latinas program geared toward electing “trailblazing Latinas” to increase Latina representation in government and other aspects of political life.
Whether it’s saving our democracy to empowering youth and advocating for women, Eva has become an outspoken and much-needed voice in the Latina community.
America Ferrera: From Ugly Betty to Advocating for the Rights of Women
As an award-winning actress, producer, director, activist, organizer, and the proud daughter of immigrants from Honduras, America Ferrera has paved the way for Latina representation, speaking out about pressing political issues, and encouraging women to be in “decision-making roles” by getting a seat at the table.
In the early 2000s, America appeared as a Latina lead in the cult-favorite ABC comedy series Ugly Betty and the movie Real Women Have Curves, along with countless other groundbreaking lead roles. She has also gone on to star in the NBC show Superstore and has produced and directed several TV shows.
She has also received countless awards and was recognized as the first Latina to win an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for her lead role in Ugly Betty.
“I don’t fit in traditional boxes for women on screen. When I became an actress, my mere presence was a revolution because I wasn’t supposed to exist in this industry,” America told net-a-porter in an interview.
America has spoken out about the need for Latinas to see themselves represented on television. In an interview with the New York Times, America talked about the importance of diverse storytelling and representation:
“Our writers aren’t sort of pulling issues from the headlines. They are mostly driven by the characters in the show. And this is where the real necessity for diversity is exemplified. It’s so that the storytelling is rich and compelling and relevant to today because that is what our world actually looks like. That is what our culture should be reflective of—all the different points of view and real-life experiences that one has as an America.”
America is also a storyteller herself: She wrote a New York Times bestselling book, American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, which highlights the experience of growing up between cultures.
Perhaps America’s most notable role off-screen is one as an advocate for women and helping Latinas and women of color recognize their true power and influence.
She has continued to advocate for women across the globe. She recently served as a keynote speaker for the Texas Women’s Foundation virtual luncheon September 29, 2020.
Her keynote address highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for women and empowering them to speak out about their experiences. It was also an opportunity to discuss her book, which features essays of 31 other first-generation American artists and activists who share their personal accounts of assimilating in America and staying connected to their roots.
One of her most impactful and life-changing moments was when she was invited as the opening speaker at the historic inaugural Women’s March in D.C. in 2017, where she used her platform as an actress and women and civil rights advocate to create and inspire change.
America is no stranger to speaking out against injustices. She has also spoken out about various issues concerning immigration, the environment, and healthcare. She talked about the importance of the Women’s March and how that day continued to impact and inspire change:
“None of us knew how historical the march would be. We’ve lost so much ground in this country going backwards, making people’s lives less equal and dignified. I think back to that day: we’re not alone, people will show up,” America told net-a-porter.
America’s experience at the historic Women’s March was something that continued to inspire her advocacy through her nonprofit organization, Harness. She began thinking of innovative ways to mobilize and bring communities together through the power of love, relationship building, and sustaining movements.
In an excerpt from “Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World” as quoted by Time Magazine, America talked about the impact of the Women’s March and the need to continue talking about channeling energy into sustaining the movement: “Our gatherings grew into an organization called Harness. We bring people together in the hope that those wanting to use their voices can do it from a deeper, more rooted place, because they are invested in real, personal relationships. That’s the fuel. The people you meet, the bodies you hug, the stories you hear. We don’t have to worry about people going home and forgetting what they heard and what they need to do. You don’t forget about people you know and love—you carry them in your heart. If we can bring that ethic of community and love into our daily lives, I believe we can sustain the movement.”
In 2016, America addressed the Democratic National Convention and later that year. After the events that transpired after the election, she launched Harness, along with her husband, Ryan Pier Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama.
The organization features a robust community of artists, activists, as well as entertainment leaders to elevate the experiences of marginalized communities. Today, Harness is more critical than ever during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 200,000 Americans and continued racial injustice.
In an interview with Vogue, America talked about the decisions that others make about the lives of others and the importance of art and spreading political awareness:
“People make decisions every single day that impact my life—the air I breathe, my ability to walk down the street and be safe, how much money I make for the job I do, whether I can choose what happens to my body. And at every important social moment in our history, artists have played a role. It doesn’t have to be about marching. The art itself has a role to play. At the end of the day, it’s about wielding that sword with awareness.”
America also hasn’t shied away from getting political and speaking out about inequalities and injustice to women. She shared her personal experience as a survivor of childhood sexual assault during #MeToo:
“First time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9 years old…I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man,” America told Variety.
She also went on to show solidarity with leaders and activists during the launch of the Time’s Up Movement, an initiative that aims to address issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace and the need for more advocacy for women. Several Hollywood leaders and celebrities like America and Shonda Rhimes committed to the movement’s mission in solidarity.
According to InStyle, America was one of the “first women in Hollywood who listened when 700,000 blue-collar women wrote an open letter offering support for those who’ve publicly shared their sexual harassment stories.”
In 2019, America helped mobilize and lead a group of actors including Eva, Kerry Washington, and others to meet with immigrant lawyers and migrant families seeking asylum.
America was deeply concerned about the Trump Administration policies and treatment of refugees. She told NBC News that the visit to the shelter in Tijuana was an opportunity to educate others on important issues.
She referenced being a mom and holding her newborn just the previous year, and thinking about the lack of running water or clean food that many refugees who are trying to seek asylum are denied: “How dire would my situation have to be to grab this brand new child and walk for a month, with no access to clean water and food, not knowing what I would meet along the way, to try and seek asylum and safety and refuge because my situation was so bad?” America questioned.
Over the years, America has become an empowering force in the Latina community. She’s been a much-needed voice speaking out about issues that concern women.
The Future of ‘She Se Puede’
Both America and Eva have made an impact speaking out about important issues affecting our communities, while empowering Latinas to tap into their inner strength and power.
The launch of She Se Puede comes at a critical time in the wake of important movements amplifying the impact of women, particularly Latinas.
As prominent Latina women with immense influence, both Eva and America are committed to continuing to uplift the voices of Latina women both online and offline.
She Se Puede continues to be a hopeful and optimistic digital community platform that addresses Latinas’ unique needs and provides ongoing support and resources to empower change.
“She Se Puede is the destination for the modern Latina who wants to level up her life. We celebrate our diverse experiences and dreams, and provide the tools we need to own our power. She Se Puede is a community for Latinas, by Latinas.”