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The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education Fired An Educator For Speaking Positively About Black Hair

On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education released a campaign video directed at youth that shattered harmful attitudes surrounding “pelo bueno, pelo malo” — the idea that thin, straight hair is beautiful and afro-textured coils aren’t.

“In the Ministry of Education, no little girl, little boy or grown adult should be discriminated because of their physical appearance. We are committed to guaranteeing the equality in identity,” Marianela Pinales, then director of Gender Equality and Development at the Ministry of Education on the island, said in the video, as young Black and brown boys and girls send similar messages about loving their hair as it is.

The 52-second PSA is long-overdue in the Dominican Republic, one of many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that has held tightly to the white supremacist belief that skin and hair texture that aligns closer to European standards of beauty are both more attractive and deserving of better treatment than those with hues and locks that are darker and thicker.

For that, many on the island and diaspora celebrated the video, including Edith Febles, a respected journalist and natural hair advocate, who aired it on her show, La cosa como es. However, just after the video debut, Febles said Pinales was discharged.

While the Ministry of Education said that Pinales was fired because she missed several recent events — a claim the educator denies — and not because of the video, which some have considered controversial, many find the timing around her termination questionable.

“The timing is very *very* suspicious to say the least,” Amanda Alcántara, the digital media editor at Futuro Media Group, wrote in an article for Latino Rebels.  “Much like the roots of anti-blackness in the country itself, the people in power seem to stop at no cost to maintain white supremacy. This confirms that even as consciousness grows, the problem is systemic.”

On social media, many others have shared similar sentiments.

The campaign, however, is reaching audiences in and outside of the Dominican Republic, where it has the power to challenge beauty ideals and young people’s relationships with their hair.

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These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

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These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Photo via Cassandra Raquel Madison/Facebook

We’ve all had those friends that are so close to us that they feel like they’re family. Well, in the case of these of two Connecticut women who had the same feeling, that ended up being the case.

Best friends Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison learned that they were biological sisters, adopted from the Dominican Republic.

The story is stranger than fiction. Julia and Madison met in 2013, when they both worked at a bar called The Russian Lady in New Haven, Connecticut. The women immediately bonded when they discovered that they both had tattoos of the Dominican Republic’s flag.

Cassandra rehashed the meeting via a Facebook post: “Julia notices the Dominican flag on my arm and makes a comment about how she’s Dominican too BUT she’s adopted from there. I stop her in her tracks and tell her I’m adopted from there too.”

“After that moment, we were so tight,” Julia told Good Morning America. “We started hanging out. We would go out for drinks, for dinner. We started dressing alike.”

Apparently, Cassandra felt the same way. “I thought she was cool,” Cassandra said to GMA. “We just kind of hit it off right away. It was very natural.”

According to them, coworkers were always telling them that they looked like sisters. But when the two of them cross-referenced their birth certificate, their information didn’t add up.

“Papers said we were from two different cities [with] different last names,” Julia explained. “And, our mothers’ names on our paperwork were different.” But the two women believed they were somehow connected–they just didn’t know how.

The mystery finally began to unravel after Cassandra took a 23andMe DNA test.

Through 23andMe’s genetic database, Cassandra tracked down her biological family in the Dominican Republic through a first cousin. She then traveled to the DR where she met her bio-family for the first time–an incredibly emotionally experience. While Cassandra’s bio-father was still alive, her bio-mother had passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.

Years later, Cassandra finally pressed her bio-father on whether or not he had put up another child for adoption. While at first he was hesitant to talk about the painful memory, he finally admitted that he had, indeed, put another child up for adoption years ago.

It was then that Cassandra finally urged Julia to take a DNA test so they could finally put their questions to rest.

The results came back on January 28th, 2021 and finally confirmed what they had long suspected: they were biological sisters.

The entire ordeal has been both thrilling, joyful, and emotionally taxing for the women. At times, it has even been bittersweet, considering the trauma their biological family endured in the past.

“On top of the DR being a very poor country, [our family] couldn’t take care of us,” Julia explained. “I was [born] 17 months later and they weren’t ready.”

All in all, Julia summed up how she feels about the situation in a very direct way: “This is the type of thing you see on TV.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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Cardi B and Mariah Carey Teamed Up to Talk About Confidence, Insecurity, and Prejudice in the Music Industry

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Cardi B and Mariah Carey Teamed Up to Talk About Confidence, Insecurity, and Prejudice in the Music Industry

Photos via Getty Images

At first glance, you may not think Cardi B and Mariah Carey have much in common. But the two chart-topping divas might actually be more similar than they are different.

Cardi B once called herself the “strip-club Mariah Carey”, so Interview magazine recruited the Afro-Venezuelan songstress herself to interview Belcalis.

In a new conversation in Interview magazine, Cardi B and Mariah Carey teamed up to talk about the challenges they’ve had to face as famous women of color coming from tough backgrounds.

And in case you thought otherwise, Mariah Carey was not throwing any softballs. The conversation was intense. The women covered everything from confidence, to body image, to prejudice in the music industry. It didn’t seem like either of the women held back.

Mimi opened the interview by asking Cardi if she ever felt beautiful as a child. Surprisingly, Cardi responded opened up about a topic that society doesn’t take about very often: anti-Blackness in the Latino community.

“I’m Trini and I’m Dominican, there’s a lot of Dominicans that look a certain type of way [in the Bronx]. They have soft, pretty, curly hair. Growing up, guys would ask me weird questions like, ‘If you’re Dominican, why is your hair so nappy?'”

Cardi went on to admit that she bleached and permed her hair when she was young to the point where she damaged her hair. But she soon learned to take care of her natural hair and appreciate it for what it was.

Cardi’s confession about her hair prompted Mariah to reveal her own vulnerable story. “It was a very traumatizing thing for me having a black father and a white mother, because my mother, who raised me, didn’t really know about textured hair,” Mariah said.

The superstar duo also touched on the sensitive topics of racism and prejudice in the music and fashion industries.

In fact, MC point-blank asked Cardi B: “Do you feel that the record industry or the fashion industry, from your perspective, is inherently racist?”. Cardi explained that she wouldn’t technically use the word racist, but has “felt prejudice.”

“I have been involved in endorsement deals, and then I found out that certain white people got more money for their deals from the same company,” she said. “So it’s like, ‘When you’re not paying me what you’re paying these other people, why is that?’ It’s kind of insulting.”

Cardi also added that Black artists have a tougher time getting dressed by designers and getting seats at fashion shows, even though hip-hop culture influences fashion in so many ways.

Cardi B and Mariah Carey then bonded over the fact that both of them could only be themselves throughout their careers in the public eye.

Mariah applauded the fact that the public doesn’t require celebrities to have a squeaky-clean image anymore. “I do think people are much more accepting now,” she said. “…I do feel like people are, at least in some circles, allowed to be themselves and express themselves more than they were back in the day.”

“People expected me to be something specific, but I can only be me,” she added. “We’re similar in that way.”

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