In ‘Siempre, Luis’ a look at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biggest inspiration — his father
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Luis and Lin-Manuel Miranda together at a premiere

When Luis Miranda arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico in the 1970s, he looked like many young students of his time, with his jeans and shaggy hair. In the Big Apple, though, he realized that not everyone wanted people like him. Instead of culture shock, he experienced discrimination. “It didn’t matter if you were a janitor or a PhD student,” Miranda recalled, “what they saw was Puerto Rican, some brown person, some brown kid. Not a real American.”

Miranda went on to become an activist, a government official, a political consultant, and a loving father to three children—including his son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash, “Hamilton.” Now the older Miranda, who has long been a behind-the-scenes player in Democratic politics, is in the spotlight in a new documentary, “Siempre, Luis,” debuting October 6 on HBO and HBO Max.

A camera crew spent a year following Miranda around, capturing his family life, political work, heath issues and humanitarian efforts. Watching the film, Miranda told NBC News, was an emotional experience for him.

“What comes to mind is how many great people I have met and known throughout my life; people who either convinced me that I had to join their fight, or I convinced that they had to join me, and together we have moved forward,” he said. “It was a reminder of how many people have helped me, (and) that I didn’t have time to thank them all.”

Luis A. Miranda Jr., 66, was born in the town of Vega Alta in Puerto Rico. A sharp student, he headed for New York City in the 1970s to continue his graduate work, inspired by—of all things—the character played by Debbie Reynolds in the 1964 movie musical, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

In Nueva York, Miranda became an advocate for the city’s Latino residents, who were then predominantly Puerto Rican. By the 1980s, Miranda was a special advisor to Mayor Ed Koch, eventually becoming the Director of the Mayor’s Office for Hispanic Affairs.

In 1990, Miranda founded the non-profit Hispanic Federation, and has also been a key Democratic political consultant, working on U.S. Senate campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s as well as Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s, D-NY, who became the first Dominican American in the U.S. Congress.

Miranda has been a champion of his son’s ambitions as well. When a young, struggling Lin-Manuel received an offer for a full-time teaching job, his father advised him to follow his dreams instead. He helped promote his son’s off-Broadway musical “In The Heights” until it became successful and transferred to Broadway.

In fact, the younger Miranda credits his Dad as being part of his inspiration for “Hamilton”—Founding Father Alexander Hamilton also arrived in New York from the Caribbean—he was from the island of Nevis. “When I was playing him, I was just playing my father,” said Lin-Manuel.

“Siempre, Luis” highlights the devastating impact that Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico in 2017, and in the documentary, Miranda cries as he recalled the destruction. “For me, Puerto Rico is this untouchable, perfect place,” he says in the film, “that all of a sudden, doesn’t exist anymore.” A central focus of the film is the lengthy process, that was not without controversy, by which Miranda and Lin-Manuel bring a production of “Hamilton” to the island as a way of raising funds for Puerto Rico’s recovery.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article. 

Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Acura

NASA astronaut has a message for Latinx STEM students: ‘We need you’
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Astronaut Ellen Ochoa training with NASA

By Penelope Lopez of ABC 

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa has a message for the next generation of Latinx students who are aspiring to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields: “We need you.”

“We need your minds. We need your creativity,” she told ABC News.

Ochoa, a first generation Mexican-American, made history in the Latinx community as NASA’s first Hispanic astronaut. She took her first space flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She was also the first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and spent nearly 1,000 hours in space during four shuttle missions.

As the chair of the National Science Board, Ochoa is constantly championing a more inclusive work environment.

“Look at the demographics of our country. They are changing … we have to involve the people in our country. And increasingly, of course, that is people of some kind of Latino or Hispanic heritage,” she said.

For young Latinx students, working in the STEM fields is no longer something out of reach.

“STEM fields offer a unique opportunity to change the world, one person at a time,” said India Carranza, a first generation Puerto Rican and Salvadorian high school junior who aspires to be a physiotherapist. “And being able to help people through their paths and different journeys is one of the unique opportunities of the STEM field.”

Today, Latinx individuals make up nearly 20% of the U.S population and yet just 7% of the STEM workforce.

Continue to ABC News to read the full article 

For first time, heads of all California’s public education systems are Black or Latino
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Headshot of Joseph Castro

California is the most diverse state in the nation, so having a diverse leadership of its schools and colleges shouldn’t be that notable.

But it is. Even for California.

This January when Joseph Castro, a Mexican-American and native Californian, becomes chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, for the first time, leaders of color will head up all four systems of public education in the state.

All will have an impact by being powerful role models for the millions of students, faculty and staff in the systems they lead.  A fundamental question, however, is whether the new leadership will translate into concrete changes that create more equitable institutions and contribute to improved education outcomes.

Leaders in the field think it is more likely that it will.

“Diversification of leadership is quite important and significant to meeting the goals of racial equity,” said Adrianna Kezar, director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. “Certainly others are capable of such leadership, but the ability to speak from your heart and authentically about this issue and to have a vision for a direction forward is much more likely to happen with leaders of color.”

In addition to Castro, Dr. Michael Drake, who is African American, became president of the nine-campus University of California system in August. Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who is Latino, is chancellor of the 116 colleges that make up the California community colleges.

Then there is State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who was elected in 2018 to oversee the state’s vast K-12 public education system. Of mixed African American and Panamanian background, he is only the second African American schools chief since the legendary Wilson Riles occupied the post for a dozen years until 1982. Out of 50 state schools chiefs, only one other is Black and a half dozen are Latinos or Latinas.

Together the four Californians — all of them men — oversee institutions with enrollments of nine million students, more than the enrollments in most countries.  Their student bodies are extraordinarily diverse, with white students comprising 26 percent or less of their enrollments, depending on the system.

If this new generation of leaders is able to improve the educational success of their students, they will have an outsize impact not only on California’s future, but on the nation as a whole. How they work together will also make a difference as the state attempts to create a more unified “cradle to career” system of education.

What’s also notable is that they are leading their institutions at a time of extraordinary activism and ferment around a range of issues related to racial equity. With that energy and momentum behind them, that could help them move forward on these issues within their institutions. It could also make running them more complicated.

Continue to EdSource to read the full article.

Photo Credit: California State University Press

Sunny Hostin Is Revealing Her Truths—And Urging Black And Latina Women To Do The Same
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Sunny Hostin at a premiere

By Brianne Garrett

Sunny Hostin will never forget where she came from. Before the Emmy Award-winning co-host joined the cast of The View in 2016, she was a senior legal correspondent for ABC News, a legal analyst for CNN and before that a federal prosecutor.

“I’m a lawyer first,” says Hostin, an active member of the National Black Prosecutors Association. As a lawyer, advocacy—especially for underserved youth of color—has always been a big priority. “The 15-year-old kid who got arrested for marijuana possession, does that have to be a felony?” asks Hostin. “Or can that be a diversion program where he gets drug treatment or he gets community service and it gets wiped off his record?”

As a television host and correspondent, she’s sought to advocate for social justice issues. But when it came to systemic racism, it didn’t occur to Hostin until recently that her testimony could expose and, hopefully, help correct it. That realization informed the basis of her new book, I Am These Truths, a detailed account of her journey from the housing projects of the South Bronx to her seat on The View.

Hostin, a proud “Afro-Latina” woman, as she calls herself, hasn’t always embraced her multicultural roots. Born in 1968 to a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father, she spent much of her life feeling ostracized for checking more than one box. “I grew up living in the grey,” she says. “I was otherized.”

The memoir, published in English and Spanish at the suggestion of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was published in September. It was originally slated to be one of two books released by Hostin this year. But the other, Summer on the Bluffs, her debut novel about the Black beach community of Martha’s Vineyard, was postponed until 2021. In light of heightened police brutality and racial injustice, Hostin believed releasing her memoir was more important.

“When you’re telling a story, you have to humanize it; people need testimony,” says Hostin. “I thought, ‘I’ll be the face of this story.’” It wasn’t an easy feat for a journalist used to telling others’ stories. But the book is filled with honest, unfiltered stories, including one about her parents’ experience with housing discrimination.

The book is, in many ways, a risk for Hostin, who exposes a great deal about the discrimination she’s faced as a public-facing media professional, even at her current employer, Disney. Requests to remove such content didn’t hold her back. Hostin’s experiences not receiving her own dressing room like other hosts, being told to “stay in her lane” when it came to coverage and getting paid less than her white colleagues with fewer credentials all made it into the memoir. “I think it’s important to call out that kind of behavior,” Hostin says. “Whether it was intentional or not.”

Continue to Forbes to read the full article. 

Photo Credit: Getty, (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)

Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez on being a Latina trailblazer — and healing from abuse
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Laurie Hernandez doing gymnastics

Gymnast Laurie Hernandez’s living room is decorated with many photographs. But two are the most special—one shows her parents praying before her performance at the 2016 Olympics and the other is of them hugging her afterwards.

“I love those photos,” Hernandez told NBC News. “Going to the Olympics, competing and then looking into the crowd and seeing my parents, that was one of the sweetest things I could possibly ever have witnessed…It’s just a big reminder as to how much support my parents have given me in all of this.”

Her Puerto Rican parents, Wanda and Anthony Hernandez, were watching their then-teenage daughter make history as the first Latina gymnast to represent the United States at the Olympics since 2004 — while also bringing home some medals. Hernandez won silver on the balance beam and gold on the team event alongside fellow USA gymnasts, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Madison Kocian.

“There was so much representation, from Black women to white women, a Hispanic girl, so I think that was a really important thing for just the globe to see,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said her fans will learn more about how she trains during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as “how I was raised and who my parents are” in the new Peacock Original documentary series “True Colors,” starring her and other Hispanic trailblazers, such as the actor Mario Lopez, the former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

“You’ll be able to get a really good feel as to why I am the way I am and why my siblings are the way we are,” Hernandez, who’s currently training for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, said. “It’s been, definitely, a crazy ride. I’m only 20 and I feel like I’ve lived three lives already.”

Hernandez remembers being very passionate about the sport since a very young age. When she was still just a little girl training in New Jersey, she looked at her parents and said: “Hey, like I want to go to the Olympics. … I have all these crazy dreams.”

“They could have very easily been like, ‘You’re a child. You came out of the womb nine years ago, maybe let’s try something else.’ But they didn’t. Instead, they hit me with the ‘well, if this is what you want, then how can we help you?'” Hernandez recalled.

At the 2016 Olympics, her parents were praying “that I don’t wipe out,” while competing, she said.

“I didn’t realize it until after Rio. We had all sat down away from cameras and talked about it. And they were like, we really questioned if we were being good parents by letting you stay in it because you’re getting hurt over and over again, which is part of the sport,” Hernandez said. “But after getting surgery in 2014, they saw how determined I was and they were like, ‘OK, we can’t pull that away from her.'”

Continue to Today.com to read the full article. 

McDonald’s Is Awarding $1 Million In Scholarships To Assist Hispanic Students During Pandemic
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Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education loans

McDonald’s is proud to announce the company’s “HACER® More Scholarship,” that is providing 100 additional scholarships for Hispanic students as an extension of the annual HACER® National Scholarship.

Through HACER, McDonald’s is committing $1 million to assist Hispanic students this academic year, by helping alleviate the stress ofhigher education costs.

According to the Pew Research Center, half of Hispanics said they worry daily or nearly every day about financial issues like paying their bills, the amount of debt they carry and the cost of health care, and more 1 . The increased financial strain caused by the pandemic has also created uncertainty as parents and students work to fund and continue higher education. As a result, McDonald’s created the “HACER® More Scholarship” to help more students pursue college degrees despite the pandemic. So, in 2020, 100 additional scholarships will be awarded, bringing the total to 130, versus 30 in 2019. The additional scholarship recipients will be selected from the 2019 HACER National Scholarship pool of applicants that meet the existing criteria for the scholarship and will be enrolled in school for spring of 2021. “HACER® More Scholarship” recipients will be selected in October, allowing them to use the funds for the current academic year.

“Despite the difficulty of this time, students are showing their resiliency by continuing their education ,” said Santiago Negre, HACER® scholarship committee judge and head of McDonald’s National Hispanic Consumer Market Committee. “McDonald’s and our owner/operators are committed to our communities and customers, so we are honored to contribute to the educational pursuits of Hispanic students through the HACER® National Scholarship program, having done so for the last 35 years.”

The McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is one of the largest programs committed to college scholarships. Since 1985, it has awarded $31.5 million to Hispanic college students pursuing their higher education dreams. This year, in addition toreceiving scholarships, the 30 winners of the 2020 HACER® National Scholarship received a “tech backpack” that included a laptop, wireless mouse, and headphones—some of the tools needed to succeed in a virtual learning environment.

“It’s a huge relief to know even with the difficulties we’re all facing this year, like adapting to a new way of learning, keeping ourselves and our families safe, and more, that I no longer have to worry about the burden of tuition costs thanks to McDonald’s,” 1. “Coronavirus Economic Downturn Has Hit Latinos Especially Hard.” Pew Re search Center, Washington D.C. (August 4, 2020) https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2020/08/04/coronavirus-economic-downturn-has-hit-latinos-especially-hard/ said Vladimir Rosales, one of the 2020 HACER® National Scholarship winners, awarded $100,000 to attend San Jose State University in California. “I’m thankful that this year McDonald’s is not only supporting me in achieving my higher education goals but is also giving another 100 Hispanic students the same opportunity.”

The McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is just one of many company initiatives created to educate the next generation of youth. This includes the Black & Positively Golden Scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship program for Asian and Pacific-Islander American students. The Archways to Opportunity program for crew gives eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants the ability to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language.

Hispanic college-bound high school seniors and their parents are encouraged to visit mcdonalds.com/hacer for additional college resources in English and Spanish and for details on how to apply for the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship.

The scholarship application period for the next academic year opens on October 5, 2020 and runs through February 3, 2021.
HACER and McDonald's logo
ABOUT McDONALD’S
McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook. www.facebook.com/mcdonalds .

How Columbus Day became Indigenous Peoples’ Day in over 130 US cities
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Indigenous Peoples' Day art

It took Christopher Columbus about nine weeks to reach the New World from Spain — and his critics more than half a century to start convincing US cities to ditch the holiday honoring the moment.

In 1992, Berkeley, Calif., became the first city to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day — and now, nearly 30 years later, there are more than 130 cities and 15 states that have either followed suit or chosen to mark both.

“It’s become a trend,” said Baley Champagne, a tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation, to NPR last year, after successfully lobbying Louisiana’s governor to make the switch to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

We’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero because of the hurt that he caused to indigenous people of America,’’ she said of Columbus. “I think it’s long overdue.’’

Shannon Speed, a Chickasaw Nation citizen and director of UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center, was more blunt to the outlet.

“Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent — which included pillaging, raping and generally setting in motion a genocide of the people who were already here.

“That’s not something we want to celebrate,” she said. “That’s not something anyone wants to celebrate.”

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Columbus Day a federal holiday in 1934, it’s likely he had no idea the controversy he would create.

The annual holiday was set for the second Monday in October, traditionally feted with parades largely organized by Italian American groups.

But indigenous people — furious at seeing the Italian explorer elevated to hero status while representing the brutal European conquering of their ancestors — fought back against the holiday.

Continue to the New York Post to red the full article. 

LatinxPitch: The Twelve Authors Creating Diversity in Publishing
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Grid photo of the twelve LatinxPitch authors

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, about 25% of the United States’ children are a part of the Latinx community, yet they are the most underrepresented ethnic group in children’s books.

In a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, they found that only 5% of the thousands of children’s books available had Latinx main characters. This is not only odd in terms of the importance of representation and racial equality, but economically as Latinx community makes up for about $1.5 trillion of the United States’ buying power.

One of the main beliefs for this underrepresentation appears to come from the publishing industry itself. Over 70% of publishers are Caucasian and as a result, create stories that are more familiar to their own stories or are out of touch with the Latinx community.

To combat this underrepresentation, twelve authors of the Latinx community have come together to form LatinxPitch, an organization dedicated to creating proper Latinx representation in literature and increasing the number of Latinx people in the industry. Beginning on September 15th, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, the group invited Latinx authors to use their Twitter platform to pitch ideas for children’s and young adult stories of varying genres. At the same time, LatinxPitch also invited Latinx publishers and agents to browse the pitches in search for new clients to represent. The work being done through LatinxPitch is not only working to create more representation, but is providing Latinx people a place to receive work, network, and make their ideas known.

The LatinxPitch is made up of twelve founding members: Mariana Llanos, Jorge  Lacera, Sara Fajardo, Cynthia Harmony, Ana Siqueira, Mona Alvarado Frazier, Ernesto Cisneros, Nydia Armendia, Darlene  P. Campos, Stephen Briseño, Denise Adusei, and Tatiana Gardel.

To learn more about their work and upcoming projects, visit their website by clicking here.

This Year’s Most Educated Cities in America
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3D illustration of USA and North America from space at night with city lights showing human activity in United States

Cities want to attract highly educated workers to fuel their economic growth and tax revenues. Higher levels of education tend to lead to higher salaries.

Plus, the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment.

People also tend to marry others of the same educational level, which means that cities that already have a large educated population may be more attractive to people with degrees.

Not all highly educated people will flock to the same areas, though. Some may prefer to have many people with similar education levels around them for socializing and career connections. Others may want to be a big fish in a little pond. Not every city will provide the same quality of life to those with higher education, either. In addition, the most educated cities could shift in the near future depending on how well cities deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on schooling.

To determine where the most educated Americans are putting their degrees to work, WalletHub compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to the quality of the public-school system to the gender education gap.

Most Educated Cities in USA

1          Ann Arbor, MI

2          San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

3          Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

4          Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

5          San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

6          Madison, WI

7          Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

8          Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

9          Austin-Round Rock, TX

10        Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

11        Colorado Springs, CO

12        Raleigh, NC

13        Provo-Orem, UT

14        Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

15        Trenton, NJ

16        Portland-South Portland, ME

17        Tallahassee, FL

18        Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

19        Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

20        San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

21        Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

22        Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

23        Lansing-East Lansing, MI

24        Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

25        Lexington-Fayette, KY

Source: wallethub.com

CSU picks 1st Mexican-American to lead the nation’s largest 4-year public university system
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dr joseph castro standing in front of school building smiling arms folded

Dr. Joseph Castro was named Wednesday as the new chancellor of the California State University system, becoming the first Mexican-American and native Californian to lead the nation’s largest four-year public university system.

CSU’s Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Castro, who is currently president of CSU Fresno, on the final day of its meeting Wednesday.

He will replace Chancellor Timothy White, who has held the post since 2012. White had announced he would retire in June but delayed stepping down to help steer the 23-campus system through the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am truly grateful for and excited about this unique and wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to working with the talented faculty, staff and presidents of the 23 campuses as well the Board of Trustees and executives and staff at the Chancellor’s Office to further increase achievement for our 482,000 students,” Castro said in a press release.

Before becoming president of Fresno State, Castro previously served the University of California (UC) in several roles, including the Vice Chancellor of Student Academic Affairs and as a professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science and then later obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Castro will begin his new job in January, with an annual salary of $625,000.

Lillian Kimbell, chairwoman of the board of trustees, called Castro a “passionate and effective advocate” for students, the campus and the CSU system.

“He is a leader who inspires greatness in students, faculty and in the broader community. He is the right leader for the California State University in our current circumstance and for our future,” she said in a statement.

Continue on to ABC 7 News to read the complete article.

Hispanic, Latino and Latinx: What’s the difference, and why it matters
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Woman in traditional clothes holding a basket full of colorful f

This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month has been marked by tireless efforts from both Republicans and Democrats to woo the large and diverse voting bloc ahead of the November election.

However, with their outreach comes debate over who exactly they are addressing: Latino, Latinx or Hispanic voters?

The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used synonymously in the U.S., with the term “Latinx” used as a gender-neutral alternative to the latter. While views on what the terms mean exactly can vary, filmmaker and journalist Andrew Padilla says the significance is not with semantics, but the actions that are supposed to come after.

“I think that we know what we’re comfortable with,” Padilla said on CBSN Tuesday. “The issue is when folks try to communicate to our communities by using one of these terms as opposed to a real dedicated and developed relationship with us.”

According to Merriam-Webster, the terms are defined as the following:

  • Hispanic: People that originate from Spanish-speaking countries
  • Latino: People who descend from Latin-American countries — but whose language isn’t necessarily Spanish
  • Latinx: A gender-neutral, pan-ethnic label
  •  

    A December Pew Research poll found 61% of bilingual Spanish and English speaking adults surveyed identified with the term “Hispanic,” while 29% preferred to be called “Latino.” Just 4% of people identified as “Latinx.”

    Padilla said the preference against the gender-neutral term does not reflect a negative sentiment, but rather a lack of familiarity.

    Continue on to CBS News to read the complete article.

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