Running in sandals is probably not the ideal shoe to protect your feet and joints, but when it’s all you know it’s actually perfectly fine. In 2017, we were stunned to hear about an indigenous runner who competed in a marathon in Mexico and won the race. Now we’re seeing another woman running for a cause similarly in Los Angeles and showing off her indigenous clothing and spirit in the urban environment.
María del Carmen Tun Cho, a 46-year-old mother of six, ran the Los Angeles Marathon in traditional Mayan clothing and shoes.
Cho speaks the indigenous language of Q’eqchi and is from Guatemala —this was her second marathon. Cho had said she didn’t care to place in the race. Her primary goal was to represent her community, run for equality, and to show women’s capability.
“When I came to Los Angeles I had planned to run 21 kilometers, but, being here, I thought I had to do all the competition and show that women can. I thought I have to do the 42 kilometers, I have to make you want, to show that women are not worthless just because they wear the typical dress, I wanted to make it clear that women are worthy, ” Cho said in an interview with Prensa Libre.
Among 20,000 runners, she placed 6,919 overall, and 1,905 in the women’s division.
She clocked in at 4:47:22. Amazingly, Cho told NBC News that her training isn’t’ all that complicated.
“What I eat is nothing more than beans, tomatoes, chili,” she told NBC.
Cho’s trip to the L.A. Marathon was hosted by Los Angeles activists including Teofilo Barrientos, who wanted to get her message out to the masses.
“We want to make clear that María del Carmen Tun Cho was not looking for time or record, but to leave a message to the women of the world, that society opens their eyes to the indigenous woman, who also have the right to breathe a useful life,” Barrientos told Prensa Libre.
Here’s more on her incredible story, and the moment she crossed the finished line.
Way to go, Cho. Your success at the marathon is something we should all be celebrating. Thank you for pushing the boundaries of what people think women are capable of to show them that they are wrong about women and their capabilities.
Netflix’s show “Gentefied” is finally out and we all get to see the love story written to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The show is complete with discussions of the complexities of gentrification, bilingual jokes, and a cast that is the embodiment of #RepresentationMatters.
The show centers around the Morales family’s taco shop made up of patriarch “Pop” (played by Joaquín Cosío) and his grandchildren Erik (played by JJ Soria), Ana (played by Karrie Martin) and Chris (played by Carlos Santos). It is set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, an area with a population makeup of 94 percent Latinos, a median age under 25, and where the average income is under $34,000, according to a Los Angeles Times profile.
In “Gentefied,” the Morales family is trying to save their weathering taco shop Mama Fina’s Tacos from being eaten up by the interests of corporate real estate developers and Westside yuppies. In order to keep Pop from closing the doors, Erik, Ana, and Chris try their hand at making fusion tacos or encouraging the children of patrons to read more books in exchange for free tacos.
Ana’s strong activist girlfriend Yessika (played by Julissa Calderon), and Erik’s baby mama and first love professor and podcast host Lidia (played by Annie Gonzalez) make up the rest of the circle.
The type of support Lidia gives to Erik is a kind of #BrownLove we are all here for. We are also excited to see queer Afro-Latinas represented in a show about the importance of embracing everyone’s Latinidad.
Calderon and Gonzalez are just as impassioned off-screen as their characters are on-screen when it comes to issues affecting Latinos.
“Gentefied”encourages its viewers to love who you want, no matter what las chismosas de la vecindad say.
Mitú recently chatted with Calderon and Gonzalez at the Netflix Los Angeles office to talk more about how gentrification has affected them personally and what messages do they want to extend to audiences members as characters Yessika and Lidia.
“I think that’s what this show is doing, it’s just creating space for a group of people who never felt seen or heard, and we are so honored and humbled to be part of a project like this,” Gonzalez said about what Gentefied means to her.
The show’s characters portray the push and pull that gentrification can cause.
Oftentimes it is at the expense of minorities who are already struggling to pay rental prices. We have seen this happen in communities across the nation with Boyle Heights currently in that fight.
“Gentrification, it affects the minorities. Even though you look at statistics, and we are the majority as far as population is concerned (we make up a large population), we’re still the minority when it comes to politics, and anybody else that has the say on how things are ran.
I’m born and raised in East LA, so I’ve seen first hand how gentrification has affected the people in my community, my family members,” Gonzalez said.
The writers of “Gentefied” are able to have such a high level of authenticity because its cast and crew have lived these changes themselves.
Gonzalez said her own grandmother had to move east to Ontario, Calif., to find affordable housing. Calderon said the Carol City area of greater Miami she knew growing up has completely transformed with different developments, pushing out flea market shop owners and going as far as to re-brand itself as Miami Gardens (now home to the Hard Rock Stadium.)
“And yes, this story is in East LA, but this is resonating with so many different neighborhoods all around the country,” Calderon added.
Calderon then shared a story of her grandmother’s Washington Heights neighborhood in New York which is now crawling with hipsters, a change she was taken a bit aback by.
“Before, no one would even walk in those neighborhoods, so it’s definitely interesting to see the turn of events, and unfortunately it’s affecting people of color—always,” Calderon stated.
Although these gentrification changes are affecting people of color disproportionately, the show portrays a sense of hope and proactiveness by its characters to not only save the cultural roots of their neighborhood but to also help open the minds of the older generation who are grappling with their sense of a changing world.
Calderon’s Yessika character proudly displays her Afro-Latinidad and lesbian love affair to the world while fighting back.
Yessika shows #BlackGirlMagic is sparkling in the streets of Boyle Heights.
“I think my character has two messages—one is that she is a Black girl who speaks Spanish and she is proud of it. She owns the skin she’s in. She owns this curly ‘fro that she has. She knows where she comes from,” Calderon exclaimed. She continued, “my character is just not a sell-out. She stands for what she believes in and she doesn’t care if she’s going against everyone else. She’s aware of what’s at stake and she’s aware of what’s important, and she’s for the people.”
Calderon has embraced her full Afro-Latindad through Yessika and is ready to see the impact that representation will have for the next generation.
“I just want these little girls in these neighborhoods to be like, ‘OMG! That’s me!’ I can see that, because I don’t recall seeing that as a child on TV. The novelas we used to see, everybody was very white-washed, blue eyes, blonde hair—that was the go-to market. We’re changing that sh*t.”
Gonzalez wants her character to convey a clear message of empowerment while attaining your wildest dreams.
Lidia proves you can do it all (and do it in your style of hoop earrings and turban headband!)
“Lidia, she’s strong, confident, educated, born and raised in the ‘hood, [who] doesn’t need to code-switch to convey her intelligence. She’s empowering the Latinidad to get an education, but not to abandon their roots, thinking that her community is worth pouring into,” Gonzalez had to say about her character.
Gonzalez added the show’s characters can resonate with audiences because each person knows someone like these characters. She said the example of the love story between Erik and Lidia, in which they each allowed each other to be equally sensitive and powerful, allowed her to find healing within herself.
“I found so much healing through Erik and Lidia’s story via my parent’s severed relationship. I felt I was able to make the ending they weren’t able to have,” Gonzalez shared in the interview.
The show’s creators, Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus knew that these types of stories would resonate because it’s their stories.
It’s a side of America that is finally being shown but was always there.
The cast and storylines of “Gentefied” prove that the Greater Los Angeles area (and all neighborhoods in general) need to learn that pockets of working-class neighborhoods ARE worth pouring into and exploring—because the small businesses, the parks, the art, the people—they all have value. Having a supermercado instead of a Whole Foods grocery store does not make the history or culture of a city any less important.
Award-winning Guatemalan film ‘José’ is about to make its US theatrical premiere in L.A. and New York. But thanks to US travel restrictions, its leading actor Enrique Salenic won’t be allowed to enter the country for the film’s release.
The Guatemalan actor is the star of the award-winning film “José”
“José,” directed by Chinese-born American filmmaker Li Cheng, won multiple awards internationally during the international film festival season in 2018-2019, including the prestigious Queer Lion award at the 75th Venice Film Festival.
Guatemalan actor Enrique Salanic has been blocked from entering the United States ahead of the U.S. premiere of the film in which he is the star.
The fast-rising, U.S.-educated actor earned strong reviews for his lead performance in the Venice 2018 premiere as an impoverished 19-year-old gay man who lives with his mother and falls in love for the first time.
Made in a neorealist cinematic tradition, the film is described in a press release as “a nuanced and vivid look at being gay in Central America.”
‘José’ follows the eponymous character of the film, a closeted 19-year-old who lives an impoverished life with his mother, a street vendor, in Guatemala City. Guatemala, and most of Latin America for that matter, is a place dominated by conservative Catholic and Evangelical Christian religious values. When he meets an attractive migrant from the Caribbean coast, he finds himself falling in love for the first time; the relationship pushes him to rethink his repressed life, and before long he is contemplating a drastic change that will require a leap of faith he is still reluctant to take.
The film premiered in New York on Jan. 31.
And it’s premiered in Los Angeles one week later. Salanic has traveled widely in support of “José,” attending the Lido and festivals in Spain and Panama but the U.S. appears to be a step too far.
The U.S. embassy rejected his visa application twice.
Efforts to bring Salanic to the U.S. have proved fruitless after the U.S. embassy in the Central American country rejected his non-immigrant visa applications. The embassy argued Salanic, who lives with his parents in Guatemala, could be a flight risk were he to enter the U.S. as he does not have a residence in Guatemala.
The premiere should have been a celebratory occasion for the film’s star.
The young newcomer named Enrique Salanic, should be celebrating the great success of his debut appearance. But instead it has become a senseless bureaucratic nightmare, the latest demonstration on the world stage of the current draconian stance on immigration and travel.
The actor’s first application was denied in November.
Salanic’s first visa application was made in November according to Paul Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, Los Angeles-based Outsider Pictures; the embassy rejected it, arguing that Salanic could be a flight risk if he were to enter the US.
Hudson then sought the aid of Congressman Ted Lieu.
Congressman Lieu, wrote a personal letter on behalf of the young actor which was submitted with a second application. That request was also denied, with no apparent consideration of the congressman’s letter. According to Screen Daily, a copy of the embassy’s original rejection letter states that a requirement of a successful visa application is a residence in a foreign country which the applicant “has no intention of abandoning,” before going on to write, “You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”
Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, had something to say.
“Denying Enrique Salanic his entry visa to promote his work in a film produced, financed and distributed by American citizens and companies represents just one way in which the current administration’s immigration rules impact U.S. businesses, and it perpetuates the negative impression the world has of America. Denying entry to a man who has already successfully studied in the U.S. just because he is from Guatemala is unjust and cruel,” Outsider Pictures’ Paul Hudson told The Wrap.
Robert Rosenberg of Outsider Pictures also had an issue with the rejection of Salanic’s entry visa.
“It broke my heart that such a talented young actor like Enrique, who is the star of our movie, is being thwarted in pursuing his career by our own government in the U.S.,” Rosenberg told The Wrap. “Our policies should encourage this kind of ambition and success, not trap Central Americans in their countries, as if they were less than human.”
In a statement on the creation of the film, director Li Cheng discussed the movie’s cultural relevance.
“‘José’ is really a page ripped from today’s news headlines,” he said. “The crises of young people, single mothers and dark-skinned peoples in Guatemala frames the film’s story. Guatemala has become an increasingly violent and dangerous place, where more than half the people live in poverty. Indeed most of the children separated from their parents and locked in dog-like cages in Texas (shocking people around the world) are Guatemalan, not Mexican, as is often claimed.”