8 Afro Latinos Who Made Important Contributions to US History

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Nearly 100 years ago, historian Carter G. Woodson established a week-long commemoration of Black achievements and history.Through that initiative, Woodson lay the groundwork for what would eventually become known as Black History Month. In the United States, the month of February is a celebration of Blackness, paying tribute to those who fought for racial and social equality. The month serves to highlight the existence of the African Diaspora in the United States, and in school, turned our civics and history classes into necessary discussions about their contributions. However, many times this history is incomplete.

While we commonly learn about imperative African-American figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, and many others, we don’t often hear about the importance of Afro-Latinos in the United States. Because Black and Latino are incorrectly seen as mutually exclusive, Afro Latinos find themselves overlooked.

As we acknowledge and honor Black heritage, here are eight Afro Latinos whose important contributions to US history should not go unrecognized during Black History Month or the rest of the year.

1. Miriam Jiménez Román

Miriam Jiménez Román’s influence is expansive, but perhaps nothing is as strongly felt as her book, The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States. Jiménez leads the AfroLatin@Forum, which is dedicated to raising the awareness of Afro Latin@s in the US. She has used her own experiences as a Black Puerto Rican to educate the world on Afro Latinidad and to bridge the gap between the presence of African-Americans and Latinos in the US.

She created spaces and outlets for Black Latinos that previously didn’t exist and addressed issues that often go ignored. Along with her co-editor, Juan Flores, Román conducted informative workshops with middle school students and discovered that many had a hard time understanding Afro Latinidad.

That’s why she knew crafting a book like The AfroLatin@ Reader was essential and something that should have always existed. “I said I wanted a book that addressed some of the concerns I felt when I was young,”  Roman told Los AfroLatinos. “This kind of book should have been around when I was a kid because Blackness was equated with being African-American. This limited view left me concerned about my Blackness because I grew up as a Black Puerto Rican, and I’m very conscious how race and ethnicity have both impacted my life.”

2. Piri Thomas

Down These Mean Streets, a memoir written by author Piri Thomas, is a noteworthy work on Afro Latinidad in the United States. Discussing the racism, identity issues and poverty he experienced during his lifetime growing in Spanish Harlem in NYC, the Cuban-Puerto Rican poet created a piece of literature that shone a light on his own community.

As a darker-skinned Latino, he faced discrimination, both from his family and society as a whole. His father reportedly preferred his lighter-skinned children, according to The New York Times. During his youth he used and sold drugs and ended up in prison after he hurt a police officer. During his seven years imprisoned, he finished high school and turned to writing. The work he created was so trailblazing that his editor told him that with Down These Mean Streets, Piri created a new genre, one where “everybody speaks like themselves.

He also became involved in his community and advocated for at-risk youth. In Carmen Dolores Hernández’s Puerto Rican Voices in English: Interviews with Writers, Piri said that if people wanted to know what he had done after writing his novel, all they had to do was to “ask the communities, the schools, the universities, and colleges.”

Piri is remembered as an influential voices of the Nuyorican Movement, which captured the experiences of Puerto Ricans in New York through the discrimination and marginalization they faced.

Continue onto Remezcla to read more about these revolutionary Afro- Latinos.

Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez Is Getting Her Very Own Barbie

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Hernandez will be the newest doll in Mattel’s Barbie “Shero” line.

Calling all Laurie Hernandez fans: You will soon be able to buy a Barbie doll made in her likeness.

Barbie is creating a doll that looks like the Olympic gymnast for Mattel’s “Shero” line, which includes dolls in the likenesses of director Ava DuVernay, dancer Misty Copeland and fellow Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Hernandez’s Barbie is fully posable (so everyone can do gymnastics with her) and comes with two leotards and a gym bag.

“Girls need more role models like Laurie, because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning, and seeing that they can makes all the difference,” a spokesperson for Mattel told HuffPost.

Hernandez, 18, told HuffPost she is honored to have her very own Barbie and to be in the company of such amazing women.

“I was so excited to know that I would have a Barbie that looks like me,” she told HuffPost.

“It’s such an honor knowing that I’m a Barbie Shero along with many other incredible women like Misty Copeland and Ashley Graham,” Hernandez continued. “I am so excited that kids are going to be able to grow up with people that I looked up to as well, and hopefully they can see me as an inspiration too.”

Hernandez competed on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where she won gold in the team event and silver on the balance beam. At just 16 years old, Hernandez became the third Latina in history to make the women’s Olympic gymnastics team, and the first U.S.-born Latina to make the team since 1984.

Aside from ensuring that the doll looked like her, Hernandez said the most important detail of the design process was her Barbie’s curly hair.

“I remember always wanting to straighten my hair as a kid, but now that I’m older I’m embracing these curls. I love how crazy and messy they are,” she said. “Now that there’s a doll that has my curls, little girls out there with curls are going to look at her too and be able to say ‘Wow she looks like me’ and find comfort in that.”

Hernandez added that she’s on “cloud nine” knowing that she’s in the company of trailblazing women like Douglas, Copeland and Muhammad.  

“I think that all of these women are big catalysts for the younger generation to watch and see how they do things and to know that we’re all so different,” she said. “I definitely see it as a responsibility as well. I recognize that I do have a platform and that people are watching what I do and I can use that for good.”

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Wilmer Valderrama Set to Produce Series About Mexican-American WWII Heroes

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With Independence Day just having passed, many reflected about how the holiday – alongside Memorial and Veterans Day – seems to solely focus on Anglo-Americans who lived and fought to make the country what it is. In 2014, author Dave Gutierrez self-published Patriots From the Barrio, a thoroughly researched story about the Mexican-American men who fought in the Thirty-Sixth Division, 141st Regiment, Second Battalion, Company E during WWII; most of whom were from El Paso.

Towards the end of 2017, Deadline reported that Venezuelan-Colombian actor Wilmer Valderrama had secured the film and TV rights to Gutierrez’s book with the intention of developing it. When asked about the project Valderrama stated, “I’m honored as a proud Latin American to amplify the courage and contribution of these incredible men.” Earlier this year, during a series of speaking engagements Gutierrez went on to promote the novel, it was revealed that the actor’s production company WV Entertainment is leaning towards turning the book into a series.

The war feature, whether it be television or film, is still an incredibly white-centric story with Latinos and African-Americans often playing cursory characters. Gutierrez’s book seeks to open up the kinds of stories we associate with war, showing us the men who sacrificed much and just happened to be Latino. Development takes time, so here’s hoping WV Entertainment is actively working on this to give audiences something new to watch in the near future.

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Marysol Castro, Mets’ first female PA announcer and MLB’s first Latina, hits it out of the park

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Marysol Castro remembers a hot and humid summer day between third and fourth grades. She was playing stickball with her brothers and neighbors in her native Bronx, New York, and she remembers some boys looking at her with disdain when she hit her first home run.

She noticed the looks, but it didn’t stop her, and it certainly hasn’t stopped her yet.

Castro, who’s about to turn 44, has spent a little over a month in her job as the first female public address (PA) announcer for the New York Mets and the first Latina PA announcer in Major League Baseball.

“This month has been incredible,” said Castro, speaking to NBC News from her new “office” in Citi Field. “The minute I open this door and look at this view, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am.”

During her two-decade career, Castro has worked in local TV news and has been a national network weather anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and on the “The Early Show” at CBS, as well as a reporter on ESPN — all positions often dominated by men.

“I’ve worked really, really hard,” said Castro.

Sporting feminine wedge sandals and bright red nail polish, Castro is petite, yet she speaks with an authoritativeness and power that shows she’s used to hanging with the guys and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Castro was ambitious at an early age; she recalls first wanting to be the shortstop for her hometown team, the Yankees, and then wanting to go into politics. At 12, she decided on her own that she would get a full scholarship to boarding school, and she did. Castro says she knew the world was bigger than the Bronx, and she wanted to see it and learn about it.

She taught English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, and it’s there, Castro says, where she learned the power of real communication. After attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she began her career in broadcasting.

A ‘BRIDGE BUILDER’ FOR MLB’S GROWING LATINO AUDIENCE

The new PA announcer is proud of her job and of being a Latina role model.

“In almost every job I’ve had, I’ve been the only Latino,” said Castro. “We have to reflect the eyeballs that watch us.”

Both of Castro’s parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her father, who passed away when she was 10, was a U.S. Navy veteran, a NYC bus driver and was active in the Young Lords, a groundbreaking civil rights group, as well as other community organizations.

Landing her new position “means everything,” said Castro, because she gets to “be a bridge builder for other Latinos” at a time when Hispanic-viewing baseball audiences are at an all-time high in the U.S.

A study showed that the addition of international players to MLB teams, many from Caribbean and Latin American countries, have resulted in a jump of millions in profits. As of last year, MLB players hailed from 19 countries, including the Dominican Republic (93 players), Venezuela (77) and Cuba (23).

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Netflix Orders Mexican Drama Series ‘Monarca’ From Salma Hayek

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Netflix has greenlit another international series.

The streaming giant has handed out a series order to Mexican drama Monarca, starring Irene Azuela (Quemar las Naves, El hotel de los secretos, Las oscuras primaveras). The new series, which will begin production this fall and will launch globally in 2019, will follow the world of wealthy Mexican elites riddled by corruption, scandal and violence.

Produced by Salma Hayek’s company Ventanarosa, along with Lemon Studios and Stearns Castle, Monarca is described as a high-stakes, multi-generational family saga about a tequila-born Mexican business empire and the battle that ensues when a member of the family decides to fight the dirty system her family helped create.

In addition to Azuela, the series will star Juan Manuel Bernal. Monarca was created by Diego Gutierrez and written by Fernando Rovzar, Julia Denis, Ana Sofia Clerici and Sandra García Velten. Michael McDonald from Stearns Castle will serve as a producer.

“I’m extremely excited to partner with Netflix, and to be working with amazing Mexican talent in front of and behind the camera,” said Hayek. “We are proud to show Mexico as a vibrant, sophisticated and culturally rich nation fighting to control its own destiny.”

Added creator and showrunner Gutierrez: “This is the definition of a passion project for me. Having been born and raised in Mexico, I’m humbled to have the opportunity to tell this story with Netflix and the incredibly talented team of people we’re assembling, both in the U.S. and Mexico.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

These Are the Latinos Invited to Join the Academy of Motion Pictures This Year

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When it comes to the Oscars, we know it’s just an honor to be nominated. But we should also remember that getting invited to be part of the Academy is as rare and welcome an honor. Continuing its mission to shake up the near 100-year-old organization, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences added 928 new members from 59 countries this year. Each member gets to join one branch and vote within that branch to dictate nominations (everyone votes for winners in their branch as well as for Best Picture). 49% of the invited members are female, which will nudge the overall female membership to a record-breaking (though still cringe-worthy) 31%. The same group is made up of 38% people of color (that overall percentage is unsurprisingly bleak: it sits at a paltry 16%). It’ll take time for the Academy’s make-up to mirror anything remotely resembling the United States’ demographics but these are all moves in the right direction.

There are, thankfully, a whole lot of Latino and Latin American filmmakers making their way into the Academy’s ranks this year. We decided to spotlight our favorite ten (all actors) which include a Jane the Virgin father-daughter duo, one of Mexico’s biggest comedic stars and two of Sebastian Lelio’s muses. Check them out below, as well as an added list of other talented folks from all across AMPAS’ branches that will get to decide what will follow The Shape of Water as next year’s Best Picture.

Alice Braga, Actress

Jaime Camil, Actor

Ricardo Darín, Actor

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete list of actors and actresses.

Gloria Estefan will play Rita Moreno’s feisty sister in Season 3 of ‘One Day at a Time’

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Estefan will play the baby sister and archnemesis to the show’s grandmother, Lydia, played by the legendary Rita Moreno.

Fans of the Netflix show “One Day at a Time” will have even more to look forward to in Season 3 — renowned singer, songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan announced on Instagram that she will be guest starring in the show.

“So excited to announce that I’ll finally be guest starring on @odaatnetflix,” Estefan said in her Instagram video caption. “I’ll be playing Mirtha, Lydia’s baby sister and archnemesis. I’m coming for you, Alvarez family!”

Estefan has previous ties to the show as the theme song’s singer.

“I’ve been waiting three seasons for this people. Oh my gosh, get ready. It’s hilarious,” Estefan said in the video she posted on Instagram.

Estefan’s future co-stars also showcased their excitement in response to her announcement.

“We are so excited and ready for you @gloriaestefan @odaatnetflix #alvarezfamily,” responded lead actress Justina Machado in an Instagram comment.

“One Day at a Time” is a reboot of the iconic ’70s show, now featuring a Cuban-American family in California. The plot revolves around a divorced military vet (Justina Machado), who lives with her mother (Rita Moreno), her two teenage children and their friend and building manager, Schneider. The show incorporates funny scenes of life in a bilingual and bicultural Latino household but also tackles serious issues like military vets’ PTSD, racism, discrimination and LGBTQ issues.

But mainly, it’s a relatable show about an American family.

“I hope that non-Latino families watching our Latino family on television can see that we are more alike than we are different,” said Machado in a previous interview with NBC News.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Gina Rodriguez Funds College Scholarship for Latinx Student With Emmy Money

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This year, the ‘Jane the Virgin’ star decided to put her allotted FYC spend from CBS TV Studios toward paying for the education of an undocumented high school student.

Gina Rodriguez will be throwing her hat in the Emmy ring for the fourth (and penultimate) season of her CW comedy, Jane the Virgin. She just won’t be spending studio money on glam for campaign events or themed swag — though, as a recent episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt suggests, a Jane-branded pregnancy test would be quite a novelty.

“FYC is a bizarre dance,” says the star. “Whatever you do requires an insane amount of money.”

So this year, Rodriguez decided to put her allotted FYC spend from CBS TV Studios toward a college scholarship for an undocumented high school student.

“Our show has always jumped at any opportunity to help me do something for the Latinx community,” says Rodriguez. “So I asked my showrunner, Jennie [Snyder Urman], if we could do something different with the money this year.”

Rodriguez, 33, who won a 2015 Golden Globe for Jane, partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles to find the right applicant — a Princeton University-bound young woman who’ll now be able to complete all four years without financial burden.

And while Rodriguez says she’s been invigorated by her decision, she had mixed feelings about revealing it.

“It’s taboo to talk about the money being spent, but it’s the reality,” says Rodriguez. “I think sharing this might inspire other people to do something similar. You can desire recognition and, at the same time, decide to not play in the confines of the game as it’s set up.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Latina Director Launches Production Company to Tell Stories About Queer Women of Color

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Back in 2016, director Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four documented the case of four Latina lesbians put on trial for assaulting two young girls. The four were convicted and served time before their case was investigated as an example of prosecutorial prejudice and the well-known homophobia that was present in their town. It remains one of the best Latino movies you should seek out, and audiences who were fortunate to see the film then were eager to find out what the Cuban Esquenazi would do next.

The director, who holds both an Emmy nomination and a Peabody award, has announced today she is starting her own production company, Myth of Monsters. The company will “focus on utilizing media and multilingual projects to upend myths about women of color and queer-identified individuals.” The first project set to debut under the Myth of Monsters banner is a scripted adaptation of Esquenazi’s own Southwest of Salem. The TV adaptation has brought on Mad Men writer Jason Grote to work on the script alongside Esquenazi.

The company is also moving forward on a bilingual coming-of-age LGBTQ drama called Queen of Wands. The film will be set in 1989 and is a semi-autobiographical look at Esquenazi’s life growing up as a lesbian in a Cuban-Sephardic household. It is said to draw from the Bible, family stories, and “gay phantasmagoria.”

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Estadio Azteca: The only stadium to have three World Cups now Mexico will co-host 2026

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A legendary football stadium, symbol of pride for Mexican fans, a gathering ground every fortnight for all walks of life: this is Estadio Azteca. A behemoth that will play host to an unprecedented third World Cup in 2026. Over the past 50 years it has been home to some of the greatest national and global sporting events.

EARLY BEGINNINGS

Designed by architects Pedro Ramirez Vazquez and Rafael Mijares, the stadium was brought to life on communal land in the suburb of Santa Ursula Coapa. Construction started in August 1962 and was completed in 1966. It took more than 800 workers, seven million hours of labour, 100 tonnes of concrete and 8,000 thousand tonnes of steel rods to erect the structure.

The title “Estadio Azteca” was given by Antonio Vazques and was also voted best name by the fans. The stadium eventually opened its doors to the public on May 29, 1966. The first event to be held at the stadium was a friendly match between local Club America and Italian side Torino. 105,000 spectators filled the stands to celebrate the first goal which was scored by Arlindo Dos Santos within the first 10 minutes.

A RICH HISTORY

Over the past five decades, millions of fans have witnessed extraordinary achievements at this venue. The stadium hosted World Cup finals in 1970 and 1986 and crowned two of the greatest footballers of all times: Pele and Maradona.

In 1970, “The King” claimed his third World Cup title with Brazil alongside Rivelino, Tostao, Gerson and Jairzinho, while 16 years later Maradona would make headlines for Argentina with his ‘”Hand of God” goal as well as the famed ‘”Goal of the Century” in the same match against England.

Some of the greatest moments in Estadio Azteca include ‘”the Match of the Century” between Italy and Germany, featuring Franz Beckenbauer with a strapped arm who made it through to the semifinals.

The Mexico national team have also seen their heroes lift trophies and create unforgettable moments. Manuel Negrete scored the best goal of 1986 with his ‘scissor-kick from the penalty spot; the team were victorious in the 1999 Confederations Cup, as well as the Gold Cup of the same year, and the under-17 team won the U17 World Cup in 2011. In addition, it was home to matches played at the 1968 Olympic Games.

It is currently the home ground of Club America, but has also been home to other clubs in the past, such as Cruz Azul, Necaxa, Atletico Espanol and Atlante. It has played host to 33 Mexican football finals, which have included some of the best matches witnessed by football fans in the stadium. The most recent of these was at the 2014 Clausura championships where Aguilas was victorious over Tigres.

A NAME CHANGE

In 1997, the stadium’s name was changed to “Guillermo Canedo,” a posthumous homage to the president of Club America and CONCACAF.

However, the original “Estadio Azteca” was very much ingrained and fans struggled to adopt the new name. So the preference of Televisa — the owners of the stadium — was shortlived, the public insisted on calling it Estadio Azteca and soon after the stadium got its original name back.

IMPACT OUTSIDE SOCCER

The Azteca is not only an inspiration to the sporting world, it has also been an inspiration to artists. Andres Calamaro was amazed and surprised by the structure and composed the song “Estadio Azteca” with these words: “When I was a boy and I met the Estadio Azteca, I was stupefied, I felt small in the presence of the giant, when I was older the same happened again…”

This inspiration was also felt by Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, who broke the attendance record in 1993 when 600,000 people came to watch his “Dangerous” world tour over the course of five days.

American football has also left its mark. After multiple preseason matches in Mexico City, Estadio Azteca eventually opened its doors on Oct. 2, 2005 to an encounter between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. This was the first regular season NFL league match in history that was played outside of the United States and attracted a record crowd of 103,467.

Eleven years later an encounter between Houston Texans and Raiders was the first “Monday Night Football” match to be played in a foreign country in the history of the league, and the second regular season league match to be played in Mexico. 76,743 people attended the game.

In 2017, the third regular season league match was played in the Azteca when Patriots beat Raiders — the first time an NFL title holder had played in Mexico. The Azteca has also been host to other American football matches, such as the American Bowl in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 2000. The first of these matches attracted 112,000 spectators who came to see the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Oilers. But the greatest event to be hosted by the stadium took place on Feb. 20, 1993. The legendary Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez beat Greg Haugen from the United States in front of a record crowd of 132,274.

Continue onto ESPN to read the complete article.

How Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez Pulled Off an Ambitious Anthology Raising Money for Puerto Rico

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When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 2017, many living on the mainland struggled to connect with their loved ones. Power was knocked out across the entire island, making communication challenging. Even the hotline the Puerto Rican government set up to provide information to worried friends and family proved ineffective. People received a busy tone because of the sheer volume of callers. But as they desperately looked for news – many turning to social media, where others relayed the little information they knew – they were forced to carry on living their lives outside the island. That’s how Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez found himself at New York Comic Contwo weeks after the storm, a time when folks still had no idea about the severity of the effects. While there to talk to fans about his work and his original comic book character, La Borinqueña, an Afro-Boricua superhero, his corner of Artist’s Alley turned into a sort of therapy session.

“There was a line of like 50 people waiting for me every day, the four days of the event,” Miranda-Rodriguez tells me on the telephone. “But more than anything, the space became a very special place for people to share, ’cause up until that point, many of us still had not heard from our family or friends or anyone from Puerto Rico. Not only were people not able to communicate with one another on the island, but we weren’t able to communicate from here to the island. So many people came to the table, they saw the image of La Borinqueña; it gave them a sense of optimism. But at the same time, many of them were overwhelmed emotionally, crying, asking me about my family. I cried; there was a lot of hugging happening.”

The tearful meetups also became the genesis of one of Edgardo’s most ambitious projects: Ricanstruction: Reminiscing and Rebuilding Puerto Rico, an anthology raising money for recovery efforts, which featured about 150 collaborators. The book made its debut on May 29, 2018, but it was at NYCC that set this 192-page anthology in motion. Dan DiDio – the co-publisher of DC Comics – and S.O. Leilani Ramos Lugo lined up to get a chance to speak to Edgardo. When Dan came face to face with Edgardo, the first thing the Nuyorican creative said was, “What are we going to do for Puerto Rico?” DiDio asked Miranda-Rodriguez to put together a proposal.

“As soon as he left – within minutes – I came up with the term Ricanstruction Reminiscing and Rebuilding Puerto Rico,” he adds. Soon after, he diligently worked to make this idea a reality.

One of the most noteworthy parts of Ricanstruction is the number of famous names attached to the project. Rosario Dawson, Sonia Manzano, Javier Munoz, Ruben Blades, and more created content for the book. Some, like Rosario Dawson, he persuaded to create a comic.

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.