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NBC Latina Correspondent Mariana Atencio Says She Was Told Not To Dress ‘Too Latina’ And More Like ‘Ivanka Trump’ And That’s Not Okay

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Latina women struggle with workplace equality, imposter syndrome and feeling as if we don’t belong in certain institutions, and we’re also constantly told to shrink ourselves in order to not make others (read: white people) uncomfortable with our Latinidad. Another policing of our identities and how we navigate the workplace and the world is when others tell us what to wear or not wear. 

None of this is okay and Latina women deserve more respect and freedom to be our unapologetic selves.

NBC/MSNBC correspondent Mariana Atencio wrote in her new book that an unnamed female manager told her not to dress “too Latina” for the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2017.

According to Newsweek, the manager told Atencio that she should dress more like Ivanka Trump. In her new book, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, Atencio writes about how happy she was to represent the Latinx community and how proud she was to have a seat at the table, “literally and figuratively.” 

She also writes about the encounter she had with the unnamed female manager who gave her a call before the White House Correspondents Dinner and asked what she planned to wear to the dinner. 

“It was a weird phone call—with an even weirder request,” Atencio writes. ” ‘Why do you ask?’ I replied. ‘Please don’t look too Latina.’ At first, I thought I didn’t hear correctly. ‘I beg your pardon?’ I asked. ‘When you pick your outfit, I mean. Don’t look too Latina.'”

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“I felt offended. Outrage and indignation hit me at once… This person was making me feel smaller and smaller with each word. Can you imagine someone in your field asking you to please not look so African American? Or Asian? Or white? Don’t look so Muslim or Christian? How do you change who you are?,” Atencio wrote. 

However, according to Atencio—the manager didn’t stop there with her unsolicited fashion advice. She went on to advise Atencio to go to Saks Fifth Avenue “and have someone help you out.” The female manager told Atencio, “‘Have them pick out something demure. Not too colorful or tight. Think Ivanka Trump, OK?'”

First of all, how do you dress “too Latina”? If that’s the case, should we stoop to the same level and say, “Ivanka, can you dress a little less like the complicit daughter of a racist commander in chief”?

According to a statement given to USA Today, MSNBC called the manager’s comments “highly inappropriate and unacceptable. More than a year and a half later, when it was first brought to a manager’s attention, immediate action was taken. Since this is an HR matter and there are privacy concerns, we won’t go into greater detail.”

In an interview with NBC News, the award-winning Venezuelan correspondent spoke about the incident and shared more lessons of inclusivity and diversity as well as what she hopes the book will achieve. The Latina immigrant journalist and author began her career in Venezuela and talked about what it was like being one of the first Latina journalists on air when she first began her career. 

“When I first started, it was more of, ‘How can we tone this down?’ But with time it was realizing that in fact, I had to be more myself,” Atencio said. 

She goes on to say that she wanted to include the anecdote in her memoir not to focus on the negative but to remind readers that “these things still happen. We have to call them out and have conversations as adults about how to get past them.”

People on social media shared their own experiences about going through something similar to what Atencio went through. 

Daisy Fuentes tweeted that she could relate and that it’s “time to end the racist stereotypes.” 

Another journalist said he’s heard this countless times from Latina coworkers in the media industry.

We’re glad men in the industry are also bringing to light this discriminatory and dangerous stereotype against Latina women and the Latinx community in general. 

Latinx film critic Yolanda Machado also shared that she’s been told to not “go all Latina” in reference to getting upset over something in the workplace.

“Most of these are followed by ‘I don’t see color, but…’ or ‘I don’t mean you, of course, but…'” she tweeted. “Racist. Racist. RACIST.” 

We applaud Mariana Atencio for including this in her memoir in order to work toward a future where Latina women in the workplace don’t have to undergo this type of behavior from others. 

“The message of my book is that you, too (readers) can make it. By sharing my journey, I hope to inspire (others) on their journey,” Atencio said of her memoir. 

Converse Is Putting Dominican Art On Their Shoes And Here’s How People Are Feeling About The Decision

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Converse Is Putting Dominican Art On Their Shoes And Here’s How People Are Feeling About The Decision

Influencer Ray Polanco Jr. and Converse have collaborated again for Latinx Heritage Month as a part of the “Converse by LatinX” collection. Polanco Jr. recruited artist Eric Narváez to hand draw and create a Chuck Taylor that featured coloring book style art of Dominican iconography. 

The collection also features work from tattoo artist Don Rimx, and Mexican and Colombian artist Paloma Montoya. Each of Polanco Jr.’s shoes will have a unique pattern of the cultural iconography — that means every pair is one of a kind. 

Ray Polanco Jr. Uses Dominican Upbringing As Inspiration

“Inspired by Ray Polanco Jr.’s experience growing up Dominican in New York City, the hand-drawn images encourage wearers to bring the design to life with color transforming the Chuck Taylor into a cultural coloring book for your feet. Make the “Puro Platano” story your own. Shout to Uptown,” the Converse description reads.

Puto Plátano

“What a feeling… meet my new @converse the “puro plátano 2”  — a cultural coloring book for your feet inspired by my experience growing up Dominican in NYC. I want the world to get to know us beyond flag colors, so I designed a visual story of pride. I left the hand-drawn images blank so YOU can collab with me. the reality is us LatinX come in all colors, so I want u to make these ur own,” Polanco Jr. wrote on Instagram. 

This isn’t the first time Polanco Jr. has brought Dominican pride to Chuck Taylors

Polanco Jr. collaborated with Converse on the Puro Plátano last year. It was a simple plátano green shoe with the words “puro platano” on the side in gold letters. 

“As a storyteller, I believe sneakers are the perfect canvas to communicate a message because we all wear some kind of footwear. Last year, I wanted to get the world to know more about Dominicans beyond just the colors of our flag and I thought food was the best way to do that, which led to transforming the Chuck Taylor into a Platano. This year, I wanted to connect on a deeper level with the ‘Puro Platano’ story by collaging distinct images from my experience growing up Dominican in New York City,” Polanco Jr. told Footwear News

This year he really amped up the Dominican iconography. There’s rolos, plátanos, bachata dancersandbottles of rum among other familiar images to anyone who grew up in The Bronx.

“A lot of the shoe is inspired by family: my dad playing dominoes at the bodega with his friends, my mom wearing rolos in her hair after the beauty salon, and things like that.” he said. “Shout out to my sister who would cop Chucks in every color on Fordham Road in the Bronx back in the day. Beyond my story, I feel like anyone who grew up in NYC will connect with at least one thing on the shoe and hopefully, other people in different cities can relate, too.” 

Polanco Jr. is not the only artist included in Converse’s LatinX collection.

Paloma Montoya

Mexican and Colombian artist Paloma Montoya’s artwork was inspired by Colombian culture, like its cafes, people, and vallenato musicians and singers.

“I was born from my father, a Mexican and my mother from #medellincolombia, but I was raised by my mother and maternal grandparents. All #antioqueños. I grew up on arepas, tamales and empanadas #colombianos , sancocho and natilla. I listened to Carlos Vives and know the lyrics (in Spanish) to Jaime R. Echavarría’s Serenata de Amor – Thanks Mamita,” Paloma wrote in her Instagram caption. 

“My grandparents bought the house in South Gate. I’ve been here all my life, I didn’t embrace my Mexican side from my father, I embraced it here with my friends who are Mexican and Mexican-American. Mexico and South Gate run through my blood, but I have generations and generations of Colombian blood in me. Maybe that’s why I think about going back often? Maybe that’s why when I went and met my relatives high up in the mountains of #antioquia – it felt like home. This pair is for you Mom, Mamita and Papito.” 

Don Rimx

Puerto Rican muralist and tattoo artist, Don Rimx also got a chance to make his own custom sneaker. The unique pattern mimics rosary beads and colorful feathers. 

“Muy honrado de poder colaborar con @converse en este proyecto para diseñar un patron para el Chuck Taylor dandole un giro personalizado con el estilo original de Don Rimx inspirado en su cultura y el camino por andar,” Rimx wrote on Instagram. 

The Converse by LatinX collection is available now. Shout out to Converse for hiring these independent Latinx artists as well! 

Hispanic Heritage Month Is Meant To Celebrate Spanish-Speaking Cultures, But What Does That Mean In The Age Of Trump?

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Hispanic Heritage Month Is Meant To Celebrate Spanish-Speaking Cultures, But What Does That Mean In The Age Of Trump?

This week is the start of a month long commemoration of Latino culture as Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, kicks off across the U.S. Compared to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of a month. This is due to September 15 and 16 marking the independence days of Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

The annual observance started back in in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson’s administration as a one-week celebration called Hispanic Heritage Week. It wouldn’t be until years later that President Ronald Reagan proposed extending this celebration into a month-long event. On Aug. 17, 1988, it was put into law officially designating the 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

But in the age of Trump where anti-Latino sentiments run high, what does this month truly represent beyond just a marketing opportunity for companies to cash in on our culture?

Credit:@itseduardosolis/Twitter

For the next few weeks, Latinos will be at the forefront when it comes to “representation”. In other words, Latinos will be involved in marketing campaigns, corporate social media accounts will attempt to tweet in Spanish and sugar skulls will be all the rage at your local Target. That’s Hispanic Heritage Month in 2019 and something doesn’t seem right about that. 

The problem with Hispanic Heritage Month is that it represents almost everything that our culture isn’t about. That starts with the name itself, Hispanic, which came into use after the 1980 Census to refer to Spanish and Latin American descendants living in the U.S. It’s this lumping of all Latino people under the Hispanic umbrella, whether it applies to us or not, that is problematic. It leaves out countless of groups of people like those who identify as Afro-Latino or Indigenous that are constantly overlooked or never given any representation whatsoever. 

Beyond just the name, the question of it’s purpose and its meaning in this day and age also comes into play. In reality, most Latinos don’t need a month to be acknowledged or be at the forefront of a marketing campaign to feel accepted. Most celebrate their cultural pride every single day.

Hispanic Heritage Month was created by and promoted by the U.S. government to show that we “arrived” as people in this country. Yet in the 31 years since HHM started, Latinos have more than just arrived. We have made ourselves at home and have contributed to U.S. culture, science and art in ways that deserve more than just a month when brands pander to us. 

While some look at Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to celebrate maybe it can serve a better purpose by letting us tell our own narrative for once. 

Credit:@ric_galvan/Twitter

The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month needs a reboot rather than some faux-celebration about ethnic representation. Instead, the month should focus on how to move our communities forward and how we can share our own narratives and stories. 

For a population group that makes up 18.1% of the total U.S. population, representation has been hard to come by in recent years. The majority of this visibility has been succumbed to President Trump’s antipathy towards Latinos and demonization of migrant groups coming from the Southern border. Then came Aug. 3, when a shooter inspired by the President Trump anti-Latino rhetoric killed 22 people in El Paso. The deadly shooting sent shock waves to Latino communities across the country and placing fear in the minds of many. While this isn’t the first time Latinos have been targeted, the attack represented divisiveness that has once again reared it’s ugly head. 

Yet instead of living in fear, the best response can only be one of visibility and solidarity. The truth of the matter is that Latinos never needed government validation or permission to share our heritage, no matter what month of the year it may be. 

Rather than waste a month grasping onto what others perceive us as, we should embrace our own stories and bring to light the issues we face everyday. In reality, no month long celebration will ever validate our experiences or our stories. But as long as we have the platform, let’s make the best use of it and share our own narratives for once. 

READ: Latinos Are Still Waiting For Their Own Movie Moment As Hollywood Tries Casting More Diverse Films