Entertainment

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Celia Cruz, The Indisputable Queen Of Salsa

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Celia Cruz is the legend of all legends; the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, an icon of Afro-Latinidad. We all know her for classic hits like “La Vida es Un Carnaval” and “Guantanamera” but she’s the icon we inherited from the last generation.

Here the woman, the myth, the legend behind “Azúcar!” and 21 facts you probably didn’t know about her.

Her full name is Ursula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

She was born October 21, 1925, making her the most famous Libra Latina to ever grace the planet Earth. She was born in the poor, working-class neighborhood of Santos Suárez in Havana, Cuba.

Cruz was brought up a devout Catholic, but the first angelic notes she sang were to Santería.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Her neighbor practiced Santería and while her father highly opposed any other religion, she had a good time with her neighbor.

Cruz later studied Yoruba to sing alongside Merceditas Valdés.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Cruz stayed in this religious genre for a little while, singing backup for female led productions. Eventually, she made her big break, though.

She started singing as a teenager because her tía took her to cabarets.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

A little context: back in the 1940’s, singing wasn’t considered a respectable profession. It was a different time where people weren’t as free to express themselves as they are now.

Her father’s influence won for a minute when she attended the Normal School for Teachers in Havana.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

One of her teachers at the school gave her the down low and told her to escape, quickly. They told her that she could earn a teacher’s monthly salary in a single day as an entertainer.

To appease her father, she went to school…at Havana’s National Conservatory of Music.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Once she started getting gigs, however, another maestro told her to drop out of school and just pursue her career full-time. This was her moment.

Cruz started winning multiple “La hora del té” singing contests on the local radio.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Venezuela was actually the first country to truly embrace her stardom. Her first recordings were made there in 1948. From there, she found her in.

Cuba’s Sonora Matancera lost their Boricua lead singer to her home island and Cruz tried out for the empty slot.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

She was the best thing to happen to Sonora. Soon, her name was far bigger than the band’s and she stuck with the band for 15 years.

Cruz didn’t even get to say goodbye to Cuba before she was exiled.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

It’s impossible to find a picture of Celia not smiling, but we know this was a very difficult time for her. The band was on tour in Mexico during the 1959 Castro take over of Cuba and the band decided not to return home. Instead, they crossed into the U.S.

Castro was so enraged by Cruz’ defection that he barred her from ever returning to Cuba.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

In 1961, she became a US citizen. She tried to go back to Cuba when her mother died in 1962 but the government wouldn’t let her in.

Never returning to her home was heartbreaking.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

In 1990, she visited Guantanamo Bay, U.S. territory on the island of Cuba. She heartbreakingly was on her homeland, but not in her Cuba. She reached between the fence to collect the Cuban soil that she would later be entombed with.

She ended up marrying Sonora’s trumpet player, Pedro Knight, in 1962.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

At this point, the Cuban exile community in the U.S. was idolizing this marriage, but they hadn’t reached mainstream American music ears just yet.

They stayed together for 40 years, until they died.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Knight’s sideburns lived on until his death in 2007, when he was buried with Celia Cruz in the Bronx. But before all this morbid end to their lives, Celia conquered the world.

In 1994, President Clinton awarded Cruz the National Medal of Arts.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Was someone looking for proof that #ImmigrantLivesMatter? Well, you don’t need it, it’s just true. But here’s proof that immigrants enrich the United States in every single respect.

The Queen of Salsa was known for her statement wigs.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

In a completely male-dominated industry, Celia took ownership to the very top of salsa music with her own flourish. Her unconfined joy and creative expression was the icing on top of that deep, other-worldly voice of hers. We’re all sold.

Here’s the story behind “Azucar!”

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

In a 2000 Billboard interview, she explains how she came up with her famous catchphrase:

“I was having dinner at a restaurant in Miami, and when the waiter offered me coffee, he asked me if I took it with or without sugar. I said, ‘Chico, you’re Cuban. How can you even ask that? With sugar!’ And that evening during my show … I told the audience the story and they laughed. And one day, instead of telling the story, I simply walked down the stairs and shouted Azúcar!”

A few years after marrying Knight, she dropped out of Sonora and joined Tito Puente to record eight albums.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

The albums didn’t go anywhere but the pair eventually started headlining concerts at Carnegie Hall. Her voice never aged and many claim that while she is the Queen of Salsa, her voice was truly operatic.

There isn’t a Grammy Award that she was nominated for that she didn’t win.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

Truly. She generated over fifty albums in her lifetime and four won Best Salsa/Merengue Albums.

Two years ago, she was awarded post-mortem the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

In her last years of life, she was awarded three Grammy’s. Never give up, kids. Give it your all till the end.

On July 16, 2003, Cruz died from brain cancer at the age of 77.

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

While Cruz never had children, she inspired a whole generation of artists who attribute her music, her grace and her strength in Afro-Latinx representation as their inspiration.

Apparently, Cruz’ dedication and inspiration is infectious, because she hugged Amara La Negra and now we’re stanning.

CREDIT: @AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

We’re hard pressed to find any quotes from Celia about what it was like embracing her Latinx blackness, but contemporary artists like Amara La Negra cite Celia Cruz as their ultimate validation and inspiration. The spirit of Cruz lives on in us all, but we like to think that she’d be saying a lot of the things Amara has been saying for years.


READ: Let’s Revisit Celia Cruz And Patti LaBelle Rocking The 1998 ALMA Awards

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Doctors Are Failing To Diagnose Black Women With PCOS

Fierce

Doctors Are Failing To Diagnose Black Women With PCOS

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“I could barely stand, it was like my whole body had shut down”, said 22-year-old Courtney Boateng.  “I had to change pads every 45 minutes, I was bleeding through my clothes at home, and I could feel all these massive clots coming out of me. I could have filled buckets [with my blood]. It was the worst period of my life.”  This was the traumatic menstrual experience that ended up lasting for over two weeks and prompted Boateng to seek help with a medical professional. At the emergency appointment, the doctor told her that her symptoms were just related to her stress and her weight and sent her home with ibuprofen. It took her five gynecologist appointments over nine months for her to finally be referred for an ultrasound and ultimately diagnosed with PCOS. This experience is a common reality many Black women have in the healthcare system.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is an endocrine disorder that affects from either 2% to 20% of women aged 18 to 44–depending on how one defines the criteria. PCOS is a set of symptoms caused by an elevated level of androgens (male hormones like testosterone) in a woman’s body that cause an abnormal amount of cysts or sacs on a woman’s ovaries. These hormones cause everything from prolonged menstruation cycles to no menstruation, to premature balding, to the appearance of hair in unusual places on a woman’s body, to excessive and sudden weight gain. It also often comes with painful, heavy-flow periods that can be extremely disruptive to a woman’s everyday life.

Not only that, but PCOS is the leading cause of infertility among women, causing over 75% of cases having to do with ovulation disruption.

An estimated 50% of annual PCOS cases go undiagnosed in the U.S., with many placing the blame on the ignorance of primary care physicians.

The reason that this disorder is so under- and misdiagnosed by doctors is that, often, many of PCOS’s symptoms (like abnormal periods, weight gain, and mood fluctuations) are mistaken for symptoms of stress, puberty, or sometimes, just chalked up to a bad diet. And perhaps above all, PCOS is a disorder that occurs only in women, a class of people that doctors notoriously don’t take as seriously.

Many patients also suspect that PCOS isn’t taken as seriously by doctors because it’s most likely to occur in overweight patients, with up to 80% of women suffering from PCOS also falling to the “obese” category. However, obesity is a symptom of PCOS, not a cause; the elevated levels of androgen hormones in a woman’s body make her blood sugar more resistant to insulin, making her more prone to weight gain. This also makes a woman with PCOS more prone to coming down with Type 2 Diabetes–a common condition associated with the disorder.

Many people believe that doctors’ responses to women’s health complaints are rooted in internalized, out-dated beliefs about “hysterical women”, a historical catchall mental disorder diagnosis that women were commonly diagnosed with starting in the 17th century. Still, these outdated beliefs about the fragility of female mental health persist today, with women being more likely to be prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications than men are (as opposed to pain medication or further testing) when they visit the doctor with pain.

To make matters worse, black patients are often (erroneously) thought by doctors to be more tolerant to pain than their white peers, as is exemplified in a 2012 study that found that black patients were 22% less likely than white patients to be prescribed pain medication by their doctors.

This theory about doctors’ beliefs was further proven when a study was conducted on 200 white medical students and residents. The students were quizzed on multiple old wives’ tales about different races, like the old one: “black people have ‘thicker skin’ than white people”. Half of the medical students thought one or more of the false statements were true, which gives weight to the theory that doctors don’t take black pain as seriously.

The one-two punch of being a woman and being black makes the doctor’s office an especially stressful place for an Afro-Latina to be.

This flippancy towards women’s health problems is exasperated in health care professionals’ treatment of women of color. PCOS is no more common in white women than black women, but black women are vastly less likely to be accurately diagnosed and treated for the disorder (as with many other health disorders).

So, unfortunately, like many health issues, black women are less likely to be taken seriously by doctors when it comes to PCOS. This is a particularly frustrating reality seeing as PCOS is treatable, with symptoms greatly improving through largely inexpensive lifestyle fixes such as adding diet and exercise programs into their daily regimens or simply taking hormonal birth control pills.

But as more and more studies bring to light the widespread reality of implicit bias among doctors, many black women are becoming frustrated at how they seem to be the ones getting the brunt of their doctors’ indifference. Although ovarian cysts can be detected via ultrasound, it’s often difficult for black women to be referred to ultrasounds by their doctors who aren’t taking their pain seriously.

Many experts blame doctors’ failure of black women on their implicit bias.

Implicit bias is defined by PubMed as “a negative evaluation of a person on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race or gender” caused by “ associations outside conscious awareness”. That means that some doctors may misdiagnose or under-diagnosed patients based on racist or sexist conclusions that they’re not even aware they’re making.

This problem of implicit bias among the medical community is exasperated by the lack of diversity among doctors, with only 5% being Latino (regardless of the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S.), and only 4% of doctors in the U.S. being black.

Linda Blount, president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, is very matter-of-fact when describing the realities that implicit bias has at the doctor’s office: “We want to think that physicians just view us as a patient, and they’ll treat everyone the same, but they don’t,” she says. “Their bias absolutely makes its way into the exam room.”

Somewhat surprisingly, this bias transcends social and economic factors and has little to do with class. “When you look at inequalities in healthcare, you see a lot of studies tying the problems to race and poverty, but there’s not a lot about educated, insured black women who are not poor”, says Bette Parks Sacks, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at UC BerkeleySacks. “Yet infant mortality rates for black women with a college degree are higher than those for white women with just a high school education.”

The under-diagnosis of PCOS in black women is just another example of the way the American healthcare system is letting down black women.

Because of the structural racism within the healthcare community, black women are often told that their very real symptoms are “all in their heads” or simply stress-related.

The most dangerous facet of this pattern is that once physicians decide that a patient’s symptoms are simply stress-related, they stop searching for another diagnosis. This leaves many Afro-Latinas struggling with their PCOS alone, believing that their long and intense periods, hair loss, weight gain, insulin resistance, and often, mood-related disorders, are simply a symptom of self-induced stress.

It’s time that women of color stop being told that all they need is an Advil and a yoga regimen to improve the sometimes debilitating symptoms of PCOS. What they need instead is doctors to get real to the internalized racism they may enacting, and start taking black women’s pain seriously.

This Elementary School Held A Flash Mob Where Kids Dressed Up And Danced To Selena And Celia Cruz And I’m Crying At My Desk

Culture

This Elementary School Held A Flash Mob Where Kids Dressed Up And Danced To Selena And Celia Cruz And I’m Crying At My Desk

The fear of losing our Latinidad as our kids learn to assimilate to American culture is very real. As new and older generations come and go, younger Latinos born in the U.S. are less likely to speak Spanish, and know how to cook certain recipes or the moves of certain dances. Fortunately, one elementary located in the city of Los Angeles, California is taking literal steps and classes to ensure la cultura never dies.

In a recent post to the elementary school’s Facebook page, little kids are seen putting on a performance of Selena’s “La Caracha.”

[Click the image to watch the video]

In the video posted to Facebook, dozens of kindergarten students from Euclid Avenue Elementary are seen dancing along to “La Carcacha.” While the boys wear leather vests, the girls are suited up in outfits that channel Selena’s purple jumpsuit.

But the display of vida did NOT stop there.

The event soon turned into a display of Afro-Latina celebration when the school’s second graders turned up for Celia Cruz

Like just LOOK at all of those little Celia’s in training dancing to “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.”

And because the party could just not stop the school’s First Graders danced to “Un Poco Loco” from Coco.

Honestly, my heart is about to burst watching these little guys expertly dance to the “Coco” theme song. And not only are the kids wearing the sweetest traditional outfits the little boys are wearing fake guitars!!!!

Guys!! And The Third Graders Dance the Tarantela!

And there goes my heart. Bursting into a million little pieces and being simultaneously full again.

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