Culture

Here’s Why An Afro-Latino Decided To Make A New Meditation App Just For People Of Color

Raise your hand if you’ve used a meditation app that works for you until the “teacher” tells you to let go of the idea you can change the world around you. Often, whether it’s your white, blonde yoga teacher or that app, it can be triggering to enter the safe space of your consciousness only to feel triggered by a tone-deaf mantra.

Julio Rivera was one of those people that tried the existing meditation apps only to feel discontent. Some people want to change the world and when your community is in crisis you have to believe that you can change the world. Thankfully, Rivera is an engineer and decided to go out and make his own app that would be a truly safe space for people of color.

Liberate Meditation is “dedicated to empowering the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community on their journey to find inner peace.”

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

“We want to help empower people, not only to meditate but to show them that there’s something you can do about your suffering,” Rivera said of the app. “We can help each other get free and be liberated.” The app is made by POC for POC.

It all started when he finally found the POC sangha at New York Insight Meditation Center. He finally found a spiritual home and wants “folks of color all over the world to know that they are not alone.” With that, he embarked on designing an app that would do just that.

You can scroll through different categories depending on your needs at that given moment.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The topics range from Ancestors, The Body, Gratitude, Love, Micro Aggressions, LGBT Pride, Self Worth and more. Then, once you choose which topic you want to engage in within yourself, you can select from 5 to 20-minute meditation sessions. 

The app also offers non-meditative teachings, which sound more like empowering, resounding speeches from the Teachers. For example, Dr. Valerie Mason-John offers a talk on “Reconciling Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Non-Self.” Hearing non-POC talk about shedding attachment to identity and self can feel frustrating for POC. We spend so much of our lives wrestling with our identities and when we’re able to claim them with pride, its an act of defiance and self-love. I feel this especially around my gay identity–something that my parents tried to beat and pray out of me. Dr. Mason-John’s soft eye into “how the Dharma offers liberation from the suffering that comes from attachment with our identity” is much more palatable given her experience as a queer person of color (QPOC).

All of the voices you will hear on the app are from Teachers of Color.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The User Interface (UI) is clever–allowing you to browse by topic and by teacher. If you find a teacher that resonates with your experience, you can immediately find a list of other teachings and meditations of their own making. When you click on their teacher card, you can read a biography of their experiences in culture, sexuality and more.

“It’s not unusual for people of color to survive by keeping parts of ourselves hidden,” Teacher Cara Lai describes her meditation on “The Power of Belonging.” “We learn to behave in certain ways when we have needs. We learn to hinder our creative expression for social acceptance. This meditation helps us open to the things we’ve locked away to regain our wholeness.”

Liberate Meditation is absolutely free to use.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The reviews are in. People are finding refuge within themselves thanks to the app. It’s clear that Rivera has tapped into a market that has been widely ignored by the wellness industry. Instead of pretending that the harms of external racism and internalized racism don’t exist, the Teachers are acknowledging it, allowing an opportunity for healthy release.

“You will not just mediate, you will be found,” writes one reviewer.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

Another reviewer maintains that “This app is not just some icon you press in your phone to relieve some stress before getting out of bed in the morning.” It’s much more than that. For them, “it is a creation to help our kin heal, rebuild and liberate. You see yourself in this, you find yourself and you take in the words of those who have lived to speak wisdom to you through those guided meditations. You will not just meditate, you will be found.”

Liberation Meditation is available on iOS and Android devices.

READ: We Have Latinos To Thank For Some Of America’s Biggest And Strongest Businesses

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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A Jealous Cheerleading Mom Created A ‘Deep Fake’ Video To Get Her Daughter’s Rival Kicked Off Of The Team

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A Jealous Cheerleading Mom Created A ‘Deep Fake’ Video To Get Her Daughter’s Rival Kicked Off Of The Team

If you thought “Mean Girls” was as rough as it gets, you haven’t heard the one about a cheerleader who ended up with a mom’s target on her back. Madi Hime, a Pennsylvania high school cheerleader has become the victim of the modern age… and a mom with vengeance on the mind.

Raffaela Spone is being accused of targeting Hime with a fake video of her smoking.

According to reports, the Pennsylvania mother doctored the image of the high school cheerleader. The mom allegedly conspired to have her daughter’s rivals kicked off the school’s cheerleading squad by creating “deep fake” videos of them in compromising positions.

Madi Hime, just 17, recently told Good Morning America in a recent interview that she broke down in tears when her coach confronted her with a fake video of her vaping. The doctored video implied that not only was she smoking, but she was in violation of the team’s code of conduct.

“I went in the car and started crying and was like, ‘That’s not me in the video,’” Hines told Good Morning America on Monday. “I thought if I said it, no one would believe me because obviously, there’s proof, there’s a video – but obviously that video was manipulated.”

In addition to being confronted with the video by her coach, Hime said she was also sent photos of herself via text from a person who claimed to be a concerned parent. Shocked, Hime shared the pictures with her mother who went to the police.

“It had actually been going on for quite a while, I just didn’t know about it,” Hime’s mother told GMA. “I told her ‘I will call the police,’ because I wanted her to know that’s how much I believed her.”

Eventually, police looking into the images were able to trace the messages to Raffaela Spone, the mother of another student also accused of sending altered images to two other teammates.

Spone, 50, is now charged with cyber harassment of a child by creating images called “deep fakes.”

Robert Birch, her attorney, said his client denies the claims that she was attempting to take down her daughter’s cheerleading rivals.

“She has absolutely denied what they’re charging her with and because of the fact that this has hit the press, she has received death threats,” Birch explained. “She has had to go to the police herself, they have a report. Her life has been turned upside down.”

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