Culture

The College Cheating Scandal Highlights The Different Paths Many Face Getting To College

When Denise Ocana heard the news the about the college admissions scandal, she wasn’t surprised. Ocana, 25, worked weekends at a swap meet with her parents to save enough money to attend UCLA, her dream school. Coincidentally, UCLA was one of schools embroiled in the the nation’s largest admissions scandal. Whether it’s working multiple jobs, studying long nights for the SAT or applying for endless scholarships, Ocana is one of many individuals that have to make every sacrifice possible to even have a chance of attending college.

While some were shocked to learn of reports that wealthy parents essentially paid to get their kids into elite schools, the news is a shot of reality. It’s also a glimpse into the two different playing fields people face when applying to their dream school. The scandal has started discussions about why factors such as donations and legacy status are part of the admissions process, which has traditionally benefited wealthier families.

The college admissions scandal reinforced the belief the process can be gamed by those with wealth and influence.

@karla_estrada22/Twitter

Like Ocana, Karla Estrada, 28, wasn’t surprised when she heard about the scandal. Estrada, a UCLA graduate, said it reaffirmed her belief that a portion of her classmates “got some help” in the admission process.

“It was common knowledge that some bought their way in but to have it confirmed was satisfying in a sense,” Estrada said. “But there’s some bitterness because it’s not fair to just have it handed it to them and have us have to fight for it.”

Estrada was an undocumented student which made getting any type of financial assistance nearly impossible. She worked full time to save for school and had no financial help from her parents. There was no federal aid available for her let alone enough scholarship money for her to pay tuition. For these reasons, Estrada had to find a sponsor to help her get enough money to attend school.

“We barely had enough money to eat let alone for school. I had to get sponsorship so I literally showed up to random companies to speak to their CEO to ask if someone could pay for my college,” Estrada said. “Lucas Oil and Lite Source ended up helping and because of them I was able to afford college.”

The scandal has started a discourse around affirmative action.

@EricaLG/Twitter

The admissions scandal highlights the racial and economic disparities that plague access to higher education. Yet when many students of color get access to these institutions, a stereotype follows them. The notion that affirmative action is the only reason they are there. At times they are accused of taking slots from white students just because of their ethnicity or race.

Izaak Ramirez, 27, disagrees with the notion that students of color get into college easier based on the color of their skin. Ramirez applied to seven colleges but didn’t get into UCLA, his dream school. He had to go the community college route despite having a 3.7 GPA in high school.

“It was overwhelming and I sat there and cried because of all the efforts I put forward felt wasted in a way,” Ramirez said. “Being a person of color or a Latino doesn’t automatically means you’re getting through that door.

Ramirez knows what accessing an elite school means in terms of getting a career and making a name for yourself. Grads of elite universities tend to earn annual salaries that are as much as 50 percent higher than all other college grads. That alone is worth making countless sacrifices to get themselves into these institutions.

Even during college things don’t get easier for many.

@hija_dl_trueno /Twitter

Ocana is currently in a graduate program at California State University, Northridge where she is pursuing a degree in Public Administration. Yet as she pursues the next chapter in her education, she is still reminded at times how hard it is to stand out at these institutions. Ocana says at times she feels she’s competing against the system and the admissions scandal reminds her how easy it is for some.

“No one’s surprised by the news and honestly it was just a matter of time before everyone knew,” Ocana said about the scandal. “If we all had the money to pay to get into college we’d all be here but what’s the pride in that. If my option was CSUN or USC , I’d still go to USC but that’s not how it works.”

Despite the advantages that some may have, hard work is something that will always be valued.

@latinoheritagela / Instagram

While the admissions scandal has shined a light on what’s wrong about the college application process, it’s also highlighted what’s good. For the number of those that try to cheat their way in, there’s more that are working harder just to get their chance.

Estrada is an example of this hard work. No legal status, limited financial help but a work ethic that few can match. Today, she is a immigration law & criminal defense paralegal trying to make a difference in her own community.

Despite the negativity the scandal has brought, Estrada hopes it starts a much needed conversation about the reality that so many Latinos and people of color have to endure in college.

“Sometimes we believe that we don’t belong here even though we have earned our seat in the classroom,” Estrada said “We have to constantly prove to the world we are good enough and then prove to ourselves. I say we are more than good enough.”

READ: UCLA Men’s Soccer Coach Jorge Salcedo Is One Of More Than 50 People Indicted In College Bribery Scandal

Many Say This Was The Decade Latino Music Went Mainstream And These Top Songs Of The Decade Prove Them Right

Entertainment

Many Say This Was The Decade Latino Music Went Mainstream And These Top Songs Of The Decade Prove Them Right

In the 2010s, technology and connectivity made creating, distributing and listening to music easier than ever before. Latinos crossed over to worldwide audiences and collaborated with artists from different countries. ‘El género urbano’ reached new horizons and we heard the classic reggaeton beat being sung in lots of different languages. The result was both a blessing and a curse: There was a lot of great music out there, but it was virtually impossible to keep up. So we narrowed it down to the best Latinx songs of the decade. Read on to find out which 13 songs were the most played, memorable and catchy hits of the 2010s.  

‘Mi Gente’ by J Balvin x Willy Williams

Inspired by the French singer Willy William’s, “Voodoo Song”, J Balvin’s ‘Mi Gente’ became the first song in Spanish to reach the ‘Top 50 global’ songs on Spotify with help from Beyonce and her remix. 

‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber

Despacito was definitely the biggest song of 2017, and arguably the most played Spanish-language song of the decade. The sweltering pop reggaeton-love ballad hybrid was everywhere that summer, playing in cities and suburbs, at house parties and barbecues, at wedding receptions and department stores, in people’s headphones during their commute. “Despacito” was inescapable and inevitable. You couldn’t avoid the song if you tried.

‘Waka Waka’ (This Time For Africa) Shakira

What’s the most beloved, most streamed World Cup song of all time? If your first guesses were Ricky Martin or Pitbull, you’re way off — the honor belongs to Shakira, whose 2010 anthem “Waka Waka (Song for Africa) handily beats them all. The track, recorded with the Cape Town, South Africa fusion band, Freshlyground, went to No. 1 in 15 countries and is one of the best-selling singles of all time

‘Vivir mi Vida’ Marc Anthony

Marc Anthony’s super hit was number 1 in the US Hot Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs and Tropical Airplay, and peaked at number 92 on the US Billboard Hot 100. ‘Vivir Mi Vida’ was Certified gold in Italy with sales over 15,000 copies and in Spain with sales over 20,000 copies. Vivir Mi Vida’ is a song about life, living happy and forgetting sadness. It’s a happy salsa tune registered Anthony’s return to music after 10 years. Marc said:”I like living with the ideas of a song for a long time before I even go to the studio, but I truly feel that this was the right time, and I’m very happy with the final product.”

‘Danza Kuduro’ Lucenzo ft. Don Omar

With French-Portuguese singer Lucenzo by his side, Don Omar hit the jackpot in 2010 with the one-of-a-kind “Danza Kuduro,” a Spanish/Portuguese-language tribute to an Angolan dance move. In the aftermath of 2000s reggaeton-mania, Don Omar seized an opportunity to innovate, adopting the kuduro 4/4 rhythm and dusting off an accordion sample for good measure. Don Omar’s globetrotting formula earned him his second Number One hit on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart – as well as Lucenzo’s first – and the single sold over a million digital copies. S.E.

‘Bailando’ Enrique Iglesias ft. Gente de Zona & Sean Paul

The original Spanish-language version was a beast unto itself; it spent a record 41 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart (four years before “Despacito” surpassed it). The official video, the 11th most-viewed video on YouTube today, was the first Spanish-language music video to reach more than 1 billion views. But it was the Sean Paul-assisted Spanglish remix, however, that helped “Bailando” reach crossover audiences – it peaked at Number 12 on the Hot 100 chart.

‘Ginza’ J Balvin

Si necesitas reggaetón, dale,” sang Balvin in his catchy hit – “If you need reggaeton, get it.” Balvin’s unbothered, melodic flow sets him apart from the aggro reggaeton players of yesteryear. After sitting at the top of the Hot Latin Songs chart for 22 weeks, “Ginza” broke the Guinness World Record for the chart’s longest stay at number one by a solo artist. 

‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’ Michel Telo

The danceable song, which generated nearly half a billion YouTube hits, upped Brazil’s pop-culture presence its role as host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. The pop song by Brazilian heartthrob Michel Telo was a massive, viral hit —and its probably the most popular song to come out of Brazil since The Girl From Ipanema.

‘La Gozadera’ Gente de Zona ft. Marc Anthony

Following a tropical Latinx music lyric tradition, “La Gozadera” calls out a list of countries from the Spanish-speaking world, inviting everyone to join the party. The happy show of Pan-Latin spirit pretty much guaranteed the song’s international popularity.

‘Felices los 4’ Maluma

The song made it to 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 2 on the Billboard Hot Latin Song chart. What’s more, it was on the set of the music video that Maluma met his girlfriend Natalia Barulich —the hit was a win-win situation for everyone.

‘Dile que tu me quieres’ Ozuna

Ozuna first rose to stardom with his hit single ‘Dile que tu me quieres’ in 2016. The song earned him a place at 13 on the Billboard Latin chart at the end of that year.

‘Adrenalina’ Wisin ft. Jennifer Lopez & Ricky Martin

This song cemented Wisin’s success as a solo artist and the only remainder of the ‘Extraterrestres Musicales’ duo between him and Yandel —the two have since reunited, but back then, in 2014 ‘Adrenalina’ was one of the top 10 songs in Latin America and the videoclip was the second most streamed video on Youtube in Spain for the whole year.

‘Reggaeton Lento’ (Bailemos) CNCO

After the success of ‘Despacito’, it was no surprise that the Latin boy band’s song quickly scaled the charts. The song, featuring a collaboration with Little Mix, peaked at number 3 on Billboard 200 in 2017.

Latino Couple Looking To Buy A Home Found A Clause That Said They Needed To Be “Wholly Of The White Caucasian Race”

Things That Matter

Latino Couple Looking To Buy A Home Found A Clause That Said They Needed To Be “Wholly Of The White Caucasian Race”

@1Firstfruit / Twitter

Amid recent conversations about the benefits of affinity housing, the topic of housing discrimination remains relevant as ever. The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination against tenants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and family status—and while this legislation aims to protect people all over the country, it doesn’t keep discrimination completely at bay. For a Latinx couple seeking to buy a home in Stockton, California, this reality became uncomfortably clear when they saw their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&R), a document that outlines the necessary requirements to inhabit a property.

The CC&R for Yolanda Romero and Esai Manzo’s new home claimed that “no persons other than those wholly of the white Caucasian race shall use, occupy or reside upon any part of or within any building located on the above described real property, except servants or domestics of another race employed by or domiciled with a white Caucasian owner or tenant.” Additionally, according to the document, no person who was not “wholly of the white Caucasian” race could purchase the house. So, naturally, the couple second-guessed whether they should move forward with the contract—not because they don’t identify as “Caucasian,” but because they were concerned that their neighbors willingly signed documents with comparable clauses.

It made us second guess our offer,” said Romero. “We were concerned that people in the neighborhood might have signed documents with similar statements.”

credit: NBCNews.com

Before signing the document, the couple consulted their agent to determine whether this stipulation was actually legal. It turns out that the clause dated back to 1947, and racially restrictive housing covenants were outlawed in 1948 as a result of that year’s Shelley vs. Kraemer Supreme Court case. “People worry that it’s still enforceable, and even though it’s not, covenants like these hold symbolic meaning,” Dean of the Cornell University Law School, Eduardo Peñalver, told NBC News. “They can indicate whether someone feels like they’re welcome in a community and serve as a reminder of how pervasive housing discrimination was.”

And according to Peñalver, the Fair Housing Act technically outlaws covenants like the one the couple encountered in their CC&R. So why hadn’t this racially restrictive language been omitted from the document long before Romero and Manzo came into the picture?

We’ve inherited a segregated residential landscape that’s the result of explicit racial discrimination,” Peñalver said. “Though racial discrimination in housing has been outlawed, it manifests itself in more subtle forms and perpetuates the wealth gap and economic inequality.”

A 2012 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study revealed that Latinx folks seeking to rent learned about 13 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites; black people learned about 11 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites; and Asians learned about 10 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites. When purchasing property, there was no distinguishable difference between Latinx and white buyers, though this was not the case for black and Asian populations, who were shown nearly 18 percent fewer properties than potential white buyers. And the Latinx home ownership numbers have grown immensely in the past several years.

The 2017 State of Hispanic Ownership report confirms that more than 7 million people of Hispanic/Latinx descent owned houses that year—a number 44 times greater than 2016’s metric.

 

credit: Getty Images

The report cites expansion into areas with high Latinx populations as a source of this extreme growth, though it also highlights certain challenges to Latinx home ownership, from lack of affordable housing to “extreme uncertainty over immigration.” 51% percent of Hispanics believe the economy is on the wrong track, and 56% think it would be difficult to get a home mortgage today, but 88% indicate that they are more likely to own a home in the future than to rent—all of which are statistics that support further growth in the realm of Latinx home ownership.

Yet the issue of subversive housing discrimination remains. Many states use CC&Rs, which are officially recorded and filed with the state, and these documents often include outdated and questionable language. Because these covenants are part of the property records, it can be legally challenging to eliminate them entirely—but Peñalver encourages prospective buyers to file a statement with a county recorder or homeowners association (HOA) if they encounter similar clauses in their paperwork. However, this can prove unnecessarily difficult; in the case of Romero and Manzo’s property, the home does not belong to an HOA, so they would have to obtain “unanimous consent of homeowners in the community signing off on a new set of CC&Rs omitting the offensive language.” Even then, the “wholly of the white Caucasian race” clauses would remain in their property records, though the language would be removed from the revised CC&R document.

In the end, the couple proceeded with the purchase of this property, adding to the ever-growing numbers of Latinx homeowners across the U.S. Yet they remain a bit shocked by the whole process, and remind new homebuyers to always read the fine print.