Fierce

Nature Chola Is Making Space For Indigenous People In The Great Outdoors

naturechola / Instagram

From a casual hike on public lands to expert alpine mountaineering, access to people of color, both in real life and in media, is limited. It wasn’t even until the 2014 film adaptation of Wild created a surge in female participation in outdoor adventuring. According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2018 report, almost three-quarters of outdoor recreation participants are white.

While enjoying the great outdoors has increased by 1 percent in the last five years among Latinos, @NatureChola wants to get more of us out there and is increasing visibility on Instagram.

Meet @NatureChola, a.k.a. Karen Ramos.

@naturechola / Instagram

She’s an Oaxaqueña ÑuuSavi/Scu-iia indigenous woman. She’s a 26-year-old full-time student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University and with a full-time job in architecture. She owns a non-profit to help young children of color experience the outdoors. She is a jefa.

Ramos is here to shed light on environmental inequality and melanize the outdoors.

@naturechola / Instagram

If you’re interested in seeing yourself in nature, be sure to follow tags like #melaninbasecamp #diversifyoutdoors #fakevanlife and #getoutstayout. So often, it takes just seeing someone like you do the dang thing to make it feel like a possibility. Go wild, friend.

She currently has 12.6k followers on Instagram, her main platform.

@naturechola / Instagram

She’s going strong. Why? Because you won’t find a photo of Ramos smiling without a caption sharing the moments spent crying in the bathroom for being an indigenous woman in a white-dominated industry. All followed up with empowering words like this: “Your mom did not wake up at 4 a.m., pick strawberries all day, feed a family on less than minimum wage paycheck for you to feel small. YOU awake their insecurities with your simple presence. YOU are powerful.”

“We need to open dialogue about moments like these. The micro-aggressive biases that reveal themselves in the slyest of ways. Dear white woman I am not trying to take your power away, I am not here to dethrone you. I am carrying the hopes of my people so that one day they too can have the opportunities of yours.”

She’s using her platform to shine a light on the far too white industry.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “What does it mean to be a POC small influencer among a sea of white well paid platforms? There has been a debate lately.. and … for a lack of better words it’s been said that diversity is trending (in reality though that dismisses a lot of the work others have done in the space before).But does that mean it loses it authenticity? Do POC who pick up brand sponsors or sign deals with companies compromise their message?”

“I don’t think either are fully true. I don’t think you can be completely unbiased when it is a company that is paying your rent. Just like I don’t think your message is completely changed.”

“What I do know is..
If Instagram (or any social media) was to disappear tomorrow.. MY WORK WOULD STILL MATTER. MY IMPACT WOULD STILL BE FELT AND I WOULD CONTINUE TO DO DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) advocacy even without social media. I do it now. This message is not a trend I follow— it is my outdoor narrative. It has been said and I’ll keep saying it.. I don’t get to stop being brown or an indigenous woman once the DEI trend is over.”

Like most of us, Ramos didn’t always claim her identity and the experiences that come with it.

@naturechola / Instagram

According to her own third-person self-description, “At one point a self-proclaimed non-activist, non-radical, white-washed, ‘normal’ person, who didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, offend anyone, or stir the pot….”

“However coming face to face with a community who mirrored and reflected her insecurities and trauma of discrimination as she herself experienced when she was younger, she found the courage with a ton of support from friends to start a non-profit serving the migrant indigenous populations of the Central Coast.”

Get Out, Stay Out / Vamos Afuera is aiming to increase diversity in the outdoor industry by creating memories for young indigenous kids.

@naturechola / Instagram

There’s so much outdoor access to white Americans, but often plain logistics of travel, cost of equipment, and time off for parents get in the way for POC. Thee Nature Chola takes kids out to help clean up beaches, take kiddos swimming in Big Sur and even to local rock climbing gyms. She’s a shero.

Sometimes, her captions are the poetry we need to be convinced that time outdoors matters. We matter.

@naturechola / Instagram

“Deep breath. 
Float.
Deep breath. 
Float.
Deep breath…. “Karen, Karen,
Ya 15 minutos más y nos vamos.”
I hear my mom’s muffled voice.
I let the water drown out her sound and pretend I can’t hear her.
My eyes squint open, 
a clouded frame from water drops clinging onto my eyelashes.

The blue sky, 
the bright sun and 
my mom’s beautiful brown face.

Little rainbow are forming
as she blocks the sun.
My moms gentle fingers on my back keeping me afloat.
The current rocking me softly.

If love could ever hug you, it would feel like this.

Before the fancy water shoes, the ultra lightweight quick-dry gear, the bathing suits, the over excess of it all. 
Before I knew of all the politics and sacrifices she made to get me here.
Just me, my mom, and the river.
This was my safe space. 
This is where I wanted to stay forever.”

Why “Nature Chola”?

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “I remember vividly, sitting around the campfire when @goulding_jr (later to become one of my closest friends) asked why my Instagram handle was NatureChola.”

“Being put on the spot was not something I was used to nor was I prepared to answer the question. I stumbled through my answer and was thankful it was dark so none could see my embarrassed face.”

“See at the time I had not yet grown into my new Instagram handle. I had changed my Instagram handle on a whim when curiously one day I checked Instagram and there were no other ‘cholas’ in nature.”

The hashtag #naturechola #climbingchola #outdoorchola had never been used before.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “And to tell you the truth I didn’t know if I was the most appropriate person to take it.”

“But ultimately I’m so glad I did.”

“I took it because it challenged my own comfort of what an acceptable outdoor narrative was. It was a reclamation of the word and the negative stigma it has historically carried. It was a way to say eff🖕🏾 the outdoors-person box that has been created. But mainly a ‘chola’ who loves ‘nature,’ is a paradox to most people. It carried the same confused looks and explained my own story with the outdoors in two simple words.”

“As the months passed every time someone asked me for my Instagram handle I felt a tiny bit bolder each time.”

Communities of color often don’t live close to public lands, and often have to drive further to get there.

@naturechola / Instagram

That means they need more resources like gas, time off and energy to get out there. Once you do get on the trail, it’s Patagonia puffies and Osprey packs everywhere you go. Nature Chola is here to validate your Costco flannel and trekking poles. If the Patagonia puffies have their secret code of acknowledgment on the trail, you bet the lower income Costco crew is also going to validate you on the trail.

She’s even bringing her own mami out into the outdoors for the first time.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “Anyone still take family vacations? If you do then this will resonate with you. Traveling with a parent(s) can be difficult and frustrating. As adults, we do not rely on our parents the way we used to and navigating that new territory can be hard. On the road, with my mom, I had moments where I envied the freedom and carelessness of those traveling with friends. They were able to do things like grab a beer or be careless about our itinerary. @hasanminhaj had a hilarious bit about immigrant parents and some of the things they do. The way they want to show love but in comparison to what we seen in western television it doesn’t match up. Or the fact that they are extremely strict and in my case do not fully understand ‘American culture.'”

“On the road with my mom there were moments of frustration where I converted to a sassy 14yr old teenager self. I had to remind myself how fearless my mom is to want to see more, that this is all uncharted territory to her, and that often she is trying to navigate this world that doesn’t reflect any of her comforts to her.”

“She is brave.”

“And I am so lucky.’

“I’ll look back on this trip hoping to be able to one day do the same for my kids. 💕Now if only we can work on her driving skills, that sh*t is foreal dangerous 😂”

Ramos will only support brands that intentionally diversify their ambassadorship, like Merrell.

@naturechola / Instagram

She’s connected with the POC influencers in the outdoor industry and is completely transparent about the frustrations in the difference of pay between a white ambassador and an ambassador of color. That said, she does her research and will support brands that are supporting fair wages from production to influencer marketing.

Plus, Nature Chola is here to take us all on little adventures like reducing waste at home.

@naturechola / Instagram

Given that she’s working full time, in school full time and running a non-profit, it’s pretty dope that Ramos is also taking the time to comfort her Insta story viewers with memes featuring her dad. We stan.

No need to fear, Nature Chola is acutely aware of the obstacles for marginalized communities to participate in #zerowaste.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “The town I currently live in has, a ban on plastic bags. A ban on plastic straws. And a ban on styrofoam.
Amazing right?!? Yes and no.
– The racial demographic is 85.05%white
– Affordable homes start at $600,000
– Over 60 miles of trails and 37000 acres of open space
– Population of 46,000 people.
There is a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods, and sprouts, and twice a week plentiful farmers markets with “local” produce. This town also has a plethora of local shops and is bike friendly.

About 40 miles south is Santa Maria. Hometown.
-Racial demographic 80% non-white (74% ”Hispanic” 6% “Asian”)
– 4 “in town” trails total. (Accumulating to about 18 miles)
– Population of over 110,000
-One Trader Joe’s. One health food store. Many big box stores.

It’s easy for me to sit high and mighty on my sustainability horse when I can afford to live in a place that has all the resources to live a “zero waste” lifestyle and continues to benefit off the labor of POC and poor communities.
While simultaneously looking down on those same communities for not being green enough.”

“Sustainability in the forms that we see it on blogs and Instagram is not meant to be practiced by the masses. Rather we need diverse solutions, for diverse communities, from diverse groups of people.”

On John Muir’s birthday, she’ll be the outdoor influencer who talks about how he treated people of color back in the day.

@naturechola / Instagram

John Muir may have been the founder of the National Parks system and the Sierra Club, and that is a fabulous legacy. He also decimated indigenous communities that Nature Chola will acknowledge every time she ends up on a trail that was once home to an entire community.

At the end of the day, Nature Chola is a chola like all the rest of us.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “Traded in my hiking boots for a playbill🎭 tonight and it was magical ✨✨#Hamilton”

“PS. Download the Hamilton App and enter the daily contest for tickets to the show. So worth the extra one minute out of my day.”

She gets insecure in fancy places.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “I AM VERY INSECURE.. like I get nervous walking into a space that looks too fancy or feeling like I am not wearing the right thing, not just pertaining to the outdoors….for me the worst is seeing the very skinny white girls wear the same huaraches as me but immediately be accepted.”

“*I am bringing race into this because up until recently, thanks to the queen @yalitzaapariciomtz , none of y’all even acknowledged MIGRANT-indigenous brown beauty, and it definitely made an impact on my lived experience being treated like the ugly bottom of the bag crumbs in the LatinX classist/colorist unspoken hierarchy. I don’t know exactly how to fully remediate my insecurities.. but one thing I have tried and that has been working is.. when I feel myself getting nervous, worthless, scared I breathe and try to embody someone who I think deals with these types of situations like I would one day like to.”

She loves her mami.

@naturechola / Instagram

Caption: “My mom unexpectedly deposited 30$ in my bank account for food yesterday.. and all I can think of is how lucky and privileged we are to have parents who, even though they can’t help us navigate the college system, give everything they can to see us succeed ♥️ if this was also your parents give them an extra big hug or just send them a message tonight to say you love and appreciate them😊”

She, clearly, loves the outdoors.

@naturechola / Instagram

It goes without saying that spending time in the outdoors is life giving. Studies show that folks who get back to a circadian rhythm afuera for at least three days will experience a significant increase in creativity and productivity afterward. We’re meant to soak up the sun.

Parting advice: “Don’t let anyone ever diminish your experience in nature because you 👏🏾 did 👏🏾it 👏🏾for 👏🏾the 👏🏾picture/gram👏🏾.”

@naturechola / Instagram

“Get outside, visit that national park, climb that mountain… for the gram.
Your experience is no less valid.”

“And sometimes on days like this …for me visualizing how beautiful the view from the top looks.. and how much I want to share that, can be the most powerful motivator.”

“So shamelessly ask that stranger to take your picture or better yet fearlessly set up your auto timer.. it’s okay.”

“Don’t play down your accomplishments.. your experience in nature .. for the comfort of others.”

READ: Hiker Ronald Sanchez Jr. Identified As Victim In Fatal Machete Attack On Appalachian Trail

News Outlets Are Flooded With Terrifying News, But Here’s A List Of Really Good News That Is Affecting Latinx

Fierce

News Outlets Are Flooded With Terrifying News, But Here’s A List Of Really Good News That Is Affecting Latinx

We Are / Getty Images

Every day, television, print, and social media news bombard us with the worst of the world’s major updates and reports. From news of global warming and racism to accounts of mass shootings and political in-fighting, it’s hard to see any good news in these daily publishings. It can get overwhelming and downright depressing. It begins to feel like there is nothing but negativity and bad news in the world. 

However, we know that isn’t true. No matter how bad it seems, there are daily triumphs that we should celebrate as sources of positivity and hope in our world no matter how small these wins seem. We asked our FIERCE readers to share with us some of the good news that is happening in their lives. Hopefully, their stories of success will rejuvenate you and remind you of your own personal victories.

1. Dad deserves some rest and relaxation.

Instagram / @securedretirementradio

“Dad told me today he is preparing to retire in December! This man, like many of our fathers/grandfathers, was up every day at 5 AM working hard to make sure I had everything – now he can relax and let me (try) to make sure he has a nice retirement ❤️” @mianoel18

2. They grow up so fast.

Instagram / @mainan.anaktoys

“My two-year-old started preschool today. The regional center is paying for 2 days. It took a lot of work to get to this point. I’m a single mom ❤️” @xochitl_esperanza

3. An educated Latina.

Instagram / @nataliemcortes

“Graduating with my Ph.D. soon. Proud First-gen Mexicana ❤️ !! ” @ana_kaboom

4. You are worthy of good things.

Instagram / @thecleverbabecompany

“I’m currently applying to medical school and my imposter syndrome was hitting me pretty hard but after my first interview, I’m excited about the rest. (I got interviews at schools I thought would flat out reject me)” @elizpicazo

5. Making her dreams come true.

Instagram / @johnmarkgreenpoetry

“This 43-year-old mother of two just passed her first-year law school exam! Less than 20% of those who take it pass. In three years I’ll be taking the California bar exam! It’s never too late to go after your goals!” @mujerlaw

6. Congrats, you’re a homeowner!

Instagram / @abbieimagine

“Officially done paying my house as of this month 🙏🏼😭🙏🏼😭🙏🏼” @teresasole48

7. A reunion worth waiting for.

Instagram / @donia_artwork

“I haven’t seen my best friend in two years and she bought her plane ticket today to join me for Thanksgiving and I am SO EXCITED 😍😍😍😍”   @katie.i.cannon

8. Pay it forward.

Instagram / @deepalshah01

“A job opportunity at this place I volunteer for opened up and I’m really excited about it. I applied it’s a legal advocate position to help innocent victims of all crime. I just really want to pay it forward and be who I needed when I was younger. I’m just asking for prayers and good vibes this way 🙏🏽”   @pieldecanela__

9. Get that bread, girl!

Instagram / @j.duh

“I am starting my first job after college on Monday! I will help in launching a Latinx outreach program! I am so excited” @bookwormweirdo

10. Support those Latina-owned businesses. 

Instagram / @lovelyeventsbyvon

“My gringo esposo and I started a Paleteria @gringojakespaleteria and we entered a competition to win our own shop with free rent for a year! 👏🏽👏🏽 Even if we don’t win, we’ve learned so much and conquered our fear of public speaking! 💗” @oliviamsal

11. A multitude of blessings.

Instagram / @roccaboxuk

“I just graduated from UW-Madison (just announced #13 public university in the country). I am a first-gen college student so I am so so proud of myself. Still looking for a job (accepting all prayers/good vibes thx 😊). My parents have been looking for their first house for months and are set to close and move in at the end of the month!” @april_rose13

12. So much to be thankful for.

Instagram / @the.sarasa

“I nailed the audition for @tedxevansville and will be speaking about our Latinx community on November 8th! I just moved across the country too, and I both my company and myself are starting new projects and getting more business 🙏🏽❤️ @officiallawtina also my parents are opening the first authentic Latin American restaurant (Serving 9 countries’ foods) in September 17th in a small town where it is finally starting to diversify more and become more inclusive, and this is a HUGE step for the community!” @cindypetrovalfaro

13. Celebrate Latina creators.

Instagram / @weallgrowlatina

“My film @hyphenfilm is hitting the film festivals! Even up for a film star award 🙂 @riaservellon

14. Travel feeds the spirit.

Instagram / @evolution_of_spirit

“My Ma and sis got to travel to Spain 🇪🇸 🙏🏽 We are not rich rich so to us this is Amazing!!!! @jjj259 @essjayyvee 💕 have fun love you!!!” @jayyvee_xo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n-R07zlz1g

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

Things That Matter

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

We all know that growing old is inevitable in this life and that our days on Earth are numbered. Regardless of that truth, it’s human nature to either feel afraid of growing old or to feel melancholy when it comes to thinking of growing old. What can be even more painful is seeing our parents, our aunts and uncles, or our grandparents growing old and imagining a life without them in it. 

Last week, one woman on Twitter shared a video of her grandfather who has dementia singing along with her to “Fallaste Corazón” by Pedro Infante in a fleeting moment of lucidness. 

In the video, you can see the woman singing with such passion to her grandfather who is attentively watching her sing and who later begins to sing along to the lyrics as well.

 Dayis, on Twitter, shared that her “tata” doesn’t remember a lot of things due to his dementia but in an effort to help him with his dementia, she sings to him every day. 

“Today he remembered the song fallaste corazón and I swear I was trying so hard not to cry,” she writes. “This many is my life.”

According to Alzheimers.net, there are many reasons as to why music boosts brain activity.

According to the site, “musical aptitude and appreciation” are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia patients, music can bring emotional and physical closeness, music can shift moods and stimulate positive interactions, and it evokes emotions that bring back memories.

Since musical aptitude and appreciation are the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, “music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.” In later stages of dementia, patients are also prone to losing the ability to share emotions with their caregivers or family members but through music, they can still reach that emotional and physical closeness they once had. Further, singing to and with dementia patients is engaging and it leads to patients “exercising more mind power than usual.” 

People who saw the touching video on social media were not only quick to share their reactions after watching it but they also shared their own personal experiences with family members and loved ones who had dementia. 

One Twitter user replied to @Dayannagmusic03 and shared that they couldn’t stop watching the video. 

The Twitter user went on to say that their grandfather also has dementia but notices sometimes that “something around him has triggered a memory” and to see that, they said, is the best feeling in the world. 

The woman who initially posted the video shared that her “tata” is currently on “stage 6” of dementia and although it’s been a long and rough battle, “he always seems to remember certain songs.”

“When he does, it warms my heart with joy,” she continued to write on Twitter. 

It’s safe to say the video had a lot of people in their feels and rightfully so.

We love to see raw and touching moments like these. 

The 0:50 mark made us ugly cry too.

This is right when her grandfather starts to faintly sing along with her and man, she sings with so much emotion too. 

Other folks on Twitter sent their blessings to her family and her grandfather.

We hope her grandfather continues to have more moments like this. 

People on Twitter also compared the heartwarming video to the movie Coco.

Remember the scene toward the end of the film when Miguel sings to Mamá Coco and she begins to remember? I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING. 

Others said what we’re all thinking… just thinking about our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents getting old hurts a little bit more as we keep getting older ourselves. 

We’d like to keep believing their invincible and will live forever. 

Another Twitter user @missmalindakat tweeted that she had never seen anyone sing with more “heart and passion” than in that video.

One Twitter user shared her own video of her grandfather in a similar situation who also seemed to remember the lyrics to “El Rey” by Vicente Fernández when her great aunt sang it to him.

It’s touching to see other folks sharing their similar experiences and videos in an effort to support one another. This video has also amassed over 47,000 views on Twitter. 

Listen to “Fallaste Corazón” in full on YouTube below: