Rita Moreno And Gina Rodriguez Shared In Mutual Puerto Rican Love And We Should All Aim For This Kind Of Relationship

Two generations of Boricua icons in television just gave the world touching love letters to each other, and our eyes are sweating.

Rita Moreno gave Gina Rodriguez, and every other Latina, exactly enough inspiration, validation and hope to make us sob. Straighten up. They want us to be the women we want to see in the world. Here’s the highlight reel.

Three years ago, Gina Rodriguez introduced Rita Moreno at the Kennedy Center Honors.

CREDIT: The Kennedy Center / YouTube

Gina Rodriguez is the star of “Jane the Virgin,” and Rita Moreno plays her abuelita, on Rogelio de la Vega’s side. In her tribute, she shared the story of meeting Moreno for the first time:

“Ma, when did Puerto Ricans come about?”

“What do you mean, Gina?”

“Well I never see us on my favorite TV shows or movies. We must not have existed back then, right?”

“Rita, this is my love letter to you.” ????

CREDIT: The Kennedy Center / YouTube

“And then she introduced me to you. I met you on screen and I just loved you. Your bright smile, your fierce persona, that fierce persona that just bursts through every performance, every interview. And I just wanted to be just like Rita.”

Three years later, Moreno recorded a love letter back to Rodriguez and unleashed it on all of us.

CREDIT: @knockknockjoan @Netflix / Twitter

She starts her love letter by calling Rodriguez “my little coquí,” which marks the first tear welling up in every boricua. The national animal of Puerto Rico is the coqui frog. which is adorable. ????

“Here is an old fashioned letter from me to you.”

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

But now that she is a role model, she says this,

“Throughout my career, of all the roles I’ve played, there is one which had no director no script, no notes given. There wasn’t even an audition. And as I ponder your letter, Gina, I realized it may have been the most seminal role I ever played.”

The reactions at this point were all tears.

CREDIT: @saviovcruz / Twitter

Just like my own mother, Moreno was born to seamstress in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Since she was born in 1931 (IKR, we age gracefully), she’s become an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony winner) and a Latina icon.

“I am so inspired in this third act of my life by young women like you dear, dear Gina.”

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

“I was merely a frightened Latina girl lost in the maze of Hollywood, operation in survival mode. You know in my day, I had no role models, no coach, no publicity team. The only way I knew to survive was by being true to myself.”

Hearing Moreno commend Rodriguez for being a wise next act for what she started is raising many emotions.

CREDIT: @Aliciano / Twitter

We all cry when our abuelitas tell us sweet things about their lives and how we inspire them. Even after all of the years they have lived and celebrated, somehow, we are an inspiration for them. Perhaps it is because we are their wildest dreams realized.

Moreno is asking Rodriguez to continue telling the stories of Latinos, which must be heard.

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

“Watching you, a Latina, navigate our ‘business’ and with such confidence and grace, you go girl. We Latinos have extraordinary histories and stories that need telling. It is so encouraging it’s no longer a job of the few of us but a passion for so many of us.”

She’s right. The proof is in all the boricuas that came out to ship the passing of the baton.

CREDIT: @arizoniallst @jennbonafide / Twitter

Moreno isn’t just talking to Rodriguez at this point any more. She’s talking to all of us. It’s on all of us to represent Latinos accurately in all the work we do. Whether you’re an accountant, an actress, a teacher or chef: stake your claim on this world. We belong here.

Moreno basically just told us that Rodriguez is the new star Latina in town.

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

“You are young, you are wise, you’re able to see our community and it’s potential. And you have chosen to inspire your generation to do the same.”

In a very Moreno way, she just continues to inspire us all.

CREDIT: @WhizGidget / Twitter

Whether you’re half Latino, a quarter or full blown, todos somos 100 percent Latino y 100 percent American. Moreno has embodied all of us.

She literally also paused to give Rodriguez a thumbs up half way through.

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

Moments after she said, “you go girl.” She cannot be 87 years old. Is there an award that grants immortality, because Rita deserves it.

And then she stated the obvious: Rodriguez is already our role models.

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

“In just a few years my dear, young Latinas will look up at their screens with hope in their eyes and say, “I want to be like Gina Rodriguez.” Come to think of it, I think they already do.”

But hearing it come out of Moreno’s “West Side Story,” beloved abuelita mouth makes it real.

CREDIT: @kurnpineda / Twitter

I think we literally posted the same exact response. Hundreds of Latinos have commented, “estoy llorando.” Probably 80 percent of Puerto Ricans are crying in this moment.

Now we’re wishing Moreno was our fake abuelita…

CREDIT: @netflix / Twitter

In Gina’s love letter, she said,

“You gave me hope, you gave me a reason to fight and to speak up you gave me a voice and how can I thank you? I’m not sure I know how but I can tell you this: when you followed your dreams Rita, you gave me the allowance to follow mine”

In a world that feels like a dumpster fire, this is “the most important and beautiful thing” we could witness today.

CREDIT: @CallmeKarnstein / Twitter

We are so grateful to be alive during a time when there are more Latinos being given opportunities to play someone other than a maid or drug lord in the industry. #MásAbuelitas

We are especially grateful that there’s such a need for abuelas in entertainment right now.

CREDIT: @latinasmoak @HedwigReads / Twitter

The fact that Moreno will forever give abuelitas everywhere their shining spotlight on “One Day at a Time” and “Jane the Virgin,” is life-giving.

Some folks said they would even continue the tradition Rodriguez’s mom started by showing Moreno’s movies to their daughter.

CREDIT: @NY2CO22 @MonaLovesYa / Twitter

And, so I lay a request to the Puerto Rican people: let this be a state-wide tradition. Our daughter grow up knowing Rita Moreno. Just keep rewatching Jane the Virgin, it’s not hard.

What we all agree on: Rita Moreno is #MyPresident ????????

CREDIT: @laempanana @netflix / Twitter

And we are all her First Lady. May you never, ever, leave us, Moreno. May we all achieve our dreams and receive similar love letters from you. Te quiero mucho y bendiciones. ????????

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This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok


This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

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‘Vintage Latinas’ Is Hyping Up WOC Entertainers Often Forgotten By Media


‘Vintage Latinas’ Is Hyping Up WOC Entertainers Often Forgotten By Media

Amid a life-threatening pandemic, political upheaval and a dawning economic crisis, the future can feel frighteningly uncertain. We’ve all been coping in our own ways: from practicing meditation to trying out new recipes to starting creative projects. For me, joy has come in the form of history. Learning about women, particularly Latinas, who entertained audiences on the silver screen or at cabarets, fought for their countries and communities, and created beauty and fashion trends has brought me bliss at a time when I couldn’t even imagine happiness as a possibility. Realizing how healing the stories of our foremothers have been for me, I decided to create Vintage Latinas, an Instagram account dedicated to the Latina and Latin American women and femmes of yesterday.

Through the online community, I post daily photos and videos of women from the 1900s up until the early 2000s. I accompany each image with a lengthy caption that either introduces followers to former stars they’ve never heard of or shares little-known facts and stories about popular icons. Highlighting women and femmes across Latin America, the Spanish Caribbean and the U.S., the page is sprinkled with popular faces like Celia Cruz, Rita Moreno, Frida Kahlo and Bianca Jagger as well as radiant figures who aren’t as celebrated in popular media today like María Montez, Rosa Luna, Maribel Arrieta and Ajita Wilson. My goal is to commemorate the beauty, style, talent, brilliance and power of these women. To do so, I spotlight everyone from actresses, singers, dancers, models and showgirls to artists, designers, beauty queens, party czars, activists and trendsetters. 

It’s not surprising to me that at a time when I have limited control over the unpredictable future I decided to turn my attention to the past. A lover of history, I often find refuge in the narratives of people from yesterday who fought against powerful people, systems and countries to create change for their communities. This was no different. After losing my job in March and being locked up in quarantine for the months that followed, my mental and spiritual health took hard blows. While addressing the issues I was experiencing and developing a wellness routine, I decided to delve into literature about Julia de Burgos, Lolita Lebrón, Blanca Canales, Iris Morales and Denise Oliver-Velez — some of the Puerto Rican nationalists and revolutionaries I hold dear to my heart.

But unlike my experiences in the past, while rereading these works I began imagining the periods in which these women lived — the early- and mid-twentieth century — outside the political and social battles they were fighting.

Immediately, I found myself researching artists and actresses my heroines might have listened to and admired, expanding my interest in these eras beyond struggle and protests.

Soon, guarachas and boleros from artists like Myrta Silva, Carmen Delia Dipini, Lucecita Benitez and Toña la Negra were booming from my speakers more than my favorite reggaetoneros. I was spending my weekends happy that I was forced to stay home because that gave me the chance to search and watch Old Hollywood classics. Obsessed with the makeup and style of the women I was watching, I started repurposing the clothes in my closet to look like outfits inspired by some of my ‘60s and ‘70s fashion inspirations, like Lola Falana, Raquel Welch and Tina Aumont.

I was balancing news of a scary future with the stories and aesthetics of erstwhile powerful Latinas who resisted, lived and loved during similarly turbulent times.

When I started Vintage Latinas a month ago, I simply wanted to create a space where I could honor all the women who were positively influencing my life. For me, it was a hobby, something fun and joyful to do between freelance writing gigs and trying to land a full-time job amid a pandemic. But within days, the page grew into something more. Very quickly, people began following Vintage Latinas, commenting on the posts and sharing the content with their audiences. They even encouraged others to follow the page and called it their favorite account on Instagram. I knew that the dynamic personalities and enduring influence of these sensational women were as healing — or at least as captivating — to others as they were to me. By week one, the page went from a personal hobby to a creative project and online community where people from all over the world are remembering and discovering our Latina and Latin American heroines. 

As I embark on Vintage Latinas’ second month, I have several exciting plans I will begin executing. In addition to my daily posts about historic stars, I’ll be utilizing original and user-generated content to create a browsing experience I hope will excite followers. I’ll be creating activities, like trivia-style quizzes, polls and “Finish the Lyrics” games, featuring vintage images of the everyday matriarchs of the community and conducting interviews through Instagram Live with historians and modern-day Latinas who dress in vintage and pinup, among several other undertakings.

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Puerto Rican singer and politician Ruth Fernández is considered one of the most powerful women and barrier-breakers in Puerto Rican history. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1919, Fernández began singing publicly as a teenager, performing at age 14 on local radio stations for 50 cents a day. Heard by Mingo, a famous bandleader, she was invited to join the group in 1940, becoming the first woman to sing in a Puerto Rican orchestra. Performing in nightclubs, dances and casinos, Fernández became a star on the archipelago. However, celebrity didn't save her from experiencing anti-blackness. In 1944 when her band was contracted to perform at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel for a benefit concert for the American Red Cross, she was told she had to enter the building through the kitchen door because of the color of her skin. But on the day of the show, Fernández ignored the racist protocol and entered through the main entrance. When asked years later about that night, she responded: "Me llamaron negra. ¿Negra? ¿Y qué?" From then on, she began referring to herself as "La Negra de Ponce." In 1972, Fernández was elected to Puerto Rico's Senate, representing the district of Ponce as a member of the Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico until 1980. As a legislator, she sought reforms and better working conditions for artists and also considered the needs of Puerto Ricans living in the contiguous U.S. In her honor, a tenement in the Bronx — the Ruth Fernández Apartments — is named after her. Fernández has received awards from several countries in Latin America, while many cities in the U.S. — including Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles — have official "Ruth Fernández Days." She passed away in 2012 of a septic shock and pneumonia at the age of 92. Here she performs "Soy la que soy" in the 1960s. #ruthfernandez #puertorican #1960s #latinasdeayer #vintagelatina #vintage #vintagestyle #vintagefashion #vintagebeauty #retrostyle #blackbeauty #blackvintage

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The stories of our foremothers, who thrived or continued luchando despite racist systems, colonialism and state-instituted violence, are inspiring and must be preserved. Through Vintage Latinas, I aim to ensure their vibrant lives and contributions to culture and social justice aren’t forgotten. Instead, I want our barrier-breaking predecessors to be celebrated, and I hope you’ll join me in this digital rave that is equal parts history, culture, glam and community. 

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