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A Man At A Literary Convention Admitted To Assuming He Thought An Award-Winning Mexican Author Was ‘Waitstaff’

Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Usfor which she received several accolades but earlier this week she opened up about the racism she recently faced at a literary gala. She was in awe of the company she was in among the author lineup that included famed writers Barbara Kingsolver, Joyce Carol Oates, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which left her feeling grateful to be invited. While taking in the grandeur of her surroundings, she touched her name tag as a reminder that she belonged there but then she was reminded why she felt so out of place to begin with. 

“As I made my way into the crowd, a white man stopped me. ‘Excuse me, where are the restrooms?’ he asked. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. He looked confused. Then he noticed my name tag — just like the one he wore — and apologized. ‘I’m sorry, I thought you were…’ His voice trailed off. He had assumed I was one of the waitstaff,” she wrote in an op-ed on The Lily

She shared how upon entering the author gala held at the Library of Congress earlier this year, she felt “inadequate” but it was that encounter that only reinforced that feeling of being Other.

“I’m an author, too, I wanted to say. I belong here, too, but there was still a part of me that wondered if I did,” she wrote. 

She opens up about the Impostor Syndrome that still plagues her despite her success, a feeling she says many Latinx can relate to because of the current political climate. 

Trump’s strict immigration policies targeting undocumented immigrants is only one example of how his presidency has affected the Latinx community but for Grande it’s personal. 

In her memoir, she wrote about her life before and after she arrived in the United States from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant. 

She was born  in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico and when she was two years old her father left for the U.S. to find work and two years later her mother left to join him. She and her siblings stayed with their grandmother until 1985, when Grande was nine and she made the trek up north to “el otro lado” as she calls it in the book. In the 2018 followup  A Dream Called Homeshe shares the experience of becoming the first in her family to go to university and what that meant for her. 

She recalls her father insisting that a higher education “was the only way to succeed in this country” but even now, as a successful writer she finds that success isn’t enough. 

Grande has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award among others but for some like the white man she encountered at the gala, she was a person of color and that meant she was more likely to be working the event than attending it. 

Overall, the publishing industry is 79 percent white and the editorial department of publishing houses are 82 percent are white while Latinx only make up 6 percent of the industry overall. 

Grande recalls searching the crowd for someone who might be Latinx yet of the 144 authors.

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Aquí con la fabulosa Julia Alvarez!

A post shared by Reyna Grande (@writerreynagrande) on

She counted about 13 Latinxs in the festival lineup — including accomplished writers Julia Alvarez and Valeria Luiselli. This lack of representation is common among all industries —  a recent study found only 3 percent of movies featured Latinx actors in lead roles from 2007 through 2018 in the 100 top-grossing films. 

The study also found that 28 percent of the top-billed Latinx actors participated in illegal activities in violent and non-violent crimes while only 4 percent of jobs held by Latinx characters were in STEM careers.

The stereotype of Latinx as criminals, uneducated, and poor in Hollywood only perpetuates that idea in the real world and as Latinx now has to defend themselves when the president condones these stereotypes, it only reinforces how representation is crucial to making progress. 

Julián Castro is currently the only Latinx presidential nominee, U.S. Representative AOC continues to call out injustices, and Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latinx Supreme Court justice — but that’s not enough. 

There are 59 million Latinx in the U.S. making up 18 percent of the population and 11 states currently have more than a million Latinx residents. However, there are only 36 Latinxs in the House and four in the Senate indicating that before progress can be made,  there needs to be more diversity among those in power that better represents the U.S. population. 

When Latin American foods and fashion are consumed by people of all races but the cultures behind them aren’t recognized or respected, it means situations like Grande’s aren’t isolated. 

But Grande’s experience ended on a somewhat uplifting note when she realized the dinner at the gala that night was tacos, which originated in her homeland. “As I watched the tacos being enjoyed by all the distinguished guests — all of us under the fancy ceiling of the library — I realized that if tacos belong at the Library of Congress, so do I,” she wrote.   

Forget Hawking and Einstein — This Little Latina Has Their Genius IQs Beat

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Forget Hawking and Einstein — This Little Latina Has Their Genius IQs Beat

@PuenteLibre / Twitter

The Latinidad has been blessed with it’s fair share of geniuses. Carlos Juan Finlay, the Cuban physician who first linked yellow fever to mosquitoes, used his brains to save countless lives in the developing world. For American engineer Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina female astronaut, her genius took her all the way to the stars. Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century, used her genius with a paintbrush to create art that still resonates with viewers today. However, all of these people were definitely already adults when they were recognized for their gifts. The newest member to join their genius ranks is considerablly much younger.

Though she is just 8 years-old, Adhara Pérez already boasts a genius level I.Q. in the triple digits.

Twitter / @adn40

A native of Mexico City, Adhara has a measured I.Q. of 162. To put this into perspective, two of the worlds most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein and Stephan Hawking, each had an estimated I.Q. of 160. According to the “Yucatan Times,” the gifted Latina has already finished school, having passed elementary at 5 years-old and completing middle and high school by the age of 8. Adhara is now in the process of earning two degrees online, in industrial engineering in mathematics and in systems engineering respectively. She’s hoping to one day become an astronaut and colonize Mars.

Besides sailing through grade school in a quarter of the time it usually takes, the child prodigy has been busy with other projects. She has already written her first book, called “Don’t Give Up,” that tells her story of growing up as a girl genius. She has also appeared on several television talk shows and participated in different academic presentations involving space.

While her I.Q. is being celebrated now, it wasn’t recognized by her teachers and fellow students at first.

Twitter / @NMinutosMx

When Adhara was 3 years-old, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that falls on the autism spectrum. One of the defining symptoms of the developmental disorder is difficulties with social interactions and relating to other people. It was around this time that Adhara was experiencing bullying from her classmates. According to the “Yucatan Times” the other students at school called the little genius names like “oddball” and “weirdo.”

Nallely Sanchez, Adhara’s mother, recalled seeing first hand the cruel treatment the other kids inflicted on her daughter.

“I saw that Adhara was playing in a little house and they locked her up. And they started to chant: ‘Oddball, weirdo!’ And then they started hitting the little house,” she told the “Yucatan Times.” “So I said, ‘I don’t want her to suffer.'”

At that tender age, the teasing already proved to have a horrible impact on young Adhara’s mental health.

Twitter / @marisolglzz

According to her interview with the “Yucatan Times,” Sanchez says that her daughter began to experience a “very deep depression” and no longer wanted to go to school. Adhara’s teachers told her mother that the unhappy student began sleeping in class and put no effort or interest into her classwork. This was obviously not for lack of understanding the work.

Sanchez knew that her daughter already had mastery over algebraic knowledge and the periodic table so she was sure that the problem Adhara was having wasn’t an academic one. She decided to seek a therapist for her daughter in hopes of helping her. A psychiatrist they visited recommended that the mother and daughter go to a local education assistance center for further testing. That’s when her genius I.Q. was identified and she began her quick transition through school.

While she was once bullied for being different, her extraordinary genius has gained her notoriety from fans all over the world.

Twitter / @aideefrescas

This year, Adhara was named one of “Forbes” Magazine’s 100 Mujeres Poderosas de México. She shares this honor with some majorly talented and powerful women such as Irene Espinosa (Deputy Governer of the Bank of Mexico), Alejandra Frausto (Secretary of Culture) and Yalitza Aparicio (the breakout star of “Roma.”)

Twitter has been sure to shower the little genius with lots of praise as well. Some Twitter users expressed that Adhara’s parents must be very proud of of their daughter while others pointed out that this is exactly the reason why we shouldn’t bully people who think and act differently than us.

For now, the future appears bright for this little genius. According to “Vogue México,” Adhara is currently developing a smart bracelet for children with developmental conditions that will monitor their emotions to anticipate and prevent issues. She is currently studying English in perpetration for entrance exams in the United States. The Latina hopes to one day attend University of Arizona to study astrophysics.