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.

 

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.”

You might be interested: How systemic racism is costing the U.S. trillions

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.

latinos nominated to the cabinet

A closer look at the Latinos nominated to Biden’s Cabinet

Many changes are underway as we settle into the new presidency. Among issues of immigration reform and COVID-19 relief, another key topic is that of President Biden’s cabinet nominations. Representation and diversity have been central to President Biden’s choices for top White House positions. During the 2020 election, he promised to nominate “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” stressing that he wanted leaders that look like America. Among the Cabinet nominations are many historic firsts including multiple Latinos nominated to the Cabinet. 

Julie Chávez Rodriguez has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (Photo credit: White house photo office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“A Cabinet that looks like America”

The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office and comprises some of the most senior positions in the executive branch. Historically until now, these positions have remained mostly male and white. However, if all of Biden’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will contain more women and people of color than any other Cabinet in U.S. history.

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden said. 

Data shows that among the Cabinet appointees confirmed in the first 100 days of the last three presidential administrations, almost 72 percent were white, and 73 percent were male. Additionally, women have never made up more than 41 percent of a presidential Cabinet, and Black Americans have never accounted for even a third of the Cabinet.

Among Biden’s first 100-plus staffers, around 60 percent were women, more than 50 percent were people of color and 20 percent were first-generation Americans. 

Latinos Nominated to the Cabinet 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Office of the attorney general of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services

Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical Cabinet position as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and navigates a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as HHS secretary. Prior to becoming California attorney general, Becerra served 12 terms in the U.S. House, rising to a top leadership post and helping to steer the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Miguel Cardona, nominee for secretary of Education

Connecticut Public Schools commissioner and former elementary school teacher Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nomination for secretary of the Department of Education. With his nomination, President Biden delivers on his promise to nominate a teacher for the top education job. Now Connecticut’s top education official, Cardona began as a teacher at his former elementary school. He became the state’s youngest principal in 2003, and eventually the district’s assistant superintendent. 

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Cardona would be tasked with helping the administration get students and teachers back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic forced at-home instruction in districts across the country.

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security (Photo credit: official Department of Homeland Security (government) portrait, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas previously served as deputy secretary of Homeland Security and as U.S. Customs and Immigration Service director during the Obama administration. In 1998, Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. attorney in the country. He served as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California until April 2001. He’s currently an attorney at the global law firm WilmerHale. If confirmed, he will be the first Latino and immigrant to hold the job. 

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration (Photo credit: State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Latina business leader, Isabel Guzman is the first Latina named to a cabinet-level position. Biden nominated her to head the Small Business Administration as Latino businesses struggle to survive with fewer resources and less funding.

Guzman is currently the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

“And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery,” Biden said when introducing Guzman as his choice.

Latinos nominated in other areas of government

In addition to the Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, President Biden has also continued his mission for diversity in his selections for other positions. Other Latinos who have been appointed to high-level positions include: Julie Chávez Rodriguez who has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and Adrian Saenz has been appointed deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement. 

“It’s not going to be easy. I don’t go into any of this with rose-colored glasses,” said Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the civil rights leader César Chavez.

Chávez Rodríguez will work with governors and local officials who are worried about security, pandemic surges, the challenges of mass vaccinations and states’ economic hardships. Despite the “overwhelming” challenges ahead, she said there’s “a real hunger” among governors of both parties and mayors to help solve problems.

“While, yes, we have multiple crises we are facing, I think there’s a real moment for a collaborative government that I am really excited and energized by.”

Confirmations for Biden’s cabinet nominations are expected to continue over the coming weeks. As of now two of Biden’s 23 nominees have been confirmed.

President Biden to propose immigration reform bill that will legalize 11 million

During his first days in office, President Joe Biden’s first agenda is to address the long-elusive goal of immigration reform with a groundbreaking legislative package and immigration bill that will grant a quicker pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country without legal status.

immigration reform

Photo by Metin Ozer on Unsplash

Biden’s immigration reform bill: “Restoring humanity to our immigration system”

On Saturday, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, sent a memo to the administration’s senior staff that said the new president’s agenda includes “the immigration bill he will send to Congress on his first day in office,” which Klain asserted would “restore humanity to our immigration system.”

Biden’s proposal lays out what would be the most sweeping and comprehensive immigration reform package since President Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted legal status to 3 million people who were in the country without documentation.

In an interview with Univision,  VP Kamala Harris gave a preview of the bill’s provisions. The new immigration bill will provide shorter pathways to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of people, including automatic green cards for immigrants with temporary protected status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Wait times for U.S. citizenship would also decrease from 13 to eight years under this bill, and there would be an increase in the number of immigration judges to relieve backlog in cases.

This bill differs from many previous immigration bills passed under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The key difference being that the proposed legislation “would not contain any provisions directly linking an expansion of immigration with stepped-up enforcement and security measures,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who has been consulted on the proposal by Biden staffers.

“This notion concerning immigration enforcement and giving Republicans everything they kept asking for … was flawed from the beginning,” she said.

Hincapié added Biden’s team would be able to bypass legislation to quickly make a number of administrative changes.

She expects him to announce several executive actions that would expand DACA, overturn Trump’s 2017 travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries and rescind Trump’s public charge rule, which allowed authorities to deny green cards to immigrants who use food stamps or other public benefits.

Setting a new tone: “It’s not going to be about walls.”

Under Biden’s immigration bill, immigrants would become eligible for legal permanent residence after five years and for U.S. citizenship after an additional three years — a faster path to citizenship than in previous immigration bills.

“I think this bill is going to lay an important marker in our country’s history,” said Lorella Praeli, an immigrant and longtime activist who has been talking with Biden’s staff, noting that the measure “will not seek to trade immigration relief for enforcement, and that’s huge.”

Praeli, president of Community Change Action, a progressive group based in Washington that advocates for immigrants, described the bill as “an important opening act.”

“If there is a silver lining to the Trump era, it’s that it should now be clear to everyone that our system needs a massive overhaul and we can no longer lead with detention and deportation,” she said.

You might be interested: “Kids in Cages” Warehouse detention center shuts down for renovations

On the topic of undocumented essential workers, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said “It’s time for essential workers to no longer be treated as disposable, but to be celebrated and welcomed as American citizens. If your labor feeds, builds and cares for our nation, you have earned the right to stay here with full legal protection, free from fear of deportation.”

Additionally, Leon Rodriguez, who was director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2014 to 2017, said that, “the public attitude toward immigration enforcement is at a different place in 2021 than it was at any point prior to the Trump administration. I think there just has been a lot of things about how immigration enforcement was executed under the Trump administration that didn’t sit right with a lot of Americans.”

However, he believes Biden’s overall approach will set an entirely different tone in the conversation of immigration reform in America. He sees a more hopeful, positive era ahead.

“It’s not going to be about walls and keeping people in Mexico,” he said.

While the ambitious bill is a great first step for the new administration, the bill will likely face months of political pushback on Capitol Hill by conservative voters, even with Democrats holding the White House and slender majorities in both chambers of Congress.

Still, if the broader bill were to die or take too long to pass, there are alternate venues Democratic leadership can take to legalize a substantial group of people — specifically the estimated 5 million essential workers now in the country without legal status.

One possible alternative would be to take advantage of COVID relief measures. Democratic leadership could decide to include measures offering legal status to essential workers via a process known as budget reconciliation. This process would only need 51 votes to pass the Senate.

“We are talking about potentially 5 million workers who have put their own lives on the line as essential workers,” Praeli said. “You cannot be essential and deportable.”

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King’s Day: Which “DREAM” is dying in America?

Today, Martin Luther King’s dream seems more unreachable than ever, and his aspirations for a more equal and inclusive society feels like a defeat in light of recent events in Washington DC. But is Dr. King’s Dream really the one that is dying?

Martin Luther King

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Photo By Yoichi Okamoto – Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Image Serial Number: A1030-17a. http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/photo-archive/photolab-detail.html?id=222, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1303469)

Thirty years ago, we moved to the United States seeking stability and a promise that our individual efforts would pay off to a better life for me and my children. We were tired of years of turmoil and unrest, violence and submission to anti-democratic regimes that took away our willingness to fulfill our dreams. We painfully left our family and friends believing that it was the right decision for our family.

When we decided to try the American Dream instead, little we knew that in the United States, the American Dream works if you meet certain conditions. The famous words of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness” only works if you are white, or rich or educated in America -and even those conditions don’t work in all cases.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

After all those years of sacrifice, and working tirelessly to get ahead as immigrants and Latinos, we saw in dismay the assault to the Capitol by thousands of angry Americans who firmly believe there has been an attack to “their” democracy and voting rights.

It felt unreal. And then again, it was not.

Storming of the US Capitol, Martin Luther King

2021 Storming of the US Capitol (By Tyler Merbler – https://www.flickr.com/photos/37527185@N05/50812356151/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98641393)

Moreover, over 74 million people in this country voted for a President that has been the epitome of deceit and discrimination, enraging large portions of the population into believing that they have been left behind.

An they have been left behind, not by one party or by one government.

They are being left behind by history, and by economic forces that care little about their well-being. Donald Trump is just a messenger, a great marketer who was able to pack those pain points in the most successful branding campaign in the political history of this country.

Being left behind by history, the loss of the “White American Dream”

The U.S. population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, in numbers and its behavior. Minorities have reached new records in history. Latinos have now become the first majority minority, interracial marriage and births have grown at a fast pace -especially among post-Millennial generations-, immigration is now growing at a higher pace in the second and third generation of  the US born than from those coming from abroad, and women and minorities are flooding into a college education.

Americans have mixed views about how the country might change when minorities make up a majority of the population. Not everybody thinks it will be best for the country or for themselves.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.” Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

And social media has opened a window of opportunity for the country -and the world- to see how we as Americans behave in different circumstances. We cannot hold truth to our values of freedom and democracy, the “White American Dream”-which has certainly justified one too many interventions in foreign countries-;  we cannot judge other governments as anti-democratic or anti-human rights regimes when we show and brag on social media our darkest behavior in police brutality and assault to the nation’s site of government during an electoral process procedure.

Lastly, the archetypical American messages of “freedom” and “justice” have always been paired with “at any cost,” or “it’s not free,” or “by your own hands.”

From Westerns movies in the past to today’s normalization of injustice on popular crime TV series and the media, Americans are bombarded with messages that poison their minds into believing that “if it’s on TV, it must be true.”

The vivid power of images engages the brain in perceiving a “parallel reality” that might not even exist in the real world -a human brain feature that has been used by storytellers since the dawn of times. The brain has limited processing resources and relies on filtering mechanisms that process some external events at the expense of others. Those filtering mechanisms… well, they are acquired in childhood and with our life experiences, which brings us to the topic of poverty.

Westerns

Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy (marketed as “the Man with No Name” (By movie studio – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25888150)

Poverty and the economic forces behind the White American Dream

When you think “the poor,” or “poor people,” what image comes to mind? Men or women? White or Black of Hispanic? Old or young?

You probably do not think of yourself or your church’s friends, or even people who live down the block from you. Poverty is something that happens to people who do not work hard enough or do not save enough or they do not manage their finances in a reasonable way.

And then the pandemic hits and you lose your job or your business. You have some savings for maybe three months or have credit card debt or student debt because you thought an education will get you ahead.

Your rent or your mortgage payments fall behind, maybe your car payments or other lower priorities because your family needs food and heating and a connection to cable so the children can do home schooling.

You are now “officially poor.”

In 2018, the poverty threshold in the United States was defined at $25,000 or less for a four-person household earning but that means “abject poverty.” Main factors in being “officially poor” include place of birth and age, a person’s race, even their level of education and the role models they have seen at home.

Their health, family and their citizenship status are also big components of poverty in America, the so-called “richest country in the world,” which by 2019 had almost 11 million children living in poverty -and many were homeless.

“Most Americans fall into at least one of these conditions, while some might fit several. And while we might not think of ourselves as “poor people,” none of us are immune to poverty, now more than ever due to the pandemic and the economic crisis.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

From there to here, when the “White American Dream” started to die?

The 3% of the richest population in America has grown 10 years in a row.

So, you start wondering why you have become poor while three percent of your American neighbors have grown super rich for the 10th year in a row. What are you doing wrong?

The economic disarray and vulnerability in which over 80% of the population in America lives today started in the eighties with the policies of “Reaganonics” that destroyed the American middle class, created the super wealthy, and paved the way for Trumpism, some economists agree.

After years of economic loss and feeling more vulnerable than ever, the American middle class is angry at everything and anything: immigrants, Blacks, China, you name it, Trump has brought it up. And fear brings the worst out in all of us -you flee or you fight.

Which brings us back to the recent events in DC on January 6.

You might be interested: La cultura de la pobreza, a stigma in minority communities

How we mend a “sick social body”

Somehow, we have all created the enemy from within, even those of us who believe in civil rights, social rights, equity and equality. We have created the enemy from within, the inside censor that prevents us to speak freely. “You don’t talk about politics or religion in any social encounter,” was one of the first warnings I learned from American culture.

We have come to think of others as a “basket of deplorables,” or people who “worship Satan and traffic children for sex,” both sides dropping a number of despicable offenses to each other including verbal and physical bullying and threats.

This is not the country I moved in 30 years ago, and the country I want for my American born granddaughters. As we teach them about their Latino roots, our past and our origin, we also help them understand that communication is key in a world that is getting sicker with hate and blame every day.

Because the real fight is not on the streets but forever in our minds and in our hearts. The love for people and country sits with us at the kitchen table every night. It may sound simple and it may look unimportant, but each word that comes out of our mouths in front of our children has the power to impact their minds, and that is no little task.

“We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time… Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

You might be interested: How systemic racism is costing the U.S. trillions

 

 

 

 

 

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz behavior damages the Latino brand and leadership

Ted Cruz, Senator for Texas, continues to damage the Latino brand.  In light of the assault by extreme individuals to the Senate yesterday during the affirmation of the Electoral College vote,  I remembered an article I wrote in October 2013 –a version of which follows– that is appropriate still today. Although LatinasinBusiness.us is not a political publication, we still believe it is in our best interest as a community to discuss matters of branding and leadership.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz meets with President Trump and First Lady in El Paso, TX Aug. 7, 2019. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A personal brand is an asset that needs to be cherished and promoted. We, as professionals, business owners, leaders and influencers in our communities know this concept very well. There are certain values that, as Latinos, we all treasure and recognize as important such as personalism, respect, loyalty and a sense of community.

Despite our differences, based on country of origin, degrees of acculturation or even political views, when one member of the pack is attacked, then we react as a whole. We have earned our reputation of a hard-working community with no little pain and we would not accept otherwise.

So when the disturbing behavior of a U.S. Senator of Latino origin, beyond his political position and party, generates the type of damage that Senator Ted Cruz causes to the Hispanic people of this country, it is worth to analyze his position under the lens of a cultural approach.

A comment made to me in a conversation about the government shutdown put me over the edge, not politically but culturally. “One of your people,” said the person in question. It really hit home.

Is Ted Cruz one of “my people?”

Cultural characteristics of a Latino leader

As a community, Latinos have made incredible advances in economic and political power.  We represent the largest minority in the country at almost 55 million Hispanics and expected to reach 106 million by 2050 with a buying power projected to 1.5 trillion for 2015. The Latino vote also defined the last presidential elections of Republican President Bush and Democrat President Obama.  Moreover, those who dare to oppose the Latino community interests and concerns are politically doomed, and great efforts are being made by certain candidates to schmooze the Latino voter.

Ted Cruz position on immigration.

Ted Cruz position on immigration.

The need to increase leadership among members of the Latino community is, however, a matter of constant action and concern for Latino leaders from all walks of life and across the country. One particular concern is related to the lack of political representation of Latinos in federal, state and local governments.

So when “one of our own” reaches a position of power, it is desirable that he or she portrays the values that are close to our community’s heart.

What are those values that make us who we are as a people? What are those characteristics that unite us and project us to the leadership positions we deserve while making important contributions to the American society?

Latinos treasure and build interpersonal relationships around personalismo, respect, loyalty and leadership, with a high level of collectivism based on a deep care and concern for family and community.

True Latino leaders practice personalismo as a value that enhances the importance of the other person over the task at hand. Putting personal ambition over the interest of the community is an undesirable trait seen as self-centered and individualistic. The individual that practices such behavior is rejected as an outcast – un avivado or ventajero, someone who takes advantage of the rest to his own benefit.

Latinos also interact with others with this collectivist worldview that puts the interest of others over the interest of self, especially maintaining closeness and dependency with family members, which influences the way Latinos make decisions and perceive and respond to external stimulus.

Differences might be discussed among the members of a family but the young and inexperienced are never to stand up to their elders out of respect and loyalty. The same sense of fidelity towards family and friends is translated into the work environment, with respect for their work hierarchy chain or positions of authority.

Ted Cruz position on the American Healthcare Act (ACA).

Ted Cruz position on the American Healthcare Act (ACA).

Individuals who break from the pack are seen as deranged or defiant – locos, irrespetuosos or insolentes, someone who believes, in his or her immaturity, they know better than the collective wisdom of the pack.

Finally, true Latino leaders would look after their community, never building obstacles to impede the achievement of the common good. Based on Christian principles of charity and compassion, they would never refrain from offering aid and assistance to those that suffer or have unfulfilled needs, as we “see Jesus Christ in each other.”

For those who derail from the Christian principles of the faith to avoid finding solutions for ongoing social problems are deemed to face the wrath of God.

“Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then they will answer and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt. 25:41-45)

A version of this article was written for VOXXI on October 2013.

covid19 vaccination

COVID19 Vaccination marks historic day in New Jersey

As Covid19 vaccination marks a historic day in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, University Hospital President and CEO Shereef Elnahal, State health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. walked around the University Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
They watched the first five New Jersey healthcare workers being vaccinated. A small medical refrigerator stocked with thawed vaccines stood next to three computer screens at the end of the room.
covid19 vaccination

Governor Murphy, University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Dean Dr. Robert Johnson, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. visit and inspect University Hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Newark on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres 2020).

Maritza Beniquez, a resident nurse at the University Hospital emergency department, answered a series of questions from ambulatory care tech Sady Ferguson as pharmacists readied the coronavirus vaccine: Does she have allergies? Did she have a fever in the last 48 hours? Is she pregnant or planning on getting pregnant. Did she have recent exposure to COVID-19?“Every day in the emergency room,” Beniquez answered.

Maritza Beniquez was the first person in New Jersey to receive the vaccination. (Photo credit Edwin J. Torres 2020).

Covid19 vaccination starts with Pfizer vaccine

Beniquez smiled as Ferguson injected the Pfizer vaccine into her right arm at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday, making her the first New Jerseyan to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials. She received her first dose of the two-dose vaccine on her 56th birthday at University Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.

“This is the best birthday present ever!” Beniquez said, as people clapped and cheered. “I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. This is it. It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday.”

Beniquez remained in her blue leather chair for fifteen minutes, until hospital staff told her she was free to go. She said she examined her arm after because she didn’t feel the shot.
Four other healthcare workers received Covid19 vaccinations during Murphy’s visit: Robert Johnson, dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Sambol, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Yvelisse Covington, medical office assistant in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at University Hospital; and Charles Farmer, an emergency room doctor at New Jersey Medical School.
Covid19 vaccination

Four other healthcare workers received vaccinations during Murphy’s visit: Robert Johnson, dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Sambol, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Yvelisse Covington, medical office assistant in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at University Hospital; and Charles Farmer, an emergency room doctor at New Jersey Medical School. (Photo credit Edwin J. Torres 2020).

On Tuesday, about 80 healthcare workers total will be inoculated at the University Hospital clinic. The clinic –which has the capacity to vaccinate 600 people a day–will be open from 8:30 to 7:00 p.m. each day, depending on supplies, according to Andre Emont, director of pharmaceutical services at University Hospital. The hospital received just under 3,000 doses in its first shipment.

“Kids in Cages” Warehouse detention center shuts down for renovations

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announces shut down of South-Texas “Ursula” warehouse detention center. The facility gained national attention when media coverage exposed the overcrowded, unsafe living conditions and showed “kids in cages” back in 2018. CBP officials say the facility will be closed for renovations until 2022. The renovations plan to redesign the facility and remove the chain-link partitions to provide more humane living conditions. 

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

Warehouse detention center shuts down

Anyone who has been paying attention to immigration reform issues over the past few years will be familiar with the term “kids in cages” and the deplorable living conditions faced by migrants who have been detained for prolonged periods in detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The “Ursula” warehouse facility in South-Texas became infamous when new coverage revealed the harsh, dehumanizing living conditions migrants faced within the facility. Freezing, overcrowded, and filthy the facility packed immigrants–a vast majority of which were young children separated from family–into small chain-link enclosures. 

“Children were in freezing, packed cages and sleeping on concrete,” said Hope Frye in an article with the New York Times. As a lawyer who oversaw a visiting team of inspectors at the Ursula facility, she witnessed first-hand the terrible and upsetting conditions. “It was bone-chilling. Young children were violently ill, separated from their family.” 

Photo by Miko Guziuk on Unsplash

Since then, efforts have been made to put an end to the inhumane treatment of immigrants in these facilities. These renovations are only the first step toward reform at the border. 

“The new design will allow for updated accommodations, which will greatly improve the operating efficiency of the center as well as the welfare of individuals being processed,” Thomas Gresback, a spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, said in an article with The Washington Post.

The renovation, which will be paid for by funds allocated by Congress, will include room partitions that will “afford modest housing accommodations” as well as updating processing areas and providing a recreational area for children. 

At its peak, the center housed over 2,000 immigrants, many being young women and children. The renovated center will significantly lower those numbers, aiming to provide space for 1,100 individuals. 

Ursula’s history and origins

The Ursula center was first opened in 2014 during the Obama administration as a response to a surge of Central American immigrants arriving at the border in search of asylum. At the time, the facility was a welcomed improvement to the previous cramped locations. During the 2014 surge, the bare-bones facilities were not equipped to handle the large influx of individuals, leaving many families out in the heat for hours in exteriors locations. The Ursula warehouse was acquired to remedy this and provide an indoor, climate-controlled environment.  

In 2014, migrants were processed and released quickly from the facilities so the population never grew as overcrowded and unsafe as it has in recent years. However, after the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration the facility soon became overpopulated as migrants were detained for periods of weeks and months on end in unsafe conditions. 

This past year, due to the pandemic, President Trump invoked emergency powers under public health laws to halt most immigration. As such, the facility has been unused since March with thousands of immigrants turned back to Mexico. 

In the fight for immigration reform and as an effort to offer protection to young immigrants, a federal judge ordered last week for the Trump administration to stop expelling young people who arrive on their own looking for asylum in the U.S. 

The future of immigration reform 

While the news of the Ursula facility renovations is welcomed news to immigrant advocates, this is only the first step toward immigration reform at the border. Advocates cautioned that more fundamental changes will be necessary to ensure that migrants are no longer stranded in detention centers for prolonged periods of time. 

“This feels a little bit like window dressing. It is overdue from the perspective that no one should be housed in cages,” said Michael Bochenek, senior counsel in the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, in an article with the New York Times. 

“The more fundamental shift that needs to happen is rigorous application of federal law and an agency standard that calls for expeditious transfer to more suitable arrangements for children and families,” Mr. Bochenek continued. “Nobody was really looking out for the kids. All they had were mats and foil blankets,” he said, describing the conditions he witnessed when visiting the warehouse as part of a monitoring team in 2018. “We talked to teenage girls caring for toddlers in cages. We looked over and saw a boy 7 or 9 years old. The kid was beside himself in tears. He was in deep distress and there were no adults anywhere nearby to find out what was wrong.”

You might be interested: November 1 National Day of Remembrance of Latinxs killed by Covid-19

Latinxs children detention centers

Protests in Elizabeth, NJ about immigrant children detention. Photo credit Chris Boese – Unsplash.com

It’s clear that the current system needs to be reformed. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to do his part to reverse the Trump administration’s approach to immigration and border control. He plans to cut off funds to the expanded border wall and restore the process for welcoming asylum applicants into the country while their cases are in progress. 

Renovations to the Ursula detention center facility are estimated to last 18 months, which will leave border agents without a large-volume facility if a new immigration surge occurs. Last month, over 69,000 migrants were taken into custody along the southern border. Most have been processed at smaller, less-crowded facilities. Still, this 21 percent increase in migrants since September suggests a growing increase in immigration as many individuals are fleeing Central America after recent hurricane devastation, economic distress, and coronavirus related hardships.

Don’t let President Trump keep you from participating in the 2020 Census

The 2020 census is a time for every person residing in the U.S. to be counted and represented. And counting everyone means everyone, regardless of immigration status. Yet President Trump continues to make moves that are hindering the ability for all residents to participate in this constitutionally mandated census. 

How the Trump Administration is trying to deter Latinos from participating

In an article with The New York Times, Janet Murguía–president and CEO of UnidosUS, the country’s largest Latino civil rights organization–urges Latinos to participate in the census. 

“Latinos should not let the president intimidate them into not being counted,” she says.

In the past few months, the Trump administration has made various efforts to affect the census with the intention of excluding minorities who tend to lean Democratic so that federal funds and congressional representation could be redirected to Republican-friendly states. Last month, President Trump ordered the Commerce Department to do what it could to exclude undocumented immigrants and this past Monday it was announced that the 2020 census would end a month early. However, these efforts are in vain. 

“The president doesn’t have the power to overwrite the 14th Amendment, which calls for counting everyone, regardless of their immigration status,” Murguía writes. 

Legally, every resident must be counted. There are few exceptions to this, such as tourists or foregin businesspeople who are not long-term inhabitants of the U.S., but Murguía notes that this does not apply to immigrants who “whether undocumented or otherwise, have put down roots, who own businesses, have become members of their communities and raised families.” 

These efforts by the Trump Administration are simply scare tactics and stunts made to deter minorities from participating in the census, but it is crucial that they do. 

“When the census takes that once every ten years snapshot of our community, Latinas have to make sure that we are part of the photograph that is being taken in that moment,” says Amy Hinojosa, President and CEO of MANA, in the video below.   

Why census data is crucial in building thriving communities

Not participating in the 2020 census will cause real harm and lasting effects to states with large immigrant populations. 

“The fear brought about by the Trump administration’s latest action could result in immigrant-friendly states losing out on federal funds and congressional representation,” writes Murguía. “If immigrants, undocumented or not, or anyone married to an undocumented immigrant, fail to fill out a census form out of fear, they will not be counted and that could mean that children and adults who are U.S. citizens in that household would likely also not be accounted for. And like votes, every person counts.” 

Be A Census Taker (Photo courtesy of 2020census.gov)

Additionally, ending the census a month early will exclude minorities who are more likely to be counted by in-person census workers. Every single person counted helps to bring more funds and representation for their communities. Being counted means having a voice and say in how and where funds are distributed. 

“If just one person is deterred from filling out the census, that’s money that doesn’t go to community schools, hospitals, children’s health programs and the like,” Murguía writes. 

For minority communities, lack of funding can have damaging effects, leading to program cuts that many rely on. Census data is crucial to these communities because it is used to decided where funds will be allocated. These funds are used for programs like Head Start for students, for parks and recreation, and access to health care. 

“We need to make sure there is enough information so that we can build communities where Latino families can thrive,” says Amy Hinojosa. 

You might be interested: Fighting 2020 Census rumors: Test your knowledge quiz

Don’t fall for it: Make your voice heard!

The first step to building those thriving communities is to fill out the 2020 census and be counted. The scare tactics pushed by the Trump Administration hold no legal weight. 

“Just…don’t fall for it,” Murguía urges. “Mr. Trump’s supporters should realize that this will be just another empty promise to be tossed in the pile with others like the one about Mexico paying for the wall, that achieving 6 percent economic growth would be easy, the 2017 tax cuts would pay for themselves, or that the coronavirus would disappear by the summer.” 

Filling out the census form is quick and easy and your data will be protected. There are laws against sharing your data for anything other than its intended purpose, so do not be afraid to have your voice heard.

If you require help or would prefer to fill out the census in Spanish those options are also available to you here.

“Don’t let the president stop you from being counted and contributing to your communities,” Murguía concludes. “He doesn’t want Latinos and immigrants to skip the census because they don’t count, but because they do.” 

Your voice matters. Representation and funds for Latino communities is crucial to building thriving environments. So do your part today by filling out the 2020 census and ensure that your voice is heard.