Culture

Here’s A Collection Of Grad Caps That Are Giving All Of The Credit To Their Immigrant Parents And Grandparents

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One of the most significant moments for migrant families is a graduation ceremony. These are often the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice and sometimes struggle from those who arrived to the United States (or any other developed country) first. Some of these families have gone through truly epic journeys that span generations and are full of struggles, luck, and love. A college graduation in any Latino familia es la gran cosa where the whole family participates and, most importantly, feels incredibly proud of academic achievements.

We all know that Latinos at graduation know the struggle of making sure the whole family is included. 

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Second generation Latinos are an important part of the workforce and are helping shape U.S. culture. However, there is still much more to do in terms of getting Latino youth in college. According to The Hechinger Report, “fewer than a quarter, or 22.6 percent, of Latino Americans ages 25 to 64 held a two-year college degree or higher in 2016.” The policies implemented by the current administration, particularly in relation to the Dreamer Act, threaten to make that gap even bigger.

Here are some examples of graduation regalia, and even cakes, that scream estamos orgullosos de ser Latinos y immigranters. If you’re reading this and are doubtful about going to college, here’s our advice: do it! It will be beneficial to you and your community. Education is one of the best paths towards personal and community betterment. As Latino presence becomes stronger in areas such as politics and business, we will need more prepared young people of Hispanic heritage. Many of you have an advantage already: you are bilingual. How many gringos can say the same?

This florecita rebelde is everything we never knew we needed.

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We just adore Olivia’s whole outfit, which screams Latino power. From the vivid colors on her dress to the awesome flower arrangement on her cap, which is big and makes a bold statement: we are vivarachos and proud of it. Nothing more powerful to celebrate the cultural melting pot that is the US than to showcase your culture.

Some of these caps just show how proud people are of being Latino.

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One thing that Latinas, in particular, are doing in the United States is smashing the glass ceilings imposed by Anglo culture and the patriarchy. The message on this amazing young woman’s cap says it all: “Latina breaking statistics”. SI SE PUEDE.

Say it conmigo: Dominican brains and attitude can’t be beaten.

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We love this amazing graduation cap that sends a clear message: proud to be Dominican. Among U.S. Latinos, Dominicans are both recipients of stupid prejudices and owners of a rich culture. Graduates from this community include, for example, Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, who writes in Spanglish and has slain grammatical conventions of what “proper” English is supposed to be.

There’s nothing more powerful than an immigrant superstar.

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We just love this graduation cap from a chicano young man. It is sparkly, reminds us of “American Idol”and tells a truth that is uncomfortable for some cabrones conservadores: immigration brings cultural and intellectual richness to any country.

Yes we can esa es la actitud, compadre.

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One of the mottos of the Mexican-American community is: si se pudo. Its literal translation is “Yes we can” (sounds familiar? did anyone say Obama circa 2008?). This is the type of attitude that gets many Latinos through college, which can be a challenge not only academically, but also in terms of social inclusion. The stickers are interesting. They kinda remind us of childhood scrapbooks.

Some of these grad caps are truly works of art.

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We love this one. It takes a quote from the famous song “Imagine” by John Lennon and turns it into a statement about the Dreamer generation. Can we send this to the White House, porfas? 

You can always show your own pride for your immigrant parents using this mitú grad cap sticker.

Credit: mitú

Your parents came here for a reason, mijo, and you’ve made them happier than you will ever know. That’s why our “Proud Son Of Immigrants” Graduation Cap Sticker is the perfect way to tell them you’re proud of your roots!

Anti-immigration rhetoric is really, really a real pendejada and we can’t let it happen anymore.

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Words are powerful, and the way in which a certain politician with the initials DT described Mexican immigrants has caused a lot of harm in terms of U.S.-Mexico relations, as well as in how whole communities are treated. That is why we love this graduation cap: it makes a clear political statement. This amazing girl is the face of millions of talented migrants who are not gang members or drug dealers: they are spirited, resilient and the true face of today’s American Dream. 

The sentiment behind this grad cap is as beautiful as the rainbow in the background.

Credit: stickydecalco / Instagram

The message on the cap reads: “To my parents, who arrived with nothing and gave me everything.” This is giving us serious feels. The story of so many families that have made the United States their home and whose kids are now thriving as trabajo duro has paid off.

This seriously gives us butterflies in our panzas.

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This message is quite poetic and amazing. “(I am here) because of the roots you gave me, which turned into wings. Thanks, mom and dad”. This girl is totally thankful for her viejitos and acknowledges that being true to oneself, to our roots, is where any success story begins.

Charro stoles? Yes, por favor.

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This is a big trend in Latino regalia. These stoles fashioned in the style of Mexican ponchos are both cool and scream pride. There are many possible color combos, and they can be personalized. It would be a great graduation gift for your carnales or primos.

First-generation college grads are setting a standard that will change the course of their family history.

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The Mexican flag is the hero of this graduation cap that reveals how finishing college is not a personal effort. Behind every sleepless night studying there is a family that offers support and care, and whose efforts have led to the stage. 

A beautiful day indeed. Congrats, graduate.

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One of the main obstacles professional young women face is that whenever they are assertive in demonstrating their talent, they are immediately categorized as show-offs. That is why we love this cap that celebrates those women that do not hold back in giving themselves a big thumbs up (AOC, we hear ya!).

There is something so sweet about people giving their parents the most important acknowledgment.

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This is one of our favorites. It reads: “They worked with their hands so I could work with my mind. Thanks, dad and mom.” Many migrants have to make a living through manual work, which is often unjustly paid. This cap is a great gracias for parental efforts that allow the younger generations to enter the professional world. We are sure this kid’s mum and dad were bursting with orgullo.

Immigration makes the world go round and keeps economies growing and thriving. #FACT

Credit: web. Digital image. Refinery 29. 

Another political statement. It does not need further explanation. We love it. There is no reason why people should fear immigrants from entering the workforce. After all, if you are as good as you say you are, then an immigrant wouldn’t be able to “steal your job.”

Gratitude is the attitude that keeps us all connected with our familias.

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Migrating to a different country, particularly if it is done the hard way, is not an easy feat. There is nothing that gives a migrant parent as much joy as seeing their offspring walk the stake and throw their caps to the sky. We love Nancy and her cute family, and we wish her the absolute best for the years to come.

Let’s celebrate the Venezuelan style and give our parents something to celebrate.

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Of course, there are also colorful and very Latino graduation cakes such as this one that showcases Venezuelan culture. It might not be a cap but it is something that definitely speaks to our experience in a family of immigrants.

Congratulations to all of the graduates from high school and college who are making a mark on this world.

READ: 22 #Immigrad Graduation Caps That No Dummy Can Ignore

Because Words Matter: Rep Joaquin Castro Wants To Get Rid Of The Words “Alien” And “Illegal” In Federal Law, And That Is A Big Deal

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Because Words Matter: Rep Joaquin Castro Wants To Get Rid Of The Words “Alien” And “Illegal” In Federal Law, And That Is A Big Deal

Before we go ahead with this story let’s do something rapidito. Ready? OK, so let’s do a little thought experiment… 

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read or hear the word “alien”? Perhaps something like this?

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Yeah, something totally out of popular culture sci-fi imaginary, and what all those people that are pretending to storm into Area 51 are hoping to find. 

Or perhaps something out of a Hollywood blockbuster? A slimy, flesh-eating beast?

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The stuff that comes in your pesadillas at night! 

And what about the world “illegal”? Que te viene a la mente? Perhaps a police headshot? 

See where we are getting at? Your mind goes to criminality, shoot outs, police stations and fugitives, the world of law enforcement. It makes you feel threatened. 

Now, if you combine “illegal” with “alien”, this is what some gringos might think about:

Credit: @machetekills / Giphy
Credit: Giphy. @machetekills

Although Danny Trejo is a sweetheart, he is the epitome of the visual representation of the “bad hombre” in Trumplandia. 

And now think about “illegal alien” in the current political context. Does your brain produce an image similar to this?

Credit: image1170x530cropped. Digital image. UN News

It’s a big jump from movie characters and slimy monsters to the plight of thousands of migrants who are fleeing violence, war and persecution in their home countries, right? It doesn’t take a law or literature degree to see how the use of “alien” and “illegal” criminalizes anyone who tries to migrate to another country through whatever means necessary. 

Actually the dictionary definitions of these two words are pretty damning: 

Credit: black-and-white-dictionary. Digital image. EF English Live

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines them as follows:

“Alien” means “coming from a different country, race, or group” or “strange and not familiar” or “relating to creatures from another planet”. 

“Illegal” means “not allowed by law” and the dictionary gives the following examples: “a campaign to stop the illegal sale of cigarettes to children under 16”, “Prostitution is illegal in some countries”, “It is illegal to drive a car that is not registered and insured” and “Cocaine, LSD, and heroin are all illegal drugs/substances”. 

Phrasing is important, so that is why Texas Representative Joaquin Castro introduced a bill to change federal legislation and taking off the words “alien” and “illegal” from policy. So what is the terminology he is proposing?

The terms “alien” and “illegal alien” are an accusation rather than a denomination, and Castro doesn’t hold himself back from calling this a way of demonizing and dehumanize migrant communities. According to an article published by Foreign Affairs New Zealand, Castro is proposing a different, middle-ground terminology for describing individuals who migrate to the country outside of the official immigration system: “Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today introduced the CHANGE Act, legislation that eliminates the term “alien” and “illegal alien” from the Immigration and Nationality Act, and replaces them with “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national” respectively”. 

This small but significant change would alter how courts and the justice system in general perceives migrants. Repeat after us: “words matter”!

This is how Joaquin Castro himself puts it: “Words matter. It’s vital that we respect the dignity of immigrants fleeing violence and prosecution in our language. The words “alien” and “illegal alien” work to demonize and dehumanize the migrant community. They should have no place in our government’s description of human beings. Immigrants come to our borders in good faith and work hard for the opportunity to achieve a better life for themselves and their family. Eliminating this language from government expression puts us one step closer to preserving their dignity and ensuring their safety”.

The legal system deals in the currency of words and descriptions. Judges and juries make their decisions based on how the alleged crimes are presented, and the words “alien” and “illegal alien” certainly cast a shadow of criminality over migrants. These words strip them of a face, of a life story, of a personality. And this institutional act of stigmatization takes place regardless of whether the person being judged is an old woman, a adult man or a child (we seriously can’t get over how brutal authorities can be, even getting kids to decide which parent they want to stay with at the border). 

The use of “alien” has long been a stigma on the Latino community.

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As Jose Antonio Vargas wrote in a heartbreaking 2015 editorial published by The New York Times (we really recommend you read the whole thing):

“RESIDENT ALIEN.”

Those two words, in all caps, adorn the plastic-covered green card that my grandfather, a naturalized U.S. citizen, handed me shortly after I arrived in the United States from the Philippines. I was 12. I don’t remember thinking much about the card (which was not green) or the words (which, strung together, seemed like the title of a video game or a movie). It wasn’t until four years later, while applying to get a driver’s permit, that I learned the card was fake. I wasn’t a “RESIDENT ALIEN” at all but another kind of alien — in common parlance, an “illegal alien.”

The label “alien” is nothing but alienating. And when coupled with “illegal,” it’s especially toxic. The words seep into the psyche, sometimes to the point of paralysis. They’re dehumanizing.

So does Joaquin Castro look like VERY familiar? Well get used to that face (two very trending politicians wear it with Brown Latino pride!)

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 Joaquin is the twin of Julian Castro, one of the candidates in the run for the Democratic presidential nomination. The brothers were born to a chicana political activist. That is why  social justice and human dignity runs in their blood. They are sort of a Latino Kennedy duo championing migrants rights! Yes, please. 

BTW, Castro has a long history of fighting for migrant rights, of course

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Joaquin Castro was born in 1974, so he is a pretty young politician at just 44 years of age. As we said, his family was politically active from a very early age, so it is no surprise that migration is on top of his legislative agenda. Depending on how his brother Julian does in the Democratic primary (our prediction is that he will get better recognition in mainstream politics, but it is a long shot for him), the Castro twins could either become an important part of the new administration or a fierce opposition to a second Trump term (oh, we hate to say this but we might need to consider the possibility that this might actually happening). 

And he is no fan of POTUS.

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He is unafraid of calling him out when needed, like when Trump went ballistic over the progressive agenda of the Fantastic Four (that’s how we prefer to call Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib).

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

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A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

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It is with unrelenting sadness that we report the death of Heydi Gámez García, 13, who took her life after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

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Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

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A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

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He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

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He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

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She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

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It is the only empathic way to relate to the emotional scars of our community. Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

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How can anyone go about business as usual? How do we humanize brown-skinned people to every voter and decision-maker? The only way we know how is to continually voice your concerns to your representatives and create space for these stories. Don’t look away. The grief of the Gámaz family is all of our grief. 

A Manuel, you did not fail your daughter. We all did. We are so sorry.

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