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A Dominicana Launched The First Natural Hair Only Salon In Her Country And Now She’s Bringing It To NYC

@miss_rizos \ Instagram

For Black and Afro-Latina women with tightly curled hair, discrimination is not unusual. For example, the military just barely approved natural hairstyles for their Black female service members back in 2017. Before that, they were only allowed to choose from a hand-full of processed hairstyles. The reason for this was that the organization argued that natural hair was “unprofessional” and did not have a place in the military.

Additionally, it’s still legal in 49 states to discriminate against people based on their natural hair. California only just banned that discriminatory policy back in early July 2019. In the rest of the states, people can be dismissed because of their hair based on dress code regulations.

Obviously, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done in order to stomp out prejudice against Black hair textures and this Dominicana is leading the charge.

Twitter / @janelmwrites

Carolina Contreras — known as Miss Rizos — has made her career providing hair care for Black and Afro-Latina women. Born in the Dominican Republic, Contreras’ start in the hair business began back in 2011 with her blog, “Miss Rizos.” The blog features posts in both English and Spanish about natural hair care and was inspired by the entrepreneur’s own journey towards natural styling.

The popularity of her blog led Contreras to launch a fundraiser that raised more than $10,000. She took those funds along with additional donations and her own savings and invested them into a huge project. In 2014, the entrepreneur opened her first all-natural hair salon in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. While she only began with two employees, the shop — Miss Rizos Salon — now claims twenty employees and sees more than 500 clients each month.

“Once girls leave the salon you can see them skipping,” Contreras explained to BUSTLE. “They’re standing a little taller, they’re swaying their hair side to side … seeing them own their hair and own their power as they’re walking out, and stepping out, it’s just a very beautiful sight to see.”

However, not everyone has embraced natural hair as much as Contreras and her clients have.

Twitter / @RRebeldeBeauty

Racism and colorism are prevalent around the world — even in Contreras’ own Dominican Republic. The country has the largest Black population outside of the African continent and yet, the anti-Black sentiment is seen in several places in DR society. In everything from beauty standards to social approval, Black attributes are looked down on as being undesirable.

In response to this discrimination, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education released a video to promote positive feelings towards diversity back in March of 2019. In the PSA, different hair textures and skin colors are represented in a scholastic environment. This video is a direct reaction to an incident concerning a DR student named Omara Mia Bell Marte. The child was denied access to her classes after she chopped her hair down to promote her natural hair growth. The refusal to allow the 11-year-old access to class based on her curls is nothing short of racist.

Even Contreras has experienced this kind of racism first hand. She shared with BUSTLE that she herself has been turned away from bars and clubs because of her own curly hair.

Still, the entrepreneur plans to continue her fight against this discrimination. To do so, she’s taking her successful business state-side and opening up an all-natural hair salon in New York City.

Twitter / @mmcavanaugh

Much like before, the new shop is opening thanks to Contreras’ savings and a fundraiser. The donation drive earned over $29,000 before it was closed — almost three times as much as her Santo Domingo shop raised. The new Washington Heights shop is set to open sometime in 2020 and will offer a wide array of services for Contreras’ clients.

Besides offering hair care, the entrepreneur wants to give her clients information.

Contreras personalized customer service is especially impressive because she teaches her clientele how to care for their hair and use different products and methods to get different effects. She also works to build a community around natural hair care so that those who visit her shop have support. She wants all women to know they can look good and feel good with their natural hair.

“A lot of people want to look externally for ways to change the world,” Contreras explained to BUSTLE. “Often times the answer to how we can change the world is how we’re living in the world, and what we are doing with our own time and resources, and our existence in the world and our power. When we’re doing what we love and we’re walking in our truth, and we’re living life in a very purposeful way, we can inspire other people. We can change things. I think that has been my secret formula.”

Here’s to hoping that her new NYC shop leads to more salons all over the country. The world can use more of Miss Rizos’s kind of care.

 
 

Here’s The Story Of One Undocumented Family Torn Apart During The Devastating Attack On 9/11

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Here’s The Story Of One Undocumented Family Torn Apart During The Devastating Attack On 9/11

Robert Giroux / Robert Giroux

Luis Alfonso Chimbo and Ana Soria had come a long way since they met as children in Cuenca, Ecuador. They were married, living in Brooklyn with their son, and 34-year-old Chimbo was working for the Windows of the World restaurant–the very top floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Chimbo had been promoted to a management position in the receiving department that takes inventory and stocks supplies. They were living the American dream as undocumented immigrants in New York City. In August, Ana Soria suffered a miscarriage. He took nearly a month off to be with her and care for the family. 

He was due to return to work on September 11, 2001. 

The morning of 9/11, Chimbo got up at 5 a.m. and left for work.

Credit: “Luis Alfonso Chimbo at the Windows on the World restaurant in New York, circa 2000.” Digital Image. Time Magazine. 10 September 2019.

The night before, he set his clothes out for his first day back and prepared a bag. He was always prepared. Chimbo would usually kiss Soria as he got out of bed. That morning, he didn’t. Soria went to their window and said, “Goodbye, my love” as he drove away.

Hours later, while working at the restaurant, Chimbo was trapped on the top floor of the North Tower after a plane was flown into the tower.

The Windows of the World staff included immigrants from over 24 countries.

Credit: @JuedischeOnline / Twitter

The 9/11 attack killed 170 people in Windows alone. Chimbo was one of 73 employees who perished. Arguably, those employees were some of the least-paid victims of the attack, which presented a moral challenge for Special Master Kenneth Feinberg, who had to allocate the $7 billion in the Victims Compensation Fund. Five thousand five hundred and sixty people applied as injured or dependents of the deceased. Feinberg’s initial formula was based on “economic loss”–meaning families of stockbrokers would receive more money than Chimbo’s family. The formula also rested on the presumption that lower-income workers would remain in their earning class for the rest of their lives–the antithesis of “The American Dream.”

Stories like Chimbo’s made a “tremendous impact” on Feinberg’s new formula. 

Credit: @ayemojubar / Twitter

In fact, the owner of Windows of the World and the executive chef Michael Lomonaco testified to Feinberg on behalf of lower-paid employees with a high potential for further promotions. In the case of Chimbo, they gave Feinberg evidence that he started out as a stock boy and grew to become a manager in the receiving department. “The structure of the restaurant reflected the American Dream, which I don’t use as a cliché but as an actual possibility,” Debra Steinberg told Tom Roston, the author of “The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World.” 

Steinberg represented Soria along with thirty-seven other Windows of the World workers. “When you drill down into the stories of the immigrants who worked at Windows on the World, most of them said that it was the dream job. They walked with pride in their step. It was an astonishing place.” Feinberg told Roston that he used “discretion to bring up the lower end worker and reduce the stockbrokers and hedge fund managers,” granting higher payments to lower-paid victims of the attack.

A dozen of the Windows workers were undocumented.

Credit: @jonthompsonDC / Twitter

Feinberg looked to the congressional statute that allocated the funds and said it became clear. Documentation or nationality was not a factor into who becomes a legal victim and who does not in the eyes of the United States. The fund was for all victims of the attacks. 

As an undocumented person, Soria was terrified to ask for help in the days after the attack.

Credit: @Sept11Memorial / Twitter

“I was scared,” she says in Roston’s book. “[And] I was thinking that maybe I did not deserve it because this was not my country.” Finally, it was her son that prompted her to recall that at least he is deserving of medical care. Amidst the terror, her son needed asthma medication, so Soria went to Manhattan. Still, she doesn’t remember much about that day but remembers the help of fellow Americans to ensure her family got what they needed.

Would undocumented immigrants be met with the same courtesy today?

In the decades that have since passed, Soria has become a chef.

Credit: Luis Eduardo Chimbo

She was taking culinary lessons at the time of the series of tragic life events –the miscarriage, the terrorist attack, the loss of her husband. Six years after 9/11, she returned to culinary school. Fifteen years after 9/11 tore her family apart, she received a green card. Her son has become a photographer and captured the above image of his mother.

She goes to the North reflecting pool every year on 9/11. Last year, she went on his birthday and left a flower and a birthday card which read: “To the love of my life, happy birthday to you. Surprise, you didn’t know I was coming.” 

READ: Three Years After Cancer Diagnoses, Luis Alvarez, A 9/11 First Responder, Dies At 53

Yalitza Aparicio’s Appearance Alongside Hollywood Veterans In Rodarte’s Spring 2020 Lookbook Proves She’s Still Rising

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Yalitza Aparicio’s Appearance Alongside Hollywood Veterans In Rodarte’s Spring 2020 Lookbook Proves She’s Still Rising

Back in February of this year, “Roma” actress Yalitza Aparicio dominated fashion headlines after her appearance on the red carpet of the Oscars. The actress made her first appearance at the 91st Academy Awards as a Best Actress nominee for her breakout role as Cleo a maid of Mixteco heritage working for a family in Mexico City during the early 1970s. Aparicio had already had a big night, not only had she nailed a coveted nominee slot, she’d done so for her first role ever in a movie. And while awe over her talent was much talked about, it was the mint-green and silver metallic tulle gown she wore by Rodarte that caught so much attention.

The fashion brand has long been an established designer on red carpets but there’s no denying the actress has helped raise interest in its designers. The red carpet match of the designers and the actress proved not only to be a success at the Oscars, but it also proved worthy of a lasting partnership.

For the fashion brand’s latest lookbook, Aparicio was selected as a model.

The rising star wowed in the brand’s dreamy fashion shoot.

Aparicio appeared in the Spring lookbook in a polka-dot belted black and white dress and a pair of sheer gloves studded with pearls which also speckle her hair. She modeled the dress in a magazine that featured Hollywood veterans such as Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst.

Aparicio appeared in simple colors and extravagant gowns.

For her other appearance, the actress could be seen wearing a black and white plaid dress that featured a ruffle color and puff sleeves.

Of course, it didn’t take long for reactions to Aparcio’s appearance to set fire online.

Fans of the actress were quick to call her a “reina” and other celebrities including “Mad Men” actor January Jones, who also appeared in the shoot, commented “Love. ❤️”

Aparicio’s feature is another reminder, that the indigenous actress has her heels dug into Hollywood and the fashion industry and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Back in January of this year, Vogue México honored the actress with a feature and photoshoot that served as an ode to her culture and home state of Oaxaca. Not only was she featured on the magazine’s cover, but she was also thrown a party at the Patio del Huaje en el Jardín Etnobotanico in Oaxaca.

While the finicky nature of Hollywood and its attention to actresses of color has a strong pattern, Yalitza’s star does not seem to be dwindling. In fact, her appearance in the lookbook nearly seven months after her appearance at the Oscars, and without any announcements of new roles, proves she must have a lot coming up for herself.