One Step Back, Two Steps Forward — Letter from the Editor
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HISPANIC Network Magazine Fall 2021 Issue

Fall is a season heavily defined by visible transitions and change. As the earth prepares itself for winter, we get to witness a clear shift in the world around us.

Socially, I believe that is especially true this year. As our country continues to transition following the height, fall and resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries and society are looking forward to a future not defined by the struggles of the past (almost) year and half.

The Latino community, which was hit harder than almost any other, is especially taking the opportunity to move forward with renewed vigor and determination into the future. In this issue, we at Hispanic Network Magazine, are choosing to honor the changemakers of the community who share that vision.

We are also honored to showcase our Native American Special Issue as well.

Better education about and more prevalent representation of Native American and Alaska Native tribes and cultures has to become something we all fight for in our country, like our cover story actor Gil Birmingham.

Known for his iconic acting across multiple television programs as well as films, most notably his work in the hugely popular The Twilight Saga as Billy Black, a member of the Quileute tribe in La Push, Wash, he’s now mainly recognized for playing a very different character, Chief Thomas Rainwater, of the hit series Yellowstone.

Birmingham is a strong advocate for better representation of Native peoples in media and spreading discourse about their place in the American landscape. “I couldn’t be happier that there’s a Native American that’s portrayed in an educated and powerful way. That’s more realistic of what our community does have to offer,” he shared.

Read more about this longtime television and film icon on page 50.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
Tawanah Reeves-Ligon Editor, HISPANIC Network Magazine

Let’s also talk about the dangers of miseducation regarding Native American culture and its impact on American history after reading our interview with Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund on page 88 as well as the “Power of Hispanic Inclusion in the Workplace” on page 42.

As part of our LGBTQ+ Special, read about Germain Arroyo, the gay, nonbinary actor changing the representation game in Hollywood on page 108.

For over a year, it feels like we have taken a step back in more ways than one, but there is still, and always will be, hope for the future. Let’s continue to walk together, hand-in-hand, as we choose to progress further with one another into a better tomorrow.

Crisis Text Line to Support Spanish-Speaking Texters Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis
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guy sitting on floor using smartphone

Crisis Text Line, the not-for-profit providing free crisis counseling via text message, will begin offering its service in Spanish on October 15, 2021. The organization is actively recruiting and training volunteers who are bilingual in English and Spanish to help support the underserved population of LatinX experiencing crisis.

The need for this service is high. Suicide among young Latinas is a major public health concern as they attempt suicide more often than any other group of female teenagers nationwide, according to the CDC.

The fact that LatinX people across the U.S. have a hard time finding mental health care services in their native language fuels this inequity. According to the recent data released by the American Psychological Association, only 5.5% of U.S. psychologists say they’re able to administer mental health care services in Spanish. Research indicates that language is a primary barrier preventing Spanish speakers in the U.S. from accessing mental health services.

“Our goal has always been to support people in crisis with the technology that is comfortable to them. Thanks to the hard work of our team and bilingual volunteer Crisis Counselors, we can also serve texters who feel most comfortable getting mental health support in Spanish,” said Dena Trujillo, Crisis Text Line Interim CEO.

Crisis Text Line is a free service powered by a community of volunteer Crisis Counselors who help individuals in distress, bringing them from a moment of crisis to a cool calm moment through de-escalation, problem-solving, and active listening skills. The organization is actively recruiting and training volunteers who are bilingual in English and Spanish. To apply to become a volunteer, visit https://www.crisistextline.org/palabras.

LatinX texters already make up 17% of Crisis Text Line’s texters, based on voluntary demographic data. English-speaking LatinX texters tend to be younger (56% were 17 or younger) and more likely to be female (79%) than all texters combined.

During the Spanish service pilot, Crisis Text Line had more than 1,000 conversations with texters in Spanish and observed that Spanish-speaking texters were more likely to discuss depression, anxiety, and relationship issues than the Crisis Text Line average during the same time. The majority of texters who used the Spanish service were from Texas, California and Florida.

“I’m incredibly proud of the culturally competent, first of its kind, service we built to help the Spanish-speaking community in the way they deserve,” said Natalia Dayan, Crisis Text Line Localization Director.

Crisis Text Line is known for its innovative use of technology and data, leveraging machine learning to stack-rank incoming messages in order to serve the highest risk texters first. To increase access to the service for Spanish speaking texters, Crisis Text Line also launched a new modality: WhatsApp. Now, anyone in crisis can also reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor on WhatsApp, an app with over 32 million Hispanic and LatinX users.

About Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line has been providing free, 24/7, confidential support for people in crisis via text since 2013. Volunteer Crisis Counselors complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time Crisis Text Line mental health professionals. Text HOLA to 741741 or text to 442-AYUDAME in WhatsApp to be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor in Spanish. Text CRISIS to 741741 for English. Crisis Text Line currently offers its service in theUSA, UK, Canada, and Ireland.

Learn more at www.crisistextline.org.

Five Latinas dominating sports
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Amanda Nunes is currently the best female fighter in the world for the sports. Photo: UFC

By Erika Ardila, Aldia News

Sports in all its expressions is an activity with deep ties to passion that gathers people around the same team and is also the dream of thousands of women around the world.

Going to a national championship, the Olympic Games or any professional competition becomes the goal of Latinas who come to the United States to compete.

Here are five great Latina athletes who are making history in the country doing just that:

Amanda Nunes
UFC
Nunes is a Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the bantamweight and featherweight categories of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where she is the current champion of both divisions.

She is the first woman in UFC history to be champion of two different categories simultaneously. She is currently ranked number one in the UFC’s official rankings of the top pound-for-pound female fighters. Nunes has an overall record of 19-4.

Monica Puig
Tennis
Puig is a Puerto Rican tennis player, champion at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games in the women’s singles competition.

She is Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medalist and was also a gold medalist at the Central American Games in Mayagüez 2010, Veracruz 2014 and Barranquilla 2018, and a silver medalist at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara 2011.

Puig is currently ranked No. 44 in the World Association of Women’s Tennis (WAT).

Diana Taurasi
Basketball
This American basketball player is of Argentinean descent and plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian League.

Given her great track record, she is usually recognized as one of the best basketball players in history. In June 2017, she became the top scorer in WNBA history surpassing Tina Thompson.

In addition to being a professional athlete, in 2021, she participated in the movie Space Jam 2, voicing the character of ‘White Mamba.’

Laurie Hernandez
Gymnastics
Laurie is of Puerto Rican descent and was a 2016 Olympic champion and runner-up in the team all-around and balance beam gymnastics competitions.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Hernandez was revealed as one of the celebrities who would participate in the 23rd season of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy, with whom she won the competition. At 16 years old, Hernandez is the show’s youngest winner.

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

Biden declares October 11 Indigenous Peoples’ Day and says restoring national monuments is the ‘easiest thing I’ve ever done so far as President’
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Indigenous peoples day celebration in the street

Following years of campaigning by Native Americans for federal recognition, President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which he declared would be observed on October 11 in honor of America’s first inhabitants.

“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations,” a White House proclamation release from Biden said.

Although Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be celebrated on the same date as Columbus Day, Biden acknowledged the atrocities inflicted on Indigenous communities by European explorers in another proclamation and urged the country not to try and bury “shameful episodes of our past.”

“For Native Americans, western exploration ushered in a wave of devastation: violence perpetrated against Native communities, displacement and theft of Tribal homelands, the introduction and spread of disease, and more,” a White House proclamation from Biden said. “On this day, we recognize this painful past and recommit ourselves to investing in Native communities, upholding our solemn and sacred commitments to Tribal sovereignty, and pursuing a brighter future centered on dignity, respect, justice, and opportunity for all people.”

Read the complete article on The Insider.

What Is Hispanic Heritage Month—And How Is It Celebrated?
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Hispanic heritage month traditional dress

By Robyn Moreno

Hispanic Heritage Month highlights the achievements and contributions of Latinxs across the United States—and beyond.

While most people know about pop icons including Jennifer Lopez, Selena, and Demi Lovato; political powerhouses like Sonia Sotomayor and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, legends like EGOT winner Rita Moreno; sports heroes including Oscar de la Hoya and Mariano Rivera, and other famous Hispanic Americans, Hispanic Heritage Month shines a light on the broader (and lesser-known) accomplishments of Latinxs across genres. From Latinxs lighting up Hollywood (in front of and behind the screen) to books penned by LatinX authors, to diverse Latin foods and music and so much more, Latinxs have contributed to every facet of American society. Read on to learn more about what is Hispanic Heritage Month and how Latinxs have helped define American culture.

What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
According to the Hispanic Heritage Month official website, it is observed: “by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.” For generations, Latinxs have contributed to the food, music, business, science, and culture that we know as American, and the 30 days that make up Hispanic Heritage Month each fall is just one opportunity to showcase these achievements.

Latinxs are the country’s second-largest racial or ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics according to the latest 2020 census. Latinxs now account for 18.7 percent of the U.S. population up 2.4 percent in the previous decade with 62.1 million Latinxs living across America with big concentrations in New York, California, Texas, and Florida.

When is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15. Its timing coincides with the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua which are all celebrated on September 15. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their respective independence days in that same time frame. In addition, on October 12, (Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day in the United States) Mexico celebrates Día de la Raza (Race Day) “in recognition of the mixed indigenous and European heritage of Mexico.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is similar to other months of recognition and celebrations like Native American History Heritage Month in November, African American History Month in February, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, and LGBTQ Pride Month in June.

What’s the history behind Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month first started as a week when it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. According to Congressional history, the week was created to bring attention and awareness to “Hispanic-American contributions to the United States,” along with networking opportunities for “grassroots and civil rights activists inside and outside the Hispanic-American community.”

Almost 20 years later, Representative Esteban Torres of California, a proud Mexican-American, submitted a bill to expand it into Hispanic Heritage Month in 1987 saying supporters of the bill “want the American people to learn of our heritage. We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.” That bill didn’t pass, but Senator Paul Simon of Illinois submitted a similar bill that President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1988 creating now what is Hispanic Heritage Month.

Click here to read the full article on RD.

Amara La Negra Wants to Encourage This Generation of Latinxs to Build Generational Wealth
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Amara La Negra wearing pink during a photoshoot

BJOHANNA FERREIRA, Popsugar

Amara La Negra is doing the most these days. Not only can we expect to see her in season four of Love & Hip Hop Miami, which returns on Monday, Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, but the Dominican-American artist who hails from Miami, FL, has been exploring quite a few new projects lately.

Many of us first learned about Amara in 2018 with her breakout role on the reality show. The singer not only drew us in with her musical sound — which includes a mix of R&B, hip-hop, and reggaeton influences — but she also won our hearts with her commitment toward advocating for Afro-Latinx communities and boldly speaking out against the lack of representation, colorism, and anti-blackness that still permeates Latinx culture. While her activism and music career still take center stage (she also recently started a podcast with iHeartRadio called Exactly Amara), this renaissance woman has added a new venture to her plate — real estate. After weeks of teasing us on Instagram about the news, she recently announced on Instagram the development of her new real estate business, Amara Residences, in the Dominican Republic. But Amara isn’t just trying to make business moves; she wants to inspire Latinas to build generational wealth.

Located in Las Terrenas in Samaná, Dominican Republic, Amara Residences features 48 apartments and 12 penthouses at the starting price of $175,200 for a two-bedroom, one-bath. Shortly after deciding to embark on real estate, she partnered with her real estate investor Allan Chavez of Soluciones Allan to develop Amara Residences. The two are not only business partners but have since become a romantic item — you can catch a sneak peek into their relationship on the new season of Love & Hip Hop Miami. Her mission behind it all is to build the generational wealth and financial stability the previous generations in her family couldn’t provide.

Investing in real estate and homeownership is one of the best ways to build generational wealth in this country. In fact, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), more and more Latinxs are buying and investing in property with more than eight million Latinx new homeowners contributing $371 billion into that national gross domestic product. However, historical barriers still result in wide generational wealth gaps existing between Latinx and non-Latinx Black communities in the U.S. Not only are most Latinx and non-Latinx Black families less wealthy than typical white families but they are also less likely to own financial assets like homes. There are so many things that contribute to that from immigration status and low wages to historical legislation barriers like redlining and institutionalized racism. But this generation of Latinxs is understanding that in order to gain wealth for their families and generations to come, they need to educate themselves on financial literacy. They are understanding that financial literacy is crucial to our well-being. In order to truly be well, our finances need to be in order. Because struggling to pay the bills and being overwhelmed with debt isn’t at all good for our overall well-being.

Click here to read the full article on Popsugar.

Kassandra Garcia, the Latina fighting for representation in the NFL
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Kassandra Garcia, football management analyst for the Los Angeles Rams. Photo: LinkedIN

By Natalia Puertas Cavero, Aldia News

Kassandra Garcia is a first-generation Mexican-American who is making history in a male-dominated world. At just 27 years old, Garcia is the highest-ranking Latina in the NFL as a football management analyst for the Los Angeles Rams. She joins Natalia Dorantes, who was named the NFL’s first female chief of staff earlier this year.

The world of sports, even at the administrative level, is predominantly male. However, some Latinas, like Kassandra Garcia have arrived to diversify the industry.

Garcia’s rise began at the University of Arizona, where she pursued her degree in business administration and was a recruiting intern for the Wildcats. Her skills helped her become an analyst, and as she explained, the influence her family and culture played an important role in her career.

García atributes her accomplishments to her grandmother and mother, as they are the ones who gave her the strength to pursue her dreams. Garcia’s grandparents were second-generation Mexican-Americans, leaving Mexico with three children and no English.

Despite everything going against them, and with a lot of hard work, they managed to build thriving Mexican restaurants in Tuscon, Arizona. It was this example that inspired Garcia to build her own career.

She admits that becoming the highest-ranking Latina in the NFL didn’t happen by accident. Garcia has always been very rebellious and it has helped her pursue goals she thought impossible.

“I’m very stubborn. When someone tells me I can’t do something, it’s game over. The fire inside me burns to prove them wrong. I don’t know if that’s being stubborn, narcissism, ego — and I think about this all the time – but it’s gotten me this far,” García told USA Today Sports.

According to the NFL’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion report, as of February 2021, there have only been four Latino (male) coaches. In addition, it noted that only 2.7% of all team vice presidents were women of color.

On the other hand, women in administrative positions in sports declined from 35.9% in 2019 to 32.3% in 2020, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) of the DeVos Sports Management Program at UCF. Of those, only 7% of women in all professional management positions were non-white women.

It is inspiring and hopeful to see that women like Garcia are blazing a trail for other Latinas who dream of having a career on the business side of professional sports.

Click here to read the full article Aldia News.

Miss Teen Nebraska Latina, first to represent Peru in national competition
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Ferreyra is the first Miss Teen Nebraska Latina representing Peru in the Miss Teen U.S. Latina Pageant. She says she has spend hours and hours of practice, stepping over obstacles and breaking down stereotypes of the Latina community.

By Danielle Davis, 3 News Now

OMAHA, Neb. — “When I wear my crown and walk across the stage, I feel empowered,” said Alexa Ferreyra, Miss Teen Nebraska Latina.

Ferreyra is the first Miss Teen Nebraska Latina representing Peru in the Miss Teen U.S. Latina pageant. She says she has spent hours and hours of practice, stepping over obstacles and breaking down stereotypes of the Latin American community.

“At school I have honors. I am in the gifted program. This shows that when Latinas are given the opportunities they will thrive and achieve,” added Ferreyra.

This platform has given her the opportunity to make a difference in her passion project, which is stopping animal abuse and increase pet adoptions.

“Puppy mill animals are severely abused animals. These facilities that they come from, they don’t care about their mental and physical well-being. These animals are in a cage 24 hours and it is all about making money for them….never able to find homes after that,” she said.

She currently has seven kittens and two dogs.

Her mom, Dawn Ferreyra added, “She has grown so much from her platform. She is looking at careers where she can help the environment and help animals and I am just so proud that she has found her passion so early so that she can really succeed in life.”

An exciting part of the program is the cultural aspect.

“I just want to make my dad proud, he loves his culture and he has instilled that into me. The Peruvians in Nebraska are so proud of me, that I have this title and I am the first Peruvian. People just assume I am Mexican, when I say I am from Peru, they are like where is that?” explained Alexa.

Mom is there every step of the way, even giving advice to others looking to represent their heritage in pageants.

“Now, where diversity is both honored in the country and misunderstood, I think it is important for people to see all people represented in all aspects and have someone give back to their community, working hard both academically and serving others, it is important to see Latinas doing that kind of work,” said Dawn.

Alexa says she has learned what true beauty actually looks like.

“I think what people stand for is what makes them beautiful. I stand for animals, that is my cause and I think it is really important for someone to believe in something,” she said.

Crown or no crown, she says her hard work has already made her a winner.

“It’s not only for me but for them to feel represented. It would just feel amazing. We represent a small portion of Latinas in America but, we are here. We are strong and we are united,” Alexa said.

Click here to read the full article on 2 News Now.

Gil Birmingham: A True Warrior
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Gil Birmingham Collage

By Brady Rhoades

It seems like everyone is talking about “Yellowstone,” Paramount Network’s hit series.

John Dutton. Beth. Kaycee. Rip Wheeler. And Chief Thomas Rainwater, played by renowned actor Gil Birmingham.

It’s the role of a lifetime. And an important one.

“I couldn’t be happier that there’s a Native American that’s portrayed in an educated and powerful way.

That’s more realistic of what our community does have to offer,” Birmingham has stated.

Birmingham said there are more opportunities than ever for Native-Americans to play genuine, complex characters, and that Hollywood is doing a much better job of avoiding stereotypes. What is particularly intriguing about playing Rainwater, he said, is that the chief of a reservation near the Dutton ranch in Montana is a contemporary character. “Yellowstone” is not a period piece.

Birmingham said the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan, deserves plenty of credit. “I knew Taylor would have a sensitivity with the Native world because he had a lot of interaction with them in his younger life,” he said.

A Body of Talent
Gil Birmingham, of Comanche ancestry, was born in San Antonio, Texas. His family moved frequently during his childhood because of his father’s career in the military. He learned to play the guitar at an early age and considers music his first love.

HOLLYWOOD, FL – FEBRUARY 05: Gil Birmingham Meet And Greet at 45th Annual Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow Wow at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on February 5, 2016 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Ralph Notaro/Getty Images)

After obtaining a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California, he worked as a petrochemical engineer. He knew that wasn’t what he wanted to do long-term; in fact, he was pursuing a side-career in bodybuilding.

That’s how he was discovered. A talent scout pegged him for a Diana Ross music video. The Motown icon had hit the charts once again, this time with “Muscles.”

Next was a gig at Universal Studios, where he played Conan on the theme park’s newest attraction: “The Adventures of Conan: A Sword and Sorcery Spectacular.”
Birmingham made his television debut on an episode of the series “Riptide.” By 2002, he had a recurring role as the character Oz in the medical drama “Body & Soul,” starring Peter Strauss. In 2005, he was cast as the older Dogstar in the Steven Spielberg six-part miniseries “Into the West.”

He has appeared in a number of television series, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Veronica Mars,” “10 Items or Less,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Castle,” “The Mentalist,” “House of Cards” and the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” He has also had roles in several television films.

In 2008, Birmingham landed the role of Billy Black in “The Twilight Saga” film series. It’s what he was most famous for before “Yellowstone.” Now, the two might be neck-and-neck.

PASADENA, CA – (L-R) Actor Kevin Costner, producer/writer Taylor Sheridan, and actors Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, and Gil Birmingham of ‘Yellowstone’ speak onstage. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Viacom)

“Yellowstone,” which is set to start its fourth season in the fall, centers on the Dutton family, most notably, no-nonsense patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner). The sixth-generation homesteader and devoted father must juggle running the largest contiguous ranch in the United States and dealing with a family full of problems. Land developers, an energy company and a tribal reservation have eyes on a massive swath of Dutton’s land.

Birmingham’s Thomas Rainwater is a complicated man. He was not raised on a reservation and believed he was of Mexican descent until he was 18 and saw his adoption papers. That was, obviously, pivotal for him. He earned a master of businesses administration from Harvard. He is now chairman of the Confederate Tribes of Broken Rock. He is usually the smartest guy in the room.

And he wants Dutton’s land or, as he bluntly states in the show, he wants to take back what rightfully belongs to the tribes, meaning he wants to expand the Broken Rock Reservation and keep outsiders as far away as possible.

His relationship with Costner’s John Dutton makes for must-watch TV. On one hand, the two have little in common. Rainwater is Native American. Dutton is White. Rainwater and his tribes have, over the centuries, been robbed of land, resources, wealth.

Dutton is a product of generational wealth and, yes, hard work too.

SANTA BARBARA, CA – FEBRUARY 09: Actor Jeff Bridges accepts the American Riviera Award from actor Gil Birmingham onstage at the Arlington Theatre. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)

On the other hand, they’re both shrewd, true to their causes, even respectful. And they’re both unflappable; it’s hard to know what they’re going to do until they do it.

“I think Taylor so brilliantly established a character that’s empowered with education, and a means by which he can operate within the guidelines of a system that’s been structured, and empowered that character, to be able to operate and reclaim the resources that have belonged to him for centuries,” Birmingham said.

It takes a great actor to play a worthy foe of the legendary Costner, but Birmingham is pulling it off.

Here are two of his more memorable statements to John Dutton, astensions between the two rise:

— “Nothing we say here is going to change our goals. Our paths will always collide. We fight. One of us will win. But you’ve been a good enemy, John. A fair enemy”;

— “I will erase you from the future… see, I’m the opposite of progress, John. I’m the past catching up to you.”

“Yellowstone’s” Facebook page has a thread that starts with the question, “What is your favorite Thomas Rainwater moment from Season 3?

Wrote Dianne Montgomery Hocut: “I’ve enjoyed watching Thomas Rainwater scene where he is in full ceremonial headgear and dress. He has achieved honor, wisdom and power of many. Just fits him!”

Steadfast Advocate

MORRISON, CO -Actor Wes Bentley and Gil Birmingham on stage at SeriesFest Centerpiece event, featuring Lady Antebellum’s Red Rocks Amphitheater Debut and a special screening of Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone”. (Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images for SeriesFest)

Birmingham, who recently turned 68, continues to be a steadfast advocate of Native American rights. In a case, perhaps, of life imitating art, on June 25 he retweeted the Lakota Law Project (@lakotalaw): “The U.S. Department of Interior announced Wednesday the restoration of more than 18,800 acres of land, known as the National Bison Range, so it can be returned to Indigenous tribes in Montana.”

Native Americans in Hollywood and Native Americans in society have come a long way.

Birmingham mirrors that progress. No longer is he relegated to period-piece, revisionist roles. He has become one of the most authentic and powerful Native American voices on television, which he uses as a launchpad for his activism.

“I feel a responsibility to represent a Native character who has that strength and determination,” he told IndianCountryToday.com, “that all of our ancestors, that survived what they have survived, and then to put in the context of a contemporary piece with that soul to come to it, and based on trying to do everything that he can for his people, for his rez.”

Meet The Young Latina Immigrant Behind Boston’s First Zero-Waste Store
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Latina Immigrant opens first zero waste store

By The Bay State Banner

In a sunny storefront not far from the Boston Harbor, Maria Vasco lingers off to the side of the cash register, smiling but nervous, as she watches one of her first two employees ring up a customer. For over a year, Vasco was the only employee — the founder and CEO — of Uvida, Boston’s first and only zero-waste shop.

The name comes from the Spanish word “vida” meaning “life.” Vasco said she tells customers “you give life” by shopping plastic-free and reducing waste. Uvida offers a variety of home-goods essentials in plastic-free packaging, from deodorant and lip balm in cardboard tubes to tissues and toilet paper made from recycled materials.

“The business is just myself, which in the beginning was great. But it started getting isolated, getting to be too much on my plate. Right now is my first time having employees,” Vasco told Zenger News.

The storefront opened last December during the pandemic, but Vasco launched the business as an online shop in 2019, while still a full-time student at University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“I worked part-time at restaurants and internships just to make ends meet. Then at nighttime, I would stay up until four in the morning doing market research, looking at products, making my website,” Vasco said. “And it was like the best time of my life. I just was having so much fun doing it, that it didn’t matter how much I had on my plate. I always made time for that.”

Vasco started advocating for environmental issues in high school while competing with the debate team. That’s where she first came across the statistic that in 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.

“I never thought the spark I felt was based on the things I was advocating for, I thought it was because I was debating,” Vasco said.

When it came time for college, Vasco, who was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to East Boston at age 4, chose to attend UMass-Boston for its diversity and affordability. She was undocumented until her junior year of college, making her ineligible for federal financial aid. (Massachusetts allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.) Vasco’s debate coach suggested she pursue a degree in political science.

“By the first semester, I was like ‘no way, I cannot do this.’ It just wasn’t my spark.”

While looking for a class to fulfill a science requirement, Vasco landed on environmental science and quickly fell in love with it. After switching her major, she started talking to her professors outside of class, learning about their specific areas of research and expertise. Through those conversations, Vasco decided she wanted to focus on plastic pollution.

“This is something I can control, because I touch plastic every day,” Vasco remembers.

It was during her freshman year of college that Vasco started trying out plastic-free products. There were some she loved, and some she didn’t, but purchasing any of them required a lot of online research. When she did settle on a product she liked, she would have to remember the website in order to restock. She wanted a curation of products she liked all in one place, and that sparked her idea for Uvida.

“I am my own ideal customer,” Vasco said. “I also need to shop plastic-free. I use all these products myself. So I realized that if I don’t have this store, even in my own city, and I have to be the one that does it, then I will.”

Click here to read the full article on The Bay State Banner.

How One Skincare Company Is Reclaiming The Clean Beauty Of Their Latina Ancestors
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VAMIGAS is a clean skin care, hair care and beauty brand created by Latinas using botanicals from Latin America. VAMIGAS

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Forbes

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Kelmon, a 4th generation Mexican-American, and cofounder Ann Dunning, from Chile, discovered Latinas and infertility issues and the paraben-fragrance connection. As a result, they have created a line of skincare serums with clean, organic ingredients like Yerba Mate, Maracuja, Rosa Mosqueta, Prickly Pear, and Chia from Chile, Mexico Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and more.

“We want to be the leading clean beauty and skincare brand focused on Latinas in the industry,” said Kelmon. “A wellness brand that Latinas feel connected to, that speaks our language, understands where they come from, and doesn’t use old, tired stereotypes that don’t apply to us anymore.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

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