Culture

A Transborder Grad Student Is Using Facebook To Help Others With Their Daily Border Crossings

School has always been a challenge for Vanessa Falcon. Getting to class means navigating her way through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest land border crossing in the world. Many other students live this “transborder lifestyle,” having to cross the US-Mexico border daily to go to school and work. With recent hostility at the border, it has drastically impacted their daily lives. That’s why Falcon, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at San Diego State University, started the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos (Transborder Students). The group helps students navigate border-related challenges including long waits and border closures. Yet for Falcon, this lifestyle began way before college.

Falcon has been living a transborder lifestyle since she was 12 years old.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

Born in Los Angeles, Falcon was always transitioning from one side of the border to the other. Her mother and father, who are Mexican and Peruvian respectively, frequently moved from San Diego to Tijuana due to economic hardships. They would eventually buy a trailer home, which transported them between their lives in San Diego and Tijuana. Falcon began crossing the border daily in the 6th grade, which she says was a personal decision due to many factors including quality in education and cultural identity.

Falcon recalls dealing with homelessness and early 4 a.m. starts to her day just to make it to school. She recollects long days waiting in her family’s car during school for time to pass and nights when food wasn’t always on the table. Falcon credits those hardships for making her who she is today more than ever and says they represented not only her lifestyle but her cultural identity.

“During 6th grade, I started crossing the border for school on a regular basis and it made living arrangements hard,” Falcon said. “It was challenging but now I draw a lot from that. It was definitely more of a choice than necessity but it became part of who I am today.”

Fast forward to today, Falcon is using those experiences to help others navigate through cross-border challenges.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

As Falcon pursues her doctoral degrees in the joint Ph.D. in Education Program at SDSU and Claremont Graduate University, she is helping the transborder community in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Upon starting her studies at SDSU, Falcon felt compelled to help others that were going through similar daily journeys across the border.

In 2015, she began the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos, which grew into a student group at SDSU called the Transfronterizx Alliance Student Organization (TASO). Officially recognized by SDSU in 2017, the organization focuses on creating an inclusive campus environment for transborder students on campus by connecting them with others who live a similar lifestyle.

“You can meet virtually, and now in person, which has created a small community here at SDSU,” Falcon says. “I wanted to accomplish three things here: Having a place where we can engage, having a safe space where we can discuss our lives and creating a culture where we can discuss these relevant daily challenges.”

Students say their experiences crossing the border every day means enduring intense scrutiny and discriminatory practices from Border Patrol agents. A 2015-2016 study found that young people who’ve lived and studied in two countries from San Diego and Tijuana were at a higher risk for depression than other students.

TASO gives SDSU students who live a transborder life an opportunity to share their experiences, identity, and culture.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

TASO has helped create an inclusive community on the SDSU campus that has gone beyond just a Facebook group but an organization putting together services for transborder students. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the organization hosted a transborder studies lecture series where speakers describe their own experiences as transborder students. The group has also utilized Facebook Live to stream content for transborder students who couldn’t attend in person.

“We’ve had live streams of lectures if a student can’t arrive at campus due to border-related challenges,” Falcon says. “We’re creating a community that was once invisible to many and are getting to share our stories along the way.”

The Facebook group has also given students the opportunity to network among each other when it comes to logistics. Some offer to carpool with other transborder students and post regular updates if there are major stalls crossing the border.

Due to recent closures at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, wait times can extend to several hours long.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Falcon says recent border closings caused by the Trump administration and the migrant caravan residing in nearby Tijuana have added to already long wait times crossing the San Ysidro Port of Entry. She describes the scene at the border as more militarized with a larger presence of police than in the past.

“There is militarization going on everywhere at the border. Just 3 weeks ago it seemed like we were at a war zone,” Falcon says. “The border has become intense and we see the suffering of refugees at the border and that has resulted in four-hour waits just to enter.”

A letter recently sent out by SDSU’s Dean of Students Randy Timm acknowledged some of the problems students are facing due to the border closures. The letter showed support for transborder students and offered assistance on the campus. Falcon notes this is a step in the right direction in terms of institutions recognizing transborder students.

Falcon is hoping to create a larger community of transborder students that she hopes will help others navigate their daily lives easier.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Just last year, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) opened up its own TASO chapter on its campus where the group has begun mentorship and educational programs for transborder students. Both chapters hope to work with each other and expand to other universities in border states. Falcon says she could have never imagined the Facebook group growing the way it did. She says there are plans to pilot a transborder students ally training program at SDSU, where she will use research to train students and staff about this lifestyle.

“I want people to understand our experiences and be educated on the daily journeys that we go through,” Falcon said. “I want to teach online through Facebook and make the program accessible to all.”

Falcon says living a transborder lifestyle has given her not just an education but an appreciation of her Latina background and identity. She hopes TASO can encourage legislative changes that improve the lives for transborder students like creating a specific student lane at the U.S border.

“We still live in the margins and our experiences are often not acknowledged,” Falcon says. “We are trying to make a difference on both sides of the border and we are just seeing the potential we have as transborder students to help both sides of our communities.”


READ: Congress Members Camp Out With Asylum Seekers Including Honduran Mother And Children In Viral Tear Gas Photo

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Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

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Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Update June 29, 2020: The boycott on Facebook ads is growing faster than ever and reaching a global level. The growing demand for Facebook to target and handle hate speech and extremism on its platform has led to a far-reaching boycott of ads on the social media site.

The boycott of Facebook ads is going global.

Since the boycott was announced earlier this month, 160 companies have joined the #StopHateforProfit boycott targeting Facebook. Two major companies, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, say they are not part of the boycott. However, the two companies have announced that they will be pausing all ads on social media platforms for the month of July.

Starbucks is not officially part of the #StopHateforProfit movement but the decision is being praised by advocates.

The boycott is having a very real impact on Facebook’s business. Facebook stock lost more than $60 billion in value as more and more businesses cut advertising ties with the social media platform. The 9 percent drop in Facebook’s market prices prompted Facebook executives to begin tweaking some policies to go after hate speech.

Original: Facebook is in trouble as several major brands pull their ads from the social media platform. The coordinated move from the brands was in response to Facebook’s intentional inaction in curbing hate speech on the platform.

Facebook is facing financial troubles as major brands pull ads over the platform’s stance on hate speech.

The NAACP teamed up with other organizations to create the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The campaign is aimed at Facebook and is calling on brands to separate from the social media platform for at least one month, July. The point of the campaign is to call out Facebook for their willingness to profit off of organizations that disseminate and amplify white nationalist rhetoric. Some of the rhetoric has been racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and violent in nature.

“For five years, Color Of Change has called on Facebook to do the right thing and make their platform safer for the millions of Black people that use it,” reads a statement on the Color Of Change website. “From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms.”

Brands are responding and pulling their ads from Facebook.

Recently, Verizon and Unilever joined the growing list of businesses pulling ads to stand up to Facebook’s monetization of hate speech. People have been demanding that Facebook do something to control the hate speech that has incited violence in recent years. Yet, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, refuses to curb the violent speech on the platform.

The Anti-Defamation League laid out the reasons they are calling for the boycott.

The ADL is calling on brands to drop Facebook ads to combat what is considered as a long history of amplifying hate speech. According to the league, the social media platform routinely recommends extremist pages to users, created a loophole to allow for climate change deniers to push anti-science conspriacy theories further, and, in one example, Facebook refused to take down Holocaust denial content.

The social media platform has long been criticized for allowing misinformation to manipulate elections around the world.

Cambridge Analytica is one of the most famous cases of this happening. In the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” dives deep into how the firm was able to use Facebook to spread intentional misinformation to sway elections around the world. People who worked for the tech firm testified that they were able to use Facebook to target individuals who could be swayed with false information to illicit a vote for their client. It happened in several countries, including the U.S. in the 2016 elections and the U.K. during the Brexit vote.

Facebook has so far decided to remain defiant in the face of calls to do better.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is not going to be changing their policies. Instead, the company is going to keep pushing forward with its current strategy of monetizing and helping to spread the extremist and dangerous rhetoric.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Carolyn Everson, the vice president of Global Business Group at Facebook, said, “We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure.” She continued: “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

READ: ICE Is Using Fake Facebook Accounts To Entrap Migrants Even Though Facebook Has Warned The Government To Stop

‘Side Hustle’ Episode 2: Nude Modeling And Friend Rentals

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‘Side Hustle’ Episode 2: Nude Modeling And Friend Rentals

mitú / dorainwoodmusic / Instagram

Side hustles aren’t just limited to freelance writing gigs. There is a vast world of side hustles that can make people a lot of money. Some of them involve art, modeling, and unusual rentals that people would need. That is what the second episode of mitú original series “Side Hustle” is all about.

“That’s not art. That’s you being nude.”

Dorian Wood and Tatyana are young Latinos trying to make it in this wild world in which we live. While some people rely on a regular 9-5 job to make everything work, these two people found a way to take something they like to do and make it profitable.

Wood is using his body to make money and a name for himself with a global audience. His art is something that some people just don’t understand but he is beloved in the art world for his performance art. His nude body is the subject of his work and he has been featured in art shows around the world.

Tatyana is a college student working her way through college like so many others. However, she is taking a different route to pay for her college courses instead of working a retail job. What she has to offer is friendship and it’s paying off.

Wood might be celebrated for his art but his mom has some thoughts.

“I did a show in Madrid and this artist comes up to me after the show and offers to do a mural of me so I just said, ‘Okay. What have I got to lose?’ A few months later he sends me this video of him putting the finishing touches on a four-story mural in Segovia in Spain of me completely naked and my jaw just dropped,” Wood tells co-host David Alvarez. “‘El Gordo’ is what they called the mural. It somehow just triggered something in me. I was like, ‘Oh. Okay. What if I tried art modeling?'”

Wood admits that his friends and family are a little confused by his work. He adds: “They think I’m insane. My mother sees me posing nude and doing nude performance art and she’ll tell me in Spanish like, ‘You know. That’s not art. That’s you being nude.'”

Tatyana loves to make friends and now that makes her some money.

“This is just a way for me to pay for classes,” Tatyana explains to co-host Sahsa Merci. “There was a list of 100 things you could do to make side money and I checked a bunch of them out. The Rent-A-Friend seemed like something I could be good at. So, I started it and I really liked how it was.”

Tatyana says that “it was definitely a little too delicate to talk about at first.” She added. “They know that I enjoy making new friends so for me to get some benefit out of it, also financial help for my school, they were happy about that.”

READ: Cuddling And Wrestling Are Just Two Ways To Make Money On The Side