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Latina entrepreneurs develop healthier food alternatives
Features LESLIE RODRIGUEZ
TELLING HER TRUTH Sunny Hostin is not afraid to share her point of view
Selenaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s star shines on nearly 25 years after her death
More Latinos are fighting for a seat at the table
C HISPANI LIVING
Discover the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe is a wine-tasting mecca
Diverse culinary options meet popular demand
Up Front HERITAGE
Celebrate at a Hispanic Heritage Month fiesta
BEAUTY & STYLE
Spruce up your wardrobe with trendy fashion finds
These pieces will help you sparkle and shine
Freshen up your look with new fall makeup
Latino-led shows are shaking up TV programming
Storyteller shares her passion for the arts
Sheila E. boosts music and arts foundation
Gina Rodriguez is bringing a beloved character to life
The many projects and passions of Zoe Saldana
Standout los standuperos are stealing the show
Podcasts offer a variety of themes to entertain and enlighten
Silicon Valley startups are embracing diversity
These Latina executives are breaking new ground
The struggle to find mental health providers who share language, culture
Students find success at Hispanic-Serving Institutions
Graduation photo honors immigrant family’s journey
ON THE COVER: SUNNY HOSTIN
PHOTO COURTESY OF: INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
Latino literature you won’t want to put down
Cultural traditions with a modern twist
Catholic Church expands Latino outreach efforts
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PREMIUM PUBLICATION EDITORIAL
DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council email@example.com MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington firstname.lastname@example.org
ANA PELAYO CONNERY is an accomplished storyteller whose writing has appeared in a variety of magazines and websites, including Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, HGTV and Reader’s Digest. During her interview with Sunny Hostin (page 26), she says she connected with Hostin on a variety of levels, most especially that they both grew up in families with strong Latina matriarchs.
SYLVIA A. MARTINEZ, who eats a mostly paleo diet, was thrilled to discover she could again enjoy tortillas. Inspired by the woman who created them and a successful company in the process, she writes about Latinas creating healthier diet options (page 32). The former editor of Latina magazine, Martinez also manages social media, public relations and website design for an organization for which she volunteers in Westfield, N.J.
GUEST EDITOR Cristina Silva ISSUE EDITOR Debbie Williams ISSUE DESIGNER Amira Martin EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Tracy Scott Forson Harry Lister Sara Schwartz DESIGNERS Hayleigh Corkey Debra Moore Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka INTERNS Ejun Kim Amber Tucker CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Brian Barth, Alessandra Carriero, Marissa Cass, Brad Cohen, Ana Pelayo Connery, Jessica Guynn, Zoe King, Andrea Mandell, Sylvia A. Martinez, Nancy Mills, Dianna Nañez, Chris Quintana, Rina Rapuano, Mark Rogers, Patrick Ryan, Lindsay Schnell, Kristen Seymour, Roxana A. Soto, Tiana Stephens, Adam Stone, Brian Truitt, Jared Weber
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KRISTEN SEYMOUR is an avid reader who enjoys discovering new books just as much as she loves revisiting classic literature; Bless Me, Ultima (page 18) is one she’s gone back to time and time again. “As I learn more about traditions and beliefs in various cultures (page 20), either through books or by interviewing experts, I find myself eager to understand even more. It’s never-ending — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
ROXANA A. SOTO is an Emmy Award-winning bilingual journalist and author of Bilingual is Better. She’s currently a storyteller for #IAmDenver, a communitywide multimedia storytelling project by the city and county of Denver. “I love writing about strong and successful Latinas because they’re phenomenal role models for the younger generation,”she says of the executives she profiled (page 80).
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
THE GARLICKY PERFUME of roasted pork shoulder. The conga beats of Gloria Estefan. The rhythmic steps of bachata, salsa, merengue dances performed in backyards. Abuelas instructing on good manners. My childhood memories of Miami are of a Latinx paradise where cultures from across the Americas shimmied and jostled against each other in the tropical heat. We ate fried cheese from Nicaragua, ceviche from Peru, black beans from Cuba. We danced to music from Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Many of our elected leaders, our teachers, our artists and our
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
books, making TV shows and films and growing our families here. Salsa outsells ketchup. Latinx artists and influences dominate the Billboard Hot 100. Spanish-speaking actors like Gina Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara and Oscar Isaac are crushing it in film and TV. This year’s issue of Hispanic Living looks at how Latinx families have made a home in the U.S., preserving certain traditions from their ancestors’ homelands while also foraging new paths. We look at the enduring influence of Mexican American singer Selena, whose story — nearly 25 years after her tragic death — has inspired a new fashion line at Forever 21 and the upcoming Netflix project, Selena: The Series. We report on a growing effort to foster Latinx representation across the political aisle and on the skyrocketing popularity of Hispanic foods in mainstream markets. Our stories reflect who we are and what we have achieved. We are proud, resilient, creative and talented. We are multifaceted.
— Cristina Silva, Guest editor
A Latin Love Affair
athletes were Hispanic, and it was only when I went away to college that I realized that Latinos were a minority demographic in the U.S. My family taught me that I was American. Like so many immigrants, they had fled their hometowns and left everything behind in search of freedom of speech, economic opportunity and a brighter future for their children. My grandmother gave me poetry from José Martí. My father lectured on how colonialism shaped South America and the Caribbean. My mother taught me to dance salsa to the songs of Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz. As a teenager, I consumed books by Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende and Pablo Neruda. As I’ve aged, my love affair with Latin American cultures has grown stronger, and, happily, in that time I’ve witnessed more of my countrymen become aware of the smells, sounds and tastes that defined my youth. That said, discrimination remains a reality for many brown, black and immigrant families in the U.S. The current debate over illegal and legal immigration feels both alarming and urgent, with families dying on their journey to the United States and in U.S. custody. And still, in this climate, when there is so much political uncertainty, Latinos are thriving. There are more of us running for elected office, writing
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UP FRONT HERITAGE 10 | BEAUTY & STYLE 12 | CULTURE 18
R. KENNEDY/VISIT PHILADELPHIA
Dance troupes, youth groups and more than 1,500 musicians participate in Philadelphiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual Puerto Rican Day parade. Learn about other Hispanic Heritage Month fiestas on page 10.
UP FRONT | HERITAGE
Something to Celebrate Tap into Hispanic Heritage Month with fiestas and events across the country BY RINA RAPUANO
MORE THAN 50 YEARS ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the contributions of America’s Latino citizens by establishing Hispanic Heritage Week — a nod to the descendants of those who settled here from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan decided this honor should extend into a whole month, and today we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, encompassing the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. Here are just a few of the many celebrations that will be taking place across the country this year during this special time:
In Seattle, Sea Mar Community Health Centers present two ways to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month — a festival and parade in South Park on Sept. 14, and an arts festival held at Seattle Center Sept. 14–15. This year’s Seattle Fiestas Patrias theme is Building Bridges, and the weekend will be filled with “music, dance, food, folklore and many other traditions that have accumulated over the centuries.” The health centers smartly weave free health screenings into the mix, as well as mariachi, vendors, food and a little karaoke for good measure. SEPTEMBER
8-29 Celebrations kick off a bit early in Philadelphia, with events like Brazilian Day and the popular Feria del Barrio, which feature food, music and dancing, both taking place Sept. 8. The City of Brotherly Love hosts a slew of events during the official month, including the music- and foodfilled Mexican Independence Day Festival on Sept. 15 and the 57th Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sept. 29, featuring about 1,500 marchers.
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
On Sept. 14, the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team will host a Hispanic Heritage Day celebration, which involves a pregame street festival offering up live music, food and drinks from a variety of Latin American cultures. Baseball fans will also be treated to mariachi and Ballet Folklórico performances, piñatas and face painting for kids, free Los D-backs jerseys for the first 20,000 fans in attendance and a special pregame ceremony presenting the Pete García Award in recognition of “advocacy, leadership and service to the Arizona community.” In addition, players and coaches will wear the Los D-backs jersey during the game. SEPTEMBER
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SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL ZOO; ERICK CORRAL; HITN
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., offers robust programming that includes several events and family-friendly activities. One of the most beloved is ZooFiesta, a day of live music, educational activities and animal keeper presentations, feedings and demonstrations featuring Central and South American animals like Andean bears, sloths, golden lion tamarins and Panamanian golden frogs. The event takes place Sept. 21 at the National Zoo.
The 14th annual Fiestas de las Americas takes place Oct. 5 in Oklahoma City’s historic Capitol Hill district, starting with a midmorning parade and moving into a full-blown festival by 1 p.m. The event, hosted by Calle Dos Cinco, pulls together various Hispanic communities and vendors to preserve, promote and celebrate the diversity within Hispanic cultures in the greater Oklahoma City community. The festival features food trucks, vendors, live entertainment and a kids’ zone with games and activities.
SPECIAL PROGRAMMING Public broadcasting stations are honoring Hispanic Heritage Month with special programs, including documentaries, short films and concerts. Check your local listings or visit lpbp.org for more information. In addition, the Spanish-language network HITN is launching a Census 2020 Initiative, #TUCUENTAS, during Hispanic Heritage Month. According to the network, the campaign will kick off “with a census town hall providing communities with a platform to discuss obstacles, doubts and preoccupations they may have in order to build trust, so that every person, regardless of status, can be counted in the upcoming census. The initiative will continue into 2020 with the award-winning Estudio DC program taking viewers through a step-by-step education process on why it matters to be counted.” — Debbie Williams
Gerson Borrero, host of Estudio DC on HITN.
UP FRONT | BEAUTY & STYLE
Try on the trendy one-shoulder look with this jumpsuit by Jennifer Lopez. $68, Kohl’s
Get hip in the season’s hottest trends BY ZOE KING
SPICE UP YOUR WARDROBE with statement-making looks. These Latin-inspired items, many from Latina designers, are red hot this season.
This Cerisa embroidered belt was handcrafted in Ayacucho, Peru. $48, freepeople.com
Go bright and bold with this vibrant yellow Jennifer Lopez wrap top. $48, Kohl’s
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
Turn heads and tear up the dance floor in this Calle red ruffled sleeveless maxi dress. $76, lulus.com
Snakeskin is in this season. Try the look in these Manolo Blahnik Laurato block-heel sandals. $795, Nordstrom
This Nola Rattan crossbody was made in El Salvador. $345, valena.store.com
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Add some sparkle to your denim with skinny studded midrise stretch ankle jeans by Sofia Vergara. $29.50, Walmart
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Information is accurate as of the date of printing and is subject to change without notice. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ©2018 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801.
UP FRONT | BEAUTY & STYLE
Add a stunning accessory to your look BY ALESSANDRA CARRIERO
ALL THESE EYE-CATCHING pieces of jewelry were either created by Latinas or inspired by travels through Latin America and the people and customs of the region. You’ll definitely want to add one (or more!) of these to your collection:
The Lotus Marquise ring was inspired by nights out in Miami. $295, pharaoun.com
Designer Fernanda Sibilia created these oblong hoop earrings based on her travels through South America. $78, anthropologie.com
This set of seven hand-woven bracelets is made in Guatemala. $35, uncommongoods.com Ale Bremer’s hoops are inspired by the Mexican folk tradition of “papel picado” or perforated paper. $90, alebremerjewelry.com
This Swarovski crystal bracelet is handmade in the United States. $40, onesixfivejewelry.com
Oro Latina’s bangle is made of 14-karat gold. $950.99, orolatina.com
Made by Latina designer Lorenia Henriquez, this lariat necklace has a brass honeybee and pendulum. $45, luni.style
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
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UP FRONT | BEAUTY & STYLE
Bold Beauty Spruce up your makeup BY MARISSA CASS
REJUVENATE YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE with these mascaras, palettes, glosses and more:
1. Miami Palette by Shaina B., $29, shainabcosmetics.com 2. HipDot’s Perfect Face palette, $18, hipdot.com 3. Brava lip color sticks by Reina Rebelde, $16, reinarebelde.com 4. Upgrade You liquid lip gloss by W Cosmetics, $17, wcosmeticsbeauty.com 5. Hynt Beauty’s FORTE High Definition eye liner, $20, hyntbeauty.com 6. CBD Hydro Glow Gloss by Elina Organics, $28, elinaskincare.com 7. CAI Para Mi eyeshadow palette, $19.50, amazon.com 8. Gabriel Mascara, $16, gabrielcosmeticsinc.com 9. Highlighting Quad by Osmosis Beauty, $40, osmosisbeauty.com 10. The Pocket Palette single-use, full-face makeup, $11.99, thepocketpalette.com
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UP FRONT | CULTURE
Booked Up Latino lit we can’t put down BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise The Pura Belpré Award recognizes outstanding children’s books depicting Latino culture in the United States, and honors Belpré’s work to champion bilingual literature as a librarian, storyteller, author and puppeteer in the early 20th century. This darling picture book will inspire and delight as it gives the history of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian.
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana MartinezNeal Six names may seem like a lot for a little girl, but this charming children’s book, illustrated in pencil by the author, takes Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela — and the reader — on a journey explaining the background and importance of each of those names. It just might inspire children — perhaps adults, too — to explore their own origins.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Sixth grade is difficult for many kids, but for Merci Suárez, a scholarship student at a private school, it’s especially challenging to fit in with her peers. Then, her beloved grandfather begins acting out of character, and no one will tell her what’s going on. By the end of this humorous and insightful John Newberry Medalwinning coming-of-age story, both Merci and the reader have a better understanding of life, love and what’s really important.
The newest offering from the author of The Poet X, a title that earned the prestigious Pura Belpré Award, is a novel in prose about Emoni Santiago, a teenage single mother with tremendous responsibilities as well as amazing talent in the kitchen. Acevedo’s use of language is the perfect vehicle to show Emoni’s strength as she navigates school, love and the pursuit of her dreams.
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BOOKS GIVE US the opportunity to explore new worlds and even experience, if just for a few hours, what it might be like to live an entirely different life. A great story — be it a new release or a treasured classic, written for children or adults — has the potential to change a point of view or start a conversation. Opening a book can open a mind, and the following titles are a great place to start:
35 YEARS IN PRINT
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Esperanza Cordero wants nothing more than to escape her life of poverty — and her little red house on Mango Street. In a series of vignettes, the young teenage Latina (who, at times, reflects the Mexican American author) gives readers an intimate look at the characters who make up her Chicago neighborhood, along with the adventures she embarks on in this award-winning coming-of-age novel.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The House of the Spirits: A Novel by Isabel Allende
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
This collection of stories — some violent, some touching, some absurd or experimental — might seem like disparate tales, but they all share a theme of the savagery inflicted on a woman’s body and why that makes for such a compelling theme in entertainment. You might consider these stories reworked fairy tales, but you should definitely consider them required feminist reading.
A masterful example of the use of magical realism, this 1982 novel has been highly awarded and translated into 37 languages. The story details the lives of four generations of a family in postcolonial Chile (although Chile is never explicitly mentioned) with themes of love, violence, pregnancy, psychic abilities, politics, passion and more, all playing pivotal roles in the family members’ lives.
One of the most critically acclaimed pieces of Latino literature, this 1972 novel is based on Antonio Márez y Luna as he grows up in New Mexico after World War II under the guidance of his curandera, Ultima. His mother and father each have their own plans for his destiny, and he isn’t sure either is the right fit. Must he choose one or the other, or will Ultima show him a way to carve his own path?
When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir by Esmeralda Santiago This 1993 autobiography is part of a series, but stands on its own as Santiago shares her story of growing up in Puerto Rico and then moving with her mother and siblings to Brooklyn, N.Y., where they don’t speak the language and experience racism. Santiago’s insight into being a member of two different cultures is eye-opening to some and relatable to many.
UP FRONT | CULTURE
Maria Vallejo Vallejo and and her her daughter, daughter, Daniela Daniela Maria
Cross-Cultural Customs Certain traditions traverse borders, sometimes with a modern twist BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR
AS A CHILD in Colombia, Maria Vallejo assumed her family’s traditions were practiced everywhere. But when she moved to the United States at age 29, she realized how closely tied many of these customs were to her Hispanic heritage — like the piercing of a baby girl’s ears. “In Colombia, it’s not even discussed,” says Vallejo, a photographer in Gainesville, Fla. “You have your baby girl in the hospital. They take her away and clean her up; they bring the baby back — and her ears are pierced.” So she was surprised when that didn’t happen after she gave birth to her daughter in the U.S. in 1999. “I had earrings for her with me at the hospital, but they brought her back to me, and she didn’t have her ears pierced,” she says. “I asked the nurse to do it, and she said, ‘No, no, you have to talk to your pediatrician.’” Infant ear piercing isn’t strictly Colombian; it’s one of many practices embraced across Latin America that make up Pan-Latino culture. Edith Gonzalez, who has a doctorate in anthropology from City University of
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
New York, notes that simply sharing a history, language or country doesn’t guarantee that groups will share traditions. “The Spanish had colonized different regions in the Americas, mixing with local populations for hundreds of years. They therefore had wildly diverse cultural variation before the Northern European colonizers even started coming (to America),’ she says. “So, for example, people from Central America have a radically different culture than people from the Greater Antilles.” Thus, a tradition observed in Mexico might not be practiced in Cuba or Spain — or it could be called something else entirely.
GETTY IMAGES; MARIA VALLEJO PHOTOGRAPHY; PROVIDED BY DANIELA BENSON
COMMON CONVENTIONS Some cultural practices have a wide reach, such as la cuarentena. In its strictest sense, it’s a 40-day postpartum period in which a new mother is expected to do nothing but care for her child. The family handles housework and cooking, providing her with herbal remedies and approved foods. In some regions, there are religious origins at play, says Gonzalez, but there are practical reasons to observe la cuarentena. Some researchers have found that cultures that encourage this kind of support also tend to see improved maternal and infant health. In some areas, help is hired. “Your family hires a nurse — a nana — in Colombia,” says Vallejo. “She sleeps on a bed next to the baby’s crib; she’s with the baby all the time.” Vallejo’s in-laws offered to hire one when her children were born, but she declined due to lack of space. However, she gladly accepted help from her parents and in-laws, who flew in from Colombia. Roxanna Sarmiento, chief operating officer of #WeAllGrow Latina Network, grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she embraced traditions from both the Dominican culture as well as
her father’s Colombian heritage. She also practiced a modern take on la cuarentena when she had her three children in the U.S.; her parents traveled to Boston to stay with her for a month each time. “It was such a help to have extra hands to hold the babies, and my mom made us my favorite comfort food,” she says. “This tradition means everything. It reminds me of how our culture prizes family relationships above all.”
CONVICTIONS AND PROTECTIONS Like la cuarentena, mal de ojo (or the evil eye) is recognized amongst many Latinos — and within other cultures. Mal de ojo refers to a curse that can be cast with a look. Within Latino populations, especially in Mexico and Central America, it’s common for mothers to give their babies an amulet, like an azabache, to be worn to protect against that curse. The jet black gemstone may be combined with red stones or glass, sometimes with a blue eye painted on top. Daniela Benson, a business consultant in Tampa, Fla., grew up in Venezuela, moved to the U.S. at age 25 and welcomed her daughter, Lara, in 2018. “I think it’s more of a superstition, but every mom wants to protect her baby from something bad happening to them,” she says. “So you buy an azabache and put it either on an ankle bracelet or pin it on the baby’s clothing.” Like Sarmiento and Vallejo, Benson looks to her culture’s traditions for guidance and comfort, but isn’t a strict observer. She pierced Lara’s ears, but waited two months to do so. “Every single female in my family had her ears pierced at birth,” she says. “I loved playing with earrings when I was growing up.” Benson knows that Lara may not embrace every tradition passed down through the Venezuelan side of her family, but feels that at least she will have her earrings to connect her to her roots.
A tradition observed in Mexico might not be practiced in Cuba or Spain — or it could be called something else entirely.
Daniela Benson and her daughter, Lara
UP FRONT | CULTURE
Open Doors Catholic Church expands efforts to reach Latino youth
IN TODAYS’ CATHOLIC Church, some leaders feel there’s more of an urgency than ever to engage with their Latino parishioners. Recent studies show a sharp decline in overall church attendance, and no religion has been hit harder than Catholicism. Though 51 million American adults identify as Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of the U.S. population claim to be former Catholics. They’re leaving for a variety of reasons, but according to a 2010 Pew study, the child sex abuse crisis that has engulfed the church since the early 2000s has played a major role.
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
BY LINDSAY SCHNELL
How do we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
By empowering Hispanic voices every day of the year. At YWCA, we demand a world of equity. We envision a world of opportunity. And we commit ourselves to the work of justice. Across the country, local YWCA associations support the Hispanic community by providing early childhood programs so parents are able to work, job training and entrepreneurship programs to help women achieve economic independence, and housing for survivors of domestic abuse. And we advocate on the big issues Latinas care about, from equal pay to immigration reform, from ending domestic violence to empowering women and girls to achieve their greatest dreams and potential. At YWCA, your voice matters. See how weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working to amplify it at YWCA.org. @YWCAUSA
Our National Parks The National Mall welcomes millions every year, but what they see is hardly welcoming.
It welcomes the world to our most significant monuments and memorials. But like many national parks, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., desperately needs our help, including $350 million in federal funding for maintenance, repairs, and preservation. You can help with a simple letter. Visit NPCA.org/mall. Or call 1-800-NAT PARK.
But as churches across the faith spectrum grapple with how to reach young adults, the Catholic Church already has a faithful group it can target for growth: Latinos. According to Gallup, while the U.S. Catholic Church has suffered from declining attendance, the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady, largely because of the nation’s ballooning Hispanic population. Of the 51 million Catholics in America, 34 percent are Latino.
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
MERGING DISPARATE CULTURES Anette Rodriguez, 18, a freshman at the University of Oregon in Eugene, drives two hours north almost every other weekend to attend church with her family. She says she feels most comfortable speaking Spanglish, a hybrid of Spanish — which her parents speak exclusively — and English. But she’s not entirely comfortable in English-only situations. Attending an only-English-speaking
church, for example, “just feels strange,” she says. For many children being raised in the United States by Latino parents, merging two competing cultures is a challenge. At school, they might speak English and talk about popular TV shows; at home they speak Spanish with family members as Telemundo plays in the background. They prefer to hear the homily in English but find comfort in Spanish prayer and worship songs. They’re looking for a place to fit in. Armando Cervantes, director of youth and young adult ministry at the Diocese of Orange in Southern California, credits the Catholic Church for decades of work serving immigrant populations. For years, Cervantes says, the church acted as a
UP FRONT | CULTURE
KELSEY KREMER /THE DES MOINES (IOWA) REGISTER; GETTY IMAGES
bridge between Latino and Anglo culture because “it was a place of safety,” ensuring immigrants that although they were in a foreign land and might not understand the cultures, customs or language, they could feel welcome. “We did a really good job with the immigrant population,” Cervantes says about the older population. “But we haven’t done a good job with millennials. Now kids are looking around saying, ‘I don’t speak Spanish well, but I don’t fit in in an Englishonly experience, and I’m not a first-generation immigrant either — do I have a place in this church, or are you forcing me to make a choice of assimilate or be an immigrant?’”
Church leaders are seeing progress. “In the past, there’s been a tendency within the Catholic Church for Spanishspeaking people to be an afterthought,” says the Rev. Mike Walker, a Catholic priest in McMinnville, Ore. He notes that many positions of leadership throughout U.S. Catholicism are held by older white men. “But I see it changing.” Walker studied marketing at Southern Oregon University and often takes a business approach when seeking solutions in his parish. While attending seminary from 1992 through 1999, Walker decided that if at least half the Catholic Church worldwide is Spanishspeaking, he’d ‘HOW CAN I better be able to BE A VOICE?’ communicate When she with them. So looked around he enrolled in Our Lady of the Spanish classes, Americas Cathoparticipated in lic Church in Des an immersion Moines, Iowa, program in Guathree years ago, dalajara, Mexico, its pews packed and now holds with Spanishfour Masses a Jessica Maciel speakers, Jessica Hernandez week, two in Maciel HernanEnglish and two dez, then 24, had in Spanish. a startling thought: No one her At his previous parish in age, or with her skin color, was southern Oregon, Walker also trying to connect with other milfocused on increasing Hispanic lennials. “I kept thinking, ‘Why church attendance. He comaren’t people talking to us and mitted to hiring more bilingual asking what we think? I thought, staff and devised a new youth ‘How could I be a voice for those group strategy. Hispanic teens, people?’” he says, were intimidated to Now 27, Maciel Hernandez left come to youth group because it a job in science to work as coorwas dominated by Anglos. So he dinator of Hispanic youth and suggested starting another youth adult ministry at the Catholic group for Latinos only, held on a Diocese of Des Moines. Through different night. “It blew up,” he her position, she regularly says. reaches out to Latinos of all ages, Soon, the Latino group was so a process the church at large has big and so fun, they started to emphasized as well. invite the white kids to the “cool”
BY THE NUMBERS
According to the Pew Research Center, roughly one-third of all U.S. Catholics are Latino, and data shows that the number of Catholic Latinos has been increasing and is projected to grow. These figures represent the adult Catholic population in 2007 as compared with 2014: 2007
SOURCE: 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study
group. Eventually, Latino students suggested merging the two so everyone could hang out together. By the time he left, the Latino population had grown from roughly 150 members to more than 1,000. It will take more efforts like that to maintain and grow the ranks of the U.S. Catholic Church, leaders say. “The bottom line is, many Latinos in the church feel more comfortable in the dominant culture of the United States,” says Lily Morales, Hispanic ministry coordinator at the Diocese of Austin, Texas, a city that is about 35 percent Latino. “In our dioceses, 65 percent are Latino. This number cannot be ignored. If we don’t give them leadership opportunities, the church is going to look very different in 10 years.”
connects with others by telling her truth
BY ANA PELAYO CONNERY
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
former federal prosecutor and legal analyst, The View’s Sunny Hostin has made a name for herself by speaking her mind. Her latest project, a docuseries about the victims of some of the country’s most notorious homicides, offers other women an opportunity to do the same.
Her abuela would be proud. If you want to be on the talk show that The New York Times calls the most important political show on TV, it doesn’t hurt if you’re a former federal attorney with plenty of street smarts. “There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t stop me and say, ‘Thank you for saying what I was thinking,’” says Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View and a legal correspondent for ABC News. “Never could I have imagined as a kid from the South Bronx being in this position.” Having witnessed a violent crime against her uncle when she was just 7 years old, Hostin knew early on that she wanted to work on behalf of the underserved. While at a neighbor’s party with her family, a man barged in and accused her uncle of having an affair with his wife. Hostin recalls what happened next as though it occurred in slow motion.
“He stabbed my uncle in the stomach,” she says. “I remember family members pulling him into the bathroom to help him and seeing the blood on the black-and-white tile.” The police were called but Hostin recalls that they barely investigated the incident, and their lack of urgency rattled her and her relatives. Not long after, her family moved from the Bronx to Stuyvesant Town, N.Y., where she was enrolled in the Catholic school across the street from their new apartment. She settled in quickly, but the experience of having her uncle's attack go virtually ignored by the system stayed with her. “It was part of what fueled my drive when I became a federal prosecutor years later,” she says. Born to a Puerto Rican mother and African American father, Hostin’s birth name is Asunción Cummings, a name that TV host Nancy Grace found so difficult to pronounce she suggested Hostin change it. “‘No one will remember you,” Hostin recalls the former Court TV journalist saying after one of Hostin’s first television appearances. The new spin on her name (Sunny is a modified family nickname) may have been easier for Grace to pronounce, but it also belied Hostin’s Latino heritage. “I wish I could take back that decision,” she says regretfully. “Had I not changed it, perhaps people would identify me as being Afro Latina more. It’s such a big part of who I am. My family doesn’t call me Sunny; they don’t like it. My grandmother in particular was very upset about it.” Hostin’s Puerto Rican grandmother was the family matriarch and one of her greatest influences. “My mom had me at 18 and was taking classes and working to make ends meet, so I spent more time with my grandmother than my own mom,” she says. “She insisted we speak Spanish, so at one point my father asked, ‘When is this child going to learn English?’” Some Latino families wanted their kids to assimilate but Hostin’s wasn’t one of them. “They wanted us to retain our culture and not become too Americanized but at the same time, getting an
education was extremely important. I was the first in my family to attend college. To them that was the path to financial security.” Being a straight-A student came naturally to Hostin, whose aptitude was so high she even skipped fourth grade. But it was her street smarts that came in handy when she took a job as a federal prosecutor. Unlike many of her counterparts who came from wealthy backgrounds, Hostin never hesitated to march into the neighborhoods where criminal activity was common. “I grew up in those types of communities, so I wasn’t fearful. I was one of the few who knocked on doors, sat on plastic-covered couches and got a lot of people to come in as witnesses who would never have talked otherwise.” She was incredibly successful — “I won every case!” — but it didn’t erase the nagging feeling that it wasn’t the career she had intended originally. “In college I interned at NBC and loved it. What I really wanted was to be in front of the camera,” Hostin says. Her mom, however, was having none of it. “She thought that was unstable, akin to being an actress,” she says. “My family equated things like law with financial security, so I applied to Notre Dame and earned a scholarship.” While her legal career turned out to be a great fit in many ways, Hostin missed New York. When she and her husband, orthopedic surgeon Emmanuel Hostin, welcomed their son, Gabriel, Hostin quit her job and moved back to New York to be close to her family. “I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom for a while, but it didn’t take long before I started driving everyone crazy, and I was ready to go back to work,” she says. While speaking at an event, a producer from Court TV invited her to do some commentary on the network and “then I just sort of got discovered.” She may have taken a winding road, but eventually Hostin also found herself on both ABC and CNN, where she gained a following for her willingness to say things that no one else would, even if that meant going head to head with power players like famed defense
“I WISH I COULD TAKE BACK THAT DECISION. HAD I NOT CHANGED IT, PERHAPS PEOPLE WOULD IDENTIFY ME AS BEING AFRO LATINA MORE. IT’S SUCH A BIG PART OF WHO I AM.”
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INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY; ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES; DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES; HEIDI GUTMAN/ABC
Sunny with son, Gabriel
With daughter Paloma, right, and goddaughter, Caitlin
Cast of The View
Four Facts About Sunny
Her mom lives with her. “She’s a huge help with my kids, just like my grandmother helped raise me.”
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
She’s the team mom for her kids’ sports teams. She’s never missed a parent-teacher conference, either.
She raises her own chickens and bees. “It’s a connection to my grandmother who had chickens in Puerto Rico, except they’re more like pets to me. We eat their eggs, but that’s it! I have the bees because we just love the honey.”
She and her husband are part owners of Alvin & Friends, a restaurant in New Rochelle, N.Y. One day Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor came in to celebrate her birthday, and Hostin became a total fangirl on the spot: “We’re both former prosecutors, we’re both Puerto Rican and we’re both from the South Bronx. She’s a shero to me!”
LORENZO BEVILAQUA/ABC; GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY SUNNY HOSTIN
Sunny with husband, Emmanuel; son, Gabriel; and daughter, Paloma
attorney Mark Geragos or CNN’s own Don Lemon. Having a voice on legal panels during memorable news cycles that included polarizing events like the George Zimmerman trial and the Ferguson, Mo., protests helped her make her mark. Little did she know then that it would be great training ground for having a seat at the table on The View.
discussions make up a significant amount of the show’s airtime, and Hostin has been holding her own alongside her big-name co-stars, as well as guests with huge opinions of their own. “When there’s talk about the border, or how much aid the current administration allegedly gave to Puerto Rico, or about children being torn from their families, I know as an Afro Latina, I have to get it right,” she says. “Thanks to my job, I have an incredible platform to ask questions that others can’t ask. I can give a voice to people — like my uncle — who might not have one otherwise.” Hostin will have more opportunities to give a voice to the voiceless when her new docuseries, Truth About Murder With Sunny Hostin, premieres Oct. 22 on Investigation Discovery. In the six-episode series, Hostin travels across the country to uncover the stories behind notorious homicides. Unlike other shows that focus almost entirely on the perpetrators, this one will shine a spotlight on the victim and the families and communities affected. “Having investigated so many crimes against women as a prosecutor, it was important to me to reach women especially, and Investigation Discovery has the highest female viewership in cable television,” Hostin says. “We’ll talk about the warning signs of violence against women and show coverage of victims of color.”
MAKING AN IMPACT Ratings for The View last season — Hostin’s third — were the highest in years, with the show averaging nearly 3 million viewers per episode. When you break it down, the five female co-hosts share only 37 minutes of airtime, but according to Hostin it’s not the quantity of the time you’re given so much as the quality that counts. “When there’s something any one of us feels strongly about that other women can’t speak to in the same way, we cede the table,” she says of the energy between herself and Meghan McCain, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Abby Huntsman. “This is why it’s so important to have diversity in front of the camera.” Whether the issue is border patrol, gun control or the Trump administration, political
Despite juggling so many high-profile projects, Hostin picks up her kids, Gabriel, 16, and Paloma, 13, from school every day. “The View ends at noon, so I go to every track meet and every game. … I look at my calendar and if my kids have an activity, I often just don’t make it to other things,” she says. Recently, she missed her children’s piano recital for the first time. “I had to interview a woman who lost her daughter to violence for our new docuseries,” she says. “I Facetimed my kids during a break and said, ‘I’m so proud of you’ and their response was, ‘We’re really proud of YOU, Mom!’” With so many good things cooking both professionally and personally, what does Hostin consider her true calling? “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who can’t repay you,” she says. “I should have been a statistic, the product of biracial teenage love in the Bronx. My true calling is to show that if I can become who I’ve become, anyone can.”
CULTURAL HEALING Latinas are leading a movement to make heritage foods healthier BY SYLVIA A. MARTINEZ
2 MAG NAME XXXXXXXXXX
eronica Garza struggled as a result of the immune system with the first of several attacking the body’s own organs and autoimmune issues in her tissues, and some, such as diabetes teens. As an adult, she and systemic lupus erythematosus, adopted a healthier diet, are more common in Latinas and other but longed for the foods she grew up women of color, according to NIAID. eating in her Mexican American home Hispanics also have high rates of along the Texas border, prompting her obesity (an estimated 47 percent) and to experiment and create a grain-free diabetes (12.1 percent) in the U.S., tortilla. according to the Centers for Disease Rosa Rios Valdez watched her Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes mother live with and eventually is the seventh-leading cause of death succumb to diabetes. in the U.S. and afflicts After her husband people of color at higher was diagnosed as rates, according to the AN ESTIMATED prediabetic, she knew CDC and the American more serious lifestyle Diabetes Association. changes were necesAmong Hispanics, sary to stave off the Mexican Americans and OF LATINOS disease that ran in Puerto Ricans have the IN THE U.S. HAVE both of their families. highest rates of diabetes, BEEN DIAGNOSED First, Jocelyn 13.8 percent and 12 perWITH DIABETES. Ramirez faced thyroid cent, respectively. They issues. Then, her are followed by Cubans — CENTERS FOR DISEASE father battled cancer. (9 percent) and Central CONTROL AND PREVENTION When it returned the and South Americans second time, she made (8.5 percent). it her mission to help While research on the make him stronger and healthier becauses of these conditions continues, fore he had to undergo major surgery. one thing is clear: Smarter lifestyle These stories speak to a bigger choices, beginning with diet, are an picture. important step to living longer and The leading causes of death among healthier. Latinos include heart disease and The three entrepreneurial Latinas cancer, and Latinos are 50 percent named above were inspired to help more likely to die from diabetes than others eat better, and are at the whites. There also has been a rise in forefront of a heritage food movement the number of people, particularly taking place across the country: a women, with autoimmune disorders, desire to improve traditional foods that according to the National Institute are cultural staples in Latino kitchens. of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Here’s how each turned her passion (NIAID). More than 80 diseases occur into a successful business:
Veronica Garza, third from right, with her family
Veronica Garza recalls speaking with one of her doctors about changing her diet and being told that it likely wouldn’t help her autoimmune conditions. “It was a little disheartening to feel that there was nothing I could do to change my health,” she says. “I’m headstrong, so I decided I’m going to try it for myself.” Garza’s older brother had done some nutrition and fitness research and suggested she adopt a paleo (low-carb, grain-free) diet. In a show of solidarity, her family joined her on her fitness journey, eating the same way and exercising together in the family’s Laredo, Texas, backyard four days a week. But Garza missed the foods she grew up eating, especially tortillas. “It didn’t feel good to show up to a carne asada (cookout) with a bag of lettuce to use as a tortilla,” she says. “I always felt as a bit of an outsider.” She began experimenting with almond flour tortillas in her mom’s
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kitchen. After many iterations and around food, music, culture and health much taste-testing, she knew she was ... making it a perfect place to plant onto something when her grandmother our roots as a better-for-you Mexican gave her stamp of approval. After sharAmerican food brand,” Garza says. ing news about her The company, Siete tortillas on Facebook, Family Foods (named people all over the U.S. for the seven family started asking her for members), has successthe recipe. fully built an awardMeanwhile, Garza’s winning, fast-growing youngest brother, brand in the natural Miguel, a lawyer, was food space by offering between jobs and “culturally relevant living in Austin, Texas. product offerings, He suggested they turn rooted in tradition and the tasty tortillas into heritage,” says Miguel. a business venture. After establishing their The Garza clan all tortilla products, they — MIGUEL GARZA, graduated from the have since added chips, SIETE FAMILY FOODS University of Texas at salsas, a bean dip and Austin, so they decided more. to set up shop in Austin, the birthplace Garza, who says she has “no of Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food professional background in cooking,” Co-Op; the latter was first to sell their serves as Siete’s president and chief tortillas. “I loved the vibrancy of the city innovation officer, constantly creating
“OUR MANTRA IS: FAMILY FIRST, FAMILY SECOND, BUSINESS THIRD.”
PROVIDED BY SIETE FAMILY FOODS (2); GETTY IMAGES
SIETE FAMILY FOODS
new recipes or improving upon old ones in the Siete test kitchen. The Garza family members remain close, working out together (along with their staff) several times a week in the gym they built in the company's headquarters. “Our mantra is: Family first, family second, business third,” says Miguel, who is the company’s CEO. The Siete brand, easily recognized by its bold, colorful packaging with a papel picado heron (garza), has exploded, growing its distribution from 400 to more than 4,400 stores and from a small family-only business to a staff of 50 over the past three years. Miguel says they expect to double the number of employees this year. Recently, Siete secured $90 million in funding through a minority investment led by New York-based Stripes Group. And as a bonus, Siete’s products help Garza manage her autoimmune conditions. “Our tortillas, chips and other products make it more convenient for me to follow a mostly grain-free diet and still embrace and participate in parts of my culture that I’d be missing out on otherwise,” she says. “Food is an important part of my healing journey that also includes exercise, managing stress and working with numerous compassionate doctors to create a balanced and holistic approach to my quest for health and happiness.”
HEALTHY NEVER TASTED SO GOOD Siete Family Foods' blog features popular recipes, including this family favorite:
Siete Layer Bean Dip Layers: 1. Siete Sprouted Bean Dip
• 1½ cups of sour cream (or sour cream alternative)
• ½ head finely shredded iceberg lettuce
3. Salsa Cruda
• 1 jar Siete Mild Cashew Queso
4. Sour cream (or sour cream alternative)
• 1 cup sliced black olives, rinsed
5. Siete Mild Cashew Queso
• 2 whole green onions, thinly sliced
6. Black olives 7. Finely shredded iceberg lettuce and green onions Ingredients: For guacamole layer: • 3 large avocados • 1 serrano pepper, finely diced
Instructions: For guacamole layer: Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a large mixing bowl and smash with a fork until it’s as chunky or as smooth as you prefer. Mix in the cilantro, serrano and lime juice. Add salt to taste.
• 1/3 of a small white onion, finely diced • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
For salsa cruda layer:
• Sea salt
Combine the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is chunky. Transfer to a clean mixing bowl and stir in the lime juice.
• Juice of 1 lime For salsa cruda layer: • 4 roma tomatoes, largely diced • ¼ small red onion, largely diced • 1 jalapeño pepper, largely diced • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro • Sea salt • Juice of 2 limes Other ingredients: • 1 jar Siete Sprouted Bean Dip
In a medium bowl or 8x8-inch baking dish, spread the bean dip evenly on the bottom, followed by the guacamole, salsa cruda, sour cream and Siete Mild Cashew Queso. When adding each layer, make sure to spread all the way out to the edges. Also, ensure the outer edge of layers are thicker, so more visible through the glass. Add the black olives, followed by the thinly shredded lettuce and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips.
SALUD DE PALOMA Rosa Rios Valdez’s Salud de (BCL), of which Valdez is president Paloma is the only Latina-owned and CEO. Paloma is the Spanish olive oil company in the country. It’s word for dove, which is seen as a also a company on a mission. “We symbol of love and motherhood in put diabetes and heart health ahead some cultures. “My mother was my of retail sales,” says the founder and paloma,” says Valdez. “I’ve made it CEO, who was born in Mexico and my personal campaign to educate grew up in central Texas. “We’re Latinos about eating better to honor about educating and impacting my mother.” change.” Valdez says the Austin, TexasWhen her mother died from based company was started with diabetes in 1989, Valdez says she a $300,000 grant from the U.S. and her siblings could no longer be Department of Health and Human in denial about the disease. “I was Services because it was considered cooking the way I learned from my a Latino health initiative. The funds mother,” Valdez says. “My Tex-Mex helped pay for equipment — it’s an food tasted wonderful, but it was automated bottling business — and not the way I needed to be cooking.” marketing materials. After some research, she switched The company offers cold-pressed to cooking with extra virgin olive olive oil, and her oil, as well as three siblings followed flavored options: suit. None has garlic, chili pepper diabetes. Valdez and Meyerlemon. says she also was Today, Salud de aware that olive Paloma targets oil was used for young Latinos medicinal purposes to educate them in Mexican culture. about the benefits The vitamin E in olof healthy eating. ive oil can help heal The company has — ROSA RIOS VALDEZ, small scratches, she sent thousands of SALUD DE PALOMA says, and it makes 1-ounce sample a great moisturizer. packs to high "I tell my friends, 'Use the good olive school culinary programs, as well oil in your food and the so-so olive as to the Texas State University oil to moisturize your body.' No olive nutrition program. oil should be wasted.” Salud is sold primarily online Olive oil production in Texas dates via the company’s website and on back to the 1930s and has increased Amazon.com, and in a few grocery since the late 1990s, according stores across Texas. It is looking to to Texas A&M University. “The expand its sales nationally, targeting industry has been growing quickly states with significant Hispanic as consumers are becoming more populations, including New York, informed and starting to demand California, Colorado and Florida, healthier food options,” Valdez says. and recently met with the superHaving cooked with olive oil for market company ALDI to discuss years, Valdez decided to jump into distribution. the business. “It’s personal for me,” says Valdez. Launched in 2015 as a social “I really believe we grew up eating enterprise, Salud de Paloma is the wrong food. We have to make owned by the nonprofit Business a commitment of changing food and Community Lenders of Texas products and the way we eat.”
Rosa Rios Valdez
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MELISSA SKORPIL; LISA MUNOZ; GETTY IMAGES
“WE'RE ABOUT EDUCATING AND IMPACTING CHANGE.”
GETTY IMAGES; RUDY ESPINOZA; LESLIE RODRIGUEZ (2)
Health issues, first hers and makes foods inspired by Ramirez’s then her father’s, started Jocelyn Mexican and South American Ramirez on a health food journey. roots. Todo Verde operates out of a She switched to a vegetarian diet commercial kitchen, and owners aim after being diagnosed with a thyroid to open a brick and mortar site in the issue. “I decided to change my diet Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los and heal myself over time,” says Angeles by next year. Toward that Ramirez, who added supplements end, Ramirez raised $50,000 through and superfoods into her diet. crowd-source funding on Indiegogo Ramirez’s father, Jorge, who is (and continues to raise money). diabetic, was then diagnosed with In addition to catering special throat cancer. Later, his cancer events, Todo Verde participates in returned, requiring him to undergo Smorgasburg LA, the largest open-air an invasive surgery. Ramirez knew food market, panel discussions he needed to be as strong as possible and community dialogues about leading up to that operation and plant-based eating. She co-founded suggested he drastically change his Across Our Kitchen Tables, which diet. She would make describes its missmoothies loaded sion as cultivating with superfoods for “social spaces for her father. “During self-identified women those weeks, he felt of color and genderdramatically differnon-conforming ent,” she recalls. “He community members was able to minimize in food-centered and almost stop his work.” The organizainsulin injections.” tion also strives to Eventually, Ramirez make healthy foods started exploring accessible in food what she calls “indigdeserts. Ramirez is enous veganism.” She also a member of the says she was taught leadership council for about healthy eating the Los Angeles Food — JOCELYN RAMIREZ, “first and foremost” Policy Council. TODO VERDE by her maternal Prior to becoming grandmother, who a caterer, Ramirez is from Zacatecas, Mexico. She also worked in higher education, so not studied at plant-based chef and surprisingly, she loves to share her restaurateur Matthew Kenney’s know-how on healthy living in Latiformer culinary academy in Venice, no communities through workshops, Calif. dialogues, food demonstrations “Most of what I cook now was and speaking engagements. When passed down by my grandmother — she’s not cooking, she consults with tacos, guisados — who taught me to restaurants to help them develop build flavor with humble ingredients, healthier or vegan recipes. including chiles,” she says. “We make Ramirez says there is a cultural foods that feel culturally relevant food awakening taking place among and still feel like family.” Latinos. “People are starting to realRamirez started Todo Verde in ize that you don’t have to live with 2015, specializing primarily in diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity smoothies, juices and aguas frescas. and other health issues,” she says, Today, the vegan catering adding “eating processed foods is not company has eight employees and good for us in the long run.”
“WE MAKE FOODS THAT FEEL CULTURALLY RELEVANT AND STILL FEEL LIKE FAMILY.
Relive Selenaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest hits. Here are her top five Latin songs from Billboard: 1. No Me Queda Mas 2. Tu Solo Tu 3. Bidi Bidi Bom Bom 4. Fotos y Recuerdos (Back on the Chain Gang) 5. Amor Prohibido
ILLUSTRATION: AMIRA MARTIN; ADAPTATION FROM ARLENE RICHIE/MEDIA SOURCES/TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
selena’s star shines on 2 5 Years after her death BY AMY SINATRA AYRES
She was at the peak of her career — packing stadiums, designing clothing, breaking
barriers to become a mainstream pop superstar — when her life was cut short at age
23. But as the 25th anniversary of Selena’s death nears, her influence lives on.
ILLUSTRATION: AMIRA MARTIN; ADAPTATION FROM EMI LATIN
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
a n i t La The Latina legend is the inspiration for a new fashion line at Forever 21 and the upcoming Netflix project, Selena: The Series. A September 2020 cruise is planned to celebrate her life, and San Diego State University (SDSU) will offer a course on her cultural impact next spring. “She was kind of one of those individuals who transcended not just genres, but also generations,” says Nathian Shae Rodriguez, assistant professor of digital media studies at SDSU, who will teach the class. “My mother enjoyed listening to her, and my grandmother. I enjoyed listening to her. And now knowing that I have several students that are at least two generations younger than me, they also like listening to Selena.” Rodriguez was growing up in Texas when Selena was a rising star from Corpus Christi. “She was a Tejana who sang Spanish music but did not know Spanish. She was kind of in this liminal space between not being Mexican enough for Mexicans, not being American enough for Americans,” he says. “Selena had always been
somebody who was very authentic and true to herself. I saw a lot of myself resonate with her identity.” Later recognized by her first name alone, Selena Quintanilla was born to Mexican American parents in Lake Jackson, Texas, on April 16, 1971, and got her start in her family’s band, Selena y Los Dinos. With the guidance of her musician father, Abraham Quintanilla, she broke into the male-dominated Tejano music scene — which combines traditional Mexican music with other styles — and became known as the Queen of Tejano music. Her 1990 album, Ven Conmigo, was the first Tejano record to reach gold status, selling more than 500,000 copies. That same year, the singer known for her racy outfits and bold lipstick eloped with her band’s lead guitarist, Chris Perez, despite her father’s disapproval. Her family eventually accepted the marriage, although Perez and Selena’s father were recently involved in a legal dispute over a planned TV series based on Perez’s 2013 memoir, To Selena, with Love. In 1994, Selena won a Grammy Award for her album Live, becoming the first female Tejano artist to win in the Best Mexican American Album category. She was working on her first English-language album, Dreaming of You, when she was fatally shot on March 31, 1995. The founder of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, whom the Quintanilla family had confronted about allegedly embezzling money, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Saldivar will be eligible for parole in 2025. Netflix announced its plans for a scripted series about Selena’s life and lasting impact late last year, and is reported to be casting for its 2020 debut. The Quintanilla family is involved with the project, and Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla-Arriaga, is an executive producer.
PROVIDED BY FOREVER 21
FASHION ICON FOREVER
Selena fans can now capture the essence of la flor with a clothing line at Forever 21. The retailer debuted the White Rose collection dedicated to the star in March. The collection, which is available in stores and online, features T-shirts, pants, hoodies and accessories. Some shirts feature the iconic Selena signature, while others feature well-known photos and quotes. Prices range from $3.90 to $78. Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla-Arriaga, took to Instagram to give fans a look at one of the hoodies from the collection.“Trying super hard to look cooollll in this new Forever 21 X SELENA hoodie!” her post reads. A store manager in the singer’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, said the items would only be available for a limited time. That store was sold out of the line’s hats the day they became available.
— Alexandria Rodriguez writes for the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times.
a n i t La“
— NATHIAN SHAE RODRIGUEZ, SDSU ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA STUDIES
“Selena and the entire Quintanilla family are an inspiration to many and especially to me, a millennial of the same heritage,” Jaime Dávila, president of Campanario Entertainment, which is producing the show, wrote in a statement. “Selena’s career achievements are legendary, but our scripted series will focus on the incredible story of a Mexican American family and how an extraordinary young woman transcended categories and borders to become a global star.” According to Rodriguez, Selena influenced countless musicians, including Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Kacey Musgraves — and Jennifer Lopez, who portrayed the late star in the 1997 movie, Selena. It was her first leading role and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. In June, Lopez paid tribute to Selena during a performance in Houston. “We’re in Texas so we got to do it for Selena!” she yelled
CELEBRATION AT SEA
before singing Si Una Vez, which Selena had famously performed at the Astrodome the month before she died. “Her music still lives on today, and it’s influential — the music, the beats, her persona, it’s just kind of moved past all these different boundaries,” Rodriguez says. “The way she danced, the way she dressed was so different than what had traditionally been depicted in Tejano music. … (She) came and kicked the door down. And people remember that.” All these years later, Selena is still a major influence, especially in the Latino community. “She just kind of held herself together with poise and a kind of elegance and just this fun, loving personality,” Rodriguez says. Selena’s fans traditionally celebrate her legacy in the spring — a season of significance because it marks the time of her birth and her death. Her family commemorates her birthday with an annual music festival, Fiesta de la Flor, in Corpus Christi, and smaller local festivals are often planned where people dress like the fashion icon, and dance and lip-sync to her songs, including her hit Bidi Bidi Bom Bom. “It’s very difficult for us to find another Latinx icon that’s able to speak to so many people, so many generations,” Rodriguez says. “It’s her image. She has this marketability that people want to connect with, they want to wear — they want to wear her image.”
Selena’s husband, Chris Perez, will headline the Como La Flor cruise in 2020, marking 25 years since the singer’s death. In May, Perez responded to a post on his official Facebook page asking if the cruise was happening. “Just got word back from my people about this cruise,” Perez’s comment reads. “It’s true guys! See you there. I only wish it was happening sooner.” The ship will depart from Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 25, 2020, according to the cruise’s website. The second day will be spent at sea. On the third day, it docks in Ensenada, Mexico, before the ship returns to Long Beach, the website states. Cabins start at $950 per person, and $100 is needed to reserve a spot.
— Monica Lopez and Alexandria Rodriguez write for the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times.
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She was kind of one of those individuals who transcended not just genres,,but also generations,, .
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A COMPL ICATED H ISTORY To unders tand w
hy there in office, are so few you must Latinos look to A its lingeri merican ng effect h is tory and s. “There are represen barriers to tation th a t Latino h elp us un still don’t derstand have pari why we ty,” says A Universit ngela Oca y of Mich mpo, a igan poli sor. “Som tical scie e of the h n ce profesis torical ba voter part rriers for icipation L atino in cl ude limit ballot bo ed access x, poll ta xes and v to the a conseq oter supp uence, w ression. A e have fe s and fewe w er Latino r Latinos s voting running Accordin fo r office.” g to Ocam po, if Lati at averag nos are e e historica lected l rates, it more tha will likely n 50 years b e before pa “We have rity is rea to recogn ch ed. iz e that it w 1960s or asn’t unti 1970s tha l the t we saw of Latino the bigge represen st change tation,” sh at pace, it e says. “I ’s going to f we stay take a ve even wors ry long ti e when w me. It’s e lo represen ok at gen tation.” der, at La tina Ocampo has also studied cu electoral rrent Lati challenge no s. Latino consideri candidate ng runnin s who are g fo r office so that few mainstre on discov am dono er invest in rs are wil their can ling to didacy, sh e says. U nless a
Latino candidate is independently wealthy, they’re often priced out of civic engagement. VOTING “These parties and their donors, MATTERS they’re very influential but in many cases, Latinos are receiving limited support from the important actors as they’re trying to launch their campaign,” she says. OF LATINOS While ARE AGE 34 Latino-majority OR YOUNGER congressional districts are more likely to elect Latino representatives to Congress than majority white districts, Ocampo found key caveats that are often overlooked and help explain why even in districts with a heavy Latino population there’s little, if any, parity in Latino representation. Ocampo analyzed congressional races in Latino-majority districts and found that even with the majority-minority advantage, electoral success falters. Political networks are critical for Latino candidate recruitment, who gets backed in congressional district races, the deployment of campaign resources on behalf of certain candidates and the eventual success of candidates, according to Ocampo’s findings. Funding from political group contributions also has a staggering influence on a candidate’s ability to win a primary race. Ocampo found that Latino candidates with the highest group contributions (parties and interest groups, not including self-contributions) are about 70 percentage points more likely to win a primary race than a candidate with the lowest group contributions.
A SEAT AT THE TABLE Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California, but make
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up just 24 percent of the state years ago. “It was a community legislature, according to a 2018 that was marginalized, and in study by Ocampo. And in New some places, repressed,” he says. York, where Latinos make up “When my grandmother came to about 19 percent of the populaTexas there were signs that said, tion, they continue to struggle to ‘No dogs, Mexicans or Negroes win legislative seats. allowed.’” The outlook is brighter in Castro and his brother, Florida and New Mexico, which presidential candidate Julian have the highest rate of parity by Castro, often discuss the difLatino political representation. ference it made in their lives Interestingly, New Mexico has to grow up with a mother who the nation’s highest percentage was politically engaged and in of Latino population at 49.1 San Antonio, where there is a percent, but Florida only has rich history of Latino politicians. 26.1 percent, according to 2018 Castro says his mother, Rosie Census data. Castro, was a Chicana activist But both states have a history who in the 1970s joined La Raza of strong participation of Latino Unida, a political party seeking candidates in elections. And data to engage Latinos in politics. shows that when candidates of Today, the major parties still color run, it draws more voters often ignore Latino voters and of color to elections, and those candidates, he says. voters are more likely to vote Latino political representation for a candidate from their own can build a legacy of candidacies racial or ethnic background, says in regions where young Latinos Matt Barreto, a UCLA professor of see leaders who look like them. political science and Chicana/o Castro says he and his brother studies and co-founder of Latino are living proof of why represenDecisions, a polititation matters. cal research firm. In 1992, San Representation Antonio-born NEARLY in elected office Henry Bonilla was establishes a seat at the first Hispanic the table for people Republican from to voice their Texas elected to OF LATINOS opinions and help Congress. Henry WHO VOTED shape policies and Cisneros, in 1981, IN 2018 WERE laws that matter became the first to their commuLatino mayor of VOTING IN A nity. For Democratic a major U.S. city MIDTERM FOR Texas Rep. Joaquin when he was THE FIRST TIME Castro, who chairs elected by San SOURCE: VOTO LATINO the Congressional Antonio voters. Hispanic Caucus, Later, he was apit’s simple: Either pointed by former you have a voice on issues that President Bill Clinton as U.S. affect you, your family and your Secretary of Housing and Urban community or others make those Development. “Henry Cisneros decisions for you. inspired a lot of young people. Castro says fostering Latino I think you see that oftentimes, candidacies and growing the when there’s a first in the comLatino voting population has munity who runs for something,” progressed significantly when Castro says. “The (voter) turnout you consider what the comrate for the Hispanic community munity endured even just 50 (during Cisneros’ election) was
astronomical.” San Antonio had not had a Latino mayor since the 1800s. Pivotal milestones like Cisneros’ election can change the Latino community’s civic engagement for generations. “It’s the person, and it’s also the moment,” Castro says.
‘EVERY BILL MATTERS’ Castro says he sees decisions about immigration, housing, education, voting rights and veteran services regularly made at the federal level with a glaring lack of Latinos at the table. “As we go through what is a very difficult debate on immigration and the border, I think it would help dispel some of the myths that sometimes become treated as factual,” he says of the need for parity in Latino political representation. Barreto notes that, in 2006, when the nation was considering a seminal immigration reform bill, there were only two Latinos in the Senate and 28 in the House. “That was a critical bill that needed more Latino voices,” Barreto says. “That issue was so consequential at the time. It was a bill that was going to affect the lives of more than 10 million undocumented immigrants, many of them Latino.” Barreto says parity matters because Latinos, the nation’s largest ethnic group after whites, are affected by any decision made in Congress or at the local and state level. “Every bill matters,” he says. “These aren’t white issues; these are everyone’s issues. Black, Latino, Asian communities, we should all be equally represented. That’s what we should expect in a healthy democracy.”
THE NEXT GENERATION Latinos account for the largest portion of the nation’s next generation. At 18.3 million, Latinos represent the greatest number of youths under 18, according to a
GETTING OUT THE VOTE Voto Latino is dedicated to providing Hispanic youth with advocacy resources and political leadership development with the goal of building “a stronger and more inclusive democracy.” Increasing U.S. Latino voter registration has been a core mission of the organization, co-founded in 2004 by actress Rosario Dawson. To date, Voto Latino has registered more than half a million people through in-person drives and social and digital media platforms, including the first text-toregister method and a VoterPal app that allows users to register themselves and their peers. The organization has set a goal of registering 1 million eligible voters before the 2020 presidential election, and, as it did in 2018, it plans to partner with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to help transport voters to the polls. For more information, go to votolatino.org. — Amber Tucker and Debbie Williams
2018 Pew Research Center report. Mark Lopez, a Pew demographer, says young people historically vote at lower rates, but there’s an opportunity to engage voters now so they build a legacy of civic engagement. Barreto says that since President Barack Obama’s election, more young people, including Latinos, are engaging in politics and voting, and groups like Voto Latino have launched massive voter-registration drives. “Typically, Latino turnout has been very low in VOTO LATINO midterm elecREGISTERED tions,” Lopez says, adding that while voter turnout in this past midterm NEW VOTERS surged for all votIN 2018 ers, the increase was historic for Latinos. Overall, Latino voter turnout increased from 6.8 million in 2014 to 11.7 million in 2018. That’s the second-largest turnout among Latinos of any election year, presidential or midterm. It follows only the 2016 presidential election. From political parties to major donors and community activists, all eyes are on those numbers and trends. That’s because in races that are won by small margins, turnout from nontraditional voters can swing a presidential election. Lopez says that research has shown other recent changes. An increasing number of Latinos, across age groups and political groups, who have historically expressed pride in their roots are angry with how they’re being portrayed in politics. “There’s this sense of identity and awareness, whether that’s being Mexican or Puerto Rican or any Hispanic descent; there’s growing awareness of what it means to be of this group,” he says.
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Mexico's Baja California region is a burgeoning food and wine mecca. Visitors can sample local delicacies like this cheese plate at Lechuza Vineyard, an American-owned micro-winery.
Oaxaca, Mexico, is a foodie paradise
n the last few years, you’ve probably heard the name Oaxaca come up more and more. The Southern state is home to some of Mexico’s richest indigenous cultures and a diverse range of destinations that include majestic mountains, rugged beaches and the metropolitan capital (also called Oaxaca). But most importantly, it’s
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
arguably home to Mexico’s best food. The entire state of Oaxaca has amazing cuisine, and the city’s street-food culture is rivaled only by Mexico City. The fine dining compares to just about anywhere in the country, and the markets rival anywhere on the planet. Try these indulgences that are native to Oaxaca on your trip:
BY BRAD COHEN
Walk through almost any Oaxacan market and you’ll be sure to find towering baskets of chapulines — small, red grasshoppers. Chapulines are the ultimate Oaxacan snack. They have a texture somewhere between dried fruit and a Cheeto, and a taste that’s tangy and salty — perfect drinking food. At first, it can be difficult getting over the fact that you’re eating insects, but if there’s any consolation in that, it’s that grasshoppers are low in calories, high in protein and super sustainable. Plus, they’re pretty delicious once you get used to them.
A popular cacao drink, tejate is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Much subtler than a hot chocolate, this cold drink is made from toasted maize, fermented cacao beans and flor de cacao (cacao flower). The white beads of flor de cacao float to the top, forming a bland, pasty topping that adds texture to the drink, which is found all over the state. The drink is so beloved that thousands of people from across southern Mexico celebrate it at an annual festival in San Andres Huayapam, a small town near the city of Oaxaca.
If any one dish represents Oaxaca it’s this — which is why the state is known as the “Land of Seven Moles.” Mole sauces are among the most flavorful and complex; they’re also some of the most misunderstood. Largely because of the way it’s portrayed in the U.S. — where black mole is the most common variety — many Americans think of it as a chocolate sauce. And while several types do include chocolate, it’s only one of more than 20 ingredients. All moles have chilies, aromatics and thickeners like nuts and seeds in common. Plus, all versions are pureed. Black, red and coloradito (between black and red) are ubiquitous, while yellow and green are around if you keep your eyes open. Chichilo and manchamantel are tough to find. The best moles are found in the villages outside the city, where they’re usually reserved for special occasions. Upscale restaurants like Casa Oaxaca El Restaurante and Origen in Oaxaca city also have excellent versions for those willing to spend some cash.
GETTY IMAGES (3); CASA OAXACA EL RESTAURANTE
Chocolate No, this isn’t single origin, 72 percent dark chocolate flown in from Africa on the wings of Pegasus. In Oaxaca, chocolate is something you drink, not eat. After mixing the raw cacao with sugar and either hazelnut or almond, it’s ground into a paste, then cooked (usually) with milk and stirred with a wooden whisk called a molinillo. Oaxacan hot chocolate is found all over the state, and it’s among the richest, most delicious you’ll ever taste. It’s worth walking into one of the city’s chocolate shops to enjoy the wonderful aromas free of charge.
MOLINILLO This wooden stick is used to make traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate.
Mexicoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Valle de Guadalupe offers abundant savory flavors
Valle de Guadalupe
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BY MATT ALDERTON
Las Nubes Bodegas y Viñedos
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exico knows how to quench a thirst. Whether you’re parched on a beach in Cancún, dehydrated on a dance floor in Cabo San Lucas or toasting clients at a business dinner in Mexico City, your cup never need run dry. That is, as long as you’re drinking one of its beloved national beverages: cerveza or tequila. If you prefer wine, you could be sin suerte — out of luck. At least, that’s how it used to be. But things are changing thanks to Valle de Guadalupe, a burgeoning wine region in Baja California. Rick Bayless has seen the transformation firsthand. “When I first traveled through Mexico’s wine country about 40 years ago, very little existed,” says Bayless, a celebrity chef and cookbook author who helms six Mexican restaurants in Chicago. “There were a
few things I liked drinking, but … there wasn’t much variety, and the quality wasn’t very good.” Tides turned when Baja’s oldest winery — Bodegas de Santo Tomás, established in 1888 — hired Frenchtrained winemaker Hugo d’Acosta to up its winemaking game. He did, and subsequently established La Escuelita, a charitable school where he teaches winemaking to locals. “He did an amazing job introducing techniques to the Valle de Guadalupe,” Bayless continues. “From there, it just blew up.” Today, Valle de Guadalupe is home to more than 200 wineries that have spawned stylish hotels and sumptuous restaurants, all primed for adventurous oenophiles. Start your journey in San Diego, advises Chris Mejia, co-owner with his wife, Jen Kramer, of tour company Baja Test Kitchen, which specializes in Baja
Guadalupe, Mexico, is home to more than 200 wineries
food and wine tours. “The wine region is about a 90-minute drive once you cross the border from San Diego into Tijuana,” says Mejia, who cautions travelers to learn ahead of time whether their rental provider allows vehicles to cross the border; those that do require insurance from a Mexican insurer in accordance with Mexican law. “Once you cross the border, there’s a beautiful highway with coastal views that takes you down to wine country.” Take that highway — scenic Highway 1, a toll road that costs approximately $6 — from Tijuana to the port city of Ensenada, then drive another 45 minutes inland to the Valle de Guadalupe, where the principal pueblo is tiny El Porvenir. When you arrive, remember one
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thing above all else: Valle de Guadalupe is not Napa Valley. “It has this rustic charm,” explains Mejia, who likens Baja travel to a treasure hunt: You must work for your reward. “You’re not going to Paris, France. You’re going to a region that’s remote and rugged. It’s desolate, dirty, dusty. And yet, there’s something about it that’s uniquely captivating.” One might say the same about its wines. “You get a unique savoriness in the wine that you don’t get anywhere else in the world,” Bayless says. Along with the 131-year-old Bodegas de Santo Tomás, the many places to savor a taste include L.A. Cetto, established in 1928 and one of Baja’s largest wine producers; Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards & Inn, which was one of Baja’s first boutique wineries when it planted its vines in 1997;
Bodegas Henri Lurton, which makes French-style wines in the tradition of Bordeaux winemaker and namesake Henri Lurton; Lechuza Vineyard, an American-owned micro-winery that provides wines to The French Laundry, chef Thomas Keller’s famous Napa Valley restaurant; and Las Nubes Bodegas y Viñedos, which is as beloved for its sweeping views as for its wines. Restaurants — many of which offer outdoor seating — are “second to none,” says Bayless, whose Chicago restaurant, Leña Brava, was inspired by Baja cuisine. His and Mejia’s favorites include Finca Altozano, which specializes in local seafood and wood-fired cooking; Deckman’s en el Mogor, where a Michelin-starred chef offers local wood-fired eats; La Cocina de Doña Esthela that serves a Northern
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INSIDER TRAVEL TIPS Writer Mark Rogers lives an hour’s drive north of Valle de Guadalupe, and has visited the region several times in the past few years. He offers these tips for experiencing an area he says is “arguably one of the country’s most sophisticated travel destinations.” Corazón de Tierra
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La Villa del Valle
Mexican-style breakfast Bayless calls “the best breakfast in the world”; and Corazón de Tierra, where the legendary six-course tasting menu changes daily. If you can’t get a reservation at the latter — there are only 30 seats and two daily seatings — chef Diego Hernández serves gourmet tacos and tostadas from TROIKa, his food truck parked outside. Because one day won’t be enough, Bayless recommends spending the night at La Villa del Valle, a small luxury inn; Bruma, a winery with hotel rooms and private villas; or Cuatro Cuatros, which offers glamping in luxury tents. Ultimately, where your itinerary takes you matters less than when you go, which should be sooner rather than later. “It’s magical,” Bayless concludes, “and now is the time to go — before it becomes too touristy.”
ENJOY AN EASY OVERNIGHT TRIP. In an effort to develop tourism, some of the resorts and wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, such as El Cielo Winery & Resort by Karisma, offer to pick guests up at San Diego International Airport and drive them to the resort. Without a doubt, this is the most hassle-free method for an overnight visit, Rogers says. Once travelers access the valley, they’ll find it easy to get around. The main roads are well-maintained and have ample signage for the most popular wineries. IF YOU CAN, STAY A WHILE. Driving in for a day is a wonderful experience, but Rogers recommends settling in for a night or twoto allow time to visit a range of wineries, as well as sampling the up-and-coming Baja Med fusion cuisine, which celebrates the fresh produce and seafood of the region. New hotels and restaurants are being built and there are talks of upscale residential communities on the drawing board. The good news, he notes, is that the compact region — 20 miles by 1 mile — is still serene and beautiful. The area has one vineyard
after another, with numerous olive trees complementing the vines. BLEND YOUR OWN. Some resorts, like Adobe Guadalupe, a boutique hotel combining Iranian and Mexican design, and the more contemporary El Cielo Winery & Resort by Karisma, have their own on-site wineries. El Cielo even offers the opportunity to blend cabernet and merlot to make your own custom wine in the on-site cellar. TAKE IN THE SCENERY AND THE STORIES. At Sol y Barro winery, Rogers chatted with owner Aimé Desponds and learned that “Desponds is a transplanted Swiss who, in addition to making award-winning wine, is also a painter and amateur architect who designed and built his home and winery using readily accessible regional materials, such as clay, straw and stone.” Rogers recommends enjoying Sol y Barro’s wines in the outside ramada, “which has long tables hewn from a single length of timber. Here, visitors will be surrounded by flowers, the songs of wild birds and the breezes blowing through the valley. The natural setting is a perfect complement to enjoying a glass of superior wine.”
Omar D'Angelo's Argentine food truck has been an award-winning hit.
Flavors to Savor
Latino culinary options are expanding with more delicious choices on the menu
mar D’Angelo smelled opportunity in the scent of frying empanadas. “The Mexican restaurants were growing, but there was not much diversity beyond that. In business you always want to do something unique and different,
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and as an Argentine person I knew I could bring something new,” he says. His Argentine food truck, Barroluco Argentine Comfort Food, hit the streets of Columbus, Ohio, in 2016 and has drawn a steady following for its empanadas (little meat pies) and its chimichurri (a kind of garlic pesto). Whether he realized it or
not, D’Angelo had tapped into a growing trend. In recent years, the U.S. has seen a rise not just in the number of Mexican restaurants, but also in the sheer diversity of Latino-inspired culinary options. There were some 48,000 Mexican eateries nationwide in 2018, according to el Restaurante’s Independent Mexican
BY ADAM STONE
Restaurant Report, which tracks Mexican and Latin food trends through surveys and restaurant data. That’s up 1,500 from the year before. Taco trucks are on the rise too, with 8,061 mobile Mexican eateries on the road in the U.S. this year, up from 5,500 in 2016. The Latino trend extends beyond the usual tacos and burritos. “One of the hottest cuisines right now is Peruvian, with growth in casual dining, upscale dining and fine dining. Brazilian is seeing growth. El Salvadoran is becoming more popular,” says Charles Chuman, vice president of sales for culinary research firm CHD Expert.
thousand Mexican restaurants nationwide in 2018
SOURCE: el Restaurante’s Independent Mexican Restaurant Report
Why the boom? It’s partly due to a rising number of Americans who hail from Latin America. Cities with large immigrant populations are seeing the fastest growth in dining options. “People in cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles are really open to new flavors and new tastes,” Chuman says. At the same time, staple Mexican items have become so commonplace that they no longer seem exotic. It’s strange
to think of ballpark nachos as “ethnic” food. That opens the door for curious diners to experiment. Public curiosity helped D’Angelo get his truck rolling. “At first we had to explain everything,” he says. “Now people want us to succeed because they have come to like these flavors.” It’s not just independent operators like D’Angelo who capitalize on rising interest. With more than 100 locations nationwide, burger chain BurgerFi this summer launched The Street Stack, a limited-time offering that sandwiches a beef patty between two arepas (griddle corn cakes) and tops it with charred jalapeño pico de gallo. “We wanted to create a new twist on a classic street food item that is synonymous with fun, summer and festivals,” says Paul Griffin, BurgerFi’s culinary director. “Although arepas are considered a South American staple, sweet corn is widely loved by the masses, so we decided to have them act as our burger buns.” The quest for novel flavors isn’t confined to lunch or dinner. Research firm Packaged Facts finds Mexican breakfast items have become twice as common on U.S. menus in the past decade: tasty dishes like migas (pan-fried corn tortillas, scrambled eggs, salsas, meats, and beans) and chilaquiles (fried tortilla strips softened in salsa, topped with poached eggs, cilantro, onions, crema and queso fresco). These morning edibles “target not just Hispanics, but all the ravenous millennials looking for what’s next,” the researchers note. As restaurants expand their menus to embrace other Latino flavors, their buying habits change, according to Dining Alliance, a group purchasing organization serving 18,000
SUGAR AND SPICE More retailers are stocking international snacks with Latin flavor. Here are some popular options and where to find them:
u Takis: Super-spicy, crunchy rolled tortilla chips, available at walmart.com u Vero Mango Chili Lollipops: Fruity-sweet suckers with a bold spicy kick, available at target.com u Gansito: Chocolatecovered snack cake with a variety of fruit and cream fillings, available at worldwidewut.com
uChimango: Dried mango slices with chili seasoning, available at boxed.com
u Nucita: A creamy, pudding-style treat, available at amigofoods.com u Bimbunuelos Bimbo: Crispy wheel-shaped pastries, available at mexgrocer.com
restaurants. Its members saw purchases of staples such as refried beans, plantains, chipotle peppers and cilantro jump almost 35 percent from 2017 to 2018. Until recently, restaurateurs might have had a challenging time securing these ingredients. Today, ready availability of Latino staples means consumers get to enjoy new menu choices. “Systems have changed such that distributors are now able to bring in a broader variety of foods because of improvements in the supply chain and distribution
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technologies,” Chuman says. As a result, “we are seeing a greater variety of products reaching a bigger audience.” For D’Angelo, who came from Argentina to the U.S. with his family in 2000, a mobile dining venue offers the ideal means for introducing hungry neighbors to the flavors of his native land. “The food truck helps by spreading the interest,” he says. “Being mobile, we can take these different flavors to people in lots of different places. We find that people are always interested in trying something new.”
D’Angelo has been able to build upon that interest. In November, he leveraged the success of the food truck to fulfill a longtime dream, opening the 50-seat restaurant Barrolocu. “I had always wanted to open a restaurant, but it was very expensive and difficult at first,” he says. “Once we had some success with the food truck, the lenders had more confidence in me. Now we have a lunch rush from the nearby office spaces, so there is a steady business here, giving people something different from what they can usually find in Columbus.”
u Pica Gomas: Chili and fruit-flavored gummies, available at amazon.com
Spooky, Spoofy, Kooky
How three Latino-led shows are shaking up TV BY PATRICK RYAN
os Espookys is what might happen if the Scooby-Doo gang walked into a John Waters
movie. HBO’s creepy, kooky comedy — the cable network’s first primarily Spanish-language original series — follows an oddball bunch of gore enthusiasts in an unnamed Latin American country who start a horrorfor-hire business, staging fake exorcisms, haunted houses and alien abductions for a wealthy clientele. It’s the first of three new series that premiered this summer that center on Latinx stories and characters. ABC’s Grand Hotel is a soapy family drama executiveproduced by Eva Longoria, set at a Hispanic-run luxury hotel in
Miami Beach. And Comedy Central’s Alternatino with Arturo Castro is a sketch show from Broad City breakout Arturo Castro, spoofing pop culture, politics and life as a modern Latino man. “All these shows are completely different, but they’re all Latino,” Castro says. “It just goes to show that we’re such a varied community, and it’s heartening because it starts to reflect the actual composition of what American society is. We buy 24 percent of the movie tickets; we’re (18 percent) of the population — we hold some power.” Los Espookys was conceived by Saturday Night Live veteran Fred Armisen, who was inspired by multiple shows, including The Addams Family and Twin Peaks, while writing the six-episode first season with co-creators and stars Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega.
GETTY IMAGES; HBO
Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco, left) recruits dental assistant Ursula (Cassandra Ciangherotti) and chocolate company heir Andres (Julio Torres) to help him scare people in HBO's Los Espookys.
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CARA HOWE; ERIC MCCANDLESS/ABC
GRAND HOTEL “I like that it’s set in Latin America,” Armisen says of the show, which blends deadpan humor with mystery and supernatural elements. “There’s a different kind of spookiness to it than (horror stories set in) England or suburban America.” Wanting to stay authentic to the story’s Latin American setting, the trio pitched it to HBO as a show with English subtitles.
Santiago (Demián Bichir, left) and Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez) have dark secrets in the scandal-driven ABC drama Grand Hotel.
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Making a foreign-language comedy “was never any concern,” Torres says. “If the whole world outside of the States can handle subtitles, then surely Americans can.” Castro, who first pitched Alternatino to Spanish-language network Univision, instead saw his web series picked up by the more mainstream Comedy Central. A multipart sketch in the season premiere depicts him being fetishized by a white woman on their first date, as she makes stereotypical assumptions about his Guatemalan upbringing and insists they go out salsa dancing. “There’s this connotation that Latinos have to love spicy food and salsa music, when really, I just love (the band) Mumford & Sons,” Castro says. The show’s sketches also offer biting social commentary on recent news events, such as the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Castro plays an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement, touting that all children in their custody are “cage-free” and allowed to roam in fields. “When I saw the images of kids in cages, I was like, ‘I need to address some of these issues through the platform I’ve been given,’ ” Castro says. “There were days in the writers’ room where we’d be like, ‘What ticks us off? How do we digest it, and how do we make it funny?’ It’s tricky.” Grand Hotel, in contrast, is intended solely as “an escape,”
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One Day at a Time Rescued by Pop TV One Day at a Time fans have stopped grieving and started cheering. The critically acclaimed reboot of Norman Lear’s classic comedy, canceled in March after three seasons on Netflix, has new life. Pop TV announced that a 13-episode fourth season of the family sitcom, starring Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, will run on the CBS-owned cable network starting in 2020. The episodes will then run later on CBS, where Lear launched the original series in 1975. One Day follows nursepractitioner Penelope Alvarez (Machado), a newly single, Cuban American Army veteran, her two children and her mother, Lydia (Moreno), as they deal with the challenges of getting by in contemporary Los Angeles. Lear, who serves as an executive producer of the current show, issued a statement in June celebrating the show’s salvation: “Three months ago, I was heartbroken with the news of our beloved One Day at a Time’s cancellation. Today, I’m overwhelmed with joy to know the Alvarez family will live on.” He also expressed appreciation to producing studio Sony “for never giving up on the show” and to Pop TV “for having the guts” to pick up the series. “We are thrilled beyond belief to be making more One Day at a Time,” remarked executive producers and co-showrunners Gloria Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce. “This show has meant so much to so many, and we can’t wait to dive in with our amazing new partners Pop and CBS. And we’d especially like to thank all of the fans for their undying support, helping us turn #SaveODAAT into #MoreODAAT.” — Bill Keveney
GETTY IMAGES; ADAM ROSE/NETFLIX
says writer/executive producer Brian Tanen. Adapted from a Spanish soap opera, the juicy, twisty drama follows debt-ridden patriarch Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir), who runs a sumptuous beachside hotel with his second wife (Roselyn Sanchez) and his adult children. But viewers quickly learn that it’s far from paradise, as infidelity, an unplanned pregnancy and possible murder rock already strained family relationships. The show puts a modern twist on the usual “upstairs/downstairs” story by depicting the Hispanic characters as the rich proprietors of the hotel, rather than maids or waiters. “The population of Miami is 70 percent Latino, so we felt it was authentic to make that family Latinx,” Tanen says. Additionally, nine of the show’s 11 series regulars are Latinx or African American, “so it was important to represent the world we know.” Still, Latinos continue to struggle for representation on TV, making up just 7.2 percent of all roles on broadcast scripted shows, according to a 2019 diversity report published by UCLA. And with the majority of Latinx-led shows existing only on cable and streaming — Starz’s Vida, USA’s Queen of the South and Netflix’s On My Block, among them — Tanen believes Hispanic audiences are ready for a network drama like Grand Hotel. “TV is doing a better job as of late increasing racial inclusivity in their shows, but it’s still rare for the lead of a show to be a person of color,” Tanen says, citing Ugly Betty and Jane the Virgin as successful outliers.” So we’re following in that proud tradition of telling a very entertaining story with characters who happen to be Latinx, and representing underserved characters and underserved audiences.”
Meet Annette Ramos Latina Storyteller is sharing her passion for the arts
nnette Ramos vividly recounts her intimate introduction to the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and the profound effect it had on her. She says she was 7 or 8 years old: “I remember the essence of feeling like I had found my home. I found the art which spoke to my heart and my spirit ... and felt that I could do that too, and
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that theater was a feasible place for a Latina, brown-skinned girl to be in.” Around that same transformative time, she was exposed to the dazzling world of Broadway when her newly divorced mother found steady work cleaning theater houses — with Ramos and her three siblings usually in tow. There, she would cross paths with Liza Minnelli, George C. Scott, Katharine Hepburn and other well-known stars of
NATALIE SINISGALLI PHOTOGRAPHY
BY TIANA STEPHENS
GETTY IMAGES; MEGAN COLOMBO
Annette Ramos' Rochester Latino Theatre Company co-produced Anna in the Tropics, which featured an all-Latinx cast.
the time, all who treated her family with dignity and respect. Ramos remembers her childhood in New York City as “rich in the arts,” and she is filled with gratitude for her mother’s creative knack to connect her children to resources and activities that were free or low-cost. From events at the Lincoln Center to Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, Ramos says these experiences — created very intentionally by her mother to immerse her family in arts and culture — reaffirmed her belief that she did, in fact, belong in all of those spaces. She would grow up to become an actress, producer, playwright and poet, making a name for herself along the way: The Latina Storyteller. Regarding herself an “artist turned
advocate,” Ramos now works to secure platforms for up-and-coming Latinx artists through the Rochester Latino Theatre Company (RLTC) in Rochester, N.Y. As RLTC executive director, she feels it’s important to cultivate and develop the next generation of young people who can say, like she once did, “Yes, I can do that; I belong here.” Ramos says it is her mission to enhance relationships and create synergy between cultural and educational organizations and the Latino community to make Rochester a city of the arts for everyone. “I have always envisioned that with more diversity and innovation comes more variety and viewpoints and vision and collaboration. ... (The) collaborative process is evolving and transforming art forms.”
Stephanie Paredes co-founded RLTC with Ramos in 2011, and is thankful for her partner’s vibrant energy and spark. “Between Annette’s passion, experience in theater and love of the arts, RLTC has been able to be involved in the community in more ways than I imagined, on and off stage,” Paredes says. Ramos’ work is also focused on providing resources as a teaching artist, seeking to welcome residents who relocated to Rochester after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. Through her offerings of dynamic performances and workshops as a master storyteller, she integrates art into education, weaving in themes of diversity, environmental conservation and social justice. Ramos has mentored dozens of young artists throughout the years and says her greatest joy is reconnecting with students whose lives she affected. Her extensive work with countless organizations, including the Puerto Rican Parade, Latinas Unidas, LaCumbre and the YWCA, has earned her numerous awards, and she has served on the boards of the Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Latinas Unidas and the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance. Rochester has a diverse population and the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans of all major U.S. cities, and Ramos would like the cityscape to reflect this diversity. She envisions the city “rich with murals and public art, complete with a Latinx community center attracting artists from all over the world, with a designation as an international hub for Latinx art and the center and cornerstone for upstate New York, and maybe even Canada.” Despite her endeavors in the community, Ramos will tell you that her lifelong work is not her legacy, but rather her gift and contribution to the city she has come to call home, and she pledges to continue to make connections and create a path forward, “So that generations can walk and build a Boricua walk of fame, right here in Rochester.”
Playing It Forward Sheila E. boosts music and arts foundation for kids
rumming has taken Sheila E., around the world. She served as musical director for President Barack Obama’s In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina in 2009 and performed in the house band at the 2012 Oscars. She played drums on movie soundtracks such as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She’s performed with such high-profile artists as Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Ringo Starr. In the mid-1970s, she connected musically and romantically with Prince. Their relationship, which included a brief engagement, was on and off for more than three decades. “We were in each other’s lives for most of our adult lives,” she says. “It was a great time, good and bad. We learned a lot from each other.” The oldest of four siblings, Sheila E., also known as Sheila Escovedo, grew up in Oakland, Calif., in a musical family. Latin jazz star Tito Puente was her godfather. After committing herself to percussion at age 15, Sheila E. made her professional debut with her father’s band, Azteca, opening for The Temptations. “That’s when I knew I was supposed to do this for the rest of my life,” she says. In addition to performing, sharing the gift of music comes easily for this prolific singer, songwriter and musician. “We grew up poor,” she recalls, “but we didn’t know we were poor. We were on welfare for a while. We had no car and not a lot of food, but that was OK. My dad would take us to facilities to help kids who didn’t have parents or had parents who were on drugs or in prison. He would bring his percussion, and we’d go play with them and bring some light into their lives.” Today, the accomplished percussionist along with best friend and singer Lynn Mabry, is co-founder of Elevate Oakland, a nonprofit
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that uses music and art to serve the needs of youth in Oakland public schools. Both from the Bay Area, the women know firsthand the struggles that many kids there face. “A lot of the schools we noticed really didn’t have a music program,” Sheila E. says. “So we would ask if there’s just one room that we could take and transform into the music room. We would donate drums, violins, saxophones.” The duo would set up music stations at desks, with a keyboard, computer, headphones and audio software programs such as Pro Tools and Garageband, so the kids could learn to make and record music. Slowly, they’d see transformations in the kids. One young man wanted to share a rap song he had produced. “We listened to the story, and then, like a couple of lines later, we realized he was talking about himself,” she says. “In the rap, he’s talking about when he wrote it he was sleeping in a friend’s car in front of the school because he had nowhere to live.” The program has been as beneficial for Mabry and Sheila E. as it has for the children in the program. Both women experienced childhood trauma and turned to music to find solace. “We know how much music has saved our lives, and we’re able to share how we feel through music,” Sheila E. says. “We thought it was important to share, ‘Hey, we know where you are. We’ve been there. We’ve been abused. We understand it. We went through being angry as well. We know what that’s like and you know, this music helped us.’” What began in 2001 as a small endeavor has now helped more than 3,000 kids. The two plan to expand and elevate other cities as well: “Music is so powerful,” says Sheila E. “It is healing.” To learn more or to donate to her cause, visit elevateoakland.org. — Nancy Mills contributed to this story.
BY SARA SCHWARTZ
We know how much music has saved our lives, and we’re able to share how we feel through music.”
— SHEILA E.
Too Busy to Sleep Gina Rodriguez is crushing the game and bringing a beloved childhood character to life
ot all heroes wear a white hat. Gina Rodriguez prefers red. The Jane the Virgin star took to Netflix this year in a scarlet trench as the voice of animated character Carmen Sandiego, a project that revives the ’90s series that spawned computer games, a TV series and a kidfocused game show. The show is just one of Rodriguez’s many projects. Earlier
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this year, she starred in Netflix’s rom-com Someone Great, directed two episodes of Jane the Virgin’s fifth and final season as well as an episode of the CW’s Charmed reboot. She also hit the big-screen in her first action thriller, Miss Bala, about a Los Angeles makeup artist who’s abducted by a Mexican cartel. “I stay busy because I was a struggling actor till I was like, 29!" says Rodriguez. “There was so much of my life that was like,
trying and failing and rejection — I had a lot of sleep. So I’m ready to not sleep.” Carmen Sandiego has been reimagined from its ’90s heyday after the franchise sat dormant for decades. The educational computer game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? debuted in 1985 after researchers found kids were falling behind in geography, says executive producer Caroline Fraser. (A PBS series followed, from 1991-95.)
JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS (2)
BY ANDREA MANDELL
FUTURE PROJECTS Gina Rodriguez’s I Can and I Will production company sold the show Diary of a Female President to Disney’s planned streaming service. “It’s about a young Latino girl in middle school, and you flash-forward to the future and she’s the president of the United States,” Rodriguez says.
The new animated adventure series targeting 7- to 12-year-olds, hopes to “introduce kids to different people and places and cultures around the world,” Rodriguez says. (Don’t worry, there’s plenty of nostalgia for adult fans, too.) Today, the glamorous superthief — who dresses in street clothes by day — is pulling off oh-so-2019 heists in Morocco, Indonesia, Switzerland, Ecuador and the Netherlands. The show also imagines an origin story in which Carmen is an orphan raised by professional thieves on a remote island. “I grew up with Carmen Sandiego, and we knew nothing about her,” says Rodriguez. “And then, the fact that she’s brown-skinned on the animation — it makes my heart glow.” Two years ago, after Rodriguez agreed to voice the Netflix animated show, she dreamed of starring in a live-action version of the project. In amazing physical shape, and boxing with her dad between takes on the Miss Bala set, “I was like, ‘I want to bring Carmen to life,’” she recalls telling producer Kevin Misher. “I want to be rappelling off the side of a building! I want to be gliding off the Eiffel Tower or something super sick like that! And he was like, all right, let’s do it.” The project is now in the script stage at Netflix.
WEDDING BELLS She may have just played a woman going through a breakup in the recent Netflix rom-com Someone Great, but in real life, Gina Rodriguez is a newlywed. She married Joe LoCicero in an outdoor ceremony May 4. The actress shared the happy news in an Instagram post, writing, “Thank you to my mother-in-law for the wedding of my dreams. And the village that helped her!” She also thanked her brother-in-law “for singing me down the aisle.” Rodriguez and LoCicero met when he guest-starred on Jane the Virgin in 2016. — Carly Mallenbaum
Zoe Saldana co-founded the digital platform BESE to represent communities she feels have been left out of mainstream discourse. "Our mission is to broaden and reshape popular narratives by celebrating the untold stories of today’s changing America," she says.
Zoe Saldana Gets Real
Actress talks Avengers, her Avatar return and being inspired by millennials
I Kill Giants
etween guarding the galaxy and hanging out on the colorful planet of Pandora, Zoe Saldana isn’t getting much of a chance to show her real face these days. That’s why her role as a goodhearted psychologist reaching out to a struggling young girl in the fantasy adventure I Kill Giants, released last year, was so different, but also so important to her. Saldana portrays Ms. Mollé, a school counselor and, more importantly, a confidante to 12-year-old
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Barbara (played by Madison Wolfe), who’s convinced she’s the only one who can keep her town safe from a dangerous giant. “The message that gives out — what happens when an adult reserves judgment as best as she can, and how much that can aid a child who’s in dire need of the right kind of attention — is what moved me the most,” Saldana says. The actress takes a bigger role in saving the day in her other bigbudget fare. She was back this year as green-skinned Guardians of the Galaxy assassin Gamora in Avengers: Endgame, joining Earth’s mightiest
heroes in fighting off her adoptive father, cosmic villain Thanos. And Saldana reprises her role as blue Na’vi warrior Neytiri in the next two Avatar movies — out in December 2020 and December 2021 — sequels to James Cameron’s massive 2009 sci-fi hit. Saldana spoke with USA TODAY about her busy movie slate, plus her “labor of love,” BESE — a combination of the verb “to be” in English (be) and Spanish (se) — a digital content and social platform dedicated to highlighting the stories of underrepresented communities.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX; RLJE FILMS
BY BRIAN TRUITT
Gamora probably needed somebody like Ms. Mollé to talk out issues with her dad. Saldana: You’re so right! If Gamora had a Ms. Mollé, she probably would have never met the Guardians. How different was filming Avengers than a Guardians movie? The thought of it was more daunting than the reality. It was so even-keel, and the energy was so welcoming and positive and exciting. In building BESE, how much have you been inspired by a changing culture — i.e., Black Panther, the #MeToo movement and the Parkland kids? I am inspired by millennials right now. Their demand for transparency, their curiosity, their identity and their sense of justice has overwhelmed and humbled me. After becoming a mother, it became a mission to me because I can’t just be empathetic. I have to be compassionate, and compassion requires action.
JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES
How much did you miss Neytiri over the years? So much. I couldn’t wait to get back to Pandora. It’s going to be a very emotional and moving saga that Jim (Cameron) has built for all of us to experience. It is an extension of the conversation that he started in the first Avatar, of the relationship and the care that we need to have with our environment.
Saldana attended the world premiere of Avengers: Endgame at the Los Angeles Convention Center in April.
You didn’t have kids yet when doing the original movie. Has being a mom changed your approach? Absolutely. Becoming a mother changed just the kind of projects I want to be a part of. I’ve become a little relentless about exercising my voice about what I feel should be an accurate representation of females and also race and culture. I’m proud of that, because I’m also conveying it with love and respect versus coming from anger, which I don’t think is the right approach anymore.
Standout Los Standuperos Latino comedy is reaching new heights BY BRIAN BARTH
ears ago, Anjelah Johnson moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an actress. She’s landed a number of acting roles through the years, but it was her side gig as a comedian that took off. “Comedy chose me,” says the 37 year old, who is of
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Mexican and Native American descent. “If I were to have picked, I would have been an actress. But over the years I’ve developed gratitude for this craft, for the ability to bring joy to people.” This fall she’ll bring joy to a different city nearly every night on her Technically Not Stalking Tour. Johnson achieved internet
fame in the late 2000s with viral clips of sketches centered on a character called Bon Qui Qui, an eccentric, uninhibited, faintly Latina homegirl who works at a fast-food joint. While her Mexican heritage was a significant theme of her early shows, these days Johnson is … well, just Johnson: “When I first started doing stand-up, I
ROBYN VON SWANK (3); JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES; JC OLIVERA/GETTY IMAGES
CRISTELA ALONZO Some comedians choose to stay out of politics, but Alonzo, who grew up along the Texas-Mexico border in a family that struggled with poverty, does not count herself in that camp. She advocates for issues involving immigration and universal health care. She made a name for herself in 2014 when she became the first Latina to have the starring role in a network TV sitcom, Cristela, which is based loosely on her childhood. She’s also the first Latina to star in a Disney Pixar movie, Cars 3.
FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES; WESTWOOD ENTERTAINMENT; TOMMASO BODDI/GETTY IMAGES
A stand-up titan with an impressive list of credits to his name, Colombia-born Leguizamo is also adored on Broadway, where he is known for his satirical oneman shows. The most recent of these, the Tony Awardwinning Latin History for Morons, is touring nationally throughout 2019. The plot kicks off with Leguizamo deciding to teach his son about the ancient leaders of Latin America and proceeds to weave a hilarious tale with pointed relevance to the Latino experience today.
was portraying myself and my family as what I thought people wanted. Like I would portray my mom with an accent, but my mom doesn’t even speak Spanish. I’m fourth generation, and my last name is Johnson, so I’m not your typical Latina. It was when I started to be honest and own those things about me that my career really began to take off. Being Latino doesn’t look like just one thing — we all have a different story.” These diverse stories are found in full glory among the growing number of Latino comedians. Here are just a few standouts in the world of stand-up:
GABRIEL “FLUFFY” IGLESIAS One of the hottest comedians touring today, Iglesias’ YouTube clips have been viewed more than 400 million times, according to his website. Netflix will add two more specials to his comedy résumé by the end of the year, and his debut sitcom, Mr. Iglesias, premiered on the platform this summer. Known for family-friendly comedy and endless jokes about his (significant) waistline, Iglesias is also an accomplished voice actor in animated films, including the Academy Award-winning Coco.
SOFIA NINO DE RIVERA Perhaps the most revered standupero in Mexico today (she was named Mexico City’s woman of the year in 2016), you’ll probably have to travel south of the border to catch Nino de Rivera live. Or you can watch her on Netflix — she was the first Mexican woman to headline a Spanish-language comedy special on the online network. Lately, she’s been putting on therapeutic comedy workshops at women’s prisons across Mexico, an effort chronicled in a documentary due out this year.
FELIPE ESPARZA At the age of 21, Esparza found himself at a dead end — he’d grown up in an immigrant family in the gang-heavy projects of East L.A. and ended up a teenage dad with a substance abuse problem. But he was able to turn his life around with a flourishing stand-up career, winning the Last Comic Standing competition in 2010, which led to opening shows for huge acts like Gabriel Iglesias. He will also star in the upcoming Netflix “Spanglish dramedy” Gentefied.
Podcasts offer a variety of themes to entertain and enlighten BY EJUN KIM AND DEBBIE WILLIAMS
ESPEJOS DE AZTLAN
Husband-and-wife duo Paulo and Yesenia Menchaca host the parenting podcast Somos Padres. Focused on spiritual development, it challenges listeners to examine their life experiences and channel greater love, gratitude and positivity. Its two seasons include chats about favorite holiday traditions as well as heart-to-hearts about motherhood.
This bilingual NPR podcast focuses on the past, present and future of the Latinx community. Covering the whole spectrum of Latin American experiences, Espejos de Aztlan takes a nuanced look at what it means to be Latino through art, history and activism. Input from subject experts and scholars makes the content both informative and thought-provoking.
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Morado Lens is a selfproclaimed “feminist podcast hosted by two childhood friends who discuss embracing your #innerbruja, sex, and culture — always funny, always real.” Cindy Rodriguez and Nathalie Farfan curate a collection of vignettes ranging from personal reflections to interviews with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Started by Maria Isa and Arianna Genis, Latina Theory is a “mujer-focused” podcast tackling race, politics, health and gender. The perfect mix of serious and fun, it features interviews with Latina politicians and cheeky chisme sessions. Based in Minnesota, the show offers listeners a bit of Midwestern charm.
GETTY IMAGES; SOMOS PADRES; JULIO LARA; JORDAN STROWDER/JMS; JUDY BACA
earching for a new podcast to listen to while you walk the dog, commute to work or hit the gym? With just the right dose of positivity, inspiration and intellect, these English-language, Latino-centered podcasts are the perfect panacea for boredom:
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WITH NO WATER.”
Leamos™ (Let’s Read) is an online literacy course for Spanish speakers
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Teach non-literate Spanish speaking adults to read and write in Spanish at a basic level.
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For more information, visit proliteracy.org/leamos or email email@example.com
Big Problem, Small Solutions
Silicon Valley startups are tackling the diversity issue head-on
n 2013, Harry Glaser and Tom O’Neill started hiring for their new company, Periscope Data, from their professional networks. They knew they had a problem when “we got up to be four or five white men” in the company, says Glaser, CEO of the data analytics and visualization software firm. “We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem in the industry.” So they took a close look at their company’s culture, dialing back alcohol consumption and limiting video games at work, moving up a standing meeting from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. to accommodate people with families. And, in 2016,
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Glaser joined a new program offered to help startup CEOs boost diversity and inclusion. Project Include, a nonprofit venture led by diversity advocate Ellen Pao, has quickly become one of the most visible efforts in Silicon Valley working to draft more women and underrepresented minorities in an industry dominated by white and Asian men.
STARTING SMALL Five years after trumpeting plans to remake their workforces, the diversity numbers at major tech companies such as Facebook and Google have barely budged. So Project Include is aiming its interventions at younger, more agile
startups, a strategy that Pao hopes could reverse decades of discrimination and inequality in tech. “Bigger companies are really stuck. They embedded all of these biases into all of their operations,” Pao says. “So we focused on startups because we thought that’s where you are going to see the change. It was clear working with these startups that you can get to a much better place than the big tech companies are today.” The key to the progress startups make at Project Include, says Pao: buyin from the CEOs, who treat diversity and inclusion as they would any other business imperative, a “must have,” not a “nice to have.” Setting objectives
BY JESSICA GUYNN
and holding people accountable for reaching them sent a clear message to their organizations that this work is a priority, she says. As part of Project Include, CEOs partake in frank conversations about race and gender and get advice on how to make their workplaces more inclusive. They work toward hitting three targets: 10 percent African American employees; 10 percent Hispanic or Latinx employees and 5 percent nonbinary, with the rest of the workforce evenly split between men and women. Of the 28 companies with more than 25 employees surveyed by Project Include in the last two years, one quarter came close to hitting or exceeded all three targets. On average, half of the startups that went through the program had workforces that were 7 percent black, 7 percent Hispanic or Latinx, 46 percent women and 3 percent nonbinary. At Periscope Data, 42 percent of its 162 employees are women, up from 39 percent in 2017, and 38 percent of the executive team is female, up from 25 percent. It did not make such big strides in every category. Representation of blacks (5 percent) and Hispanics
and Latinx (3 percent), for example, did not increase significantly. “We saw that the top startups in our program could get to very high numbers of underrepresented groups in their workforces, so it gives me hope that people can do that across all types of startups and eventually across all of tech,” Pao says. “But we are still a long way from getting there.”
THE BUSINESS OF DIVERSITY Growing the ranks of women and other underrepresented groups is a pressing challenge for the tech industry, whose customers are increasingly diverse. Tech companies say they need more workers from different backgrounds to brainstorm and build better products for a global marketplace. Research shows that companies with diverse workforces yield better returns. At the same time, people from underrepresented groups are being excluded from technical and nontechnical positions in one of the nation’s wealthiest, fastest-growing and highest-paying sectors. The nation’s largest tech companies have struggled to make their corporate cultures more welcoming to
INCLUSION MATTERS Project Include recommends that tech company workforces consist of at least:
10% Hispanic or Latinx
10% African American
Nonbinary SOURCE: PROJECT INCLUDE
Project Include thinks startups may hold the key to diversifying the tech industry.
the racial makeup of the American workforce, with 13 percent blacks and 17 percent Hispanics.
FUTURE PROJECTIONS A 2018 survey asked more than 500 entrepreneurs: When do you think the tech industry will be representative of the general population when it comes to race/ethnicity? 36.4%
(Number of years to reach goal) SOURCE: FIRST ROUND CAPITAL
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women and people of color. HealthSherpa, which helps lowincome and uninsured people find, enroll in and use health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, worked with Project Include to make sure its workforce more closely mirrored its customers, according to Catherine Perez, co-founder and chief product officer. With 19 percent of the nation’s uninsured coming from Hispanic or Latinx backgrounds, the company increased its ranks of workers who speak Spanish and could connect with this community. Today, 20 percent of HealthSherpa’s 24 full-time employees are Hispanic or Latinx, up from 6 percent in 2017. Seventeen percent of HealthSherpa employees are black, up from 15 percent. “We ended up having higher percentages of underrepresented people than our cohort as well as the tech sector on average,” Perez says. “It’s obvious for us why we need to focus on this. Just by the nature of the people that we’re serving, it’s incredibly important.” Pao says any startup should be able to duplicate these results. Ultimately, her goal is for startups to reflect
This is the next act for Pao, whose high-profile discrimination case in 2015 against her former venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers put Silicon Valley sexism on trial. Pao lost the case but gained a national platform to call for reform in the tech industry. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Pao holds degrees in engineering from Princeton University and law and business from Harvard University. She has worn different hats in tech, serving as interim CEO of Reddit and joining forces with tech veterans Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, who are leading voices in the tech diversity push. She’s also drawn the spotlight to the double whammy of race and gender discrimination faced by women of color in tech. In May 2016, Pao launched Project Include with a group of prominent women tech advocates. Last year, the television rights to her bestselling memoir, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, were picked up by producer Shonda Rhimes and Netflix. Nationwide, as of 2014, the tech industry was 75 percent male, 70 percent white and 20 percent Asian. In Silicon Valley, tech firms’ lack of diversity was magnified. Blacks and Hispanics in the top 75 tech firms made up between 3 percent and 6 percent of workers and women of color made up 1 percent or less, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Diversity in High Tech report. Tech startups are in the same rut. A 2018 survey of more than 500
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TIME TO RESET
entrepreneurs by venture firm First Round Capital found that some 78 percent of the startup founders say their organization had no formal plans or policies in place to promote diversity and inclusion and, of those, 15 percent say they had no plans to institute one. But sentiment may be shifting. The share of entrepreneurs who had adopted formal plans increased to 21 percent from 17 percent from the prior year, according to the survey.
WORKING WHERE YOU BELONG In November, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz encouraged startups to take early steps to fix their diversity problem when he published a Medium post explaining why his workplace productivity company Asana joined Project Include. “Many members of the team are from underrepresented groups, and they want and deserve to work in an environment where they feel they belong,” he wrote. “Additionally, the (employees) who do not have those backgrounds have clearly expressed that they want this kind of environment too (and explicitly do not want to work in a homogenized or ‘bro-y’ office).” Research shows that companies with more diverse teams are more innova-
Ellen Pao launched Project Include in 2016.
tive, aligning business objectives with social justice, he says. “We’re ultimately part of a much larger community and we need to manifest the change we want to see in the world,” Moskovitz wrote. So far, three batches of startups have gone through the Project Include program, which is currently recruiting for its fourth. Project Include charges the startups, which range in size from 25 to 1,000 employees, thousands of dollars on a sliding scale. The program encourages
startups to focus on gender and race at the same time. The more progress companies make, the easier time they will have identifying, hiring and retaining employees from different backgrounds, Pao says. Companies with diverse and inclusive workplaces are more attractive to other underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities and military veterans, she says. For CEOs looking for a quick and easy way to increase diversity, there isn’t one. But over the course of the program, Pao says tech leaders gain confidence from each other. They lean on each other and Project Include as they scrutinize their hiring practices and work to make inclusion a company value. They talk through the issues they are facing, even the most sensitive, such as backlash from white employees regarding diversity efforts in the workplace. “At the very beginning people were a little more nervous. They were worried about saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing and getting attacked for it,” Pao says. “That has been the most powerful piece, knowing that other people are struggling with these same issues. It’s not that ‘I am a bad leader,’ or ‘I’m behind.’ There is no blueprint for solving these issues, and everybody’s facing these issues.”
DIVERSITY DATA A 2018 survey of more than 500 entrepreneurs showed the following data: Does your organization have a strategy to promote diversity and inclusion? Yes, we have a formal plan or policies
RACHEL MURRAT/GETTY IMAGES
No, and no plans currently in the works SOURCE: FIRST ROUND CAPITAL
Yes, but nothing formal No, but we have plans to adopt one
What is the male to female ratio of your entire team? 40.6%
1.4% Mostly men
Close to 50:50
Mostly All women women
These successful women have followed their passions and risen to the top BY ROXANA A. SOTO
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
hese three Latina executives have different backgrounds and interests, but they share a strong work ethic, innate leadership skills and a steadfast desire to honor their heritage:
PRESIDENT AND CEO, MUSEUM OF LATIN AMERICAN ART
MOLAA; JOHN BETANCOURT; GETTY IMAGES
Museum of Latin American Art
Lourdes Ramos was raised in San German in southwestern Puerto Rico, a small town, but one that boasts a special designation: It’s home to Porta Coeli, one of the oldest churches in the Western hemisphere, which means she got to visit her first museum at a young age. “I walked by it every day on my way to school,” recalls Ramos. “When I walked in as a very little girl, it was a very mystical experience because of how the objects were arranged and the story the space narrated.” From musicians on her father’s side of the family to a grandmother who was a magnificent storyteller, Ramos grew up surrounded by creativity. When she wasn’t molding clay figurines, she was accompanying her father as he traveled around the island sharing educational materials through his job with the Puerto Rico Division of Community Education, known as DIVEDCO, a government entity tasked with raising the awareness of cultural, health and social issues by distributing films, posters and booklets to rural areas. Later on, in high school, Ramos acted in a local theater troupe. But even with all this exposure to the arts, when it came time to go to college, Ramos opted to study law. That endeavor didn’t last long — Ramos quickly realized that she belonged in the art world, and took up sculpture and painting. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, she attended Illinois State University as a Fulbright Scholar and earned a Master of Arts before moving to Spain to work on her doctorate degree at the University of Barcelona. It was there, she says, that she switched from cultivating her creativity to cultivating her intellect and became interested in museum management. “I was never satisfied with formal education. I was always bored. So the fact that museums can be such an extraordinary instrument when it comes to informal education is invaluable to me,” she explains. Ramos went on to be the director of several prominent art institutions in her native country, including the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, as well as a stint at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Her distinguished career caught the attention of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Calif., and, in 2017, she became the first Latina to be named its president and CEO. “The possibility of offering a first-rate institution that speaks positively about Latin American and Latino culture and art in general is a great responsibility,” Ramos says. While she says she never imagined she’d be in charge of such important museums when she started her career as an artist, Ramos credits her family’s life philosophy with the diverse opportunities she’s had and how she’s chosen to live and work: “You should never think only about your personal benefit, but rather the contributions you can make during your time on Earth.”
From a very young age, California native Karla Monterroso knew her parents’ priority in life was their kids’ success. And it was no secret they were willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to make that happen. “My parents were working-class people,” Monterroso says of her Guatemalan father and Mexican mother. “My mom decided not to work until I was in middle school, even though it was a financial hardship for the family, because they didn’t want anyone else raising us.” According to her mother, who lived as an undocumented immigrant until Monterroso was 7 years old, education was “the only way out” of the working class, which is why she and her husband pushed hard for their kids to excel in school. A quick peek at their daughter’s résumé proves their unwavering dedication paid off. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Monterroso was the first one in her family to go to college. After working at nonprofits including College Summit and Health Leads, she was hired in 2014
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as vice president for programming at Code2040, an organization dedicated to promoting racial equality in the tech industry. In 2018, she was named CEO. Code2040 seeks to eliminate the disparity between the percentage of Latinos and blacks earning computer science degrees — nearly 20 percent — and the percentage who actually get hired at top tech companies — about 5 percent. The organization connects young people while they’re in college or early in their careers with mentors and peers in the field. “By the time we get to the decade 2040 there will be more black and Latinx people than anything else, but those two communities have not been allowed to be the predominant force in high-wage work,” says Monterroso. “And so, if we don’t make that transition, that is an economic catastrophe for this country.” Monterroso says she’s proud of the work she does, and is convinced that the future leaders she’s investing in have an “even bigger chance to change the country” than anything she can do. And what advice would she give young Latinas? “The things that people make you ashamed of are the very things that equip you to navigate the world you’re coming into. You are stronger than you think and smarter than they think.”
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CEO, RADIO AMBULANTE
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
child while going through a divorce. It was during this difficult time that she met Peruvian American author Daniel Alarcón and in addition to starting a romantic relationship, they became business partners. “He used to talk about this project, and I used to think, ‘Yeah, that’s great,’ but I never really considered the idea of working with him because he was a novelist and a journalist, and he was super busy,” Guerrero says of her now husband’s idea for a podcast similar to NPR’s This American Life, but in Spanish. But after some thought, Guerrero knew she was ready for a new professional challenge, and she figured that with his journalistic talent and her entrepreneurial skills they had what it took to succeed. And she wasn’t wrong. Less than four years after the 2011 launch of Radio Ambulante, a narrative podcast that tells underreported Latin American and Latino stories, NPR came knock— CAROLINA GUERRERO ing. In 2016, it became the first — and only — Spanish-language podcast distributed by the public radio network. In addition to her co-founder role, Guerrero is also CEO. “When we created Radio Ambulante, we didn’t really know much about radio, distribution or audiences. We basically learned while doing the work,” says Guerrero. “Today, as a Latina, I’m proud to say the company is profitable.” Radio Ambulante’s content and format have had such a profound effect on listeners that Guerrero says she and her team hear from fans around the world who have started organizing clubs where they gather to listen to and discuss episodes. All of this positive feedback is sweet revenge of sorts for Guerrero, who clearly remembers being told by several media executives that there was no audience for a Spanish-language podcast like Radio Ambulante. How did she stay strong in her convictions despite her personal and professional challenges? Guerrero emphasizes that it’s important to “be resilient, visionary and never give up.”
Today, as a Latina, I’m proud to say the company is profitable.”
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Carolina Guerrero was born into a big family in Bogota, Colombia, and grew up there in the 1970s and ’80s, during what she describes as one of the country’s most violent periods due to clashes between the drug mafia and the government. Even amid this turbulent backdrop, she persevered as an entrepreneur and started her own successful graphic and urban design firm. She moved to New York in 2001 and worked as a promoter on a range of cultural projects such as art exhibits, auctions and music festivals, but in her early 30s, a debilitating herniated disc rendered her powerless, confining her to bed for months at a time. “I call it the dark years,” says Guerrero, referring to the four years it took her to recuperate. “When you’re dealing with chronic pain, there are times when you can’t even hold a book in your hands and all you do is lie there staring at the ceiling, and that’s very difficult.” As if trying to manage physical pain wasn’t onerous enough, Guerrero was also raising a small
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¿Habla Español? Latinos struggle to find mental health professionals who share their culture BY JARED WEBER
oon after Jasmine Alcala gave birth to her son in 2014, her mind flooded with thoughts of catastrophe. At her Long Beach, Calif., home, which she rarely left while caring for her newborn, she feared a home invasion. Behind the wheel, her heart raced at the possibility of a fatal car accident. At the grocery store, she fretted over the potential of an armed robbery. Eventually, Alcala sought help. She joined several peer support groups for postpartum women and visited two therapists. But neither had a Latino background, nor did they speak Spanish, making it difficult for Alcala, who is Mexican American, to communicate some of her deepest thoughts and feelings. “The therapist just couldn’t understand my cultural background because it wasn’t her own,” she says.
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
LANGUAGE MATTERS Spanish-speaking Americans across the U.S. say they have a difficult time finding mental health care services in their native language. Only 5.5 percent of U.S. psychologists say they’re able to administer mental health care services in Spanish, according to a 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association, the most recent data available. And just 4.4 percent of American psychologists identified as Hispanic. And the demand for full-time psychologists within the Hispanic community is expected to surge 30 percent by the year 2030, making the lack of bilingual, bicultural mental health services a pressing issue. Critics say mental health providers are simply not keeping up with the nation’s growing Hispanic population. This disparity is noteworthy, in part, because Latino Americans face unique mental health issues compared with the country’s population at large. The National Alliance on Mental Illness found Hispanics tend to struggle with common mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism at an average rate, but are at higher risk for severe or persistent mental health problems, in part because of the poor quality of treatment they tend to receive. Roughly 36 percent of Hispanics with depression receive mental health care, as opposed to 60 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
TREATMENT FACTORS Jane Delgado, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, says receiving medical care in your native language is especially important in mental health because conversation is a part of the treatment. Mental health experts and those within the Latino community have attributed the treatment gap to a combination of factors. Luis Cornejo works as
a marriage and family therapist for Instituto Familiar de La Raza, a nonprofit mental health clinic in San Francisco’s Mission District. In caring for an entirely Spanish-speaking caseload, he says Latino culture tends to dismiss the need for mental health care: “For many of them, they see mental health as a very Western thing that doesn’t really correlate with the traditions of Latino America.” Irán Barrera has spent his career studying the mental health care treatment gap. From 2014 to 2017, he directed the Consejo project, a graduate program within Fresno State University’s Department of Social Work Education that studied the cultural frameworks that shape behavioral health within the Latino community. Barrera says he’s found the “cold” nature of mental health institutions in the U.S. can dissuade Latino people from returning to therapy. “The medical industry has its own language and its own culture,” Barrera says. “You come in here, then they tell you what’s wrong with you and it’s, ‘Thanks for coming.’ Latinos, for the most part, we like to be asked, ‘How’s your day? How’s your kids? How’s your family?’ So, right away, we feel discontented with the institutions.”
FINDING THE RIGHT RESOURCES When Los Angeles resident Brandie Carlos lost one of her best friends to suicide in February 2018, she knew she wanted to speak with a therapist, and she was certain she wanted that person to be Latina. But finding someone who fit her needs wasn’t a simple task. “For people that are the first in their family to attend therapy, there’s a lot to overcome before you get there,” Carlos says. “I ended up finding a Latina therapist, and I was just able to talk about certain things about my culture, or talk in Spanglish when I needed, and it was really helpful.” This experience motivated Carlos, who works in digital marketing, to design a website to help others search for culturally competent and Spanishspeaking bilingual therapists in their area. Therapy For Latinx has since
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
There are things that we grow up with in our culture or in our family that are difficult to translate to an English-speaking therapist.” — JASMINE ALCALA
expanded to include 180 therapists in 20 states as of June 2019. Carlos says the website’s Instagram page averages about 1,500 new followers each month. In New York City, the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx has implemented regular mental health screenings into its annual physicals, in an effort to extend intersectional mental health care to the borough’s majority-minority neighborhood. This means setting up patients who screen positive for mental illness with immediate consultations with in-house mental health clinicians, says Miguelina Germán, director of pediatric behavioral health services for Montefiore. “This model really works for all underserved communities,” she says. Anabel Bejarano is a clinical psychologist who trains future generations of bilingual, bicultural therapists as director of the master’s program in counseling at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. She also recently opened a private practice. But before she could hang a sign outside of her window, Bejarano says she already had a full caseload. About 80 percent of her clients receive therapy in Spanish, she says.
GROWING THE RANKS Delgado says more needs to be done to grow the number of therapists who can adequately treat Hispanic patients. She says the U.S. mental health care system and educational institutions
need to do more to attract and retain Latino and Spanish-speaking people. “The bottom line is that a lot of people are not going into mental health, period, and that is especially so for Hispanics, because we are also less likely to have the means to pursue an advanced degree,” Delgado says. In 1977, Cynthia Telles founded the Spanish Speaking Psychosocial Clinic at UCLA. Over the past 42 years, Telles says her clinic has helped thousands of Spanish-speaking patients, while training generations of mental health care professionals who go on to provide bilingual care at institutions across the country. Telles, who is also the director of the UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence, says there are very few, if any, federally funded programs like her own at other public institutions.“There has to be support from the government for this kind of training to produce more mental health professionals that want to go back and serve the Latino/Hispanic community, but, also, there has to be the will, interest and commitment from the academic institutions to do the same,” she says. For Alcala, finding a Spanishspeaking therapist ultimately made the difference in her recovery. She eventually was referred to a therapy group for Latinas struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression. Surrounded by women with similar life experiences, Alcala finally felt understood. And her new therapist is a Spanish-speaking Latino. “Even though we grow up here in America and we’re American citizens and we consider ourselves proud Americans, there are things that we grow up with in our culture or in our family that are difficult to translate to an Englishspeaking therapist or English-speaking community,” Alcala says. “Being able to have someone with a Spanish-speaking background who understands the invisible rules of our culture just really made sense.”
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Students find success, sense of belonging at HSIs BY CHRIS QUINTANA
rmando Ramirez’s mother always told him that the further along he got in his education, the “whiter” the experience would be. Ramirez, a first-generation college student from Tucson, Ariz., initially found that to be the case when he started at the University of Arizona (UA) in the fall of
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
2017. As an honors student, he was living in specially designated dorms where he seldom ran into other Latino students, and he often felt alone. But the university grew on Ramirez, now a 20-year-old junior, as he took advantage of what it had to offer. There were spaces, such the Adalberto & Ana Guerrero Student Center, a cultural resource center for Latino students, where he felt
Making the Grade
Armando Ramirez, a student at the University of Arizona, says he has taken advantage of programs that cater to the school’s Latino population.
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TIPS TO FIND THE RIGHT FIT Whether or not a college is considered an HSI, some institutions offer more educational and social programming for their Latino students. Here are some programs and practices that education experts say may demonstrate a college is better focused on serving Hispanic students: u Sends recruiters to high schools with significant Latino populations u Offers orientation programs and student materials in both English and Spanish u Produces ads or promotional materials highlighting their HSI status or their Latino student body u Has special campus centers dedicated to the needs of Latino students
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welcomed. UA also offers travel-abroad experiences geared toward students of color and first-generation students, and Ramirez took one such trip to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. Ramirez says UA still has a lot of work to do to help some Latino students adjust to college life, but he does feel at home there.
A SENSE OF BELONGING It makes sense that Ramirez would eventually feel comfortable at the University of Arizona. It was recently designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI): a college that, among other things, has a population of at least 25 percent Latino students. Ramirez says the university feels more to him like an accepting place, thanks in large part to the Latinx community in Tucson, which “has created a sense of familia all the time. You’re kind of just friends with everyone.” About 17 percent of the nation’s colleges are currently educating nearly 2 out of 3 Latinos pursuing some form of postsecondary education, according to Excelencia in Education, an independent group that monitors and rates the efforts of colleges to serve Hispanic students.
But much like the Latino experience in America, the identity of HSIs is complicated. Historically black colleges and tribal institutions were started with the sole purpose of serving marginalized populations, but no such colleges were specifically formed to serve Hispanics. Rather, a group of activists in the early 1990s recognized dozens of institutions were doing just that, and sought to get these universities additional federal money to support their endeavors. Thus, the Hispanic-Serving Institution designation was born. HSIs seem to be making a clear difference in the lives of many Latino students. A 2017 study found that HSIs were the most effective at elevating students from the lowest income brackets to the highest. That rate of 4.3 percent is nearly triple that of non-minorityserving institutions. Students also reported they felt they grew more after attending an HSI compared with their other options, says Marcela Cuellar, a assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. Part of that empowerment may arise from a sense of belonging at some of these campuses, Cuellar says. “You
UA students and administrators are reading and discussing the book Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions by Gina Ann Garcia.
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may not feel like you’re standing out like a sore thumb,” she says. “And then that kind of plays into your psyche or experience on a college campus.”
way through to graduation. It’s not a sink-or-swim environment, she says. And they try to meet the students where it makes sense for them. That might mean extending advising CHOOSING A SCHOOL hours for students who have to work or You might not get that inclusive offering more weekend classes to better experience, however, by attending any fit their schedules. HSI. Some critics question whether Grand Valley State University in these colleges are simply Michigan, for example, enrolling large numbers offers special mentorAbout of Latino students or truly ship programs that keep trying to serve them. students in cohorts, And because many HSIs along with scholarships serve students who are focused on undocumented working while in college, students. As for Ramirez, he is now or who start at community of the nation's colleges colleges and finish at anare currently educating part of a group comprised other school, the traditional nearly 2 out of 3 Latinos of UA administrators and students that discusses measures like four-year SOURCE: how to better serve Latinos. graduation rates might not Excelencia in Education The members are reading tell you which college is and discussing Becoming best for you. Hispanic-Serving Institutions by Gina Ann So Excelencia considers, among other Garcia, a leading scholar in the field, things, how well the college is tracking and meets with representatives at its Latino students, the school’s overall nearby Pima Community College, also enrollment and retention rates, and an HSI, to share ideas and advice. The to what extent college leaders include experience overall, he says, has been Latino student success as part of their inspiring. strategy. “I am pretty sure I am going to do The schools that best serve Latino my master’s in student affairs,” he says. students do a couple of the same “And in understanding how I can better things, says Sarita Brown, Excelencia help my fellow students so they don’t co-founder and president. They get to have to struggle the way I struggled know their students and make an effort coming here as a first-gen Latinx.” to retain them and support them all the
SEAL OF EXCELENCIA Founded in 2004, Excelencia in Education is an independent organization that provides data analysis of the educational status of Latinos and lobbies to support policies that promote academic achievement. The group acknowledges institutions that demonstrate they intentionally serve their Latino students and have proven outcomes, including ones that enrolled and graduated about 5 percent of all Latino students. The organization’s 2019 Seal of Excelencia schools include: u Arizona State University u Austin Community College (Texas) u California State University Channel Islands
u Florida International University u Grand Valley State University (Michigan) u South Texas College u University of Arizona u University of Texas El Paso
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
ASHLING WHELAN; EXCELENCIA IN EDUCATION
u El Paso Community College (Texas)
among community colleges in degrees and certificates earned by Hispanic students
Keep striving. Each year, Pima Community College supports more than 15,000 Hispanic students as they seek the American Dream through the promise and power of education. Francie - Pima Class of 2019 Ph.D. student, University of Michigan
Field of Dreams
Graduation photo honors immigrant family’s journey
BY AMBER TUCKER AND DEBBIE WILLIAMS
at age 13 telling her mother how tired she was after a long, hot day. Her mother told her, “This is how life is going to be from now on. The only people who don’t have to go through this get an education.” Those words stuck with her, and although she became pregnant and dropped out of school at the age of 15, Alfaro eventually persevered with her studies, even while dealing with her son’s cerebral palsy diagnosis. She earned a degree in psychology from California State University San Marcos in 2017. In May, she completed her Master’s degree in education at San Diego State University.
At the sight of her cap and gown, Alfaro says her mother began to cry and told her, “All the sacrifices of coming to this country were worth it.” Alfaro hopes that her journey will show others, including her son, that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. As for her next chapter, Alfaro started her own jewelry business and has plans to write a book about her journey. Ultimately, she’d like to make a difference in the lives of other young students. “I want to be a school counselor or work for a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping underrepresented students continue with their education,” she says.
ollege graduation is a monumental occasion, and 29-year-old Erica Alfaro captured hers with a photo that went viral this May after she posted it on social media. Alfaro posed with her parents in a fruit field near San Diego to honor her parents’ hard work as immigrant farm-laborers. Her parents were born in Mexico, and neither had a formal education, but they stressed the importance to their children. Alfaro and her siblings worked alongside their parents in the California fruit fields during the summer months, and she recalls
HISPANIC LIVING | FALL 2019
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