Afro-Latina musician

Celebrating Black Music Month: 5 Afro-Latina musicians to add to your summer 2022 playlist!

June is Black Music Month and we’re celebrating by shining a spotlight on some Afro-Latina musicians to add to your summer 2022 playlist. 

Created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, Black Music Month celebrates and appreciates the African American musical influences and contributions that comprise an essential part of our nation’s cultural heritage. The month honors the history and rich African traditions that gave birth to different styles of music such as rap, hip-hop, jazz, rhythm and blues, and more!

In the years since its creation, Black Music Month continues to honor Black musicians, singers, and contributors to the music industry, both past and present. 

Below are a few Afro-Latina musicians to check out this month and beyond! 

5 Afro-Latina musicians to add to your next playlist


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Combo Chimbita

Combo Chimbita is the creative unity of Carolina Oliveros (vocals, guacharaca), Niño Lento es Fuego (guitar), Prince of Queens (bass, synthesizers) and Dilemastronauta (drums), who together transcend common concepts of time and nationality. 

Their latest album, IRÉ, channels the fear, rage and empathy of a world in flames into an urgent spirit of musical dissidence. Afro-Caribbean transcendance, bewildering chants, booming drums and psychedelic distortion lay the rhythmic foundation for IRÉ. The musical group found interesting connections [between] music from Colombia and music from Africa and parts of the Caribbean. 

“We just tell stories that we feel,” says vocalist Carolina Oliveros. “We don’t think, ‘Will people understand the words or not?’ That’s not the intention.” 

Amara La Negra 

Amara La Negra is an American singer, actress, dancer, author, and television host. Amara rose to fame after being featured on the first season of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Raised by Dominican parents, Amara is proud of her Afro-Latina heritage. She shares her  “no to racism” in her work and also expressed how proud she is of her race whenever she has the opportunity. 

“There is still a lot of ignorance surrounding the Afro-Latino community, and it has given me all the reason to want to keep fighting for it,” she said in a Rolling Stones article. 

Her unique style is known for “retrofitting male-centric urban Latin music” with her own feminine energy.


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Betsayda Machado

Betsayda Machado is the voice of Venezuela. Raised in the small village of El Clavo in the region of Barlovento, her recent rural recordings with lifelong friend Parranda El Clavo brought new attention to Venezuelan Afro-Soul genre: ‘Tambor’. 

The Afro-soul genre known as ‘tambor’ combines her vocals with danceable polyrhythms in a spirit-shaking percussion and voice fiesta, said to make dancers float.

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Calma Carmona 

From her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico Calma Carmona got her start in 2013 when the Latina soul singer-songwriter released her first EP and opened for Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in Puerto Rico. 

Her voice is described by NPR as “a whisper” over impassioned Afrobeats that rises to “a gritty, intimidating growl.” 

Her music blends atmospheric electronic pads, soulful guitar and bass, and Afro-Latin percussions into a vibrant, colorful array of sounds.


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Mabely Largacha (Mabiland) 

Mabiland has carved out a unique space in the Latine music industry that draws from neo soul, R&B, and the poetics of rap. 

Currently based in Medellín, the Quibdó, Colombia-born artist, is one of the few visible Black queer women in the Latin American music industry. 

Mabiland is making her own way in her career, challenging gendered, racial, and sexuality-based expectations. “I do not want to call myself a leader, as long as I can move and … self-lead [in order] to help others say something,” she says, in a Refinery29 article. 

You might be interested: Colombian musician Alex Le Angel shares how she overcame obstacles as a young Latina in the music industry

We hope you found some new Afro-Latina musicians to add to your summer 2022 playlist here today! Let us know your favorite Black musicians! 

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Día de los Muertos: Celebrating Mexican culture and honoring ancestors through art

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a two-day festival characterized by traditional costumes, parades, food, music and dance. The holiday originated from Mesoamerican roots and later came to incorporate European religion and Spanish culture. Celebrated throughout the Latino community with strong ties to Mexican culture, Día de los Muertos is a time where families celebrate their deceased relatives and honor their memories. 

According to tradition, it is believed that from October 31 – November 2, the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolves allowing the souls of the dead to awaken and return to the living world to feast, drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. Family members treat the deceased as honored guests, leaving offerings such as food at gravesites or on ofrendas in the family’s home. 

The holiday is often known for its colorful displays and iconic symbols, such as the calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). 

Calavera de la Catrina (Skull of the Female Dandy), from the portfolio 36 Grabados: José Guadalupe Posada, published by Arsacio Vanegas, Mexico City, c. 1910, zinc etching, 34.5 x 23 cm. (Source:

The most well-known symbol of the holiday is perhaps, La Calavera Catrina, or Elegant Skull. Created by 20th century printer and cartoonist, José Guadalupe Posada, the image features a female skeleton adorned with makeup and dressed in fancy clothes. Originally created as a statement about Mexicans adopting European fashions over their own heritage and traditions, La Calavera Catrina was later adopted as one of the most popular Día de los Muertos symbols.

Art and culture weave together to celebrate and honor the dead 

Art has been a tool to express and celebrate culture and identity for centuries. For many Latina artists, it is a way to share their unique experiences, explore themes of identity, protest against injustice, and honor traditions. 

Carina Yepez is a Mexican-American artist and educator who works with photography and textiles to explore themes on migration, honoring ancestors and identity. Native to Chicago, Illinois with roots from Guanajuato, Mexico she is dedicated to exploring the patterns of matriarchy and the experience of Chicago migrants. 

cariiyepz: 🌺 florals to the city (Image via Instagram

Carina’s textile work honors generations of women who taught her how to sew. From a rural small town in Mexico to the bustling city of Chicago, she learned the craft from the women in her life. She learned sewing techniques first from her grandmother and mother. Then, while working at a fabric ship and participating in a local sewing co-op, Puntadas del Alma (Stitches of the Soul), Carina continued to strengthen her craft. 

Her creative practice weaves together mediums such as  photography, quilting, writing, art education, storytelling and archiving to create stunning and thought-provoking pieces of art that celebrate and honor her Mexican-American identity. 

Part of the National Mexican art Museum of Chicago’s Day of the Dead exhibit, this quilt celebrates the life of Ofelia Lara.

Recently, Carina made a quilt to celebrate the life of a good friend who passed away. The quilt is part of the National Mexican Art Museum of Chicago’s Day of the Dead exhibit, which honors and remembers COVID-19 victims. 

The quilt is an homage to Ofelia Lara, whose family could not grieve together during the pandemic. Carina, along with Ofelia’s daughter, Maria Herrera  made the quilt together to celebrate Ofelia’s life. 

In an article by ABC 7 Chicago, Carina said she hopes the exhibit will be a comfort to all who see it. 

“I want them to feel a big hug, a big hug that our ancestors are with us,” she said. “The legacy that has passed on to us continues through the stories we share.”

The beautiful and vibrant art piece is a perfect representation of Día de los Muertos. Surrounded by colorful flowers, Carina’s friend shines. This quilt  is a reminder of life, celebration, remembrance, and all the qualities of today’s holiday. 

Día de los Muertos celebrates rather than mourns. It is a time honoring and remembering the lives of those we loved. The holiday attracts attention for its vibrant and colorful symbols and art. For many, art is another way to honor and celebrate the dead. Pieces like Carina’s quilt to her friend bring joy to viewers and reminds us of the love and life of those who have passed on in our own lives. 

The art exhibit, Día de Muertos – A Time to Grieve & Remember, will run from now to Sunday, December 12, 2021.

To see more of Carina Yepez’s art visit

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.

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.

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. 


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.

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., Public Domain,

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 –, CC BY 2.0,

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.


Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy (marketed as “the Man with No Name” (By movie studio – eBay, Public Domain,

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






Happy Thanksgiving table We Gather Together

Thanksgiving a tradition Latinos learn to cherish

It was our first year as an immigrant family. A few days before Thanksgiving,  a small yellowish envelope with little illustrations of red leaves and orange pumpkins arrived at the house: An invitation to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with new friends in the United States.

My family and I arrived in the United States a sunny day in June of 1990. First, it felt like a nice long vacation but the children started school in September and soon winter came over us like a heavy dark blanket. As many immigrants, we had no family or friends, just my husband’s work acquaintances.

Happy Thanksgiving table We Gather Together

Later in November, preparations for Thanksgiving Day started around us. The children brought comments and stories from school and anxiously were asking how we were about to celebrate. In my heart, I was feeling sad that we had no family members with whom to get together but did not want to share the sentiment with the kids, at the time nine and 13.

A few days before Thanksgiving, a small yellowish envelope with little illustrations of red leaves and orange pumpkins arrived at the house: An invitation to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with new friends in the United States. That day, it was not only the beginning of a thankful tradition but also of a friendship that has lasted a lifetime.

Since then, we adopted Thanksgiving Day as our own tradition and we celebrate it each year, maybe not with the same meaning as Americans do but with our own sense of gratitude for all the blessing we receive on a daily basis. Here are some I’d like to share with you:

  • Thanksgiving Day is a day to celebrate living in harmony with each other

As those pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, we are thankful for the opportunities we found in this country and the people who have opened their homes and their hearts to help us. We have learned to live and share our experiences with families from all ancestries, races, religions and other differences that make us appreciate the value of diversity.

  • We welcome those who arrive now as well as those who arrived then

The history of this country is based on the immigrant experience. From the pilgrims looking for religious freedom to those who were forced to arrive in this land through slavery, and from the waves of immigrants who fled wars, famine or political persecution to those who continue to arrive today in search for better life opportunities, we must open our arms and invite them to our tables.

  • Latinos are a grateful culture and we count our blessings

Overall, our shared Christian tradition encourages Latinos to be grateful for the blessings we received. Not everybody is lucky –as we were– to be welcomed in someone else’s home. However, we still need to remember that no matter the circumstances we live in or the challenges we face, we can always find reasons and people to be grateful for: our children and grandchildren, our family –close or extended- our friends and colleagues, and all those who come to our lives to share theirs with us.

  • Make it a day to remember your reasons and your people to be thankful for

My gratitude goes to all who have opened doors for me and my family since we arrived that sunny day in 1990. Some of those doors were their homes’, their offices’ or their hearts’ but one by one they helped us build our life in our new adopted homeland.

¿Y tú, por qué estás agradecido?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.” United States Declaration of Independence

Puerto Rican Chamber of Palm Beach Florida

Preserving Hispanic Heritage by protecting financial well-being

Puerto Rican Chamber of Palm Beach Florida

The Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Palm Beach County  &  our Host WPTV News Channel 5   cordially invites you to our Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Date: Thursday September 24, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

Guest Speaker:

Ms. Shana Peterson-Sheptak Senior Vice President & Regional Manager at PNC Bank

 “Preserving your Hispanic Heritage by protecting your Financial Well-Being”

On this evening we will be recognizing the Achievements of our Hispanic Community. Address: WPTV News Channel 5 1100 Banyan Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Admission: Members: Free Non-Members $5.00  Complimentary Beverages & Hors D’oeuvres! sponsored by Dina Rubio at Don Ramon Restaurant Bring your Business Cards & I.D. to register to vote at this event. For more information please contact the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber at (561)889-6527