When we say Latinas are breaking through in every industry, we mean every industry. Just look at the outstanding achievement of Twitch streamer Maria “Chica” Lopez, who has joined the icon series of Epic Games‘ popular game, Fortnite.
As announced by the company, Chica’s icon set is now available in the item store and includes five different costume styles.
The icon set is one of 17 rarity types in Fortnite: Battle Royale. This rarity focuses on notable celebrities, artists, and influencers. The most notable inclusions are emotes (Twitch-specific emoticons that viewers and streamers use to express many feelings in chat) with copyrighted songs and other cosmetics based on streamers and artists.
Chica thus joins professional athletes such as LeBron James and Neymar Jr, pop star Ariana Grande, fellow streamer Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten, and others in the Icon Series, which immortalizes celebrities and high-profile content creators with skins and other cosmetics in Fortnite.
Maria “Chica” Lopez is an American Twitch streamer and professional eSports player known for her talent in multi-person shooter games like Fortnite.
Chica started gaming full-time during college and has since garnered over 2 million followers on Twitch, making her one of the most successful streamers on the platform. Maria has also become known for being one of the only prominent streamers to broadcast games in two different languages.
Chica has been a professional eSports player for several years. She first signed with TSM as their first player. Then she signed with DooM Clan and later joined Luminosity Gaming as a content creator and streamer.
Now, the young Latina breaks the glass ceiling and becomes the much-needed representation in the gaming world.
“I take a lot of pride in being not only a content creator but also in my identity as a Puerto Rican woman in the LGBTQIA+ community,” Chica said. “I wanted my Set in Fortnite to be true to who I am. I’ve been able to build such an awesome community within the Fortnite family, and I can’t wait to share my Set with everyone. I’m thrilled to be the first Latina to join the Icon Series.”
Growing up as a child actor and moving on to the world of slasher horror films, Jenna Ortega is no stranger to the screen. But at just 20-years-old, Ortega has received tremendous praise for her work on the screen and off screen, especially in the last year. In 2022, Ortega debuted one of her biggest projects yet, Wednesday, a Netflix series that tells the story a college-aged Wednesday Addams of Addams Family fame. Calling it one of her most pivotal career choices yet, Ortega, who plays the titular role, garnered widespread acclaim for her performance with critics calling it the best rendition of the character yet.
The show has also been highly praised for its majority casting of Hispanic and Latinx actors, with Ortega’s performance bringing in a record-breaking 341 watched hours on its debut weekend.
When she’s not on screen, Ortega spends much of her time in the world of activism. She has been an advocate for the Pride over Prejudice, an organization dedicated to accepting the LGBTQ+ community, since she was 13 years old and has advocated for immigration and equity rights throughout her career.
Photo: Jenna Ortega poses in the IMDb exclusive portrait studio at the Critics Choice Association 2nd Annual Celebration of Latino Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza on November 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for IMDb)
Sources: Wikipedia, Deadline
For the first time in the event’s almost 100-year history, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), hired six of the best women referees in the industry to be a part of the 36 referees and 69 assistant referees overseeing the World Cup. One of these six women was Karen Diaz, who oversaw several World Cup matches as a referee assistant, making her the first Mexican woman to ever officiate the event.
Certified as a FIFA assistant referee since 2018 and garnering 12 years of officiating experience, Diaz is no stranger to breaking records and receiving praise for her expertise.
In 2020, she became the first woman to officiate in Liga MX matches and has overseen several high-profile games for Concacaf (the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) games. Though she has expressed a tremendous love for her job and the game itself, Diaz’s expertise expands to more than just sports, having earned a university degree in agro-industrial engineering.
They say that laughter is the best medicine and for comedian, activist and podcaster, Aida Rodriguez, this couldn’t be truer. First gaining media attention during the eighth season of Last Comic Standing, Rodriguez is best known taking some of the world’s most painful, uncomfortable and important topics and creating a platform where she can speak about them in a comedic way.
In her stand-up comedy debut special, Fighting Words, which premiered on HBO Max, Rodriguez showcases this style by using comedy to discuss everything from her own experiences with anorexia, divorce, death and traumatic experiences to the need to address misogyny and racism, especially towards the Hispanic and Latinx communities. “You should be able to laugh at things that are uncomfortable and inappropriate as long as it’s not being harmful,” Rodriguez told Vulture of her comedic style. “Because for me, that’s the only way that we’re having an honest conversation.”
While Rodriguez is best known for her work on the stage and in front of the camera, she also utilizes her passion for advocacy in other ways. She is currently a co-host for the news commentary channel, The Young Turks, where she candidly speaks on issues of importance and has worked with other equity-focused artists such as Tiffany Haddish.
Sources: Vulture, Wikipedia Photo credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
During the 2020 pandemic, Mayan Lopez took to TikTok in an attempt to discuss an often-taboo topic in the Hispanic and Latinx community, the effect the absence of a father can have on children.
Mainly using comedy, Lopez began to use the social media platform to talk about her own experiences with her father, comedian and actor, George Lopez, and documented the reconciliation that took place between the two during the pandemic. With Lopez’s content gaining millions upon millions of views across her videos, the experience landed the father-daughter duo a new television comedy show, Lopez vs. Lopez, which stars both George and Mayan.
The show, heavily based on the reconciliation between George and Mayan, will attempt to create dialogue about taboo conversations in the Hispanic and Latinx communities and bring the older and younger generations together.
Source: Refinery29 Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles
If 2022 was the year of any author, it was the year of Xochitl Gonzalez. Though she has worked on numerous writing projects for news outlets and as a screenwriter, Gonzalez didn’t release her first novel until January of last year entitled Olga Dies Dreaming. The fictional story follows Olga, a Puerto Rican wedding planner and her experiences navigating love, life, loss and her Puerto Rican roots in the midst of Hurricane Maria.
The novel was praised for its representation of Puerto Rican people and life, quickly climbing the ranks as a New York Times bestseller by the end of its debut month. The novel additionally received rave reviews from renowned book reviewers at The Washington Post, Jezebel and Kirkus Reviews and won several honorable titles such as the Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, Amazon’s Featured Debut of the Month and an Indie Next Pick.
As the novel continues to gain popularity over a year later, Gonzalez is already hard at work at the story’s Hulu adaptation of the same name. It will star Aubrey Plaza and Ramon Rodriguez, and Gonzalez is a co-executive producer and writer for the television series with a currently unknown release date.
Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia, Book Browse Photo Credit: Mayra Castillo
Pulling from her own life experiences and causes that are near to her heart, contemporary artist Juliana Plexxo is using her artistry to spread her messages on an international scale. Growing up in Colombia, Plexxo takes inspiration from the violence that plagued her hometown and ultimately led to the death of her journalist father, Óscar García Calderón when she was a child.
Specializing in a red, white and black color palate, Plexxo’s abstract, geometric painting style has attracted attention from art connoisseurs around the world not only for its unique style, but for its messages in culture, activism and equality. She has had her work displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world such as the Wynwood Art District in Miami, the Taller 46 in Barcelona and the Van Gogh Art Gallery in Spain.
She also specializes in murals and currently has three murals on display in the United States, Ecuador and Spain. In 2022, Plexxo was nominated for the University of Berkley’s “Young Talent of the Year” at the Berkley World Business Analytics Awards, becoming the first Latina under 30 to be nominated.
Sources: BeLatina, Van Gogh Art Gallery Photo Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Just about every career in the STEM field requires some form of university-level education. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you own and then some to pursue your dream job.
Whether it’s through federal funding, non-profit organizations or individual donations, there are tons of scholarship and grant opportunities for students wanting to pursue the world of STEM.
Here are just a few of the scholarships that you can apply for:
The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship
Since World War II, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been doing all they can to support the needs of women engineers across the country. One of the ways they do this is through the SWE Scholarship Program, which provides varying fund amounts to those identifying as women and studying in undergraduate or graduate programs in the STEM field. While the specific amount you can receive varies, the program gave away over $1,220,000 in scholarships in 2021 alone. All students, from incoming freshman to graduate students, may apply but freshman must fill out a separate application form.
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Applications usually often in December for upperclassman and the following March for freshman
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts Scholarships
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AAIA) is an organization dedicated to supporting the future generation of people interested in the aerospace field. One of the ways they do this is through their scholarship program, where undergraduates and graduates alike can fill out a single application and be eligible for consideration for up to three scholarships from their program. To apply, you must be at least a sophomore in college and a member of AAIA.
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. The program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board each year for up to four years for selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. The scholarship may be renewed each year, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Scholars accepted into the program will be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.
Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)
In a collaboration with American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defense, the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program is for students wanting to go into engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, chemistry and cognitive, neural and behavioral sciences. In addition to full tuition coverage, SMART students will receive health insurance, mentoring, internship opportunities and a guaranteed job offer from the Department of Defense. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, be available for summer internships and are expected to accept the job position offered to them upon completing their education.
NOAA Office of Education’s student scholarship programs provide opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience while pursuing research and educational training in NOAA-mission sciences. The Hollings and EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship share a common application and students who are eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both. To be eligible, you must be a sophomore at a four-year university program, a junior at a five-year university program or a community college student transferring to a university.
Amount: $9,500 per academic year plus paid summer internship opportunities
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Opens October 2022/Closes January 2023
Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded the S-STEM Program, a fund that provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be effective in supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways and graduation in STEM. While most of the students who receive this award are studying an area of the STEM field, proposals can be made for funds to be given to students who meet the same qualifications, but are studying a high-demand industry. The amounts distributed depend on the institution.
Not every actor can play a lawyer, cop and galactic senator, but Puerto Rican actor Jimmy Smits has slipped seamlessly into each role. “If you want a long career, it seems to me the more versatility you show as an actor, the better chance you have,” Smits said in a recent phone interview with Hispanic Network Magazine.
And a long and illustrious career he has.
Smits has made a name for himself in television, film and even on stage. He is a pioneer of the police procedural television series, among the first Hispanic actors to have a large role within the Star Wars franchise and enjoyed stints with New York’s Shakespeare Festival. In terms of versatility, Smits is practically a Swiss Army knife.
The award-winning performer credits part of his success to the casts and crews he has worked with.
“I would venture to say all of the shows that have been successful and satisfying in a professional way, whether it be “The West Wing” or “Sons of Anarchy,” have been because of the sense of ensemble,” Smits said. “A group of people getting together, there is a fellowship and camaraderie that is palpable on the screen.”
Smits has likened a cast of actors to the spokes of a wheel when it comes to storytelling, all working together to push a story forward. The importance of community was learned early and it is a theme that has continued throughout his life, both on and off screen.
The ‘Law’ Changed His Life
Born in Brooklyn in 1955 to Cornelis and Emilina Smits, Smits grew up in a working-class neighborhood after briefly living in Puerto Rico. He attended Brooklyn College where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1980 and earned his MFA at Cornell University in 1982.
But the stage was where Smits felt most at home. “I was doing theater in New York and I was doing soap opera work to support myself while I was doing plays,” said Smits. “”L.A. Law” brought me to Los Angeles and changed my life in a lot of ways.”
In 1986, Smits landed his first regular role on Steven Bochco‘s NBC legal drama, “L.A. Law,” as Victor Sifuentes. While he earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1990 for the role, Smits again credits the cast and crew as a whole.
“The good thing that I remember about that show is the fellowship, the ensemble was really tight,” Smits said. “We knew that the show was ground breaking in a lot of ways, and Steven Bochco had a lot to do with that.”
Smits said his heritage played a part in his role as Sifuentes, but it was important to Bochco that the character develop in a way that was authentic, rather than making him a caricature.
“On that particular show, with Steven, it was important to him to establish that character first and foremost as a good attorney,” Smits said. “The fact that he was Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano —those other things would come into play, but first and foremost was to establish him as a good attorney. That stands out to me.” Smits’ role on “L.A. Law” lead to another television role on ABC’s “NYPD Blue” as Detective Bobby Simone, and he was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama in 1995, as well as a Satellite Award in the same category in 1998.
He went on to play Congressman Matt Santos in NBC television drama, “The West Wing.” Smits said he recently stumbled across a West Wing marathon on TV and was struck by the storytelling.
“I don’t do this very often, but I started watching it and it happened to be the last couple episodes of the show,” Smits said. “I was so appreciative of the fact that I had that opportunity and that John Wells wanted to explore something in terms of a person of color in the political arena.”
Diversity in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Stories centered around people of color — and who gets to tell them — is something Hollywood has been grappling with in recent years, and Smits says he’s noticed a shift in the entertainment industry.
“The flourishing of the #MeToo movement and the BLM movement that happened and the pandemic, it left us assessing a lot of social norms and inequities in a different way, I think,” said Smits. “We felt vulnerable.”
He believes those movements created a change in the way the industry thinks about inclusion.
“It opened another door for more opportunities,” he said. “In regards to the Latinx community, we’ve had big jumps because of that, but I still feel that there is a disparity in regards to what our population numbers are in this country.”
Smits has always worked to create more equity within the industry and is proud to bring representation to the big and small screen.
In 2002, he played Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan in “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” one of the first Latinx actors to enter the galaxy far, far away. It is a role he reprised for “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” in 2005, “Rogue One” in 2016, and most recently in 2022 for “Obi-Wan Kenobi.“ Smits said the possibility of bringing diversity to the Star Wars franchise influenced his decision to take the role.
“It definitely was in the mix in terms of making the decision to do it, not only on my part but on George’s [Lucas’] part when we had our initial conversations,” Smits recalls.
Today’s Star Wars franchise is notably more diverse than when Smits first became involved.
“That has changed with this franchise a lot,” he said. “In a good way.”
Moving the Needle Forward
Smits himself has also worked to create more equity in the industry. In 1997, he was involved in the founding of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts — an organization dedicated to the advancement of Latinos in the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries.
“We are making a lot of progress, but of course I want our community to be able to reach its full potential,” Smits said. “Those kinds of steps and the progress that we have made has always been to me, incremental.”
Smits said in each decade, you can name five or six Latinos who’ve made an impact, but the ones he credits with doing the most to move the needle is Latin women.
“When I look to my sisters in the Latinx community, there is no greater example in our community,” Smits said. “J.Lo, Eva Longoria, Sofia Vergara…I can give you 10 names of woman that are really making a wonderful path.”
Smits said he also applauds their leadership behind the scenes.
“They are not content with just being in front of the camera, but they have taken on this other aspect of creating content,” Smits said. “That is a really an important notch in terms of taking our community to the next level.”
Smits says he hopes to continue his work pushing for representation.
In his most recent role, Smits has gone home again, so to speak. He’s returned to a police drama role, starring as Chief John Suarez in his new CBS series “East New York,” which is set in his hometown of Brooklyn. William Finkelstein, who served as an executive producer on “NYPD Blue” in the later seasons, is co-creator of” East New York.”
“I am excited about continuing with them,” Smits said.
He is even more excited about seeing what kind of impact his next character will have, and continuing his long career.
“I had the good fortune and the blessing to be lucky in terms of the roles I have gotten to do and hopefully, I have been able to expand that platform.”
Netflix is partnering with Formation to build a world where people from every walk of life have a seat at the table in tech.
Our program will be completely free of charge for students accepted. It is designed to unlock your engineering potential with personalized training and world-class mentorship from the best engineers across the tech industry.
The below information will be required, and adding why you want to land a New Grad Engineering role at Netflix.
The application requires:
Info about your experience, education, and background
Along with Selena Gomez, Jenna Ortega, Aubrey Plaza, Diego Calva and others, Latinos are represented in about half the award categories in this year’s Golden Globes.
Latinos are represented in about half the award categories in this year’s Golden Globes, including nine nominations for Latino performers and filmmakers.
Their nominations showcase a younger generation of Hollywood, given that six of them are under the age of 40. They also echo a larger nationwide pattern showing Latinos as the second youngest racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., with a median age of 30.
Several of them landed their first Golden Globe nominations this year, most of them for main roles in film or TV.
“The conversation this year is, we made it into the lead,” said Jack Rico, a Latino film critic. If enough Latinos win in their respective categories, it could set the tone for the rest of the awards season.
“We could have one of the best years for Hispanic actors,” said Rico.
Actor Jenna Ortega could become the youngest person to win a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a musical or comedy TV series.
Ortega, 20, earned her first Golden Globe nomination for her captivating performance as Wednesday Addams in the Netflix comedy horror series “Wednesday,” which follows the iconic “Addams Family” character’s journey at Nevermore Academy as she investigates a murder spree.
Of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, Ortega went viral on TikTok as many on the social media platform tried to recreate one of the show’s most memorable scenes: a dance sequence showing Wednesday ghoulishly grooving to The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck” at Nevermore Academy’s annual Rave’N dance.
The show became the second most-watched series on Netflix after it premiered in November. It was also nominated for best TV musical or comedy TV series.
Ortega has said she choreographed the sequence despite not having any previous dance experience. She was inspired by such punk and rock performers as Nina Hagen and Siouxsie and the Banshees, as well as by watching archival footage of goth kids club dancing in the 1980s.
Another first-time nominee in the same category as Ortega is Selena Gomez.
Gomez, 30, was nominated for her performance as Mabel Mora in Hulu’s true crime satire “Only Murders in the Building.” The nomination serves as vindication over last year, when Gomez’s co-stars Martin Short and Steve Martin received acting nominations and she did not. Short and Martin also received acting nominations this year.
Gomez, who has roots in Mexico, also serves as an executive producer for the show alongside her co-stars.
“Only Murders in the Building” centers on three true-crime obsessed New York City neighbors who suddenly find themselves caught up in a murder mystery. The show was also nominated for best musical or comedy TV series.
Also joining the club of first-time Latino Golden Globe nominees are Aubrey Plaza, Diego Calva and Diego Luna.
Plaza, 38, who is half Puerto-Rican, was nominated for best supporting actress in a limited series for her performance as Harper in HBO Max’s “The White Lotus,” which follows the exploits of various guests and employees at a luxurious Sicilian resort.
Her deadpan humor and sarcasm on “White Lotus” made her a fan favorite, alongside fellow cast mates Jennifer Coolidge and F. Murray Abraham, who were also nominated for their supporting roles. The show was also nominated for best limited series made for TV.
As 2022 comes to a close and the New Years’ resolutions start to flow, you may have “Pursue a New Career” as one of your 2023 goals.
The STEM field is growing now more than ever with jobs in every sector of science, technology, engineering, arts and design and mathematics. Here are the top jobs in the STEM field going into the new year:
Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems and software. They are usually responsible for designing and operating medical equipment and devices such as artificial organs, prosthetic limbs and diagnostic technology. The bioengineering field is one of the highest “in-demand” jobs currently. They are currently estimated to grow at about 10 percent, a much higher rate than average.
Education: Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, biomedical engineering or a related engineering field. Some positions require a graduate degree.
Top States of Employment: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas
Average Pay: $97,410 per year
Physicists study the interactions of matter and energy. Theoretical physicists and (including astronomers) may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. They typically work on research teams to conduct research and experiments about the natural world, but they also work to design and create lasers, telescopes and other scientific equipment that will aid them in their research. Not only are jobs in this field in high demand, growing at about 8 percent, but are one of the highest paid jobs in the STEM field today.
Education: Physicists and astronomers typically need a Ph.D. for jobs in research and academia. However, physicist jobs in the federal government typically require a bachelor’s degree in physics.
Top States of Employment: California, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Virginia
Average Pay: $147,450 per year
Computer and Research Information Scientists
Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine etc. and have a profound knowledge in programming, complex algorithms and robotics. Many of their day-to-day tasks consist of research, computer work, team collaboration and experimentation. Jobs are growing at a little over four times the normal rate compared to average, with a whopping 21 percent increase.
Education: Computer and information research scientists typically need a master’s or higher degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering. For federal government jobs, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for certain positions.
Top States of Employment: California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Washington
Average Pay: $131, 490 per year
Software developers create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. They typically work with cliental to assess the company’s current programming and computer systems and work to create systems that are more efficient and helpful to their needs. They can also be responsible for the creation, development and functionality of computer programs and systems. Software development is a rapidly growing industry with a 25 percent outlook.
Education: Software developers typically only need a bachelor’s degree to work in the field.
Top States of Employment: California, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington
Average Pay: $109, 020 per year
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, maintaining software, monitoring networks and fixing potential and confirmed program threats. They must also keep up to date on the latest news and developments surrounding the tech field. IT Analysts are one of the fastest growing fields in the STEM field at 35 percent.
Education: Information security analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, along with related work experience. Employers may prefer to hire analysts who have professional certification.
Top States of Employment: Florida, Maryland, New York, Texas and Virginia
Average Pay: $102, 600 per year
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, NBC
On September 10, 2022, CMD-IT and fiscal sponsor, ACM wrapped up the 2022 CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference in Washington D.C. This was their first in-person conference since 2019 in San Diego, California.
The 2022 conference theme, “A Time to Celebrate! Resilience, Adaptability and Innovation in Computing,” was brought to life as over 1,700 students, supporters, presenters and volunteers came together at the Marriott Marquis and Washington Convention Center to participate in sessions, reconnect with others in the community and celebrate diversity in computing!
The CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference is the premier venue to acknowledge, promote and celebrate diversity in computing. The goal of the Tapia Conference is to bring together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers and professionals in computing from all backgrounds and ethnicities in order to:
● Celebrate the diversity that exists in computing.
● Connect with others with common backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities and gender to create communities that extend beyond the conference.
● Engage with computing leaders in academia and industry.
● Be inspired by great presentations and conversations with leaders with common backgrounds.
The Tapia conference brings together CMD-IT’s target communities: African Americans/Blacks, Native Americans/Indigenous People, Hispanics/Latinx and People with Disabilities.
The Tapia 2022 conference offered a variety of intellectually stimulating talks from leaders in computing, along with enrichment opportunities like professional development workshops, a career fair with over 100 supporters and significant opportunities for networking. The conference concluded with its usual, fun-filled dance party.
Mark your calendars for Tapia 2023 on September 13-16 at the Gaylord Texas Resort in Dallas, Texas. Join the CMD-IT mailing list to stay connected with the Tapia Community or visit tapiaconference.org for Tapia conference updates!
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.
Despite the fact that Hispanic/Latinx individuals make up 17% of total employment across all occupations in the U.S., they continue to be underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers, comprising only 8% of all STEM workers.
Addressing the challenge of diversity and equity in STEM is crucial and will require multi-faceted efforts that amplify the voices of underrepresented employees and create workplace cultures that center inclusion. This is particularly important for STEM companies, as diverse and inclusive environments lead to better ideas, more fruitful collaboration, and more innovative approaches to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse world.
Pictured: Blanca Batlle-Aguirre (left) and Lindsey Silva (right) speak at a Genentech “Change Sequence” event.
Genentech, a South San Francisco-based biotechnology company, is working to address these challenges. Earlier this year, the company committed to doubling Hispanic/Latinx representation among their top leadership ranks by 2025, and has developed several internal initiatives to enhance cross-cultural understanding and foster belonging among all employees.
Two Latinx leaders at Genentech, Blanca Batlle-Aguirre, Senior Trainer, Ophthalmology Access & Reimbursement, and Lindsey Silva, Senior Manager, Microbiology Global QC Technology, are contributing to these efforts by driving employee resource groups aimed at giving back, building community, and advocating for Latinx people in the workplace. Throughout their careers, they have discovered the following insights on what it means to bring their full authentic selves to the workplace, and hope to encourage others in their communities to do the same.
Be Your Authentic Self and Embrace Your Roots
“We shouldn’t feel guilty about being who we are and what our cultural identity is. We need to see it more as a source of strength and a superpower. We need to change the mindset that it is unprofessional to show up as our authentic selves. The more we talk about it, and role model it, the easier it will be,” says Lindsey who grew up in a multi-generational home with her Bolivian mother, Mexican American father, and Indigenous Aymara and Spanish grandfather.
When she took on a leadership role at Genentech, one of the first things she did to get to know her new colleagues was to have breakfast, but instead of bringing coffee and donuts, she brought homemade pastelitos and salteñas. “It was a great way to build camaraderie and showcase who I am as an authentic leader,” says Lindsey.
Take Initiative and Build Community
Blanca grew up in a diverse community in the Mission District in San Francisco where she learned at an early age the importance of inclusion. She is now the lead for VIDA, a Hispanic/Latinx employee resource group at Genentech.
Blanca says “I want to change our community from the inside out to make everyone feel engaged and included. At Genentech, we are also empowered to impact our communities, even outside of the workplace. For example, in 2020 we led a voter registration campaign, and invited a health equity advocate to address questions about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.”
This year, she’s excited about the impact that VIDA will continue to have, in part by uplifting the voices of Spanish-speaking patients and advocating for more in-language services to address the healthcare access barriers faced by Latinx patients.
Trust Your Expertise and Seek Allies for Support
As an introvert, Blanca learned to trust her intuition and expertise at Genentech. She says, “Naturally I’m an introvert, and I’m grateful to those people that would pull me aside and ask me for my opinion. They would reinforce that I should speak up and share my ideas. I was able to build up my confidence through a few really strong mentors, and as a result, I’m able to speak up for myself and others as well.”
She adds, “I know there are introverts on my team, so I think about how to pull the best out of them as well. It is important to me to create that sense of inclusivity for all.”
Use Your Voice to Amplify the Conversation About Diversity
Throughout her career, Lindsey has embraced diversity and inclusion and hopes that it becomes a larger conversation in the workplace. She says, “I want diversity and inclusion to be discussed more. Science isn’t just about the technical aspect; it’s about the people as well. When I share this with colleagues, it makes them more comfortable to share their Latinidad.” She adds, “Scientific innovation comes from a diverse mindset and a culture of inclusion.”
Genentech aspires to create meaningful change and foster an environment where all employees can bring their full selves to work, like Blanca and Lindsey. Learn more about Genentech and explore career opportunities at careers.gene.com.