The topics that make the heart of Latinos pulse every day, and the progress of issues that matter to you, your family and your community.

Colin Powell

Alma and Colin Powell’s lasting American promise to the nation’s youth 

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell spent 35 years in the Army and rose to the rank of four-star general before serving as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. 

Powell passed away on Monday after complications of Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook. Powell had been vaccinated, however he was being treated for myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection; this compromised his immune system and the effectiveness of the vaccine, The Associated Press reported. 

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said. 

Honoring America’s Promise to the nation’s youth through life of service

Born in Harlem to Jamaican immigrant parents, Powell grew up in the South Bronx. His childhood was marked by financial struggle and hardship. In his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey, Powell wrote, “Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx.” From these humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks, becoming a prominent public figure in America and breaking barriers. 

Speaking on how Powell’s early years influenced his actions in life, President Biden said, “He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.”

Alma Powell, author, advocate, speaker and Chair Emeritus, America’s Promise Alliance. (Photo Source)

After retiring from the military in 1993, Powell began dedicating more time to fulfilling that promise. In 1997, Powell became the Founding Chairman of “America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth”, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in America. Together with his wife, Alma, they worked to advocate for and improve the lives of children and youth by ensuring that Five Promises are fulfilled in their lives. 

Alma Powell later wrote the children’s book, “America’s Promise” as a way to teach and exemplify America’s Five Promises to children.

In the playful picture book, Alma Powell introduces young readers to the basic principles of America’s Promise — caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve.

“Our mission is to mobilize people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of our nation’s youth by fulfilling five promises for young people,” Alma wrote

The Five Promises ask Americans to step up and create a world where the nation’s children can thrive and achieve adult success: 

  1. Caring Adults in Every Child’s Life – Develop relationships with parents, tutors, mentors, coaches, and other adults with an interest in the child’s well-being.
  2. A Safe Place After School – Create locations with structured activities during non-school hours.
  3. A Healthy Start -Provide good nutrition, protective immunizations, and sound dental care and hygiene.
  4. Marketable Skills – Offer effective education and practical experiences for career development.
  5. Opportunities to Give Back – Encourage community service – so that the cycle continues.

Throughout his life, Colin Powell exemplified these values as a youth advocate, public servant, parent, and leader. His accomplishments and historic firsts as a person of color also made him an inspiration and role model to many young Black Americans. 

Colin Powell

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans, inspiring many through his work, Kamala Harris shares. 

“Every step of the way, when he filled those roles, he was by everything that he did and the way he did it, inspiring so many people,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking on his influence. “Young servicemembers and others not only within the military, but in our nation and around the globe, took notice of what his accomplishments meant as a reflection of who we are as a nation.”

You might be interested: Teaching leadership: Helping children become leaders and develop strong communication skills

By the time Powell retired from the military, he was known as one of the most popular public figures in America, “owing to his straightforwardness, his leadership qualities and his ability to speak in blunt tones that Americans appreciated.” (The New York Times) 

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” said George W. Bush in a statement Monday. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Colin Powell lived a life of service and achieved great accomplishments through his merits. He leaves behind a legacy as trailblazer and role model who broke racial barriers in our nation. As an inspiration to many, his work will continue on, with his lasting American promise to make the world a better place for our youth.

Why words matter: The negative impacts of racial microaggressions

Iloradanon Efimoff, Ph.D. Candidate of Social and Personality Psychology at University of Manitoba, discusses the impact of racial microaggressions on Indigenous and other racialized people. 

“Don’t you go to school for free?”, “You don’t pay taxes!”, “Do you live in a teepee?” are things Indigenous students have heard.

In some cases, there is widespread agreement on what racism is. For example, most people would agree that restricting a racial group’s right to vote in a federal election is racist. (Indigenous people were the last to gain full voting rights in Canada in 1960.)

But in other cases, the agreement is scant — the quotes at the top of this page represent some of those cases. They are examples of racial microaggressions. Racial microaggressions are often considered “minor.”

What are racial microaggressions?

Racial microaggressions are incessant, subtle forms of racism that can be verbal, behavioural or environmental. Racial microaggressions have been described as “racial indignities.”

As a mixed-race Haida woman, I’ve been routinely told I “don’t look Indigenous” or I’m “not like other Indigenous people” because I was born with my mother’s skin tone instead of my father’s. This is an example of a racial microaggression.

Microaggressions may seem small or “micro,” but as incessant forms of racism, they can have big impacts on mental health, physical health and social life.

One study of university students found that non-Indigenous university students regularly asked Indigenous university students if they lived in teepees. Another study found that Indigenous students were stereotyped by others as drunks, addicts or on welfare.

Daily hassles

One way of looking at the impact of racial microaggressions could be to look at daily hassles. Daily hassles are defined as “relatively minor, everyday problems such as commuting problems, family arguments or household repairs.”

The cumulative impact of daily hassles is linked to chronic health conditions like digestive problems, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety and even death. Some researchers have even found that daily hassles have a larger impact on health than major life events given their relentless nature.

The concept of daily hassles show that small things can have big impacts.

Racial microagressions and health

Researchers have shown that racial microaggressions are associated with depression in Latino community members, in university students of Asian descent and create PTSD symptoms in Black participants. Microaggressions are also related to physical health outcomes. Experiencing racial microaggressions during the COVID-19 pandemic was related to physical health issues and sleep troubles for Asians and Asian Americans.

They’re also associated with a whole host of other negative outcomes like substance use, anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts in many racialized groups.

Although there is little quantitative research on the impacts of microaggressions on Indigenous people, qualitative research has indicated that Indigenous people feel disrespected, degraded, uncomfortable or like they have to hide their Indigenous identity after experiencing microaggressions.

Microaggressions aren’t just based on race

Microaggressions can be based on many factors. Researchers have identified microaggressions based on gender, LGBTQ identity and ability.

Experiencing microaggressions based on these other factors can have similar effects as racial microaggressions: for example, experiences of disability-related microaggressions were related to higher levels of anxiety in Canadian university students.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

A person can experience multiple types of microaggressions, due to the intersectionality of their identities.

For example, an Indigenous woman who identifies as bisexual might experience race, gender and sexual orientation-related microaggressions all in one day. Based on research on the impact of microaggressions and daily hassles, it is likely these combined experiences have negative impacts.

What to do about them?

What can people do about microaggressions? Freelance writer Hahna Yoon wrote a piece in the New York Times on how the targets of microaggressions might respond. These discussions are important because microaggressions exist and targets of them must have coping mechanisms. For example, people who experience microaggressions might share their experiences with others who have common experiences as a way to cope.

However, focusing on the target’s response misplaces the burden. A more equitable approach would be to put the onus of addressing microaggressions onto the perpetrators of the microaggressions. But there is relatively little research on this.

One study found that white participants said they were less likely to engage in microaggressions after a day-long workshop on race, racism and racial microaggressions. The study provides hope to those who do this work, but more information is needed.

Microaggressions cause harm. More research needs to be done to understand how best to prevent them. Thinking about how words matter might be a good place to start.The Conversation

Iloradanon Efimoff, Ph.D. Candidate, Social and Personality Psychology, University of Manitoba


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

women in charge

Internships in Congress overwhelmingly go to white students

James R. Jones, professor at Rutgers University – Newark , examines data surrounding the racial disparities in paid congressional internships. The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

When it comes to paid congressional internships, white students get more than their fair share, but Black and Latino students don’t get enough.

That is the key finding of a new report I co-authored with Tiffany Win and Carlos Mark Vera for Pay Our Interns, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that is pushing to increase the number of paid internships in various sectors.

These racial disparities come despite 2018 legislation that provides House and Senate offices with allowances exclusively for paid internships. I investigated whom congressional offices hired with these allowances during the first year that this funding was available in 2019.

I found that while white students make up only 56% of undergraduate college students nationwide, they accounted for 76% of paid interns in Congress. In contrast, Black and Latino students make up 14% and 19% of all undergraduates, respectively, but accounted for only 6.7% and 7.9% of paid congressional interns, respectively.

Why it matters

Racial representation among paid congressional internships is important because internships often lead to paid staff positions. In a 2020 study of congressional staff, over 50% indicated that they started their careers on Capitol Hill as interns. Accordingly, if people of color are underrepresented among paid congressional interns, they will similarly be underrepresented among legislative staff.

That matters because congressional staff are important behind-the-scenes actors in making American law. They provide critical advice, guidance and analysis to lawmakers. Congressional staffers are also involved in nearly all dimensions of legislative work, from coming up with ideas to providing services for constituents to the oversight of the federal government and day-to-day operations of the legislature.

internships,

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

If the only staffers in the room advising members of Congress on policymaking decisions are white, then the policies this nation makes may not be as richly informed as they would otherwise be.

In addition, congressional employment provides a stepping stone to elected office. Today, the highest-ranking women in government, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, both began their political careers as congressional interns.

When people get firsthand experience with how American democracy works, it better enables them to see themselves as leaders and public servants.

What still isn’t known

While our report examines the racial makeup of paid congressional interns, Congress does not collect or publish data on unpaid interns. To this end, it’s not known how many unpaid interns there are or the racial makeup of this group. Some congressional offices may pay their interns with funding beyond the allowances they get for interns, but we don’t believe many do.

What’s next

There are still a lot of unknowns about who works in Congress. My future research will continue to examine racial representation among congressional staff and the mechanisms that lead to racial inequities on Capitol Hill. I also plan to continue to urge Congress to adopt more transparent hiring practices so that this problem can be better understood.

You might be interested: So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

How we do our work

We analyzed congressional payroll data, which provides the names of every paid intern. From the list of people who interned in Congress between April and September 2019, Pay Our Interns researchers conducted an online search for photographs, social backgrounds and past employment data of all interns. We obtained data from a variety of sources, including Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. We collected racial demographic data for 96% of Senate interns and 95% of House interns.The Conversation

James R. Jones, Assistant Professor of African American and African Studies, Rutgers University – Newark

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

latino students

So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

Gabriel Rodriguez, an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools.

Many Americans think of the suburbs as exclusive enclaves for white, middle-class people. Yet reality paints a different picture. In recent decades suburbs across the country have rapidly become more socioeconomically, ethnically and racially diverse.

In fact, since 2010 most people in the U.S. – including people of color – call suburbia home.

Pew Research Center notes that 175 million people live in suburban and small metropolitan areas, while 144 million live in either rural or urban counties. The Latino community has played a pivotal role in spurring these changes.

As an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, Latino education and racial inequality in schooling, I have interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools. Their reflections shine a light on how schools can better support these youth and other students of color.

Opportunity gaps

One in four public school students in the U.S. is Latino, with 40% of Latino students attending a suburban public school. Yet much of what researchers know about Latino students is based on urban schools.

The broader research on students of color attending suburban schools, however, highlights academic and social trade-offs they face. For example, students of color at predominantly white suburban schools must contend with opportunity hoarding – when those with privileged backgrounds build upon their advantages by accumulating more of them. This takes shape, for example, when white parents push to get their children into high-level courses or hire private tutors.

While parents want what is best for their child, these actions can expand inequality, as not all families are able to navigate schools with the same confidence or ease as parents with racial and socioeconomic privilege.

This has led to Latino high school students being viewed as less capable by peers and teachers, being excluded from honors classes and enduring frequent microaggressions.

For example, Claudia, a Latina student at a racially diverse high school in a working-class community outside of Chicago, shared, “I wish people knew more about us beyond stereotypes.” She recalled peers saying, “Oh, you’re Latina? You don’t look like a Latina.” As Claudia noted, comments like that treat Latino students as a monolith.

Pressure to assimilate

Another challenge that students I spoke with frequently cited was feeling like they had to downplay parts of their identities to fit in and succeed academically.

Research highlights that this is a result of teachers and school leaders trying to change or “fix” Latino students and other students of color. Alternatively, schools could empower students to be proud of their cultures and home languages.

latino students,

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

On the social front, Latino students often find refuge with other Latino students. “I feel more comfortable with Latino students because I’m not competing with anyone,” said Michelle, who attended a predominantly white and well-funded school outside of Chicago. “It’s just easier to talk to them because they’re not gonna judge me ‘cause they know the things I’ve gone through.”

When students of color congregate with one another, teachers and administrators can struggle to understand why they self-segregate, often away from white students. However my research shows these decisions are often acts of self-perseverence and opportunities to be their authentic selves.

Silenced by whiteness

Roberto, a classmate of Michelle’s, spoke about how the whiteness of his school created moments where he silenced himself.

“Sometimes teachers would see someone who is quiet, someone who kept to himself,” he said. “But then at other times they would see someone who is intelligent, someone who speaks his own mind. Someone who does whatever he wants.”

Teachers may view silence as disengagement from learning, but for students like Roberto, being silent can be an act of resistance and survival. Being in a mostly white school was difficult, and he felt his perspectives were not always valued.

For example, he and other students in my research spoke about teachers seeking to motivate them to do better academically but at the same time implying they were not trying hard enough.

Students like Roberto also wrestled with stereotype threat – when negative stereotypes about their race, gender or other identity increases pressure on them to perform academically. Latino students spoke about having to represent their Latino community, and how making a mistake in class could confirm negative perceptions about them.

‘We have hella stories’

The young people I interviewed also spoke about moments they perceived to be treated differently than their white counterparts. As Mia put it, “Special treatment has to do with the power white students have.”

Mia’s experiences taught her that white students were valued and believed over Latino students. This is supported by research, which illustrates the power white students and families wield in schools.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

The students also wanted their peers and teachers to acknowledge their complex lives and ambitions. As a student named Claudia put it: “We have hella stories. I’m sorry to say, but we do.”

Samuel spoke about his teachers not understanding his need to work a job after school. “Teachers say you decide school or work,” he said. “Some get mad at us for not doing the [school]work and thinking we’re lazy.”

While there’s growing recognition of the importance of grit – the ability to persevere in difficult situations – research finds that Latino students and other students of color often already possess it, and educators should consider making things easier for them instead.

Many of the students highlighted their appreciation of their teachers’ efforts to support them academically and socially. In talking about one teacher, a student named Chris noted, “She really likes talking about what’s happening in the world right now. She even asks us about the school: ‘Do the teachers treat you right?’ I know that she cares about us.”

Listening to Latino students can guide teachers and policymakers on how to enact culturally relevant practices that combat educational disparities and build upon young people’s cultural and linguistic assets.The Conversation

You might be interested: 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges


Written by Gabriel Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, Iowa State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What you should be reading and watching this Hispanic Heritage Month 

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments and talents of Hispanic Americans. First established 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, it was later expanded in 1988 to cover a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan. 

The month honors Hispanic achievements and also celebrates the independence of various Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. 

Another area of focus is celebrating Hispanic art and culture. Hispanic culture is diverse and vibrant, with each country bringing their own unique traditions and style. From literature to film and arts, Hispanic Americans have contributed greatly to American culture producing stunning and thought-provoking works. 

To honor Hispanic Heritage Month, here are a few books and films by Hispanic creators to celebrate and educate. 

Books to read this Hispanic Heritage Month 

For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez  

The founder of Latina Rebels and a “Latinx Activist You Should Know”(Teen Vogue) arms women of color with the tools and knowledge they need to find success on their own terms. — Google Books 

In For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts, Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez  offers wisdom and a liberating path forward for all women of color. She crafts powerful ways to address the challenges Brown girls face, from imposter syndrome to colorism. She empowers women to decolonize their worldview, and defy “universal” white narratives, by telling their own stories. Her book guides women of color toward a sense of pride and sisterhood and offers essential tools to energize a movement. 

Living Beyond Borders by Margarita Longoria

 In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers. 

A powerful exploration of what it means to be Mexican American. — Google Books 

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz 

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Natalie Diaz weaves together her Latina and Indigenous identity in a collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that are an anthem against erasure of people like herself.

Postcolonial Love Poem is a timely piece that explores various aspects of identity and life as a Latina and Indigenous woman in America today and what it means to love and be loved in an America troubled by conflict and racial injustice.

Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics by Arlene Dávila  

 In Latinx Art Arlene Dávila draws on numerous interviews with artists, dealers, and curators to explore the problem of visualizing Latinx art and artists. Providing an inside and critical look of the global contemporary art market, Dávila’s book is at once an introduction to contemporary Latinx art and a call to decolonize the art worlds and practices that erase and whitewash Latinx artists. Dávila shows the importance of race, class, and nationalism in shaping contemporary art markets while providing a path for scrutinizing art and culture institutions and for diversifying the art world. — Google Books 

You might be interested: 10 Books by Latinx authors to read summer 2021 

Hispanic Cultural films to watch 

In the Heights – In the Heights is a celebration of Hispanic culture and community set against the backdrop of Washington Heights. The film weaves together the stories of various members of the community, telling a tale of love, family, friendship, and culture. 

Lights up for In the Heights, a joyous celebration of heritage and community fueled by dazzling direction and singalong songs.” —Rotten Tomatoes 

Coco – A movie for the whole family, Disney’s Coco tells the story of a young boy in a fictional Mexican village who dreams of becoming a famous musician like his idol. The moving coming-of-age story celebrates culture and family in a fun-loving, heartfelt tale about learning from our elders. 

Frida – Celebrating a cultural icon, Frida tells the bold and controversial life of artist Frida Kahlo. The biopic chronicles the artist’s life, starting in Mexico City, and explores her relationships, politics, and art in a poignant and moving film. 

 

The Graduates – This documentary mini-series explores the many issues in education today through the eyes of six Latino and Latina students from across the United States, shining a necessary light on the hardships Latinx students face. 

“These student profiles offer a first-hand perspective on the challenges facing many Latino high school students, including over-crowded schools, crime-ridden neighborhoods, teen pregnancy and pressure to contribute to the family finances.” — IMDB

The series can be viewed on PBS.

Adriana pavon fashion designer

Mexican roots inspired Adriana Pavon, fashion designer and indigenous rights advocate

Adriana Pavon profile 3_FotorAdriana Pavon is the new breed of Latina entrepreneur who is fast setting the trend for others in this country and the world. A woman of many unique talents, Adriana is not only a stylist extraordinaire but also a fashion designer with a strong passion for her Mexican roots.

Adriana is the creator of Mexico Culture & Pride (Mexico Cultura y Orgullo), an initiative inspired by traditional Mexican textiles and fashion accessories designs that employs artisans and crafters from indigenous cultures around the country.

Mexico Culture & Pride’s first project is a Frida Kahlo-inspired collection that is planned to be exhibited in major international markets.

“This is a project of love for our communities and culture and preserves the heritage for our future generations.  We are currently working on our fair trade commerce certification and on a new collection that will be sold at high-end stores in Paris and Japan,” she announced in an exclusive interview with LatinasinBusiness.us.

So how did success come to fashion designer Adriana Pavon?

Adriana’s beginnings are humble. Born into a family of garment workers in Mexico City, she grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Adriana states that even when she was young, she always played around with fabrics and tried to make fancy garments.

Adriana Pavon fashion designer 3“At the time I was not thinking of becoming a designer but there was just something that attracted me to mixing colors and textures,” she said.Adriana Pavon fashion designer

As she grew older, Adriana began to see the different trends in L.A. in the arts, culture, and ultimately fashion. While she was making a name for herself, her work began to attract the attention of other fashion designers.

After she moved to Detroit, she saw the potential in the local fashion designers community and started traveling the country to look for resources and venues willing to help her feature Detroit designers nationally.

In an interview with WNYC, she said, “The creative outpouring in this city is amazing. I could choose San Francisco or L.A. but I live in Detroit by choice because there isn’t another place where you could come up with an idea and have such a large community ready to share and collaborate with you.” In 2010, Adriana’s fashion line won the Fashion in Detroit Local Designer Award.

Adriana Pavon fashion designer 2

Mexico awaited bigger adventures

She was soon consulting for other businesses and it was on one trip to Mexico that her eyes opened to a bigger adventure in life. She had always been captivated with the local Mexican design industry run by indigenous artisans who used natural fabrics to create intricate and vibrant designs.

But she also observed that the older textile traditions in Mexico were rapidly dying, mainly due to the globalization of textiles and the use of synthetic materials.

Adriana Pavon profile with Frida

Adriana Pavon with Frida Kahlo’s mural (courtesy of Adriana Pavon)

Further, Adriana also noted that her people had no say in what happened to their productions, which were frequently sold all over the continental USA and even Europe.

“While working with the indigenous artisans, I was surprised to know that they become the victims of plagiarism. The indigenous textile traditions that have been a historical part of Mexican culture are being sold across Europe without any compensation for their intellectual work or that of their communities,” she explained.

Adriana felt passionate about these injustices. She wanted to help locals become innovative and yet receive credit and money for their work.

The Mexico Culture and Pride initiative

Adriana Pavon with artesans

Adriana Pavon with Oaxacan artisans

Adriana has always been fiercely proud of her Mexican roots and she desperately wanted to help revive its cultural traditions and the arts. She was impressed by the work ethics of Mexican artisans and soon was heavily invested in the project. She even sacrificed her lifestyle so that her project would come to fruition.

You might be interested: Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz weaves together Latina and Indigenous identity in poetry collection 

Adriana Pavon fashion designer

Adriana Pavon and her Mexico Culture & Pride team

To help boost the Mexican design industry, she recruited top-notch professionals in many related sectors to help Mexican locals thrive and show their talents on a global arena. Some of the clients who helped her were “Project Runway Latin America” and “Mexico’s Next Top Model.”

Mexico Culture and Pride displayToday, Adriana is admired as a leader among the local artisans who revere her work ethic and consider her a role model as a female entrepreneur. For years she dreamed of rejuvenating the culture and preserving the artistic talents of her Latino counterparts, who had no voice.

“This is a very personal achievement to me,” she said. “Currently I have satellite offices in NYC, LA, Detroit, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, Mexico. We are selling our products exclusively through distributors who apply on our website,” Adriana explained.

As far advice for the younger generation who wants to follow in her footsteps, Adriana advises listening to their heart. “Bringing out what is in your heart helps you stay unique and develop your own brand. You will find more satisfaction in your own inspiration than in that of others,” she told LIBizus.

For those of you interested in Adriana Pavon’s designs and fabrics, you can visit her at Mexico Culture & Pride, where she is now announcing her exclusive getaways.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating and honoring the contributions of Hispanic Americans

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15th to October 15th in the United States. The month is a celebration of Hispanic Heritage and  a time to recognize and honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans in the nation’s history, culture, and achievements. 

The history and why we celebrate 

National Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson.  Twenty years later in 1988 it was expanded to cover a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan. 

Many who are unfamiliar with Hispanic Heritage Month often wonder why the celebration begins in the middle of September rather than at the beginning. September 15th was chosen as the start date to recognize and commemorate the anniversary of  the independence day for various Latin American countries. 

September 15th marks the independence of five Hispanic countries who declared their independence in 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th, respectively. 

Hispanic Heritage Month

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

In addition to recognizing the independence of various Latin American countries, the month is a celebration of Hispanic accomplishment. We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as a reminder of all that Hispanic Americans have achieved and helped shape the nation. 

“Our communities are represented by Hispanic elected officials, and our children are taught by Hispanic teachers.  Our future will be shaped by Hispanic engineers who are working to develop new technology that will help us grasp our clean energy future and by the skilled union workers who are going to build it,” said President Biden in White House proclamation

The U.S. Hispanic population is a powerhouse that continues to grow to new heights. According to the 2020 census data, the Hispanic population reached 62.1 million, or 18.7% of the total population in 2020. Additionally, the 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business in collaboration with the Latino Business Action Network revealed that the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last 10 years compared to just 1% for all other small businesses. Were it not for the growth in the number of Latino-owned firms, the total number of small businesses in the U.S. would actually have declined between 2007 and 2012.

“National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important reminder of how much strength we draw as a Nation from our immigrant roots and our values as a Nation of immigrants,” President Biden continued. 

Ways to observe Hispanic Heritage Month 

Hispanic Heritage Month can be observed in many ways. As a celebration of culture and history, individuals can honor the month by engaging with Hispanic created content such as books, films, music, and more. The National Hispanic Heritage Month website, hosted by The Library of Congress, offers many activities, events, and resources to help celebrate and educate. 

Another way to honor the month is to support Hispanic-owned small businesses. Minority small businesses have suffered the most in the past year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Many Hispanic-owned businesses struggled to stay afloat or are still struggling. Supporting these businesses helps put money back into the community and honor the work of Hispanic Americans, ensuring that these businesses will continue. 

You might be interested: 10 Books by Latinx authors to read summer 2021 

Hispanic Heritage Month asks us to look around and take in all that Hispanic Americans have achieved, both in history and today. It asks us to remember we are a diverse and extraordinary community. It asks us to be visible and speak our history. We celebrate by remembering. We celebrate by learning. We celebrate by supporting.

ICE detention contracts banned from New Jersey prisons

New Jersey bans local and private jails from entering into new ICE detention contracts as Gov. Murphy signs bill into law. 

Under the new law, local and private jails in New Jersey are now banned from “entering into, renewing, or extending immigration detention agreements”  with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill was quietly signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy last Friday, making N.J. the fifth state to limit or ban contracts with ICE. 

“This win has been a long time coming, not just for immigrants in New Jersey but for every family separated by detention. Our state now joins the handful of others who are spearheading the fight to end ICE detention nationwide,” said Amy Torres, executive director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice in a statement.

Advocates push for termination of all ICE detention contracts 

While the new law is a great step forward in ending the inhuman detainment of immigrants, it does not affect current ICE contracts, only future ones. In Bergen and Hudson county, long-term contracts still stand. Additionally, a private jail in Elizabeth recently extended its contract until 2023 while the bill waited to be signed. 

“The people inside are the ones being impacted by the delay,” said Chia-Chia Wang of the American Friends Service Committee. “I can only say it’s a hard lesson learned, but I don’t know if that can fully describe the real hardships people face inside.”

For years, counties such as Bergen, Essex, and Hudson defended the controversial practice of immigrant detention, which allowed the counties to rake in millions by charging ICE as much as $120 daily per detainee. However, recently the Democrats running these counties have shifted in their stance toward the practice, with Essex County announcing in April that it would cut its contracts with ICE and the other counties hinting they would be open to terminating their contracts as well

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (Image source)

Advocates are now pushing for more action, hoping to build momentum following the victory of this bill. Many are concerned about the hardships immigrants will face in the remaining facilities still under contract with ICE, especially as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread. Wang has called for all N.J. ICE contracts to be terminated, and other advocates and officials continue to speak out and push back against ICE. 

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State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, a main sponsor of the law, chimed in stating “county jails and other entities should be used to house people accused of real crimes, not to arbitrarily hold people who are trying to live their lives and contribute like anyone else.”

“Many of these individuals are immigrants who have lived in New Jersey for years, enriching our communities, and strengthening local economies,” Weinberg added. “This is a common sense bill and a humane one.”

systemic racism

Black History Month: Steps toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee is hosting a hearing to discuss the H.R. 40 bill which seeks to create a commission that would explore reparations for Black Americans who have faced disproportionate disadvantages due to long lasting systemic racism. If passed, this would be a major step toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

The effects of systemic racism 

Systemic racism, also referred to as structural or institutional racism, is defined as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity,” according to the Aspen Institute. Systemic racism is not something “a few people or institutions choose to practice.” It is ingrained in our social, economic, and political systems and has adapted over time. It identifies the parts of our history and culture that have historically privileged “whiteness” while subjecting people of color to unjust disadvantages. 

Black Lives Matter

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Since the protests from last summer following the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought many issues surrounding racism in the U.S. to the forefront of national conversation. One of the biggest topics in the fight for racial equality is that of systemic racism and dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Systemic racism is present in all systems and institutions and prevents or makes it more challenging for people of color to participate in society and in the economy. Some areas where systemic racism is prevalent include the criminal justice system, employment, housing, health care, politics and education. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some of the ways in which systemic racism in healthcare, employment, and housing has impacted people of color who suffer from disproportionate rates of infection and hospitalization. 

homeless

Black Americans make up nearly half of the homeless population. (Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)

Black Americans face greater, disproportionate disadvantages due to historic practices of racism and discrimination within these systems that have evolved over time. One example of this is the, now illegal, practice of redlining. 

Redlining refers to the system used by banks and the real estate industry in the 20th century to determine which neighborhoods would get loans to buy homes, and neighborhoods where people of color lived — outlined in red ink — were deemed the riskiest to invest in.

This practice made it nearly impossible for people of color to obtain loans and was a form of segregation which kept people of color living in poor, low-income, often urban areas while white people were able to afford homes in the suburbs. 

Redlining was banned in 1968, however the areas that were once deemed “dangerous” or “hazardous” by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp are still more likely to be home to lower-income, minority residents to this day. Black Americans also make up nearly half of the homeless population today, despite making up only 13% of the population. These disproportionate numbers reflect the impact of systemic racism and shows how old systems of discrimination can become ingrained in our society and have lasting effects long after those practices have been banned. 

Steps toward dismantling racism in the U.S.

To properly dismantle systemic racism, change must be made across the board and all institutions must consciously reflect how they may be contributing to the discrimination of people of color or hindering their advancement in society. 

To address the issue moving forward, NAACP President Derrick Johnson outlined three key steps: First, we must “acknowledge that racism actually exists.” Second, we must get involved with organizations that are fighting it. And third, we must elect leaders and policy makers who won’t reinforce or support structurally racist policies. 

“Racism is not a partisan issue, and we need to stop making it a partisan issue,” Johnson said. “It’s a question of morality.”

systemic racism

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

President Biden has pledged to address the issue of systemic racism in his Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity last month where he stated that, 

“By advancing equity across the Federal Government, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone.  For example, an analysis shows that closing racial gaps in wages, housing credit, lending opportunities, and access to higher education would amount to an additional $5 trillion in gross domestic product in the American economy over the next 5 years.” 

Additionally, in his Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2021, President Biden reiterated these sentiments stating: 

“we are also launching a first-ever whole‑government-approach to advancing racial justice and equity across our Administration –- in health care, education, housing, our economy, our justice system, and in our electoral process.  We do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the smart thing to do, benefiting all of us in this Nation.

We do so because the soul of our Nation will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist.  It is corrosive.  It is destructive.  It is costly.  We are not just morally deprived because of systemic racism, we are also less prosperous, less successful, and less secure as a Nation.”

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Another step Congress is taking toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. is the possibility of granting reparations to the families of formerly enslaved African Americans. After the Civil War, reparations were promised to formerly enslaved families, but the promise was never fulfilled. Now, Congress is taking another look at the H.R. 40, the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.” 

The bill has been introduced in every legislative session since 1989, and since the last time a hearing was held on H.R. 40 in 2019, it has garnered the support of 170 members of Congress and 300 organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, NAACP and ACLU. However, in the three decades since the bill was first introduced, it has yet to reach the House floor for a vote. 

Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee is hosting a hearing to discuss the H.R. 40 bill.

If passed, H.R. 40 seeks to establish a commission to study “and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes,” according to H.R. 40’s text.