Entertainment

These Lucky Graduates Are Putting Their Culture Front And Center With Their Grad Looks

Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States and are less than half as likely to get a college degree than non-Latino white adults. The gap is even wider between immigrant Latinos and U.S.-born Latinos.

We’re celebrating the Latinos that are walking across stages this graduation season and using their platform to spread a message against xenophobia, an expression of gratitude for their family or straight up Latino pride.

Every moment captured in this post was more than just four years of work.

@JenJimenez63 / Instagram

It spans generations. Growing up Latino, we all know how important education is to our parents. They would and have sacrificed everything just so we could get an education. It opens doors.

These moments open exclusive doors for a real opportunity to live a good life.

@mindofmolina / Instagram

“Esta es pa’ mi genteeee!!! Honduras 🇭🇳🎓4 good years at TCU, let’s go get this moneeeey now #FirstGen #TCU #2019#GradSzn”

But there’s no going forward without pride in your roots.

@mr_isai / Instagram

“Sí Se Pudo! Dedicated to my #immigrant #graduate #immigrad (s). You/We deserve to succeed, when given the opportunity, we shine. #cipotes  #SalviPride”

So we acknowledge the obstacles (queer, brown, first generation) and take pride in them.

@thecesarcamacho / Instagram

“There will never be a wall high enough to keep Latinos from slaying! The challenges we go through as minorities only make us stronger and make us appreciate the hard work our ancestors had to go through. We not only walk down the stage for ourselves but most importantly for our families and those who’ve paved the way for us to have a voice. I don’t know how I’ll ever thank my parents enough for the sacrifices they’ve had to go through as Mexican immigrants in this country, but what I do know is that I’ll make sure to bring other Latinos on this path to continue giving corporate America some flavor (porque ya sabemos muy bien que le falta sazón!!!)! Can’t wait to walk again on Saturday and receive my Masters as a proud, first generation, queer, resilient LATINO 👨🏽‍🎓🇲🇽🇺🇸🕺🏻”

No matter how much half of Americans want to use who we are as roadblocks, nos vamos pa’lante.

@ashleyy_gonzalezzz / Instagram

Undocugraduates are overcoming statistics like nearly nobody else in America. Keep on dreaming, Dreamers. You make everything seem possible.

Let the migrating butterflies symbolize a forever path forward.

@ChrisFariasTV / Instagram

“FIRST GENERATION UNDOCUGRAD. When I was told by a teacher that my education would stop after graduating high school, I decided to prove him wrong. I am a PROUD Mexican from Uruapan Michoacán y esto es para toda mi gente. Nos graduamos!! #Dreamer #UndocuGrad”

Some graduates are going from high school to their freshman year of college.

@dirtyvysionari / Instagram

“I am an undocumented immigrant raised in the Bay. I am an American at heart with a Mexican lineage. I am a recently admitted UC Berkeley Student for Spring of 2017. I am a mentor to the youth and the homeless. I am a child of God. And I am a graduate from Skyline College. I am no rapist no criminal no killer. Only a dreamer. To my fellow dreamers, don’t let others disparage your value because of your origins. These ethnocentric views will never prevail because they lack humanity. Remember, the shadows will never consume you because light will always be within you.”

This college grad wants to let freshman know to hold onto a sense of humor.

@augie409 / Instagram

“‘No pos… ‘ta cabron!’ is loosely translated to ‘Well shit… that’s tough!’, and has become a popular meme in Latino culture…Nearly everything that could’ve gone wrong during my time in Graduate School went wrong 😂 My parents taught me to always work hard and to trust God no matter how high the odds were stacked against us. They advised me to always find peace in the midst of chaos and still have a sense of humor whenever things do not go as planned. Pops taught me to always walk with my head high and respond accordingly to unfortunate events, and to not react negatively and sulk in misery. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my friends and family that have helped me, supported me, and inspired me along the way. I appreciate ya! In the last two weeks, I had essays/projects/presentations to finish as a graduate student and a softball team I was still caring for as an Athletic Trainer. I was running through things in an attempt of completing everything, and I was doing quite well. In a span of two days I was in two car accidents roughly two weeks before graduation; one at work & one on the way home from my Capstone presentation. The deployment of the airbag was honestly a huge slap in the face and wake up call for me, literally. 😂It opened my eyes to be thankful that I walked away with only a broken finger, and it taught me to slow down a bit so I could enjoy my accomplishments surrounded by those I love. I called my Pops & all he said was, “No pos… ‘ta cabron! Gracias a Dios que estás vivo.”/“Well shit… that’s tough! Thank God you’re alive.” Yo sobresali con los consejos de mi padre y los rezos de mi madre./I excelled with my father’s advice & mother’s prayers.”

Felicidades to all the graduates!

@jorge.am / Instagram

“This past weekend I had the privilege of graduating from THE Florida State University. Never did I imagine I would be the first in my family to graduate from a public university, debt free. Although, I couldn’t have done it alone, thank you to all my family, friends and mentors throughout this crazy journey… I’ll always be grateful and indebted to CARE and FSU for this amazing opportunity.”

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

This 13-Year-Old Boy’s Face Caught On Fire During A Science Class Demonstration

Things That Matter

This 13-Year-Old Boy’s Face Caught On Fire During A Science Class Demonstration

As a kid, one of the most exciting parts of science class is observing how certain chemicals react with each other—seeing how all the abstract information you’ve learned on paper manifests in real life. Of course, every school science lab is supposed to have an eye-wash station, a shower, a fire extinguisher, and other such safety tools in case something goes awry, and while accidents do happen, it is imperative that science demonstrations in the classroom be handled with extreme care. Although no hard evidence currently exists on how often school lab accidents occur—as no entity tracks them as a distinct category—scores of preventable incidents are reported every year.

Most recently, the case of 13-year-old Priest Rivera has been making headlines.

Credit: Instagram | CBSNews8

Rivera’s face and upper body were severely burned when his teacher mistakenly botched a science demonstration in June 2019, and his family has filed a lawsuit against San Diego’s Encinitas Union School District.

Last June, sixth-grade teacher Lori Feinberg fumbled a seemingly simple science demonstration called the “black snake experiment.” This experiment involves the mixing of baking soda, sugar, sand, and alcohol, which is then introduced to a flame in order to form of a “sugar snake.” (When the mixture of baking soda and sugar gets hot, it decomposes to create carbon dioxide gas. A lack of oxygen in the sugar from the combustion creates carbonate and water vapor; the carbonate is pushed out by the pressure from the carbon dioxide, and voila! A snake is born.)

“It wasn’t really working and the science teacher kept pouring more rubbing alcohol to make the flame build up more. It went wrong and blew up in my face,” Priest told CBS News 8. He explained that he had ignited, and his friends surrounded him saying, “He’s on fire!”

The lawsuit filed on December 30, 2019, claims that Feinberg “recklessly” performed the “dangerous” science experiment which involved alcohol and flames “in windy conditions.” It also alleges that Feinberg provided her students with neither safety instructions nor protective equipment (like safety glasses) before performing the “black snake” experiment. The complaint also cites “severe and permanent injuries to Priest,” alleging both negligence and negligent action and stating that “Feinberg and the District knew it was highly probable that injury could occur when conducting an experiment involving flames, but knowingly disregarded that risk.” The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for Priest’s present and future hospital bills.

Although, as mentioned above, no hard numbers currently exist to verify the frequency of school lab accidents, the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Health and Safety is seeking out “reliable data.”

Credit: Facebook | John M. Mantel / Daily Mail

According to Scientific American, “surveys find incidents to be much more common in academic settings than in industrial labs”—and if university labs are seeing high numbers of injury and death, imagine how much less prepared public elementary, middle, and high school labs are likely to be.

Indeed, another student victim of a science experiment gone wrong was awarded $59.1 in damages from the New York Department of Education last July. Alonzo Yanes and classmate Julia Saltonstall were left with severe burns after a botched demonstration by a high school teacher in 2014. Science teacher Anna Poole attempted to conduct a “Rainbow Experiment,” a popular staple in high school chemistry classes due to its rapid and intense bursts of flame.

The Rainbow Experiment involves a variety of mineral salts and lit candles, usually placed in a line. An accelerant commonly used in the experiment is methanol, an extremely volatile liquid that shows how different salts produce distinct colors when burned. However, methanol also produces vapor clouds that can quickly spread flames (or, conversely, which can linger and be ignited by unwitting sparks later on). It was this substance that Poole used in her demonstration, pouring it out of a gallon-sized jug instead of a safer, smaller container.

Students said that she had only reached the second dish when a massive flame spread down the line of dishes and enveloped Yanes in flames, ultimately burning 30% of his body. Students also remarked that Poole was the only one in the room wearing safety goggles.

Rivera’s parents have addressed the school’s reticence to claim responsibility for what happened to their son, and the consensus within the scientific community is a similar one: almost all such incidents are preventable by improving oversight and supervision. They are not simply the consequence of random misfortune.

According to chemical safety expert Neal Langerman, “The problem of school lab danger lies in management responsibility.” With proper training, appropriate safety measures (like wearing protective clothing), and regular procedural oversight, accidents like those that have affected countless young students (as well as teachers) all over the country can be avoided in the future.

From Spain To Latin America, How A Mass Migration Created A Thriving Latino/Jewish Community

Culture

From Spain To Latin America, How A Mass Migration Created A Thriving Latino/Jewish Community

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The days of stereotyping Latinos are over, dead to 2019. We are an ethnicity, not a race, which means we have every range of skin tone and practice every major religion. The arc of Latinidad is so entrenched in imperialism and immigration that it makes sense we would be so diverse. To be Latino has often meant being a native Latin American indigenous person or ancestry that, at some point, hailed from somewhere else in the world and landed in Latin America. The Spanish Inquisition is largely responsible for the present-day stereotype of Catholic Latinos, but the Inquisition is responsible for the mass immigration of Spanish Jews as well. During the 16th century, the Inquisition mandated that all Jews convert to Catholicism. Many of them did and were known as conversos, but many of them continued to practice their religion in secret, becoming known as crypto-Jews. The rest were expelled from the country and would eventually make their way to Latin America.

Today, an estimated half-million Jews live in Latin America, with Argentina having the second-largest Jewish community in the Americas, at an estimated 300,000 total. 

Studies have revealed that almost 25 percent of Latinos have Jewish DNA.

Credit: Unsplash

Immigration has long been the defining mark of non-Indigenous Latinos. Historians have long wondered how many descendants were produced from those original Jews expelled from Spain to Latin America. What’s more interesting is understanding that conversos offered a whole other lineage of people with Jewish heritage hatefully stamped out by an empire–an erasure of identity that can now be found through genetics research. A Nature Communications study from December 2018 has concluded, based on the research of dozens of professors around the globe, that 25 percent of Latinos have Spanish or Portuguese Jewish DNA. Today, 20% of the 60 million people in the Iberian peninsula have significant Jewish ancestry. Researchers suspect that the total number of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities range in the 200 million.

In a world without anti-Semitism, would Latinos be more widely known as Jewish because their ancestors weren’t forcibly converted?

Credit: Unsplash

Given the shocking estimates, it seems likely that there could have been as many as 1 in 4 Jews in the Latino community. In Miami Dade County, a third of all Jews identify as Latino Jews, and many Latino-American Jews have begun advocating for their Latino culture within the Jewish community. “[Although we] don’t generally inhabit the same spaces, we have to come together and become aware of the commonalities, the linguistic, cultural and historical ties the two communities have. Latino Jews could play an important role in being the link between Jews and Latinos, so what we’re trying to do is create more and more spaces for this interaction and cooperation to happen,” Dina Siegel Vann, Director of Latino Affairs at the American Jewish Committee told Aish.com.

Even though anti-Semitism and radical political ideology have erased the Jewish heritage that could have been passed down to the existing Latino population with Jewish DNA, many Jewish customs and traditions have prevailed in Latino culture without due credit. Por ejemplo.

Puerto Rican Sofrito came from the Sephardic Jews.

CREDIT: @IZZY_MONEY85 / TWITTER

That’s right my fellow Boricuas, sofrito might be the ultimate symbol and base of our cuisine, but Spanish Jews had long been using the garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes, cumin, and olive oil base salsa to slow-cook chicken, veal, beef or lamb by Spanish Sephardic Jews. In fact, we owe it to the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition for bringing their recipes with them. Their cultural influence made an impact on Spanish cuisine, which then had a ripple effect on Latin America as it became colonized by Spain. Originally, sofrito was most often celebrated in the Balkans, the Levant, Turkey, and the Maghreb before making its way to become a Puerto Rican staple. Whatever you decide to make for your Hanukkah meal, including sofrito is a no-brainer crowd pleaser.  

Lachmazikas, a meat-stuffed pastry, is quite similar to empanadas.

CREDIT: UNTITLED. DIGITAL IMAGE. TABLETMAG. 20 DECEMBER 2019.

While most Latino-Americans are unified in speaking Spanglish, Latino Jews speak Ladino. Israeli Jews delight in sufganiyot, while American Jews often see it as an afterthought, just a jelly-filled donut. Spanish Jews made lachmazikas, which were filled with everything from lamb and mushrooms to ricotta, herbs, and whitefish. A meat stuffed bread might sound familiar to you *cough* empanadillas *cough*.

Looking for more Latino-Jewish foods for your Hanukkah celebration? Look no further.

READ: Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina