Entertainment

Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Since Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón was a child growing up in Carolina, Puerto Rico, she has been fascinated by journalism. She was captivated by the colorful glossies of Cosmopolitan and Revista Tú that sat on the shelves of local drug stores. She wanted to read about the latest beauty and fashion and be on top of entertainment and cultural news from Latin America and the United States. But more than this, she desired to be seen, to have glamorous and powerful Black women that resembled the matriarchs in her own family cover the magazines.

“I never had the opportunity here in Puerto Rico to see Black people, and Black women in particular, in magazines,” Lebrón told mitú. “None of them represented the beauty of my family, my friends, my community or myself.”

As a teenager, Lebrón’s father, who was raised in New York, introduced her to popular African-American publications geared toward women.

 While magazines like Ebony and Essence weren’t yet available in Puerto Rico, her father would have friends mail the glossy or bring them back from trips in order for Lebrón to have access to images and stories of women who looked like her. The unnecessary struggle it took for her to see herself represented in media and the joyous feeling she felt while flipping through page after page of enchanting dark-skinned women inspired Lebrón to one day start her own magazine in Puerto Rico specifically for Afro-Latina women.

In December of 2018, Lebrón’s teenage dreams came true.

 The now 38-year-old communications professional launched Revista Étnica, the first print magazine in Puerto Rico to represent the Caribbean archipelago’s vast and diverse Afro-Latinx population.

“Our community is marginalized. If you have dark skin, you generally don’t have an opportunity to feel like you belong and are a part of this society. We are only good for food, music and sports, and that’s something we want to change,” she said.

Through the biannual magazine, Étnica’s three-person staff and group of collaborators produce a stunning publication that covers beauty, fashion, entertainment, food and culture as well as investigative journalism that looks into the deep-rooted, and largely denied, racism that exists in Puerto Rico. 

In the first issue, writer Edmy Ayala delves into the racial disparities that exist on the archipelago and how the state works to protect the rights and uplift the talents of lighter-skinned Boricuas. 

The second volume, which published in August, features an essay that examines racism in Puerto Rico’s public school system, looking particularly at the ways in which codes of conduct target and punish Black youth. 

“Right now, it’s more critical than ever to be having these conversations,” Lebrón says. “Here, we understand that we are a mix. We are mestizos, with a rich culture that includes our Spanish heritage, Taíno heritage and, less important, our African heritage. Many use this to claim we are all the same here, that racism doesn’t exist. But me being a Black Puerto Rican woman, a young Black person, I can tell you that I struggle every day and experience racism in so many ways.”

This bigotry was particularly evident for Lebrón when she first attempted to launch Revista Étnica. In her mid-20s, she submitted a proposal for the publication in a contest and was one of the finalists. At the time, she was assigned a mentor who would help her work through her proposition and advise her on steps she could take to realize her project. A leading journalist in Puerto Rico, Lebrón was thrilled to have the guidance of an esteemed figure as she pursued her ambitions. That’s why she felt completely discouraged when the male leader suggested that her magazine would fail. 

“He said, ‘people in Puerto Rico don’t want to identify as Black,’” Lebrón recalls. “I started to believe that the magazine wasn’t important, and it took away my dream.”

Disheartened, Lebrón went on to start a different career in media, working in advertising and public relations. In this industry, she was once again confronted by anti-blackness in Puerto Rico. Few brands and companies put Black Boricuas in their ads, catered to Afro-Puerto Rican communities or even hired dark-skinned employees. 

After taking a job as the director of communications for a local nonprofit that put her in direct contact with Puerto Rican youth, Lebrón was reminded of the importance of representation. During each visit with boys and girls across the archipelago, Black children would race to Lebrón, excited to engage with a powerful leader who looked like them.

“I’d tell them, ‘you are beautiful and intelligent,’ and I would see the light in their eyes. I knew I had to do Étnica.”

A decade after Lebrón submitted her proposal for her dream publication, she entered the contest again and became a finalist once more. This time, she won a social enterprise award, which allowed her to fund the first issue of her magazine.

Today, Revista Étnica is available for purchase at Walgreens and Walmarts across Puerto Rico as well as some local shops in the metropolitan area. Through the magazine’s website, readers can order copies from all over the world. Lebrón says she has subscribers from the United States, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and even Switzerland. Additionally, the publication’s site and social media include a blog and content that offers insight and opinions on more timely news.

For Lebrón, Revista Étnica is more than a magazine; it’s also a community and a movement. 

Throughout the year, the publication hosts events, from parties to movie-watching groups, and has recently also launched a start-up program for Afro-Puerto Rican entrepreneurs. She says that her company’s success isn’t measured by its magazine sales but rather by how it can help create economic security for the Black community in Puerto Rico more broadly.

While materializing her wildest childhood fantasies has been both joyous and frightening, she says that ultimately this magazine and this movement is much bigger than her alone.

“I just want women who read Étnica to feel proud of their skin, their body, their imperfections. I want them to know there is a community with them, that they’re not alone,” Lebrón says.

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

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Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

David Shankbone / Flickr

If it hasn’t already been apparent that Latinos are a big force in the U.S. economy, a new study argues that the group is the future for gross domestic product (GDP) growth. According to the Latino Donor Collective U.S. Latino GDP Report, which was prepared by California Lutheran University, the study says the economic contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly vital moving forward to the economy.

The study says that the GDP among U.S. Latinos made huge leaps within the last decade, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010 to $2.3 trillion in 2017. On a compounded annual basis, that’s the third-highest growth rate among all global economies in that period. GDP among Latinos also grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy during those eight years. This can be mainly attributed to high labor-force participation, large population growth and increasing consumer spending.

The reports highlight the strides and economic growth that Latinos have had in recent years. More importantly, it makes the argument of how vital this population group will be to continue moving the U.S. economy as a whole. “Latinos currently are and will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American economy,” the study says.

It’s no surprise as the Latino population has made an immense impact on the U.S. as a whole in the last decade, whether its through education, socially and now economically.  

Credit: Unsplash

The study, which was released last month in concurrence with the L’Attitude conference in San Diego hosted by The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, argues why these advancements are now finally being seen by Latinos. This generation of Latinos is expected to make some of the biggest contributions in the coming decades due to being well-positioned than previous generations. 

During previous waves, most notably the during the ’50s and ’60s, U.S. Latinos were more likely to be immigrants who worked in low-wage jobs in positions like agriculture and construction, according to David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA and an author of the study. Now, as the population group has settled in and has made social advancements, the Latino workforce is expected to be very different.

As these generational gaps increase, so does the median age of Latinos in the U.S. which is currently 46 years old. While on the other hand, their children’s median age stands at 19. This essentially means that this forthcoming Latino demographic is set to enter a workforce more prepared, whether financially or educationally, than any previous one. That can be attributed to having access to better schools and being native English speakers. Latinos have also made huge leaps in the last decade when it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree as the number increased by 51% from 2010 to 2017, while the non-Latino educated population grew by 21 percent. 

“Given robust population growth, high labor force participation, rising incomes, and strong increases in educational attainment, we expect the significant growth premium enjoyed by U.S. Latinos to be maintained in the years ahead,” said Matthew Fienup, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University and one of the authors of the study. 

One thing is for sure, any success that the U.S. economy is going to have in the near future can be attributed to the advancements of Latinos as well.

Credit: Unsplash

Latinos are contributing economically now more than ever and this growth will only continue as the population does. The Latino population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, which in return has increased the group’s economic role in the country. Between 2008 and 2018, the Latino share of the entire U.S. population grew from 16 percent to 18 percent. Latinos also accounted for about half (52 percent) of all U.S. population growth over this decade. 

With a bigger population group that also means more people at work. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates than Latinos will account for an additional 30 million workers that will enter the U.S. labor force by 2060.  

This is all amounting to even more growth, socially and economically, when it comes to U.S. Latinos. We can only imagine what impact the next generation of Latinos will have on this country and the strides our people will have along the way. 

READ: A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again

As Forever 21 Files For Bankruptcy, Some People Believe The Company Got What They Deserved

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As Forever 21 Files For Bankruptcy, Some People Believe The Company Got What They Deserved

On Sunday, millennial fast-fashion giant Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy, causing a stir among shoppers who have long relied on the store for cheap and fashionable clothing. The move comes at a time when brick-and-mortar retail businesses everywhere are struggling and the bankruptcy is just proof of the shifting ways people shop.

Forever 21 was founded in 1984 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and quickly became the go-to spot young women went to for trendy items at affordable prices. Forever 21 spearheaded the wave of giant “fast fashion” retailers like Zara and H&M. These retailers revolutionized the fashion industry by making apparel that was previously only available to fashion insiders available to middle-class women. The shop was a staple at virtually every suburban mall. 

But with the ubiquity of the internet, young customers no longer went to the mall for a dose of retail therapy–they went online. 

According to Forever 21, the chain will likely be closing 178 stores in the near future and will exit completely from Asian and European markets. Countless articles have been written about the rise of fashion-forward online retailers like ASOS and Fashion Nova and the subsequent decline of brick-and-mortar stores like Forever 21. It’s also worth mentioning that e-commerce giant Amazon has now entered the fray as a viable place for young women to buy clothes online. In other words, the competition is fierce. Forever 21 isn’t the only fast-fashion store that has faced problems in recent years: in 2015, popular retailer Deb shut its doors permanently, followed by Wet Seal in 2017.

While the popular retail chain is beloved by many young women on a budget, not everyone is mourning the loss of these locations. 

Along with the Forever 21’s immense popularity and success has come waves of criticism–much of which has come to a head in recent years. The rise of social media has given a voice and a platform to previously voiceless critics who viewed Forever 21 as a major problem. In recent years, Forever 21 has fought off scandals involving unethical labor practices, problematic and offensive designs, and recently, an incident involving the company giving diet bar samples to plus-size customers. 

Not to mention, Forever 21 part of the major environmental problems that clothing retailers are creating for the planet. Some studies indicate that the apparel industry accounts for over 8% of the “global climate impact” of carbon emissions. That is “greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined”. For many people, Forever 21 was emblematic of face-less soul-less corporations that manipulate unknowing customers for cash and wreak havoc on the ecosystem while they’re doing it. For some people, Forever 21’s bankruptcy feels like just desserts.

Along with other early 2000s-era fashion giants (like Victoria’s Secret), it’s been hard for Forever 21 to keep with the times. 

Many people believe that Forever 21 will have to completely overhaul their approach to marketing if they want to retain old customers while building a new client base. As the tides change, millennial and Gen-Z consumers are no longer want to give money to ethically dubious and environmentally irresponsible organizations. These days, young people prefer the companies they frequent to promote messages they believe in, like sustainability, body-positivity, and inclusivity. In an era when wokeness is a social currency, companies that promote a social agenda–like Third Love and Madewell–have become popular.

As for consumers’ reactions to Forever 21 filing for bankruptcy, Twitter provides a peek into everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

As is expected, the reactions run the spectrum to sadness at their favorite store being closed, to elation at the shuttering of a controversial retailer. With any polarizing landmark in pop culture comes a lot of people ready to voice their opinions.

This woman was sad that her go-to store for cheap staples is going out of business:

Forever 21 practically invented the term “ballin’ on a budget”. Now, it’s going to be harder for lower-income women to dress themselves fashionably in the same manner as before. 

This Twitter user made a decent point about Forever 21’s hit-or-miss clothes:

We’ve all been browsing the racks of Forever 21 and thought to ourselves: who greenlit this design?

This plus-sized Twitter user has mixed feelings about Forever 21’s bankruptcy filing:

It’s true that (for good or bad) Forever 21 has been at the forefront of industry changes–like paying more attention to plus-sized customers, for one. Even if they’ve had some very public missteps.