Entertainment

Gina Rodriguez To Speak At Black History Month Event? Apparent Fake Press Release Sets Off Social Media Firestorm

There seems to be yet another controversy that has found Gina Rodriguez being slammed on Twitter. However, the actress is the victim of a viral hoax created to anger people and cause injury to Rodriguez’s reputation. On Sunday evening, a fake press release was seen circulating on social media that apparently had the 35-year-old actress speaking on behalf of Black History Month. The false press release allegedly came from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Black History Month Committee and was originally tweeted out by journalist Yashar Ali, who was invited to cover the event.  

The odd press release set off a firestorm of criticism and confusion about how Rodriguez, who has previously found herself in hot water due to questionable comments on race, could be featured at an event focused on Black History Month. Again, the press release is false and the anger towards Rodriguez is misdirected.

Twitter was in disbelief about a false press release that stated Rodriguez, who hasn’t had the best history when it comes to comments about to Black community, would “take selfies with African American students.” 

The entire press release was odd altogether as it read that Rodriguez would “take selfies with African American students.” “Starting in 2020, the LAUSD will invite celebrities into classrooms to speak to students during this historic month. We thought that Ms. Rodriguez, who has both African and Latina ancestry, would be a great inaugural speaker,” the press release reads.

Twitter users reacted to the press release as if it was real and the attacks on Rodriguez began without users doing their own due diligence and researching the matter.

While there was no date attached to the press release or any mention of a Black History Month event on the LAUSD website or its calendar, the school district did acknowledge the month last year. The screenshot of the press release spread quickly on Twitter and by Monday morning there was still no statement or confirmation from LAUSD of its legitimacy. 

This isn’t the first time Rodriguez has been connected with controversy. In the last few years, she has made questionable comments about the Black community that has raised some eyebrows. This may be why so many people assumed the press release could have been real. 

The validity of the press release didn’t stop people from chiming in on what seemed to be another one of Rodriguez’s tone-deaf comments. She has previously made statements that her dad is “Afro-Latino,” which also raised some eyebrows. Social media users in return posted images that showed otherwise. 

Just last year, she faced some blowback after she posted an Instagram story in which she used the n-word while rapping along with the Fugees’ song “Ready or Not”. While the “Jane the Virgin” star apologized in a follow-up post, many dismissed as insincere. Many social media users used the incident as concrete evidence that Rodriguez has a less-than-respectful attitude toward black people. 

That incident followed another controversial moment from a 2018 panel discussion on pay equity where Rodriguez was criticized for comments that many perceived as anti-Black. She spoke about the pay gaps among women of different races, saying that Latina women made less than white and Black women, on average.

“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it, right? Where white women get paid more than Black women, Black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into,” she said. “Because I always feel like I fail when I speak about it because I can’t help but feel already so gracious to do what I do and I feel like, culturally, I feel like I was raised to just feel so appreciative of getting here.”

The Twitter account for the LAUSD Black History Month Committee has since deleted its tweet and its entire account. Yashar Ali, who originally shared the press release, also deleted her tweet. There has been no explanation of why from either side so far.

The apparent fake press release had social media users putting in their two cents on the issue despite knowing its validity. Public figure Jemele Hill chimed in on the press release as well simply saying “Make it make sense, y’all,” 

“Instead of giving Black women this space, you give it to Gina Rodriguez? The same Gina Rodriguez who has made it a point to discredit every experience a Black woman has spoken about? LAUSD, Fix this decision, Expeditiously.” another Twitter user wrote. 

While mitú has reached out to LAUSD, there has been no response yet verifying if there was ever going to be a Black History Month event featuring Rodriguez. It’s safe to say, from the reaction on social media, it might not be a good idea anyway. 

READ: Conservatives Are Calling For The FBI And CIA To Investigate George Lopez After He Made A Joke About President Trump

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Alfredo Estrada / Getty Images

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

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How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

Photo via SusanaHarp/Twitter

Black history month is the time of year that we shine a spotlight on the rich and unique history of people of African descent in the United States–a past that has consistently been downplayed, ignored, and in some cases, erased from our history books.

At this point, it’s evident that the Black experience is not a monolith–there is no “one way” to be Black. And yet, many people still struggle to comprehend the fact that Afro-Latinos exist.

When you hear the term Afro-Latino, you might immediately think of a few Caribbean Spanish-speaking nations with explicit ties to the African diaspora–Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, for example.

But the fact is, Black people are everywhere in Latinidad. But Afro-Latinos in non-Caribbean countries often feel overlooked, erased. And this phenomenon is especially true for afromexicanos.

In 2020, after years of fighting, Afro-Mexicans finally got recognition on the Mexican census.

The question was simple, but powerful: “Por sus costumbres y tradiciones, ¿se considera usted afromexicano, negro o afrodescendiente?” (“Based on your culture and traditions, do you consider yourself Afro-Mexican, black or Afro-descendant?”)

For Americans, especially, it can be hard to understand why the question wasn’t on the census in the first place. After all, Americans live in a country where identities are divided into strict categories: Black, white. Hispanic, non-Hispanic.

But for Mexicans, the concept of race and ethnicity is a bit more complicated. To critics, separating people into Black, white, and Indiegnous categories on the census seemed divisive. Many Mexicans identify as mestizaje–a combination of indigenous, European, and, to some extent, African roots.

But for the organizers of the #AfroCensoMx campaign–a campaign to add the negro/afromexicano to the census–the movement was more than just identity politics.

Self-identifying as Black on the Mexican census is, of course, a little bit about pride in one’s identity, but it also has more practical concerns.

The census numbers who also inform organizations about socio-economic patterns associated with being Black in Mexico–information that is invaluable. Because as of now, afromexicanos have unique experiences that are informed by their heritage, their culture, and their place in the Mexican stratum.

As Bobby Vaughn, an African-American anthropologist who specializes in Black Mexicans, put it bluntly: “Mexicans of African descent have no voice and the government makes no attempt to assess their needs, no effort to even count them.”

But for afromexicano activists, being identified as such on the Mexican census is empowering.

Lumping all Mexicans together and ignoring their (sometimes very obvious) differences can have the effect of making certain groups feel erased. Yes, Black Mexicans are simply Mexicans–that fact is not up for debate. But stories abound of afromexicanos being discriminated against because of the way they look.

An Afro-Mexican engineer named Bulmaro García from Costa Chica (a region with a significant Black population) explained to The Guardian how he is grilled by border guards and asked to sing the Mexican national anthem whenever he crosses into Guerrero.

He says the guards’ behavior is “classic discrimination due to skin color. [They think] if you’re black, you’re not Mexican.”

The differences exist, and by acknowledging it, we are more able to speak truth to power.

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