How to Properly Celebrate Cinco De Mayo
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HOW TO PROPERLY CELEBRATE CINCO DE MAYO

By V Magazine

Cinco de Mayo – Spanish for “Fifth of May” – is an annual holiday that celebrates Mexican culture and heritage, especially in the United States, where it’s actually more widely commemorated than in Mexico. However, the date isn’t just an excuse to party and drink excessively, neither it marks Mexico’s Independence Day, as many believe.

According to a 2018 survey by NationalToday.com, only 10% of Americans knew the true history behind the festivities, which is perhaps a key factor in the widespread misconceptions and missteps surrounding Cinco de Mayo. For years, the holiday has been capitalized by marketing agencies and companies who have also helped disseminate wrong ideas about the event – but that doesn’t mean you should, too.

Read on for tips on how to respectfully celebrate Cinco de Mayo:

Educate yourself and others

Cinco de Mayo marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, when outnumbered and out-armed Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops in the city of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, in 1862. The French force had invaded the country the year before, along with English and Spanish forces, after Mexico declared a temporary pause on the repayment of foreign debts. 

The unlikely victory became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign dominance, and the date is mostly celebrated in the state of Puebla, with parades and theatrical reenactments of the 1862 battle. 

Even though the holiday commemorates a victory, many lives were lost in that battle. That doesn’t mean you can’t necessarily drink, enjoy traditional Mexican music or appreciate the delicious Mexican cuisine but be mindful about the history behind Cinco de Mayo: before joining the celebrations, make an effort to learn more about the date and educate others about it. 

Appreciation, not appropriation

You can celebrate Cinco de Mayo without promoting negative stereotypes, appropriating Mexican culture, or just overall being racist and disrespectful to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Meaning: don’t wear serapes, sombreros, fake mustaches, or any other “Mexican-inspired costume” – no culture is a costume. And unless you actually speak Spanish regularly, it’s probably best not to use the date as an excuse to go around screaming “Arriba!”

(And, of course, please don’t call it “Cinco de Drinko.”)

Support Mexican-owned businesses

Many large restaurant chains offer special Cinco de Mayo deals, but why not take the opportunity to actually support local businesses owned by Mexican and Mexican-American families? Latino business owners were particularly hard hit by the pandemic in the U.S. and were 50% less likely to have access to federal loans in comparison to white-owned businesses. 

Take the moment to order from your favorite Mexican-owned restaurant or do a quick web search to discover authentic Mexican businesses around your area.

Donate

Give back to the community and the people whose culture you want to celebrate. Learn more about and donate or volunteer to organizations working for immigrant rights – you can also promote their work through social media. Look up local groups in your area or donate to national organizations, such as the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, and United We Dream

Click here to read the full article on V Magazine.

Kim Kardashian’s Skims casts singer Rosalía in new summer campaign – shop here
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Singer-songwriter Rosalía has been cast in Skims' first bilingual campaign. COURTESY PHOTO

By Melisha Kaur, Mirror

Spanish singer Rosalía has just been unveiled as the face of the latest campaign for SKIMS.

The billion-dollar brand, founded by Kim Kardashian, recently revealed its first ever bilingual campaign where content will be distributed in both Spanish and English.

The new campaign sees Rosalía donning pieces from the best-selling SKIMS cotton range, including the £36 Plunge Bralette, in a 15-second clip.

In a press release, brand owner Kim Kardashian said: “Rosalía’s willingness to push the boundaries and experiment with her music and personal style has been a huge inspiration for me. This campaign is all about the energy and confidence that she brings to the world.

“I’m especially excited that she’s wearing pieces from our best-selling Cotton Collection – they’re classic, cool and breathable everyday essentials that everyone feels good in.”

Rosalía added: “I love SKIMS. They are so comfy and make me feel very sexy at the same time. I’m so excited that I finally got the chance to collaborate, especially in their Cotton Collection which is my fave.”

This is the first ever fashion campaign for Rosalía, who released her third studio album Motomami back in March.

The new launch was shared by Kim Kardashian on social media, sending fans into a frenzy.

The series of stunning photos sees Rosalía wearing a black plunge bralette (£36) and matching cotton rib boxers (£32).

She’s also seen wearing a white cotton jersey T-shirt, £48, and a matching rib thong that costs £20.

The Grammy-winning singer also shared the launch to her 20.3 million Instagram followers.

“Damnnnnnn,” Kardashian commented, adding a trio of fire emojis.

The campaign comes after SKIMS dropped its new ‘Boyfriend’ collection, which saw the comeback of the brand’s signature unisex styles.

Click here to read the full article on Mirror.

Camila Cabello stars in Victoria’s Secret’s first bilingual campaign: ‘I am honored’
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Camila Cabello wearing a white dress on the red carpet

By Kerry Justich, Yahoo! Life

Camila Cabello is the latest to team up with Victoria’s Secret.

The 25-year-old Cuban-American singer took to Instagram on Tuesday to share footage from her latest partnership with the brand for the Bombshell fragrance. Not only is she starring in an English version of the commercial, but also one in Spanish.

“I am honored to be the newest addition to the @victoriassecret Bombshell family 💖 and to be part of the brand’s first ever bilingual campaign!” she wrote. “Bombshell is about embracing who and what you are, and celebrating that every day.”

In the commercial, Cabello goes on to describe what the word bombshell means to her, explaining that it’s all about “owning your desires, your pleasures and enjoying everything life has to offer. Those things that make you feel great and make you feel joyful. Being who you are in every way.”

She later posted other photos from the campaign, sharing how empowered she felt to be a part of it. She even showed appreciation for not having her freckles airbrushed out of the final pictures.

“i loved this shoot !” she captioned one of three posts. “It’s rare that my lil sun freckles get to have their moment.”

Friends and fans of the singer took to the comment section to praise Cabello’s beauty.

“Linda,” singer Anitta wrote, while others called Cabello “gorgeous” and wrote “You ARE a bombshell.”

Supporters also shared that they were “proud” of Cabello for representing Latin women and Spanish speaking people in the brand’s first bilingual campaign. Some even expressed that they’d be willing to support Victoria’s Secret with Cabello’s stamp of approval.

“Influence,” one wrote. Another said, “I’m gonna try this brand cuz I trust you.”

While Victoria’s Secret has had a notable history of exclusionary practices and representation with its models, the brand has recently pivoted to become more inclusive. And although Cabello isn’t partnered on a lingerie campaign, it seems that the body positive singer is the latest to help with that mission.

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

This Small, Woman-Owned Business Shares The Magic Of Mexican Coffee
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Lupita Sanchez, owner of Café Metzli, talks about all the love, labor and heritage that goes into the harvesting and processing of these special Mexican coffee beans.

By Tessa Flores, HuffPost

For Lupita Sanchez, creator and owner of Café Metzli, a single cup of coffee has the ability to sustain cultures, generational traditions and entire communities.

Her company’s coffee beans are a direct result of the small-scale coffee ecosystems that happened to be thriving in her very own backyard.

“It’s not really known that there’s Mexican specialty coffee,” Sanchez told HuffPost. “Everyone knows about coffee from Colombia or Ethiopia, and even growing up in Mexico we always just had Starbucks or instant coffee.”

After moving to Los Angeles in 2019 to be with her husband, Sanchez found a similar lack about awareness for Mexican coffee among the local artisan coffee shops and grocery stores she frequented.

Her subsequent quest to carve out a space in the market for quality Mexican coffee, while also connecting with her heritage, started in 2021 and led her into the mountainous highlands of the Chiapas region of Mexico. The small town of Bella Vista, which is close to the Guatemalan border and home to several ancient sites of the Mayas, is self-run by small-scale coffee producers, many of which are made up of entire families and individuals native to the land.

“I started doing my research and began connecting with different coffee producers from different parts of Mexico,” Sanchez said. “I traveled back to where they grow the coffee so I can start from the beginning and really get to know what the whole process of making coffee beans was like. That’s when I just fell in love with it.”

She chose Bella Vista partly because of delicious flavors that the climate, mineral-rich soil and altitude brought out in the beans. Café Metzli’s signature Bella Vista Women’s Group blend comes in three different roasts and highlight a variety of flavors, including baked apple, vanilla, dark chocolate and black cherry.

But she was also drawn to the collective of 168 women coffee producers who lived there.

“My country can have a very ‘machismo’ mentality, and just seeing these women working on their own, building their own companies, collaborating as a group and keeping their families together is amazing,” Sanchez said. “I feel so proud that I can help women achieve their goals, just how I’m achieving my own goals.”

“[Many of these groups] have amazing coffee programs that teach the youth how to plant the coffee they produce, how to do latte art and coffee cupping so that they can find love in their culture and their land and what they have there,” she said. “They don’t have to immigrate somewhere else and leave their families behind.”

Click here to read the full article on HuffPost.

Preserving Culture & Heritage Through STEM Programming
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four young american indian women in a college witht he AICF logo in the middle

by Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

Unfortunately, despite representing about two percent of the population, Native Americans and Alaska Natives only make up about half of a percent of U.S. STEM careers according to one study. In order to combat this disparity, organizations like the American Indian College Fund seek to build programming and support ventures that offer greater access to education, support and resources necessary for students to grow and expand their career and networking opportunities.

One such program, the Indigenous Visionaries Native Women Leadership Fellowship Program, has been working to support Native women students for years. Diversity in STEAM Magazine was excited to interview the American Indian College Fund about this program and how it became the remarkable resource it is today for Native students and communities.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM): How did the Indigenous Visionaries Program come into existence?

American Indian College Fund (AICF): The College Fund has provided women’s leadership programming since 2010. The Indigenous Visionaries program emerged out of foundational programming in women’s leadership in 2017. From 2017 to 2021, four TCUs (Tribal Colleges and Universities) and 15 fellows participated in the Indigenous Visionaries program. The first iteration focused on arts, early childhood education and environmental science. In 2021, the American Indian College Fund (College Fund) launched the second iteration of Indigenous Visionaries. Key changes to the new iteration include expansion of eligibility to all 35 TCUs and the opportunity to focus their community-based project on a topic and field of study of their choosing.

DISM: What is its goal and mission?

AICF: The Indigenous Visionaries Native Women Leadership Fellowship Program at the College Fund supports the empowerment and success of Native women students at TCUs through a year-long fellowship opportunity. Participants receive place-based and experiential, professional and personal development through guided training and cultural learning from their mentors, College Fund staff and a broad network of Native women leaders. This program seeks to address and dismantle systemic barriers facing Native women by providing the tools, opportunities and a network to support and strengthen the growth of our fellows; in turn strengthening families, TCUs and Tribal Communities. This space will elevate and increase the visibility of Native women by offering strategic opportunities that illuminate a path towards personal, educational, professional advancement and degree attainment.

DISM: How do candidates apply or get nominated? What are the requirements?

AICF: As the Indigenous Visionaries fellows are paired with a woman mentor at their TCU, in many instances, mentors choose a student they would like to work with in this program. We’ve also seen students recruit mentors, and TCU Presidents recommend mentors and fellows to apply.

To apply for this fellowship opportunity, the TCU Applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a current and full member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
  • Have an identified Mentor and Fellow that will actively engage in their community-based project implementation and fellowship opportunities.
  • Fellows and Mentors must live within the community served by their TCU.
  • Mentors are an established woman faculty or staff member (such as a program director, grant manager, archivist, etc.) at a TCU.
  • Fellows are undergraduate students enrolled full-time at an eligible TCU and have completed at least one semester.
  • Applicants are at TCUs that support the advancement and leadership of Native women:
    • Maintain a commitment to active participation in fellowship activities.
    • Prepared to report and share impact for evaluation purposes.

DISM: What do you look for in a project, and is there a specific scope it has to cover?

AICF: Mentors and fellows will work together throughout the fellowship term to strengthen personal, professional and academic skills that will enhance their leadership within their communities. This includes working together on a project that serves the community.

Applicants provide a summary of their community-based project and include a description of the following:

  • Strategies for project planning,
  • identify roles and responsibilities,
  • implementation and what you hope to learn from this project.

They also describe how they will incorporate Native language and culture bearers into their community-based project.

PICTURED ABOVE:

Top Left:
Caption/Credit: Sasha Sillitti/American Indian College Fund

Sasha Sillitti (Three Affiliated Tribes- the Mandan (Nueta), Hidatsa and Arikara (Sahnish)) is a business administration student at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. Sillitti also works as a student accounts counselor and accounts receivable manager at the college. Her project is to develop a recycling program. She will create a more efficient method of collecting and transporting recyclables, building community relationships, and increasing community awareness about recycling as a form of land stewardship. The Fort Berthold reservation does not have a recycling program, and the nearest drop-off for materials is 150 miles away. Pansy Goodall (Arikara of the Fort Berthold Reservation), the Business Faculty Department Chair, will serve as a mentor.

Top Right:
Caption/Credit: Harley-Daniel Interpreter/American Indian College Fund
Harley-Daniel Interpreter (Navajo)
is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Diné College on the Navajo Reservation while working as the social media engagement agent in the Office of the President. Interpreter will conduct a voter outreach and education project to expand voter education, advocate for timely communication about voting, and ensure support of access to voting across the Navajo Nation during the midterm election. Crystal Cree (Navajo), director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and Policy at Diné College, will serve as a mentor.

Bottom Left:
Caption/Credit: Louise K. Waakaa’igan/American Indian College Fund

Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Anishinaabe) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human services at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wis., while working at the college as the advancement coordinator. In collaboration with her mentor, she will create a “Kwe Book,” a history of women leaders and founders at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Waakaa’igan will catalog their interviews and stories throughout the project for future generations. Faith Smith (Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe), a curator for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, will serve as a mentor.

Bottom Right:
Caption/Credit: ArriAnna Henry/American Indian College Fund

ArriAnna Henry (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Bitterroot Salish) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and a certification of completion in intensive Salish language at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Pablo, Mo. She holds an associate degree in chemical dependency counseling and is an All Nations Health Center intern working in the Behavioral Health Department. Henry’s project is the Paddle for Life wellness project. Young adult community members will participate in immersive Salish language lessons while crafting their own cedar canoe paddle to create both cultural and physical wellness. Rosemary Matt (Salish), the Native Language Teacher Education Department Head, will serve as a mentor.

We’re looking forward to learning more about these exceptional scholars and the projects they’ve developed to serve their communities. For more information about the American Indian College Fund and the Indigenous Visionaries Native Women Leadership Fellowship Program, visit collegefund.org.

Source: American Indian College Fund

The Weather Channel En Español Makes Its Debut
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L to R: Abel Hernández, Milmar Ramírez, Henry Golac, Jessica Fernández and Lorena Lim and Albert ... [+] THE WEATHER CHANNEL

By Veronica Villafañe, Forbes

After a two-year pandemic delay and months of planning, the Weather Channel en Español launches today at 7 am ET. The first 24/7 U.S. Spanish-language free streaming weather news network makes its debut on the 40th anniversary of the launch of The Weather Channel television network, both part of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group broadcast portfolio.

Featuring regional, local newscasts and content focused on the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America, the Weather Channel en Español will be available across over-the-top streaming platforms, mobile devices and via The Weather Channel app.

“The Hispanic marketplace is indexing extremely well with streaming services and is severely underserved,” says Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group. “Our launch of The Weather Channel en Español is historic, and is a recognition of the continued and significant growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and the constant need to keep the entire public informed and safe as multibillion dollar weather disasters are on the rise – especially in communities where Spanish is spoken as both the primary and secondary language in millions of households throughout America.”

The Weather Channel en Español has its own production team and on-air talent, but will also tap the resources of TWC, including its immersive mixed reality (IMR) technology. It will also collaborate with other Allen Media Group platforms such as Pattrn, TWC’s climate, environment and sustainability network.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Ariana DeBose makes Oscars history
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Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios' "West Side Story".

By Chloe Melas and Lisa Respers France, CNN

Ariana DeBose won best actress in a supporting role for “West Side Story” at the Academy Awards on Sunday and made history as the first openly queer woman of color to win in the category.

This is her first Oscar nomination and win. DeBose has received acclaim for her role as Anita in the musical film. When DeBose took the stage she emotionally said, “Even in this weird world we live in, dreams do come true.” She also thanked her mother, who came as her guest and was in the audience. DeBose spoke movingly about her experience as a queer Afro-Latina woman. “For anyone who has ever questioned their identity, there is indeed a place for us,” she said, quoting her film. DeBose has previously won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild Award for this role.

In 1962, Rita Moreno won the same award for the same role. Moreno starred as Anita in the original “West Side Story” film and made history herself as the first Hispanic actress to win in the best supporting actress category. Moreno played drugstore owner Valentina in the remake. Debose also paid tribute to Moreno in her acceptance speech on Sunday, thanking her for paving the way for other “Anitas” in Hollywood.

“Ariana DeBose is an immensely talented actress and a tremendous advocate for LGBTQ people and people of color,” GLAAD’s President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement Sunday. “She not only made history tonight as the first queer woman of color to win an Oscar, but she sent a beautiful and timely message to LGBTQ young people. I hope LGBTQ youth around the world saw her win, heard her speak and recognize that they too should dream big.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

How Actress and Model Jillian Mercado Is Breaking Boundaries For Disabled Latinas
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Jillian Mercado wearing a floral dress in front of an orange floral backdrop

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Popsugar

Actress and model Jillian Mercado has spent her entire career breaking barriers for the disabled community.

From her role on Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q” to her unprecedented appearance on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2020, Mercado has been making her presence known in the entertainment world for some time now, representing not just Latinas, but the disability community.

Mercado, who is of Dominican descent and was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a teenager, is a self-made success. She started out as fashion blogger and eventually landed a modeling contract, which has allowed her to become a source of inspiration for disabled Latinas and the disability community as a whole. The 34-year-old is proud of who she is and embraces the unique position she’s in as both a Latina celebrity and a disabled celebrity — and her achievements and commitment to representation are truly something to be celebrated. “It’s not about opening doors for me, it’s about removing them,” Mercado, who has partnerships with Yves Saint Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger, told “V Magazine.” We can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future.

Here are just some of the ways Jillian Mercado has paved the way for better representation for members of the disability community — and how she continues to break boundaries with her history-making career.

In 2014, Nicola Formichetti, the former artistic director of Diesel (who has worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga), selected Mercado to appear in the line’s spring 2014 ad campaign, launching her modeling career.

Mercado told Racked that she’d originally written off the idea of modeling. “I suppressed the feeling because I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously,” she said. “I never thought I’d get picked, but my friends encouraged me to try out, because, hey, you never know — and two weeks later, they got back to me.”

Mercado still works with Formichetti and considers him a good friend. Prior to that first Diesel shoot, Mercado had her own fashion blog and worked as the editorial director of We The Urban magazine, but she was largely behind the scenes. However, she was able to book more modeling gigs almost immediately after the Diesel campaign came out.

Mercado signed with IMG Models not long after the Diesel campaign. She has since appeared in various magazines and been hired for several print campaigns for major retailers, including Target, Nordstrom, and Olay. She’s currently represented by CAA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest talent agencies.

In 2016, Beyoncé hired Jillian to model for her “Formation” merchandise print campaign, marking a special moment for disability representation. Jillian led the highly visible campaign, which appeared on Bey’s official website. “All this press on my announcement on Beys site is truly surreal & amazing,” Mercado tweeted at the time.

Click here to read the full article on Popsugar.

For Many Afro-Latinas, Rosie Perez Is the Hollywood Blueprint
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Rosie Perez young and in a black and white photo with a colorful background

By Janel Martinez, POPSUGAR

When Billy Hoyle — a white basketball player with a sick jump shot in 1992’s “White Men Can’t Jump” — gets hustled by his teammate Sidney Deane, Billy’s girlfriend springs into action. Heading straight to Sidney’s house, Gloria, played by Rosie Perez, makes an agreement with Sidney’s wife, Rhonda. As the two women block the TV to announce the terms of their deal, one of the guys yells for someone to tell them to move.

Sidney responds, “Why don’t you tell them to move? Them Black women over there, you think I’m crazy?”

The Puerto Rican actress, dancer, and choreographer is one of the women referenced in the subtle-yet-affirming scene. While the words are likely to get lost in the film’s overall plot, it was an acknowledgement of Perez’s identity: a light-skinned Black woman. In her 2014 memoir, “Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata And My Crazy Mother and Still Came Out Smiling (With Great Hair),” Perez shared that the role of Gloria was originally intended for an Italian or Irish American actor.

“It’s an important affirmation because it sends the message that, one: Black people are global; we come in various shades and exist all over the world,” journalist and TV/film critic Kathia Woods tells POPSUGAR of the scene. “Two: Latinos include people of various races and ethnicities, one of which is Black.”

For many Afro-Latinas, Perez’s earliest appearances on the silver screen marked an integral acknowledgment of their existence in the mainstream.

The Brooklyn-born performer caught the world’s attention in Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do The Right Thing.” During the opening credits, Perez delivers an unforgettable dance sequence: pumping, kicking, hopping and spinning over Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power.” Her fierce expression and electrifying moves made cinematic history; she left a mark that many — especially Afro-Latinas — would never forget.

“It was the first time that I had seen someone that looked like me, people in my family, on screen moving their body in a way that we normally move when we dance, not in a way that we see in the media, on that big of a platform,” says Crystal Shaniece Roman, CEO and founder of The Black Latina Movement. “It was like, she’s one of us and she’s representing us.”

Throughout her now 30-plus year career, Perez has consistently been her authentic self, no matter the audition. In 1993, she appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” donning her soft curls, large hoops, low-cut ‘fits that accentuated her figure and, of course, her one-of-a-kind Nuyorican accent. Though she’s noted that she has enjoyed her interviews with Letterman, some portions are hard to watch as the former TV host teases the Afro-Boricua actress, pinpointing her outfit of choice and mannerisms like her “hard” laugh. Even under the spotlight of a coveted late-night TV appearance, she couldn’t escape being typecast.

Luckily, there was already a space where Perez’s demeanor was more familiar: Black television. She was frequenting the club scene when a talent scout for “Soul Train” invited her to dance on the groundbreaking show at 19. While balancing several jobs and studying biochemistry in Los Angeles, she became “Soul Train”‘s “It girl.” “Rosie came on the show, and she was just so hot and so sexy. That girl could dance. She could move,” said fellow “Soul Train” dancer Crystal McCarey in Nelson George’s book, “The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style.”

Melissa M. Valle, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Sociology and Anthropology and African American and African Studies departments at Rutgers University-Newark, witnessed Perez on-screen in the ’90s. She recognizes how complicated a role the actress straddled in the public eye: the thin line between representation and pigeonholing was everpresent.

“[Rosie] embodies an experience, a human experience, and it’s a cultural experience that does need to be put out there,” says Valle. “But we also know this is where representation becomes a little bit complicated in that they want her to be that [one thing]. That’s what they came for. That’s what they’re entertained by.”

“Soul Train” furthered the star’s professional dance career. Perez choreographed the music videos for Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and “My Prerogative” and later worked with the likes of Heavy D & The Boyz, Diana Ross, and LL Cool J. After she met Keenen Ivory Wayans at one of Eddie Murphy’s house parties (a story she tells in her book), Perez became the three-time Emmy-nominated choreographer for “In Living Color’s” Fly Girls. As she booked performers, curated the music, and choreographed eight routines per week, Perez discovered and advocated for new talent like Jennifer Lopez and Queen Latifah. The famed sketch-comedy show wasn’t the only venture that would lead to widespread recognition for her; the Dec 1993/Jan 1994 “Vibe” cover girl also earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in 1993’s “Fearless.”

By the 2000s, Perez’s impact would also be felt amongst her people as an activist for Puerto Rican rights; she was arrested in 2000 after protesting against US bomb ranges in Vieques. Her career would continue to blossom as well — she went on to star on Broadway and in a number of movies and TV shows, and cohosted the popular daytime program “The View.” Still today, Afro-Latinas are far from getting their just due. “I’ve seen change, but it’s not what it should be,” Perez said in a 2020 “New York Times” interview on Latinx representation in Hollywood.

Click here to read the full article on POPSUGAR.

Five Latino TikTokers traded 9-to-5s for a Hollywood Hills house. This is how they live
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The all-Latino members of Familia Fuego TikTokers content house include, from left: Jesus Zapien, Isabella Ferregur, Alexia Del Valle, Monica Villa and Leo González.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

BRIAN CONTRERAS, Los Angeles Times

When she was growing up in New Jersey, Alexia Del Valle had a mural of the Hollywood sign on her bedroom wall. She dreamed of making it out to Los Angeles.

She doesn’t need paintings anymore. Now that she’s part of the Familia Fuego, an all-Latino TikTok collective living high in the Hollywood Hills, she can have the real deal whenever she wants.

“I got here and looked outside our window, and there’s the Hollywood sign,” said Del Valle, 23. “I literally was crying.”

A world-class view is one of the many perks that come with being part of the Familia. Del Valle moved into the group’s $2.2-million shared home last September. Ever since, she has been brainstorming ideas, collaborating on videos and advancing her budding entertainment career alongside four other young social media stars: Leo González, Monica Villa, Jesus Zapien and Isabella Ferregur. With the backing of DirecTV and the influencer marketing firm Whalar, the quintet have gone from working service industry day jobs to doing shots with Neil Patrick Harris, watching the Chargers alongside Roddy Ricch and living down the street from Quentin Tarantino.

As both Hollywood and the influencer economy wrestle with questions of diversity and representation, Familia Fuego is the rare project that’s unabashedly, wholeheartedly Latino. How many other influencers could get 50,000-plus likes on a video about pozole? That they’re based out of a city that’s nearly half Latino, but in an extravagantly wealthy neighborhood where that proportion is closer to 10%, further colors the uneasy task the TikTokers have of representing their heritage while also making inroads into historically white career fields.

“It’s definitely challenging” being a high-profile Latina influencer, said Del Valle, who’s of Puerto Rican descent and has 1.5 million followers on her personal TikTok account (the shared Familia Fuego page has another 127,000). “But it’s also special, because it’s giving us an opportunity to represent where we come from. It seems more rewarding, in a way. … We’re putting ourselves out there, and our people out there also.”

People often assume that influencers are all rich or have limitless resources, Del Valle added, but she doesn’t think she’d have been able to move to California without the help of Familia Fuego’s corporate sponsors. “People don’t see that we really came from humble backgrounds.”

Social media can sometimes be dominated by conspicuous displays of wealth: designer outfits, globe-trotting vacation selfies, Michelin-rated food porn. The Familia Fuego doesn’t entirely reject those signifiers — in some posts, they practice their red carpet struts or cross paths with celebrities — but they’re also more interested in “mocking the daily struggles” of service industry work, as Zapien puts it, than most influencers. A recurring sketch series in which they impersonate retail employees finds them wrangling nightmare customers and fighting over who gets the worst shifts. Other bits center around flaky co-workers, callous HR reps and overfamiliar recruiters.

It’s a perspective rooted in personal experience. Before the Fuego house, Zapien, 24 and Mexican American, worked at Walmart, Disneyland and then a bank. “I was super shy,” he said. “And then I was like, ‘I’m too broke to be shy.’”

Now he does TikTok full-time, while his sponsors support him with things such as studio space, housekeeping service and staple food deliveries: “It’s nice to get paid to do what you love.”

Del Valle worked at Disney World before graduating from college in 2020. Of all the TikTok collectives in L.A., Familia Fuego may have the highest proportion of members who can instinctively show you how to do a “Disney point,” the special hand gesture park employees have to learn.

The rest of the crew followed their own winding paths toward influencerdom. Villa, a 24-year-old Chicana, used to work at a catering company. Ferregur, 21 and from a mixed Mexican Cuban family, did boat rentals. González, 27 and also Mexican American, hoped to become a television reporter. He worked at broadcast stations across California and Nevada before a TikTok of him parodying a newscaster blew up and he decided that social media might be a “less traumatic” career.

“I’ve never been able to call myself an influencer,” González said when The Times spoke with him and the rest of the Familia. All five sat around the house’s dining room table; González had recently passed two million followers on his personal account, and they were celebrating over croquettes and guava pastelitos. “But after a content house, maybe you’re an influencer.”

“I still cringe,” Ferregur said. “I don’t call myself an influencer.”

“In Ubers, I always tell people I’m a freelance video editor,” González agreed.

Click here to read the full article on the Los Angeles Times.

These Afro-Latina Beauty Influencers Know How to Celebrate the Wonders of Black Beauty
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Black Beauty Influencer smiling at the camera ina. yellow tank top and light blue jeans. Behind her is a calendar on the wall and some post its

By ASHLEY JIMENEZ, PopSugar

Afro-Latinas are very much a part of the Black diaspora, yet there’s still a major lack of representation. Growing up, I rarely saw Afro-Latinas in television series, movies, books, or advertising campaigns. Although I recall seeing Afro-Cuban singers like Celia Cruz and La Lupe in music, there was still a massive part of the media counting us out. Pop culture consciously spoke to Latinas who saw themselves reflected in celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Mariah Carey. Although these A-listers are glamorous, respectfully, they do not represent the diversity of Black beauty within our community. They cater to Euro-centric beauty standards such as fair skin, light eyes, and straight hair.

Hence Afro-Latinos within the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia, to name a few, are curating their own spaces. And this is especially true of the hair, makeup, and skin-care industries, where influencers and entrepreneurs are forging a representation path for those who identify with these experiences. Here, we collected the perspectives of Afro-Latinas who turn to Black women for inspiration and are honoring the African diaspora and embracing their Black beauty through their brands and the content they share on social media. Because, as Lulu Cordero points outs, “Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty.”

Alexa Dolmo
When Alexa Dolma came to Houston from Honduras, she did not see any representation of herself among the masses. The influencer identifies as Garifuna, a mix of African and Indigenous ancestry, mainly from the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize. Over the years, Dolma tells POPSUGAR, she’s grown to be more vocal and confident about celebrating her Afro-Latina roots on her page and Garifuna Bosses, the platform she created to represent and highlight other Garifuna women. Dolma has featured Black women like Kalifa Marin and Eunice Suazo, the founders of Tru3 B3llas, a hair-care brand that offers detangler brushes, edge controls, and bonnets. “I felt the need to do this because, as a blogger, I always came across pages that highlighted other bloggers, and I never saw one who did the same thing for my people,” she explains.

As a proud Black Latina, Dolma says she saw herself in the rom-com “Nappily Ever After” featuring Sanaa Lathan. Based on Trisha R. Thomas’s novel of the same name, the film illustrates the relationship between Black women and beauty standards imposed on them by society. “This movie shows that our hair is beautiful whether bald or full of coils,” the beauty influencer says.

Lulu Cordero
Lulu Cordero, the CEO of Bomba Curls, wasn’t always proud of her natural hair. Like many, growing up she heard the word pajón when people referenced her hair, but when she stepped into womanhood, Cordero decided to let go of the relaxer and embrace her natural texture. Being an Afro-Latina from the Dominican Republic, she always knew the beauty benefits of natural ingredients, and that’s how she decided to formulate her line of curly-hair products featuring fundamental formulas such as cafecito, rosemary, and more.

“Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty. These are all gifts from our ancestors, and by celebrating said gifts, I honor them,” says Cordero, who remembers watching Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones” as a pivotal moment in celebrating Black beauty and representation. The 1950s American musical features an all-Black cast and tells the story of a parachute-factory worker and an Army corporal. “I’d never seen anything like it before. Before that, I’d only seen Latino media, which has a history of erasing us.” Seeing the iconic Black actor sport a sultry red lip and epitomize retro glam gave the beauty entrepreneur hope.

Sherly Tavarez
Like many Afro-Latinx women, Sherly Tavarez grew up hearing the phrase pelo malo, which means “bad hair.” After years of chemically treating her gorgeous curls, the fashion stylist decided to design apparel to debunk the notion of “bad hair” once and for all. The Dominican blogger created Hause of Curls and is now known for her shirts and accessories that read “Pelo Malo Where?” and her feed that features diverse women within the natural hair community.

“My first time appreciating the beauty of my Afro-Latinidad was when I watched the Netflix series ‘Celia,'” Tavarez says. “It taught me about my background, roots, what it was like to be an Afro-Latina back in the day, and how much we have had to fight to be seen.” She adds: “Back when I was straightening my hair all of the time and honestly being a slave to my hair, I didn’t feel like my true self. I felt like I was celebrating a version of myself that other people told me to be. I didn’t even know what my natural hair looked like until I stopped applying heat and relaxing my hair. Now I celebrate by sharing my journey to natural hair with others and by building this community we have at Hause of Curls.”

Click here to read the full article on PopSugar.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
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