Culture

This California High School Student Will Become The First Ever Latina Valedictorian At Her School

A nightmare scenario became a dream come true for Natalie Ramos this past week. The senior from Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo, California, is set to make history after her story went viral. Ramos will become her high school’s first Latina valedictorian after she allegedly had to fight for the distinction. This is how it all went down.

Jesse Bethel High School has changed course and will allow Natalie Ramos to enjoy her moment as valedictorian without sharing the stage.

Credit: Vallejo City Unified School District

“I am sending this message to address the many messages of concern we have been receiving regarding the selection process for the JBHS Valedictorian,” Cusi wrote in a letter addressing the viral controversy the school started. “Over the last few days, we have been working to ensure that the GPA calculations were done correctly. The selection process outlined in our handbook on page 14 reads as follows: ‘Valedictorian: The student with the highest ‘weighted academic GPA 9-12’ in academic classes from 9th grade through the first semester of senior year will be chosen the valedictorian for the class.’ Based on this criteria, and the updated GPA calculations, I am delighted to announce that Natalie Ramos is the Valedictorian for JBHS for the Class of 2019. I am looking forward to celebrating with Natalie and her classmates as they graduate in June.”

According to the Times Herald, the controversy started with Ramos’ counselor, who didn’t properly tell her that her GPA was the highest in her academy but not necessarily in the overall senior class. The high school is among many Vallejo schools divided into subject matter academies.

Natalie Ramos was supposed to be the valedictorian for her class but school officials tried to change things last minute and make her share the stage, so she pushed back.

Credit: Ivette Ramos/ Facebook

Ivette Ramos, Natalie’s mom, took to Facebook to get the word out that her daughter’s valedictorian title was being wrongfully taken away. She called out Principal Ramon Cusi’s intentions and says that it’s not fair her daughter has to share the title even if she had the GPA to show for it.

“My daughter Natalie is ranked #1 in her class with a 4.27 GPA,” Ramos said on Facebook. “She was told by her counselor that she would be the first Latina Valedictorian at Jesse Bethel High School and it seems like the Principal has a problem with that. Principal Cusi wants her to share the spot with 9 other students. This has never been done before at Jesse Bethel, why now? The moment a Latina becomes Valedictorian it seems to be a problem.”

Natalie’s sister even took to Twitter to show her support for her saying she “deserves the spotlight ” and urged followers to call the school to complain. The tweet’s replies were filled with replies calling out Principal Cusi for “discrimination” and “racism.”

Natalie would eventually issue her own statement in her mother’s Facebook post where she spoke up about the controversy.

“Knowing this, I know it makes it even more important to not share the spotlight with kids who don’t have the same GPA as me,” Ramos wrote. “Being the first is an honor in itself and I don’t want my light to be dimmed by having to share something that I worked towards all four years with others who have expressed to me that they wouldn’t feel right receiving the same honor as I have.”

Natalie’s story was spread all over social media gaining support from people everywhere.

Many online questioned the school’s decision to not solely honor Ramos for her achievements. One user said that the school’s principal “has a problem w/that b/c wants her to share the spot w/9 other students. This has never been done before. Why now? #NatalieRamos.”

Another Twitter user said this happened because Natalie was a minority. They claim that Ramos deserves the honor and shouldn’t have to share it.

“The rules always seem to change when history or greatness is accomplished by someone that is a minority in an institution. Why should Natalie Ramos have to share something she worked hard for the past four years with her classmates? “

Shortly after the story went viral, the school district responded with a letter explaining the controversy.

Credit: Vallejo City Unified School District

The letter explained how the students’ GPAs were calculated and claimed that three students had indeed qualified to be valedictorians. Natalie’s sister took to her Twitter again to point out that Natalie’s GPA had in fact been lowered since the story had gone viral.

The reaction from Ramos’s family and people online has been nothing short of positive for this great achievement.

Natalie’s sister took to Twitter to thank everyone for the support in the last week and for doing their part to get the story out there. She even called out those that talked down on Natalie during the misunderstanding.

“My family wants to thank each and every one of you who took the time out of your day to address this issue ! Si se puede! My sister has the highest GPA and thanks to all of you will be the first LATINA valedictorian at Jesse Bethel High School!” Ramos’s sister wrote. “AND for everyone who called my sister a liar and my family liars I’ve made you some humble pie!”

It was a crazy week for the Ramos family that started with anger and heartbreak over an achievement that should be celebrated. It goes to show the power of social media and what the support from family can do.

“I’m relieved,” Natalie told the Times Herald. “I think they’re doing the right thing now.”

READ:A Mexican Teenager Just Became The First Minor In 100 Years To Be Accepted Into A Post-Graduate Program At Harvard

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A Long Beach Street Vendor Was Attacked And The Community Is Showing Up To Help Him

Things That Matter

A Long Beach Street Vendor Was Attacked And The Community Is Showing Up To Help Him

GoFundMe

In 2020, we saw several street vendors attacked while trying to make ends meet. As the pandemic drags on and people are desperate, the attacks on street vendors have not abated and a Long Beach street vendor is the latest victim.

A street vendor in Long Beach was brutally attacked while working.

@moisesthechosen1

please spread awareness and Hispanic Lives Matter 😭😭😭. It happened on LB Blvd and Burnett today. #vendor #mexican #awarness #hispanictiktok #help

♬ original sound – Moises Rodriguez

Gerardo Iván Olmeda Del Pilar, 22, was working as a street vendor in Long Beach when he was attacked by two people. The vendor, according to LA Taco, was later than usual in setting up after dropping of fellow street vendors on his way.

Del Pilar was at the intersection of Burnett Street and Long Beach Boulevard on Saturday Jan. 16 when it happened. The street vendor was approached by two men who seemed to be regular customers when they attacked.

“Everything was calm, then I want to say four hours passed when two men came towards me and like any other customer they asked me for an order of fruit,” Del Pilar told LA Taco

Del Pilar is not letting this stop him from what he has to do to survive.

Del Pilar has been a street vendor for a while. The man, who is from Veracruz, Mexico, was suckerpunched and attacked. According to LA Taco, Del Pilar was giving the men their order when one punched him in the chin to knock him down. They then both started to attack him until they got his wallet and ran away. The men stole $500 from him.

Del Pilar told the Long Beach Post that there was not much he could do while being attacked. He was left with a swollen face and horrific bumps on his face from the vicious attack.

Two friends have set up GoFundMe accounts to help Del Pilar out.

Both Alex Diaz and Marissa Gomez have set up GoFundMe pages to help the young man. Combined, the two GoFundMe pages have raised more than $10,000 and are still accepting donations to help Del Pilar.

“While he was cutting up their fruit, one man reached into his backpack and took out an object and used it to punch him in the face. They broke his nose and lumped up his face and then dragged and kicked him while he was on the floor,” reads Gomez’s GoFundMe. “This man was an innocent victim just trying to provide for his family. All donations will go to replace this man’s lost income. There is no such thing as a donation too small anything is appreciated.”

READ: Family Sets Up GoFundMe To Help Paletero In Chicago Retire

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Spanish Actor Javier Bardem Will Be Playing Cuban Entertainer Desi Arnaz in a New Movie and Fans Wish Hollywood Cast a Latino Instead

Entertainment

Spanish Actor Javier Bardem Will Be Playing Cuban Entertainer Desi Arnaz in a New Movie and Fans Wish Hollywood Cast a Latino Instead

Images via Getty

Recently, it was announced that Amazon studios will be producing a movie based on the lives of groundbreaking Old Hollywood power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. According to reports, Nicole Kidman is set to play Ball while Spanish actor Javier Bardem will be playing Arnaz.

Seeing as Arnaz is widely viewed as one of the first Latino actors to achieve mainstream success in the United States, this news was positive for many. But for others, the news was less than ideal.

Some critics are lambasting the decision to cast Bardem as Arnaz, seeing that Bardem was born and raised in Spain, and is therefore not Latino.

One disgruntled Twitter user wrote: “I guess it’s really hard to find a Cuban actor so you have to hire a Spaniard…Whitewashing can happen to Latinos too.”

The criticism around Hollywood relying on Spanish actors and actresses to play Latino roles is not a new one. For years, Spanish actors like Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, and Paz Vega have played Latino characters in American movies. The preponderance of this phenomenon have led some people to accuse Hollywood of “white washing” Latino characters by casting Spanish actors.

Antonio Banderas is one of the most famous examples of a Spanish actor who built his career off of playing Latinos.

He has played Latinos for so long that many people think he is, in fact, Latino. But when he was erroneously called a “person of color” by American publications when he was nominated for an Oscar in 2020, there was quiet the outcry in Spain.

Spanish publications condemned American media for having an “absurd obsession” with race, and not understanding that Spaniards are, in fact, white.

Publications wrote arguments like: “Banderas might pass as a Latino ‘person of color,’ to an Arkansas farmer, great-grandson of Germans, but never to a California delivery man born to Guatemalan immigrants.”

To some observers, it seems that Hollywood prefers casting Europeans as Latinos because Hollywood sees Europe as more “sophisticated” than Latinidad.

25-year-old Spaniard Juan Pedro Sánchez, summed up the problem on Twitter, saying: “A lot of people in Spain are bothered if others confuse them for Latin American because Spaniards see Latinos as people of color, and they don’t want to be associated with that.”

He went on to say: “What bothers me is not being considered a person of color, but that people ignore that Spain was a colonizer country. It erases that history.”

The bottom line is, fans are frustrated that Hollywood keeps looking to European actors to cast Latin American characters.

Study after study shows that there is still a stubborn lack of representation for Latinos onscreen. And when there is finally a role that puts a Latino character front and center, Hollywood prefers to hire a European actor over a Latino one.

Javier Bardem is an exceptionally talented actor and there’s no doubt that he will tackle the role of Desi Arnaz with creativity and dedication–but fans’ frustrations at the casting choice doesn’t have to do with Bardem’s acting capabilities. It has to do with the all of the ways that Latinos are discounted–including professionally.

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