Outstanding Latinas in Politics

As part of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting influential Latinas who have made a difference in the community and/or their field.

Ambassador_Vilma_MartínezVilma Martínez
From 2009 – 2013, Vilma Martínez, a democrat, became the first woman to be the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Born October 1943, Martinez has an impressive history as a civil rights activist and lawyer with MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. As the president of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), she fought for the Voting Rights Act to include Mexican-Americans.

 

 

Cristinakirchnermensaje2010Cristina Fernández De Kirchner
Born on February 19, 1953 in La Plata,Buenos Aires Province, Cristina Fernández De Kirchner   is the first directly elected female president of Argentina, and is the first re-elected female president of the country. While she has made a strong impact with her policies, she is often critiqued for her bold moves and relationship with the media.

 

 

220px-Hilda_Solis_CropHilda Solis
From 2001- 2009, Hilda Solis served in the United States House of Representatives. In 2009, Hilda Solis, C became the first Latina serve in a State Senate. She is a highly accomplished politician and environmental activist. Shes was member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, authored 17 bills against domestic violence, and is passionate about labor laws, immigration reform, and education. As the first person in her family to attend college, she is an incredible role model for Latinas wanting to make a difference in their community. Hilda Solis continues to have a long-lasting impact with her community in California.

All for One and One for All

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Just like Oprah Winfrey says: “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you, always.” That’s the case for 3 women who came from different backgrounds and made huge changes in history. Manuela Solis Sager, Emma Tenayuca, and Luisa Moreno Manuela are activists who joined thousands of workers to speak up and fight for their rights.

Manuela Solis Sager, Emma Tenayuca and Luisa Moreno led Mexican workers’ movements in Texas during the 1930’s. Each of these women had a key role in one of the most famous conflicts of Texas labor history: “The 1930 strike at the Southern Pecan Shelling Company.”  In the course of the strike, thousands of workers in more than 130 plants opposed to a wage reduction, which was one cent per pound of shelled pecans. Sager, Tenayuca, and Moreno led the way for many who were hopeless and who had been mistreated by tyrants in farming, agriculture and in big factories. The women went out of their way, without caring about the risks involved, to pursue freedom and fair rights for men and women.

Manuela Solis  Sager 

Manuela Solis  Sager was a Texas activist who married a man who helped to organize garment and agricultural workers in Laredo, TX.  She became one of the first official organizers of the South Texas Agricultural Workers’ Union (STAWU) and worked in the Rio Grande Valley, which is considered to be one of the most challenging places to run. Manuela and her husband, James, played very important roles in a labor dispute involving the Mexican pecan shellers — the majority happened to be women. Manuela Solis Sager routed her conviction for human rights into activism. During her life, she was involved with the Chicano Movement, a women’s movement, immigrant rights, and opposition to U.S. interventionist foreign policy.

Emma Tenayuca

Emma Tenayuca, a Mexican-American, was known for being a labor leader, an union organizer and an educator. Tenayuca was brought up in a large family of eleven and lived with her grandparents at an early age to ease the economic hardship of her family. Emma was born into a Tejana family who were victims of the independence and the U.S.-Mexico War. Unfortunately, Emma and her family were affected by the Depression, but this became an eye opener for Emma Tenayuca to see the struggle of the low-class workers.

Luisa Moreno

Luisa Moreno belonged to a wealthy family in Guatemala City, Guatemala. As a teen she assembled “La Sociedad Gabriela Mistral,” where she successfully performed as a leader. Moreno turned down her elite lifestyle and decided to pursue a career in journalism in Mexico City. She brought workers together in unions, directed strikes, wrote pamphlets in English and Spanish, and gathered the 1939 Congreso de Pueblos de Habla Española, which become the first national Latino civil rights assembly.

Like these women, don’t be afraid of dreaming big. Instead use fear to empower you to defeat challenges in your life and to reach your desires and goals.

Girl Talk: Becoming a Chica Poderosa

I don’t often think of myself as a powerful woman. It usually takes some reminder, like Latinitas asking me to guest blog, for me to take a step back (away from doubts, insecurities, and tasks that occupy my mind) and say, “Hey, you know what? I am a chica poderosa.” So that would be my first piece of advice to all of us: realize that each and every one of us is powerful, and don’t let yourself forget it. Remind yourself constantly. Take time to really appreciate it and think about what that means. So, how do you know that you’re a chica poderosa? Make a list and find out. Just like the one I’ve made below.

“I am a chica poderosa because _______.”

For me, I am a chica poderosa because ……

  1. I haven’t let failures stop me from pursuing my dreams. Sometimes that means I’m persistent. Sometimes that means I change directions. But either way, I keep going.
  2. As my mom has told me since I was little, I am una mujer de recursos. Being resourceful does not mean you always have every answer at your fingertips; it means you’re curious and driven to find it.
  3. Taking small steps equal big goals. Nothing happens overnight. I believe in working hard for the things I want—day after day after day—in small, doable ways. You know how we’re always surprised how fast a month, a year, or even a decade can pass? You’ll be surprised how fast small steps add up to big achievements.
  4. I am not fearless. (But I don’t let my fears stop me.)
  5. When someone tries to make me feel bad about myself, I remember that only I can give them the power to make me feel less-than. Don’t give them the power.

Your turn. What does your list look like?

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel Chasing the Sun. Born in Lima, Peru, she came to the US at age 4 and grew up in South Florida, where she studied Creative Writing at the University of Miami. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @NataliaSylv or visit her at nataliasylvester.com.

Dealing with Feeling Ignored

Youth writer, Elizabeth Enriquez, answers questions dealing with feeling ignored.

I’m having problems with my friends. How do we talk about our issues to find the best solution?  Will they ignore me?

Having friends doesn’t always mean agreeing on everything.  It is healthy to have your differences, as long as those differences do not make you compromise your values.  I think you answered your own question, talking about the problems is the key.  Keep the lines of communication open.  A strong friendship is based on mutual respect and the right to express yourself for how you feel.

My problem is that my dad and mom are separated, and I don’t get to see my dad. I feel like he doesn’t make time for me anymore.
The separation of your parents in no doubt changed the way life was for you.  One thing you must remember is that your parents both love you. They are probably trying to adjust to the new boundaries and limitations that a separation sometimes requires.   Talk to your parents about how you feel.  Let them know where you stand and that you would like to spend equal amount of time with them.

I feel like I don’t fit in. People dislike me because of the things I like. Basically I am different and people hate it. I don’t want to change the things that make me happy, but I would like to not be judged.
If you have to compromise who you are to make friends, you will never be able to be yourself.  It comes down to who you want to be, what role you want in life.  Would you like to be someone that isn’t genuine to be friends with others or rather be yourself and have those around you who respect and like the true you? If you love who you are, why would you ever change that?

 Have a question you want answered by one of your teen writers? Send advice questions to editor@latinitasmagazine.org.

Celebrating Culture in Music

Mexican culture itself is unique, colorful, vibrant and expressive. Singers often share their cultural background through music. Through their music, these artists tell new generations about the history, daily life, and/or  his/her dreams  and/or culture.

Ana Lila Downs Sánchez, best known as Lila Downs, blends Mexican and American cultures together in her music.  She is a talented American–Mexican singer-songwriter and actress, and her talent is to mix Mexican traditional and popular music. Her unique touch is to incorporate indigenous Mexican influences, such as Mixtec, Zapotec, Mayan, Nahuatland Purépecha.

Her use of language showcases the landscape of Mexico.According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world, with an approximate  population of 122.3. Spanish is the predominant language among Mexicans and is spoken by 92.7 percent of the Mexican population. An estimated 6 percent of the population speaks Spanish and indigenous languages, such as Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional languages.

Lila was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico where she studied at the Institute of Arts by Oaxaca. Later, she briefly attended the University of Minnesota. However, her passion for music was bigger, therefore, she decided to focus on her musical career. Wherever Lila goes deja bocas abiertas with her innovating style that captures traditional Mexican music and new musical trends. She has performed at well known venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, both located in New York City. Lila was invited to sing at the White House to perform on the 75th Annual Academy Awards and Latin Grammy Awards in 2012.

Lila Downs is a real life example of how to success in the music industry can happen without sacrificing your cultural background. Always remember and be proud of where you come from, always aim high, and do not let stereotypes or negative comments about your culture bring you down.

DIY: The Flower Edition

The weather is warming up, which means spring is around the corner. Our club chicas are helping us redecorate the office with this cute, fun DIY projects — just in time for spring!

Bouquet Flower Card circleflowercard

Materials:

  • Colored construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

1)    The first step is to cut out nine circles in different colors. There should be three groups of circles: small, medium, and large.

2)    Next, glue them together. You should have three different circles that have four circles glued together.

3)    Next,  get another color paper of your choice, just a small piece, and roll it to make the stalk for the paper flowers.

4)   Then, use tape to attach each of the flowers to its stalk. Be sure to staple the flowers together so that there is one group of three flowers.

5)    Fold another colored paper entirely in half to make the card, and use another small different colored paper to make the pocket. Once the pocket is ready you will be able to insert the flower bouquet.

 

Tissue Flower tissue flower

Materials:

  • Kleenex tissue paper
  • Markers
  • Bobby Pins

1) The first step is to fold the Kleenex into an accordion fold.

2) Next, put a bobby pin in the center of the Kleenex tissue once it is folded already into an accordion.

3) Then, cut off the ends.

4)    Next, color the ends of the Kleenex with the color of your choice.

5) For the last step, start unfolding the Kleenex petal by petal and you will have your flower you can make several flowers if you like.

 

Rose bookmark

Materials:

  • Heart Template for flower
  • Colored construction paper or scrapbook paper
  • Ribbon

1)    The first step is to cut out the heart four times.

2)    The next step is for each rose to cut out four hearts from scrapbook paper.

3)    Then turn one of hearts upside down so that it looks like one of the center petals of a rose bud. Then, use glue to stick the top of a pipe cleaner stem in its place.

4)    Next, place a second heart on top of the first one with glue. With your fingertips, curl the tips of the hearts.

5)    Next, fold the remaining two hearts in half vertically, fold the rounded sides of the hearts backwards, and then fold down the tips.

6)    Finally, put the sides of the center between the folded hearts using glue so that they stay in place.

 

Have your own DIY projects to share? Send ideas to editor@latinitasmagazine.org. 

Energy Boost for School

Girls JumpingEating healthy and being active will give you the energy boost you need to stay alert and focused in school. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, chica, here are some ways to start leading a healthy and active lifestyle:

Eat breakfast
Having breakfast is better than having no breakfast because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even if you are super busy or rushed, there are plenty of options to choose from.  Some breakfast ideas include having a fiber packed bowl of oatmeal. You can top it with nuts or even try them with yogurt, too. Want a faster option? Try peanut butter on a piece of toast. Try saving those yummy pan dulces for the weekend. Kidshealth.org explains that foods with high calories, such as pastries or doughnuts, won’t keep you full or provide you the necessary nutrients needed to stay energized.

Read nutrition labels
Reading nutrition labels are a great way to know what you put in your body.  Foods with a good source of a nutrient has a percent daily value between 10% and 19%. If the food has 20% or more of the daily value, it is considered an excellent source of that nutrient. If you need help determining which foods are better for you, ask a parent or nutritionist.

Pack a healthy lunch and snacks
Ask your parents to help you pack a nutritious lunch such as dried fruit, sandwiches, or a hummus with whole grain pita. Or if you prefer eating in the cafeteria there are ways to pick out better for you foods, that will surely avoid the sluggish after meal feeling you may be used to. You can even bring an orange on the go to enjoy or even save for your recess break. Wake up your senses by sniffing that vitamin c fueled fruit for an even better effect.

Did you know?

  • The color of the rice matters. Pick rice and breads that are brown in color. This usually means that it has whole grains which are great for your body.
  • Other foods like bananas, cherries, whole dairy products, pizza, and creamy gravies or sauces can make you feel heavy and exhausted too.
  • It’s always important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. So bring a bottle or two to keep in your backpack to stay hydrated and alert.

Another great way to stay enthusiastically energized at school is staying active. Running, jump roping, dancing …. anything that keeps you active is good for your heart and energy. The exercise releases endorphins, which gives you that happy/energetic feeling. Having a good night’s sleep, nutritious meals, and staying active are great ways to remain energetic and feel empowered for your education.

Women’s History Month: Leading Latinas

As part of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting influential Latinas whom have made a difference in the community and/or their field.

Alicia Alonso Alicia_Alonso_1955
Founder of what is now called the National Ballet of Cuba, this Cuban girl inspired many ballerinas to follow their dreams. She received the Bellas Artes Merit from Spain Monarchy, gold medal at Circulo de Bellas Artes in Spain, and the Cuban title of Heroina Nacional deal Trabajo. She has become one of the most outstanding athletes throughout Cuban history. Don’t be shy if you know how to dance or paint chica, Alicia Alonso wasn’t afraid to show the people who she was. Who knows, you might inspire your very own artistic movement.

Alicia Dickenson Montemayor
Working with men during  the 1930’s was very difficult for women, and even more difficult if you were a Latina. Well, this outstanding Latina paved the way in so many areas. She became the first woman associate editor of LULAC News, but also the first elected woman for national office and vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. She did a lot for middle class Latin American people and promoted civil rights for women and Latinas.

Claribel Alegria
Alegria moved to the United States in 1943; this Nicaraguan poet has won our hearts and minds with her poem I survived (Sobrevivo). The poem led her to win the Cuban-sponsored Casa de las Americas award in 1978. She has became one of the most influential political activists in Nicaragua. Her passion and political activism led to the creation of a social movement in Nicaragua called La Generacion Comprometida.

Stay tuned for future installments to be published throughout Women’s History Month! 

Spotlight: Gina Rodriguez

Born in Chicago Illinois, Gina Rodriguez is the Latina everyone is talking about. Puerto Rican daughter of Genaro and Magali, Rodriquez is the youngest of three sisters. She was always one to be on stage, and, at the young age of seven, her love of salsa led to dancing her way into college until the age of 17. Attending NYU’s Tisch School of the arts, Rodriguez continued four years of training with the Atlantic Theater Company and Experimental Theatre Wing. Soon after she had her first lead role in a feature film, Tiny Dancer, she had the role of Frida Kahlo in “Casa Blue: The Last Moments in the Life of Frida Kahlo” at the American Stage Theatre.

Prior to being cast as Jane Villanueva in the comedy Jane the Virgin, she played the role of Beverly in the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She has also worked in movies such as Our Family Wedding (2010), Go for It!(2010), Filly Brown (2012), Enter the Dangerous Mind (2013) and Sleeping with Fishes(2013) among other television and short films.

Jane the Virgin is a network success, which is attributed to Rodriguez and the energetic cast. The Venezuelan Telenovela inspired show has seen great amount of success, winning an AFI award for program of the year, a Dorian Award for Campy TV Show of the Year and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy all in 2015.  Gina won her first Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a television series musical or comedy for her role as Jane. In her moving speech, she mentions “…this award is so much more than myself it represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes…”

Although Jane the Virgin has been her most successful role, she has appeared in other television shows, which include  Law and Order (2004), 10 Things I Hate About You (2010), Army Wives (2010), Happy Endings (2011) and Longmire (2013), among other shows.

Rodriguez’s success extends to the film industry. She has also won an Imagen Award for Best Actress for the film Filly Brown and also an ALMA Award of Special Achievement for the same film.

Food for Your Brain

Who doesn’t love food? Tacos, pizza, hamburgers, salads, and cake, you name it. But does your body really need all these foods? During your teen years the body grows and changes constantly, therefore, chica,you have to make wise choices to grow healthy and strong. Food is your body’s fuel, so if you choose the right foods you’ll have an optimal performance. You don’t need to be a chef in the kitchen to come up with healthy ideas, all you need is creativity and to be more informed. Exercise plays an important role in this topic, is part of finding harmony in your life that will help you to stay healthy to live longer and happier.

Everyone has at least fallen in love with a delicious flavor at least once. It could have been a meal that your mom prepared for you, or maybe one day you found yourself experimenting with the fridge leftovers. The point is that food is awesome, but keep in mind that it’s the fuel for your body.

Have you recently paid attention to what you eat every day? Do you really need that family size of papas fritas with salsa valentina? Muy ricas, right? Sadly, you cannot eat them every day; balance in your diet is a must. Your body does not work as efficently when you lack the elemental nutrients.

Water - healthy option

Tu cuerpo y mente complement each other. Did you know that you can eat food to improve your concentration and memory? En otras palabras: eat food for your brain, which is one of the major organs of the human body. Keeping your mind busy and body active will not only make learning easier, but it will help keep you healthy!

There are many options of foods; here is a list of what you can eat to have a sharp and bright mind:

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary sodas and sports drinks! Staying hydrated is important to the overall brain function and will help you  concentrate.
  • Eat more berries: They’re small and easy to carry with you on the go, and these little guys contain memory-boosting vitamins like vitamins C and E.
  • Add more folic acid rich foods: Folic what? in other words whole grain foods, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, green peas, artichokes, broccoli and oranges.
  • Increase your fish intake:  Don’t let Dory’s memory from Nemo  bring you down, not all fish are as forgetful as her. Actually, if you eat low fat fish, like salmon, it will improve your ability to remember information.
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast: Oatmeal and low-sugar/ high fiber cereals will give you the kick that you need to start your day. News report that research has shown that students who eat this type of breakfast perform better at school.
  • Eat eggs in moderation: Huevos a la Mexicana? Si, porfavor. Although eggs can be high in cholesterol, they can help you retain information and be ready to learn every day. Cooked egg whites is the healthy alternative.
  • Switch your snacks from chips and cookies to fruit and walnuts: I know, I know, eating your fruits and vegetables is the number one saying while eating healthy, but there are other healthy snacks out there. Did you know walnuts are good sources of plant-based omega-3 fats? These fats are important for your health.
  • You don’t have to stop eating red meat to be healthy: A great source of vitamin B12, which is vital for healthy brain function, is found in red mean. If you opt for grass-fed beef, even better!

Eating right is a good start, but you have to also supplement it with exercise. Mixing a good diet and exercise will lead you to an optimal performance. Caminar, correr, nadar you choose any type of physical activity that you like is the best ally you can have during this stage of your life. Invite amigos or familia to exercise with you, having a workout buddy motivates you, and together you can come up with more fun ideas on how to stay active and healthy.

The benefits of taking care of your body at a young age are infinite and it will pay off in your adult life. And just like John F. Kennedy said: “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”