Kendall Martinez-Wright, the Afro-Latina fighting to be the first Black transgender woman in Missouri’s House

Kendall Martinez-Wright posing in front of an office building wearing a navy blue blazer and a red skit while posing with arms crossed and a smile

By Brittany Valentine, Aldia News

After lobbying and making her voice heard behind the scenes of Missouri politics over the last few years, Kendall Martinez-Wright is making a bid for the state’s fifth House district seat in 2022.

Just two days after Missouri’s House of Representatives passed a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in sports, Martinez-Wright announced her bid to be the first Black transgender woman in the chamber.

On Wednesday, April 14, she participated as a speaker at PROMO Missouri’s “Let Kids Play” virtual lobby day.

“We as a community need to ensure that trans folks deserve to freely participate with their classmates. I take a bold stance in supporting our trans and GNC (gender non-conforming) siblings,” Martinez-Wright wrote on Twitter.

Martinez-Wright, who grew up in Palmyra, Missouri, told The Missouri Times that she’s observed that rural communities like hers can often be overshadowed.

“With me being a very blunt minority — African-American as well as Puerto Rican and trans — I want to show individuals that no matter how you identify or where you are, your voice should always be heard, and I feel like at the end of the day there are voices that aren’t,” she said.

Martinez-Wright, who has worked for Empower Missouri and the Mid-Missouri Young Democrats, said that in the state House, she would prioritize education, infrastructure, agriculture and accessibility for her community.

When the pandemic hit and communities and schools transitioned from in-person to remote learning, Martinez-Wright noticed a “real cry for help and to be heard.”

“We need to address underperforming schools, ensure businesses and agriculture are operating and sustainable, and provide reliable internet infrastructure so students and families can be successful not only now during the pandemic but in the future,” she said.

The Afro-Latina candidate hopes that her campaign will serve to encourage others to involve themselves in the democratic process, either through grassroots work or from the state House.

Click here to read the full article on Aldia News.

Olivia Rodrigo drops and breaks one of her 3 Grammy awards
Olivia Rodrigo drops and breaks one of her 3 Grammy awards

By Jordan Mendoza, USA Today

It was a big night for Olivia Rodrigo at the 64th Grammy Awards on Sunday, but it was far from perfect for the “Drivers License” singer backstage.

Rodrigo took home three Grammy awards, winning best new artist, best pop vocal album for “Sour” and pop solo performance for her hit “Drivers License.”

After collecting all three, she went backstage to take photos and talk with reporters, when on of the trophies slipped and fell to the floor, breaking in half. The first-time Grammy winner looked stunned.

In a video of the moment posted on Twitter by Variety, the 19-year-old appeared to laugh off the incident, before the trophy appeared to be put back together for more photos.

Other artists could relate. At the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010, Taylor Swift won four awards, including Album of the Year. While taking photos with her trophies, she also dropped one. In 2017, Adele famously broke her award for winning Album of the Year.

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

First Latina SAG film actress winner Ariana DeBose: ‘Doors are opening’
Ariana DeBose holding her sag award in a pink gown

By Variety, NBC News

Ariana DeBose is now in the SAG Awards record books.

After winning SAG’s best supporting actress award for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” DeBose is now the first Latina to win a film award from the guild, along with being the first queer woman of color to be recognized for acting.

“It’s indicative that doors are opening,” DeBose told reporters in the virtual backstage media room. “It’s an honor to an Afro Latina queer women of color and a dancer and a singer and an actor.”

DeBose said that she is cognizant of the importance of the firsts that she is notching for Afro Latino actors,” but equally significant to her is the sign that “it’s indicative that I will not be the last. That’s the important part. Whatever firsts are attached to my name, they’re important to me, but I’m focused on the fact that if I’m the first of anything it means I will not be the last.”

DeBose also pointed to her forerunners in playing “West Side Story’s” Anita on stage and screen, Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno. She called it an honor to join their ranks. The legacy of the role “includes both Chita and Rita and now Ariana and it’s really special to me. And we’re all very different types of Latinas. There’s not one way to be Latina or Hispanic. There are many beautiful ways and each and every one of us is testament to that.”

On the film side, much like other awards shows, there hasn’t been a plethora of Latino nominees at the SAG Awards. Salma Hayek in “Frida” (2002) and Catalina Sandino Moreno in “Maria Full of Grace” (2004) were the only Latinas represented in the lead actress film categories.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

This Afro-Latina Is Amplifying Black Latinx Storytellers in Film and TV
Afro Latina Nydia Simone sitting down and smiling at the camera

BYvette Montoya, Popsugar

Nydia Simone’s work is built around a simple question: “How do I take the resources I have to create the world I want to see?” Since 2010, Simone, a Panamanian American filmmaker, has been working on producing Afro-Latinx- and Caribbean-centered content for film, TV, and digital platforms through her company Blactina Media. Tired of waiting for someone else to engage her community thoughtfully and authentically, she decided to do it herself. At the beginning of 2020, Simone announced the launch of Platano Pipeline, an initiative directed at creating space, visibility, and opportunity for Black Caribbeans and Afro-Latinx communities.

The original database started as a way to find fellow Caribbean and Black Latinx professionals for Caribbean-centered projects. “When I started it, I just wanted a place for all my Afro-Latinx colleagues to be in one place. I wanted to be able to reach them because I wanted to have projects that were Afro-Latinx and Caribbean behind and in front of the camera. So it was important for me to know who were doing these roles so I could build that for myself personally,” Simone tells POPSUGAR.

But the Platano Pipeline unexpectedly took on a life of its own after the death of George Floyd and during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. Simone says the sudden push to support Black creators propelled her database into the uneasy viral spotlight. “After George Floyd happened, the database went viral . . . It was very overwhelming to get that kind of attention. And there was a lot of fear of, I don’t wanna mess it up, I don’t want to do it wrong. I was like, this is bigger than me,” she says. And for that reason, Simone wants to stay true to her bread and butter: Black Caribbeans and Afro-Latinx communities. “Personally, my ancestors came from Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica to build the Panama Canal. We are Panamanian and proud. We built Panama,” she says. “But I can never ignore my Caribbean roots. I actually wanna tell the stories of the people who created the Panama Canal. This isn’t just my family’s story, because Black migration was so widespread.”

In Hollywood, there is a lot of pressure placed on Black creatives and content creators to make things “appealing” and “inclusive” for “wider” audiences. For that reason, Simone wants to stay hyperfocused on her community. “I thought if we could create a collective to build up our own films and/or connect for upward mobility, we don’t have to beg people for these opportunities, and I’m really exhausted with the begging,” she says. The fact is there are millions of Afro-Latinxs in the Caribbean and in South and Central America. Their stories already have a wide audience. Plus, less than 10 percent of the global population is white. So, is this about inclusivity or erasure?”

“It was hard, because there are some white and non-Black Caribbeans that want to be involved. I’m very aware of the Indian Jamaicans and [the other diasporas], but that’s different because even if we go to Trinidad and Tobago, the Black people are at the bottom of the barrel,” Simone says. “It’s so sad to see this all around the world — every time. So I stay true to the Black community because we need it. The Afro-Caribbean community specifically has been erased and is also invisible because a lot of people are not even aware of the Haitians or Cubans in the industry.”

The Platano Pipeline will work to connect and educate Black Caribbean and Afro-Latinx professionals with the ultimate goal being to create upward mobility in Hollywood. Webinars take place the last week of each month, and Black professionals will learn how to more effectively navigate within the television and film industry. They will receive information on how to join the union and have the opportunity to ask questions about showrunning and pitching. They can also connect virtually with people of similar backgrounds and experiences. Upcoming webinars will include a staff writing panel with writers from networks like Starz and Netflix.

Click here to read the full article on Popsugar.

Meet the Afro-Latina developing a food delivery service for low-income communities with dietary restrictions in Philly
Diaz initially got the idea to start her own latina owned business when she discovered the lack of healthy food alternatives for low-income families. Photo: Benzii Diaz.

By Tiffany Rivera, Al Dia News

Benzii Diaz, the founder of Bodied Mealz on Wheelz, grew up in North Carolina eating certain comfort foods, such as fried chicken and smothered pork chops.

She enjoyed the classic Southern dishes, but often felt sick and her health took a spiral.

Diaz finally changed her food habits when she started getting severe headaches, nausea, and unbearable stomach aches.

Despite doctors brushing it off as heartburn or acid reflux, her husband began to have the same symptoms.

“Some of my dietician friends asked if I ever thought about going vegan or cutting out milk and cheese,” Diaz said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.

With that in mind, Diaz tried gluten- and dairy-free products. In place of regular milk, she would be drinking almond milk.

The results were almost immediate.

“The next day I didn’t feel nauseous or sick,” she said. “It was weird, but I kept telling myself to keep on doing this.”

In the process, she developed an idea to provide healthier food resources for lower-income families, and created Bodied Mealz on Wheelz. The business started as Diaz saw a significant demand increase for gluten-free products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suddenly almond milk, oat milk, and other specialty products were off the shelves at a rapid pace.

“My husband and I didn’t have the necessary products that we used for our diet,” said Diaz. “Food shortages were happening at our local grocery stores, and that was a problem.”

Instead of heading to her usual grocery store of ShopRite, Diaz went to Whole Foods, but was stunned when she saw the prices for non-dairy, keto-friendly products.

She soon found ALDI and its own affordable line of products.

At this juncture, Diaz knew she wanted to create a small business that would offer healthier food alternatives to low-income families who required a special diet.

Diaz, who is a personal trainer, began taking her clients to the grocery store and showing them the significant benefits of eating a healthier diet.

“I started asking different questions, like how many meals do you cook a day? What does your family typically eat? And I showed them better substitutes,” she said.

For instance, Diaz suggests swapping almond flour or coconut flour in place of all-purpose flour to fry chicken.

“There is also peanut oil, avocado oil to cook with,” she said.

So far, she is resorting to fundraising to support Bodied Mealz on Wheelz.

Soon, Diaz plans on purchasing a van that will transport groceries. The van will also double as a transport vehicle for female-identifying clients who don’t have access to transportation.

Click here to read the full article on Al Dia News.

Cardi B says she will launch haircare line to teach people about ‘Afro-Latina’ hair
Cardi B performing onstage during the Grammy Awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center

Cardi B has said she will launch her own range of haircare products, in an attempt to teach people about “Afro-Latina” hair.

The rapper said she was inspired to work on the products after receiving offensive comments about a video she posted about her natural hair.

“This year I will be coming out with a haircare line,” Cardi B wrote on Instagram. “I think [it is] time for people to educate themselves on nationality, race and ethnicity.”

She added: “People [are] thinking every Hispanic is Mexican or something and must have the same hair texture, colour and features.

“Being Hispanic/Latina don’t make your hair long, don’t make your skin light [and] don’t make your face features slim especially [if you come from] Latin countries from the Caribbean islands … DNA has something to do with your hair not your nationality.”

In another tweet, Cardi B wrote: “Hair texture [doesn’t] make you a race, however I am Afro-Latina.”

Cardi B said the haircare line was something she had been working on for herself and for her daughter’s hair. It is not known if the line will contain a hair mask product, a recipe for which she shared online last year. The mask included avocado, argan oil, mayonnaise, black castor oil, olive oil, two eggs, honey and banana.

In 2020, Latino consumers under 35 spent $663m on beauty products, with hair care, hair colour and nails dominating, according to Nielsen.

Juvan José Amaya, a partner at Juve consulting, said the Latin beauty market was in transition.

“We are slowly shifting the idea that Latinas have nice hazel or green eyes, or look ‘exotic’,” he told WWD. “As a generation we hate the word exotic, that’s a big ‘no’… [beauty is] starting to become a little more … inclusive and accepting of natural features, such as curly hair.”

Click here to read the full article on the Guardian.

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