What it means to be Afro-Latino: ‘We are diverse in every single possible way’
Amara La Negra, singer, reality show star and rapper, is known for embracing her afro and her Blackness. But despite all her success, there’s one battle she’s always had to fight: defending her Afro-Latino Blackness.

Amara La Negra, singer, reality show star and rapper, is known for embracing her afro and her Blackness. But despite all her success, there’s one battle she’s always had to fight: defending her Afro-Latin Blackness. “I still feel there’s a lot of African Americans that don’t even know that there’s other parts in the world where there’s people like us and don’t speak English,” she told ABC News. “We’re not all African Americans. We are diverse in every single possible way you can imagine.” In a society that clings to categorizing people, Amara La Negra says she’s always having to explain herself.

Born Diana Danelys De Los Santos to Dominican parents, sometimes Amara La Negra finds herself being questioned by African Americans about Ber blackness, like on the radio show “The Breakfast Club.” “Simplify it for me, what exactly is the struggle that you’re facing?” Charlamagne Tha God, one of the show’s hosts, asked her. “You sure it’s not in your mind?” She’s also faced questions from other Latinos, including some in her home state of Florida, who she says questioned why she would participate in a Black Lives Matter march in Miami.

“They were like, ‘Why are you out there protesting? You’re not Black. You have to pick. Are you Latina? You Dominican? Are you Black? You kind of have to pick,’” Amara La Negra told ABC News. “They were saying a lot of negative things toward me. I guess that there was a part of them that didn’t understand how important this is. … It’s a humanity thing.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s death and a renewed outrage over racial inequality in America, there’s a growing spotlight illuminating the diversity of Blackness in the U.S. It’s a lesson that educator Jennifer Whyte says she’s been teaching for years.

The Spanish teacher is the only Latina and the only teacher of color at The Donoho School in Anniston, Alabama. In the rural South, she makes it a point to educate her students about Afro-Latin culture.

“I need to be true to myself. … I know who I am as a Spanish teacher and teaching culture,” Whyte told ABC News. “We’re the ones that teach culture. We’re the ones that bring up these uncomfortable conversations about race and history, too, because we do history. So it’s like we bring up these uncomfortable conversations about race, colorism.”

Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, focuses on race and policy and believes the United States’ historically poor treatment of African Americans created a massive divide among Latino immigrants — even those who are Black.

“When many Latin Americans come to this country, there’s a tendency to try to distance themselves from Black Americans. And that’s true even among people who, phenotypically from Latin America, are Black,” Noguera said. “You think about American baseball, someone like Big Poppy, the great slugger from the [Boston] Red Sox, who is clearly Black, very dark-skinned, does not identify as Black. [He] identifies as Dominican, as if that were separate somehow from being Black.” Adding to the complexities in the United States, the Latino community encompasses families from many different countries.

“So many Latinos identify more with nationality. They will say, I’m from El Salvador. I am from Panama,” Noguera said. “Latino doesn’t mean a whole lot. It only means something to second- and third-generation Latinos who’ve been in America who understand the way race in America works. And so they will claim a Latino identity. But in their identity, there’s incredible diversity.”

In the U.S., most people strictly think African American when they hear of someone who is “Black,” but according to the the Slave Voyages Project, during the colonial period, about 15 times as many slaves were taken to Latin America than the United States.

Click here to read the full article on ABC News.

This Afro-Latina Never Saw Herself Represented Growing Up — Here’s How She’s Working To Change That
Afro Latina - Bianca Kea

By Refinery 29

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Bianca Kea was acutely aware that outside of her family, there were no other Afro-Latinxs that looked like her. No one she could relate to or look up to. But that all changed when she moved to New York City.

“Moving to New York City was such an eye-opening experience,” she recalls. “And it was the first time somebody actually identified me as Afro-Latina — I had never heard the term before, and I was able to learn about my heritage, my history as an Afro-Mexicana.” Her experience — the realization and recognition of being Afro-Latina, of being both Black and Mexican, and not feeling like she had to choose one or the other — led to her launching Yo Soy AfroLatina, an online platform and lifestyle brand that celebrates “Afro-Latinidad in the Americas and validates our hermanas’ experience.” It was born out of not seeing herself represented and wanting to create something that would not only make an impact on the culture, but also cultivate a community. “We all have different experiences — we’re not a monolith — and it’s important for people to understand what it means to be at the intersection of two beautiful cultures,” Kea says. “I hope we’re able to break down stereotypes, empower people, and allow them to be Afro-Latina. Just be yourself.”

That’s why Refinery29 is partnering with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple to produce Valiente Y Fuerte — a video campaign designed to amplify the voices of Latinx creatives like Kea who inspire us every day. Watch the video above for more information about Yo Soy AfroLatina — and how Kea is turning her passion into a legacy.

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

First Latina to go to space announces bilingual STEAM board book series
Dr Ellen ochoa smiling and posing in front of a gray background for the camera. She is wearing a blue button up. Ochoa is writing a STEAM board book series

By The Downey Patriot

Lil’ Libros Publishing has acquired world rights to a bilingual five-board book STEAM series, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World, researched and written by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, American engineer who became the first Latina woman to go to space.

Inspired by her experiences as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Ochoa’s books will celebrate the joy of scientific curiosity, the fundamentals of STEAM topics, and the American Latino experience for the youngest of readers.

“I wish I had known when I was little that science [or STEAM] is all about curiosity and creativity,” said Dr. Ochoa. “Those skills come naturally to young kids, and I hope this series engages kids and parents alike, in both English and Spanish, about STEAM concepts and excites them about exploring the world they inhabit.”

“We are excited to work alongside Dr. Ochoa to help create an environment where our littlest readers are introduced to STEAM concepts confidently and in two languages,” said Patty Rodriguez, publisher at Lil’ Libros. “Becoming a scientist is no longer just a dream for our children, it is a possibility and Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an example of that.”

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Ellen Ochoa to the Lil’ Libros family. Bringing bilingual STEAM topics to children will open a world of possibilities,” added Ariana Stein, Lil’ Libros co-founder. “We are confident that Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World will inspire curiosity and leave a lasting impact on children.”

Publication for the first book, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World: We Are All Scientists, is set for August 30, 2022.

Lil’ Libros is a bilingual children’s book publisher based out of Los Angeles. In a world lacking bilingual books for children, two best friends-turned-mothers – Patty Rodriguez, of Downey, and Ariana Stein – began their mission to celebrate the duality of the American Latino experience through picture board books and now hardcovers.

Click here to read the full article on The Downey Patriot.

Here’s What Mexican Tequila Brands Really Think About Celebrity Tequilas
Bottles from different brands of tequila on a table

By Rosie Bell, Fodors

For many years tequila has been a man’s game. Increasingly, it’s narrowing further to a non-Mexican celebrity’s enterprise. A-listers are converting their cult followings into tequila drinkers and causing ripple effects in the industry, which is now said to be worth US$10.8-billion-a-year.

These days you can sip on stylish agave drinks from the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Elon Musk, P. Diddy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Justin Timberlake, Nick Jonas, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and Chris Noth (also known as “Mr. Big” from Sex and the City). Just a handful of women are on the celebrity tequila guest list including Canadian actress Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars fame, sometimes-singer Rita Ora, and Kendall Jenner (who surely needs no introduction). More and more famous faces are cashing in on this protected centuries-old tradition, but what’s driving the boom, and what do Mexican women, who are traditionally sidelined in the industry, make of it?

What’s Behind the Gold Rush”
One brand is largely credited with triggering the celebrity tequila influx: Casamigos. Hollywood megastar George Clooney “accidentally” founded the drinks company with property tycoon Mike Meldman and Rande Gerber (his long-time friend and the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford) in 2013. Just four years later, it was sold to drinks conglomerate Diageo for a whopping $1 billion, proving that there was serious money to be made from agave. The U.S. is now so head over heels for the legendary spirit that sales of full-proof tequila soared by almost 200 percent since 2002 according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). In 2020, Mexico produced 60 million gallons of this liquid gold, which is 800 percent more than it did two decades ago.

George Clooney’s star quality might have certainly helped attract the glitterati. However, the female master distiller of Mexico’s top ultra-premium tequila cites the heightened focus on actual product quality from distillers for the drink’s rising popularity. Clase Azul is the Chanel of tequila brands and Viridiana Tinoco is the master distiller for all its products. “The tequila industry has changed and the work that is being put in behind the scenes to make the products incredible is part of the reason it’s growing exponentially,” she remarks. Gone are the days when you would take shots of unpalatable tequila just to get drunk. “Now you want to sip the tequila neat and simply enjoy it,” she adds.

Click here to read the full article on Fodors.

Eva Longoria on loving her Latina roots and challenging Hollywood’s expectations: ‘Being Mexican is who I am’
Eva Longoria s creating new molds in Hollywood for Latino voices. (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

By Yahoo Entertainment

The star power of Eva Longoria should never be underestimated. A proud Mexican-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, the multihyphenate powerhouse has won the hearts of television viewers since her breakout role in ABC’s Desperate Housewives.

Now, the icon is all smiles in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment when speaking about how her Mexican heritage, specifically Tejana culture, inspires her perspective on life — from daily activities to the way she runs her businesses, which include several restaurants and a production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.

“Being Mexican is who I am,” Longoria says. “For me, it exudes in everything that I do every day from how I style my hair, to putting on my lip liner, to putting on my hoops, to what I make for breakfast, how I have my café con leche, how I drive. It seeps into every aspect of my life.” (Longoria prefers to make her Cuban café con leche using a cafetera, in case you were wondering.)

A staunch activist for gender equality, she’s also used her platform to shine a light on issues impacting Latino communities, specifically Latino visibility on and off-screen, something she says is vital in preserving the wellbeing of Hispanic communities.

“The problem is when you don’t have a person of color within your community, if your neighbors aren’t Latino, the only reference you have of us is the news. And that doesn’t do a very good job of portraying who we are,” Longoria explains. “And so, representation in TV, in film, in music, in art, it matters because it educates the community about who we are.”

The concern is warranted. According to UCLA’s 2021 Hollywood Diversity Report, Latinos accounted for only 5.7 percent of all film roles in 2020 — up slightly from 2019 when it was 4.6 percent. While the uptick is promising, she says it’s not enough.

Longoria also stresses the importance of having Latinos behind the camera and in other positions of power. After all, “that’s why I became a producer and that’s why I became a director,” she says. “It was to make sure that our stories are told because it’s important. It educates people about who we are. It educates our community about who we are, and that is even more important. If I am a Latino watching, literally, the erasure of my culture, then I think, ‘Oh OK, I am not worthy. My stories don’t matter.’ And that’s way more dangerous. We need to make sure that we share our own community, our worth — and celebrate it.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez becomes the first trans actress to win a Golden Globe
Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, pictured at the ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration In October, won her first Golden Globe -- and became the first trans woman to win a Globe for acting.

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

For her heartrending performance in the landmark series “Pose,” Michaela Jaé Rodriguez won her first Golden Globe — and made history.

Rodriguez was awarded the Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a television series-drama for her role as maternal figure Blanca in the third and final season of the FX series. And with her win, she became the first trans actress to win a major acting Golden Globe.

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals,” she wrote on Instagram. “They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.”

This year’s Golden Globes were a muted affair — NBC declined to broadcast the awards after Los Angeles Times reports revealed a lack of diversity within the secretive Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which holds the awards, and raised ethical questions related to financial benefits.

Rodriguez wasn’t in attendance at the awards — no celebrities were. There were no audience members or red carpet events, though the ceremony was still hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Studios didn’t officially submit titles for consideration, either, when HFPA members were selecting nominees.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Zapping the power of Latino superheroes is the focus of Marvel’s ‘Comunidades’
A variant cover by Afro Latino artist Mateus Manhanini for the first issue of "Marvel's Voices: Comunidades" featuring América Chávez.

By Arturo Conde, NBC News

The first issue of a new Marvel series aims to focus on the powerful, rich and uplifting stories of a largely overlooked and diverse cast of Latino superheroes.

“This book is a gateway through which you could find your way to all the comics that have been building stories around the Latinx community,” author and comic book scholar Frederick Luis Aldama said about the first print and digital issue of “Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades” (Spanish for “communities”), released on Wednesday.

“Comunidades” assembles a compendium of Latino heroes created by Latino writers and artists.

While Latino superheroes have been part of the Marvel universe for decades, without continuity, many of them are often overlooked, said Aldama, best known for his award-winning book, “Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics” and the director of the Latin X Pop Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I knew personally from reading comics that we had an abundance of Latinx superheroes,” said Aldama, who wrote the “Comunidades” forward. “But the Marvel encyclopedia didn’t even mention them. So there is a story that has been almost willfully ignored, or a history that we need to tell.”

One of the Latino characters featured in the first issue of “Comunidades” is Ghost Rider — a student mechanic-turned-superhero who drives a muscle car with his skull lit on fire. Karla Pacheco, the Latina and Native American Marvel writer who wrote the one-page story of the demonic superhero, says that she wanted to base it on a personal story about her father teaching her how to make tortillas.

“It’s a short story about growing up and learning how to make something,” Pacheco said. “It’s about remembering not to use measuring cups because your cupped hand makes a measuring cup for the flour, and you pinch your fingers just right to get the amount of salt, and then you flip it without a spatula off the cast iron really fast because you can’t be afraid of fire.”

For Pacheco, being able to bring her personal story to a Latino superhero is a significant step forward, because, she said, many diverse characters have not been written by writers of color before.

For Mexican Marvel writer Juan Ponce — who wrote a “Comunidades” story about a Brazilian sorcerer from the 1950s named Nina the Conjuror — discovering a character like Superman who came from another place and was adopted by a new family was enough to resonate with his own immigrant story.

“Obviously, he was a Caucasian man, but he was an alien. And his values and family really spoke to me,” he said. “I never really saw Superman different from my dad. They were both these men who really put a lot of emphasis on doing the right thing for the family and grew up in a farm. And that was the moment where I wanted to write stories about someone like that and carry my values to the page.”

Terry Blas, a Mexican American who wrote a “Comunidades” story about a young magician named Eva (she’s also the cousin of Reptil — a superhero who can turn into a dinosaur), was driven to tell stories for readers who shared common values.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Jennifer Lopez Talks About Her Panic Attacks
Jennifer Lopez speaking at a radio interview

By Sheiresa Ngo, Cheat Sheet

Jennifer Lopez is celebrated for her talent, beauty, and confidence. She has fans all over the world, and to many people, she is unstoppable. Although it appears like nothing could ever rattle Lopez, she admits she has had episodes of panic attacks. Here’s what J. Lo once said about her experience with anxiety.

Jennifer Lopez is always on the go

During a 2016 interview with W magazine, Lopez discussed her career. She spoke about how hectic her schedule is. However, Lopez says she likes to work, so she doesn’t really mind how busy things get. At the time, she was an American Idol co-host, she was doing a residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and she was starring in the police drama Shades of Blue. “When it comes to work, I never get tired,” Lopez tells the publication.

Jennifer Lopez’s panic attacks
Lopez tells W magazine she began having panic attacks after starring in the 1997 movie Selena. Lopez was overwhelmed by all the attention she received after appearing in the film. Lopez says people began approaching her in public, and it became unsettling. Now, she doesn’t go anywhere alone.

“I never thought about fame until [Selena],” Lopez told W. After that film, I would have panic attacks. I remember walking down the street, and someone yelled, ‘Jennifer!’ and I didn’t know who it was. I ran home. From that point forward, I realized I couldn’t be alone in public. I don’t think I’ve been alone on the street in over 20 years.”

This wasn’t the only time Lopez had a panic attack. In her book True Love, she recalled the time she realized she needed to divorce Marc Anthony. She says she had been ignoring the truth, but her body sent her a message she couldn’t ignore.

Lopez says she ignored her feelings about her marriage to Anthony for so long that she developed anxiety. She says she reached a turning point in 2011 during the time she had to do a photoshoot for L’Oreal.

“My heart was beating out of my chest, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe,” wrote Lopez. “I became consumed with fear and anxiety,” Lopez says she began to panic, and she told her mother and her manager how she was feeling. She told them she felt like something was happening to her body, and she felt like she was “going crazy.” Lopez says people often bury their feelings deep inside until they can’t hold them in any longer. At that moment, she reached her breaking point.

Click here to read the full article on Cheat Sheet.

Forget Santa! Here’s Why Netflix and Vanessa Hudgens Are The Real Heroes of Christmas
Vanessa Hudgens

By , Newsweek

When Netflix began unravelling its epic Christmas cinematic universe (for the most part starring Vanessa Hudgens), fans were firmly glued to their screens, with a new festive team of Avengers to root for.

Romantic comedies find themselves in a genre of film that often finds itself as the butt of the joke and Netflix’s investment in a whole saga of movies that cross dimensions and are referential to each other is worthy of attention.

This is not to dunk on more revered genres of film. We get it, we respect it, but for countless viewers, these movies offer a chance to escape the pressures and stresses of the real world and believe in a life more romantic.

“The worlds you’re invited into are often familiar, mostly grounded in reality—even if there’s a magical element at play, it’s still within the context of the ‘real world’—and inhabited by a glossier, shinier, more glamorous but still largely relatable group of people,” Anna Mohr-Pietsch, film producer with MetFilm Production and specialist tutor at MetFilm School, told Newsweek.

“You can see yourself in there somewhere, but through an aspirational lens. The aches and pains of relationships are shown in romantic technicolour, and you can experience the entire emotional arc of a relationship in 90 minutes flat.

“It can be cathartic for some, energising for others. And on a basic level, I think people have always enjoyed watching subjectively beautiful people behaving romantically towards each other and achieving the happy ending that in real life is a ridiculous notion.”

While the three identical strangers (or four if you include Brooke in The Knight Before Christmas) played by Hudgens in The Princess Switch trilogy might not immediately seem relatable, the idea of escaping our reality and getting to be someone else for a few days is something that will have crossed many people’s minds at some point.

Click here to read the full article on Newsweek.

Bad Bunny Is World’s Most-Streamed Artist on Spotify in 2021 — & It’s What He Deserves
Bad Bunny attends the 2021 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images.

By , Remezcla

With the year coming to an end, Spotify has revealed its Most-Streamed Artist Globally of 2021. For the second year in a row , that artist is none other than rapper Bad Bunny.

This year, Bad Bunny racked up over 9.1 billion streams, making him the first Latine artist to hold the title for two consecutive years. His second solo studio album, 2020’s YHLQMDLG, was the most-streamed album last year and stayed in the Top 20 Albums for 2021 globally.

Bad Bunny took the news humbly when he was told about his No. 1 ranking. “I don’t go into it to be the No. 1 most-streamed artist,” he said. “I just make music. I just enjoy my work. I hope 2022 is going to be great.”

Along with Bad Bunny, an additional 12 Latine artists ranked in the Top 50 most-streamed artists for 2021. They are J Balvin (No. 7); Rauw Alejandro (No. 12); Myke Towers (No. 18); Ozuna (No. 25); Anuel AA (No. 32); Maluma (No. 33); Jhay Cortez (No. 37); Daddy Yankee (No. 39); Farruko (No. 41); Sech (No. 44); and Karol G (No. 48).

At No. 48, Karol G earned a back-to-back title as Spotify’s top Latina artist. Rounding out the Top 5 Latina artists is Selena Gomez; Shakira; Camila Cabello; and Maria Becerra.

Overall, the Latin music industry did well in genre rankings. Eight Latin music genres made it into the Top 50 most-streamed genres globally. They are Latin (No. 11), Trap Latino (No. 16), Reggaeton (No. 19), Latin Pop (No. 22), Latin Hip-Hop (No. 26), Reggaeton Flow (No. 28), Regional Mexican (No. 36), and Corrido (No. 42).

Click here to read the full article on Remezcla.

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Upcoming Events

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    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
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