This Afro-Latina Is Raising Funds To Open The Bronx’s Only Bookstore


“The Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

Noëlle Santos wants the the Bronx to get lit, with literature.

The afro-boricua launched a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo last month in hopes of opening The Lit. Bar in her borough. The Bronx was left with no bookstores after the Barnes & Nobles at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center recently closed.

Santos envisions her business as both a bookstore and a wine bar, “a social hub for people to come together and talk about social issues,” she told PIX11 News. “That’s something amazon cannot provide.”

The way Santos sees it, The Lit. Bar is an opportunity to change perceptions about her community.

“Lit like literature, Lit like drunk. Lit with passion to kill stigmas… and prove, once again, that the Bronx keeps creating it,” Santos says in one part of her campaign video, above. “And we are worthy, that we are more than just sneaker stores and we support the arts, so I stand here today and ask you to open your hearts and help us show the world what many fail to see: that the Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

And the 30-year-old Human Resources professional and blogger says her bookstore will reflect the diversity of her neighborhood.

“When you come into a neighborhood like the South Bronx, where most of our population is Hispanic and African-American, you need your stores, your community centers and your organizations to reflect the people that actually live there,” she told The New York Times.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

‘Latinas in Motion’ Founder Encourages Healthy Habits Through Running


On a June afternoon in late 2012, Elaine Gonzalez Johnson, frustrated by running alone, sent a text to every woman in her phone and launched a nationwide movement.

‘I’m going to run two-and-a-half miles on Saturday at 7 AM,’ it read. ‘Will you join me?’

A month earlier, Johnson — now a 30-year-old full-time program manager in the Philadelphia school district — had stood at the starting line of her first-ever race, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, which touts itself as the largest 10-mile race in the country. Despite being in a crowd of over 35,000 fellow runners, she felt alone. “I didn’t see anybody who looked like me,” Johnson said. “There was such a lack of Latinas at this particular race.”

Johnson’s initial impression was not far off from the truth: despite their status as the country’s largest racial or ethnic minority, at 17.6% of the nation’s total population, Hispanics make up only a small portion of runners nationwide. In 2016, only 6 percent of overall runners surveyed identified as Hispanic, according to RunningUSA, a not-for-profit organization launched in 1999 which tracks developments in the sport through annual surveys and reports. And for women runners, the figures are even bleaker: barely 5 percent of female runners surveyed by the organization in 2014 identified as Hispanic.

Within weeks after the Broad Street Run, Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands. In June, a few days after she texted all the women she knew, six women showed up to meet her for an early morning two-and-a-half mile run at Abraham Lincoln High School in northeast Philadelphia. The group began to grow every week. And by August of that year, a chapter had sprung up in New Jersey. Latinas in Motion was born.

Almost five years later, the group boasts 4,000 members in 17 chapters across 14 states and in Puerto Rico, where Johnson’s family hails from. And Johnson has become the face of the movement, appearing on the cover of Women’s Running magazine last June.

Continue onto NBC News to read more about Latinas in Motion.

5 Eye-Opening Moments From This Moving Doc About Four Chileans With Down Syndrome


The most important thing is that you guys are responsible for your own lives.” The line comes early in Maite Alberdi’s documentary Los niños (The Grown-Ups). It is directed at a group of students at a Chilean school for people with Down Syndrome. But Ana, Ricardo, Andrés, and Rita aren’t children. Now in their forties, they all still attend the school though now they work in the kitchen as part of the catering department. They spend their days baking treats and sweets.

They also attend a class for “Conscious Adults” where they’re learning what it will take for them to live fully independent lives. That is the dream for many of those attending Coocende. Alberdi’s documentary merely follows the day-to-day routine at the school where her subjects grapple with what it might mean to have greater autonomy over their lives. It’s a sweet and dignified look at a population we not only tend to think often as mere children but one we continue to infantilize even when they’re grown up enough to handle kitchen equipment, have a drink at the bar, and be involved in long-term relationships.

Los niños is an eye-opening film that is most endearing when it just puts the camera on its subjects and allows them to be the protagonists of their own stories. It helps that most of those around them, including the staff at Coocende and even their own family members remain blurred by Alberdi’s camera. We’ve singled out 5 moments that show how this sweet doc is broadening audiences’ idea of what it means to live with Down syndrome.

Continue onto Remezcla to read about the top 5 moments.

CODeLLA Aims to Teach Latina Girls Another Vital Language: Coding


Multilingual people have better opportunities in the workforce, giving Latino children who are fluent in Spanish as well as English a leg up as they compete for future employment. But the language of dashes, brackets and equal signs — in other words, coding —is one of the best weapons in a young person’s educational arsenal.

One million STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), field graduate jobs will be available in the U.S. by the year 2022, but the percentage of female computer science majors has gone down from 37 percent in 1984 to 18 percent in 2014. In Miami, the women of CODeLLA are working to reverse this trend.

“The majority of Latina girls ages nine to thirteen attending Title 1 schools in the United States do not have access to quality STEM learning or computer science.” said co-founder Josie Goytisolo, referring to schools where many of the students come from low-income families. “Learning to code ascertains our girls are fluent in one of the most widely used languages of today’s world. It’s a foundational literacy that’s a necessity,” said Goytisolo, who spent decades in broadcasting as a manager in both English and Spanish-language news.

Established in 2013, CODeLLa is an eight-week coding immersion program and tech entrepreneurship immersion program for Latina girls between the ages of 8 and 12. Aside from teaching the girls coding skills, the program aims to make the girls see a future in the fields of technology. The girls meet after school and they also have a summer immersion program.

Last fall, CODeLLA teamed up with the University of Miami Center for Computational Science to present the inaugural She Innovates Tech (SITe) conference and She Tech Miami (STeM) app competition.

The goal was to inspire the next generation of innovators by connecting them with female tech leaders, challenging them with interactive workshops and most importantly giving them examples of how diverse a STEM career path can be.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Latina Conferences: #WeAllGrow 2017 Unites Latina Entrepreneurs


Latinas are rapidly occupying a growing space in the digital world. They are entrepreneurs, content creators, bloggers, photographers, YouTubers, influencers. For the third year in a row, #WeAllGrow Summit, held in Long Beach, California, early this month gathered over 400 women who sought to either learn, teach, empower or simply connect with one another.

#WeAllGrow Summit was born in 2015, from entrepreneur Ana Flores’s vision of connecting Latinas with passion and enthusiasm for digital entrepreneurship. #WeAllGrow Summit 2017 harnessed the Energy of Sisterhood, which was the theme of the conference. The goal was to provide an intimate gathering with three days of networking and learning experiences that fostered personal, creative and entrepreneurial growth.

Neutrogena®, HOLA! USA and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises were among the sponsors and digital partners behind this event that seeks to empower creative Latinas.

Keynote sessions by celebrities such as Jenicka and Chiquis Rivera, the daughters of musical icon, the late Jenni Rivera, who star in the reality TV series, The Riveras, inspired and informed the audience in their conversation onstage with YouTube personality Miriam Isa.

“We want to provide that platform and the resources to enable Latina digital creators and creative entrepreneurs to reach their dreams and be the role models for future generations,” said Ana Flores, the powerhouse Latina behind the summit, which she and her team pour an entire year into planning and building.

Among the highlights was the Jefas Keynote Lunch with digital powerhouses Cristy Marrero, editorial vice-president of HOLA! USA, Camila Alves, co-founder Yummy Spoonfuls; Elizabeth Gutierrez, actress and entrepreneur and Fernanda Romero, actress and cofounder Vida Parfum fragrance line.

“If your partner doesn’t support your vision, you’re with the wrong person,” Alves, also wife to Matthew McConaughey, said.

In another session, author and TV host Martín Llorens, introduced his forthcoming book with HarperCollins Español, “Con tu permiso, quiérete,” which will be released in July, 2017.

He said, “Compassion, forgiveness and love will open the divine and the princess warrior in you.”

Consumer Reports, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that works with and for consumers moderated a keynote panel on the benefits of using social media for social good.

There were also renowned beauty and style influencers such as Dulce Candy and Adriana Castro onstage.

The breakout sessions were divided into different tracks: Create, Lead, Snap, Monetize and Wellness, where attendees learned everything from how to create a media kit to how to find their life purpose.

Some of the breakout sessions included: Making It On YouTube By Doing What You Love, Embracing Your Opinions: How to Activate Storytelling for Social Good, Generating Income by Publishing E-books, and From Passion to Business: The Essential Business Plan.

Emmy-award winning Gaby Natale, president of AGANAR media, led a workshop on the topic of her book “El círculo virtuoso,” to be released in June, 2017. In the book she lays out different archetypes embodied by Latino celebrities she’s interviewed over the years in her TV show

Natale shared how this book deal with HarperCollins español was secured after a literary agent heard the story of one of her life-changing struggles which she told onstage the year before, during the Storyteller segment at #WeAllGrow 2016.

Flores said she was thrilled at the success of the event. “It’s always hard to describe what I feel after the summit has ended because it’s such a mix of emotions of my own, but also all those I absorb from the attendees,” she shared. ” I take in all their beautiful words, their passion and their excitement as they leave full of drive and motivation to make great things happen for themselves and their communities.”

Read the complete article on NBC News.

Meet Five Latinos Making a Mark in College Basketball


For many years, Latinos were few and far between in basketball. That began to change at the NBA level in the early 2000’s, and it didn’t take long for college basketball to follow suit. Today, Hispanic’s have fully entrenched themselves on the college hardwood, especially at the Division-I level. And now that it’s tournament time on the college schedule, here are the Latino players who have been making headlines this season.

Southern Illinois senior guard Mike Rodriguez

This Boston native didn’t take the traditional path to college stardom. The 22-year-old, whose family roots come from both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, began his college career at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa before transferring to Southern Illinois. Last season – his first in Carbondale, Illinois – Rodriguez was named to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) All-Newcomer Team. He scored in double figures in 15 of the 32 games he played in and ranked 10th in the MVC in assists per game (2.9).

This year the 5-foot-9-inch point guard leads the Salukis in scoring with 12.9 points per game, which puts him 12th in the conference. He also leads his squad in minutes per game (32.6), assists per game (4.0), and steals per game (1.4). As good as he is on the court, basketball wasn’t Rodriguez’s initial sport of choice.

“I started out playing baseball, I loved baseball. I pictured myself in the MLB (Major League Baseball) from ages 4 to 16. I had to give up one sport, so I dropped baseball. I couldn’t wait for the summer time anymore. My team would practice in the basketball gym during the winter so I used to stay after practice and I just fell in love with basketball,” Rodriguez tells NBC.

Rodriguez is in a unique position because the Missouri Valley Conference doesn’t produce many Latino athletes. It’s something that he doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s truly a blessing knowing that you’re one of a kind out there and that you represent several Spanish- speaking countries and to see how many kids from both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico constantly hit me up on social media to ask me ‘how do you jump so high?’ or ‘How can I improve my game?’ It just is a real blessing how I can help affect Latin basketball,” he says.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Where are California’s Latino doctors? New programs try to grow next generation


When Daisy Manzo was a little girl, she mastered the art of faking colds and stomachaches so she could be taken to the local clinic and see doctors at work. There, she ogled the medical professionals bringing comfort to the ill and injured, while dreaming of the day she’d wear a white coat of her own.

She had no way of knowing how much time, money and determination it would take to get there, she said. When the Modesto-born child of Mexican immigrants got into UC Davis on a scholarship, she was ecstatic. But once on campus, the classes were much harder than what she’d taken in high school and she felt like she was falling behind other pre-medical students, who had been shadowing doctors in clinics while she’d been working at the local Dollar Tree to support her family, she said.

“I felt like (the advisers) didn’t understand my struggles,” she said. “I was discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine because they didn’t see me as being up to par with my pre-med colleagues. … I felt like it was trial and error because I just didn’t know how it worked.”

Manzo faced the kinds of financial and social obstacles that have blocked other aspiring Latino professionals from entering the field and serving Spanish-speaking communities in California. As the state’s Latino population continues to expand and older Latino physicians move toward retirement, hospitals and medical schools are responding to the need by charging forward with plans to recruit the next generation of Spanish-speaking medical professionals.

Manzo, 24 and a first-year medical student at UC Davis, volunteers at a midtown Sacramento facility for Latino patients and wears her white coat proudly. She said she worries whether enough medical school students will step up to serve communities that often go without proper medical care because they can’t find medical professionals they understand or trust.

“I always see patients who resemble my own family. I see my grandmother in these patients, my mom, my brother, my sister,” she said. “At the end of the day they don’t have other places to go. … We need more places like this. We need more physicians willing to work with these populations.”

The midtown clinic, called Clínica Tepati, is staffed by a mix of people hoping to meet that need – volunteer undergraduates, medical students and supervising physicians. Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act, which gave thousands of previously uninsured Latino residents much-needed access to physicians, demand has spiked for the free checkups, counseling and minor medical procedures offered at the clinic, students said.

In California, 69 percent of Latino adults are overweight or obese, which puts them at additional risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers, according to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. At the same time, the state’s Latino population enjoys health advantages such as the lowest rates of infant mortality among any ethnic group and the longest average lifespan – outcomes that experts attribute to strong family networks and other cultural factors.

Latino doctors have historically been underrepesented in the state’s physician workforce – a problem highlighted last fall in a report from the Latino Physicians of California. The statewide advocacy group pushes for better college preparatory programs for young Latino students, more financial assistance for medical school hopefuls and, ultimately, a healthier ratio of Latino physicians to Latino patients.

In California, just 6 percent of doctors identify as Latino, compared with almost 40 percent of all state residents. Latinos were underrepresented among doctors in every California county, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of data from the California Medical Board. About 29 percent of Californians speak Spanish at home, but less than 20 percent of the state’s physicians speak the language, according to the Latino Physicians of California report.

Black physicians are also in short supply in most counties, although some counties have relatively few black residents.

White doctors and Asian doctors are overrepresented. Fifty-two percent of the state’s physicians are white, compared with about 38 percent of the state’s residents; 31 percent of doctors are Asian, compared with 15 percent of the state’s residents.

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of UC Davis’ Center for Reducing Health Disparities who helped produce the Latino physicians report, said the problem will only get worse if urgent measures aren’t taken.

“These dire situations require thinking out of the box,” he said. “What is critically important from a health perspective is to provide health services that are comprehensive and that are adequate. That’s not happening with some population groups.”

Patients are more likely to follow doctor’s recommendations when they understand the language, but there are also more nuanced needs in the Latino population that only physicians from the same background are likely to understand, said David Acosta, associate vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at UC Davis. For example, some Latino patients may be treating their own illnesses with alternative healing methods such as herbs and traditional foods that could interfere with certain prescriptions, but may be afraid to mention those beliefs and treatments to a white doctor.

“If a patient knew I was Latino and I spoke to them in their language, they may share with me something they may not share with someone who doesn’t understand the cultures and beliefs of the Latino population,” Acosta said. “Racial and ethnic minorities think of illness through a cultural narrative.”

Continue onto the Sacramento Bee to read the complete article.

Despite Turmoil, Latinos In California Are Prospering


It’s been a tense week for immigrants and people of color throughout the country, but there was some good news in California: a new study by the advocacy group National Council of La Raza points out that the state’s Latinos, as a group, are doing much better in many areas.

“Latinos in the Golden State: An Analysis of Economic and Demographic Trends” reveals an increase in the median household income for the state’s Latinos, and a decrease in their poverty rate. Median incomes for California Latinos rose more than $5,000 annually, and the poverty level dropped 2.4 percentage points (a larger dip than for the state’s non-Hispanic white households). And more Latino children now have health insurance: between 2013 and 2014, California “had the largest decrease in the number of uninsured Latino children,” according to the study. The state’s drop in those numbers accounted for a 44 percent drop in uninsured Latino children nationwide, although the report points out “the Latino child uninsurance rate (4 percent) is still double that of non-Hispanic White children (2 percent).” Further, children who have access to health care are an indicator that covered children “are more likely to surpass the economic status of their parents than those who lack coverage.”

Latino-owned enterprises are also on the rise: “The number of businesses owned by Latinos in California increased by 43.9 percent between 2005 and 2011.” They generated $98.9 million in gross receipts in 2012, a 23 percent increase from $80 million in 2007. Since 1990, Latino purchasing power rose by 367 percent to $320 billion.

Part of the increased prosperity may be attributable to more Latinos earning college degrees, a figure that increased by 25 percent from 2011 to 2015, nearly three times the increase for non-Hispanic white Californians (8.8 percent). There was a similar bump for associate’s degrees earned in the same period.

Continue onto NPR to read the complete article.

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