Fierce

Knowing the Struggle of Unpaid Internships, Two Jefas Started Latinx44 to Help Fund Latinxs’ Internships in Washington D.C.

Landing the internship of your dreams a goal for many students. It’ll look great on your resume, help you gain skills and experience useful for your career, and help you make connections that could lead to a big job. But sometimes these internships come with a catch – they’re not paid, or don’t pay enough money to make ends meet even for a student’s standard. Alexa Kissinger and Antoinette Rangel know exactly what that’s like and that’s why they worked to change that.

“Most of these internships are either unpaid or a small stipend. I almost turned down the White House internship because I could not afford it but thankfully got a scholarship through my college which paid for room and board. I babysat at night and ate the free lunches at events so I wouldn’t have to eat dinner,” says Alexa.

Antoinette went on to express how she “would intern from 8-5 and at night work as a waitress” to “get by financially.”

With bills and school loans and tuition to pay, getting an unpaid internship or an internship that doesn’t pay enough, often leaves many students having to pass up on this opportunity.

A 2016 report from Intern Bridge proved that women were 77% more likely than men to have unpaid internships.

Another study by the National Association of College and Employers 2019-2020 proved that students of color are least likely to have paid internships or internship experience at all compared to their white counterparts. The study found that Latinx and Black students were largely underrepresented in the internship sector of their study because of the lack of paid internships and the lack of privilege for many Latinx or Black students to be able to take an unpaid internship in the first place.

And with internships in Washington D.C. that figure can take an even bigger dip. A 2017 report from Pay Our Interns stated that only 8% of Republican House Representatives pay their interns while only 3% of Democratic House Representatives pay their interns.

Alexa and Antoinette started Latinx44 so that Latinxs would have the opportunity to take the internship of their dreams without worrying about an additional financial burden.

Credit Pro Image Photo / Courtesy Antoinette Rangel

“A woman named Deesha inspired us. She had an unprecedented career being an intern in her late 30s while also going to community college and eventually became the last Social Secretary for the Obama Administration. She, about a year and a half ago, started Black Girl 44 for Black students. And one day Antoinette reached out to me said why don’t we do something similar for the Latinx community?” said Alexis Kissinger. “Now we’ve expanded this scholarship where any gender can apply.”

Latinx44, referencing former President Obama who was the 44th president, started as a grassroots non-profit organization designed to fund a Latinx college or graduate student with a public-service internship in Washington D.C.

Both Alexa and Antoinette worked for the Obama administration amongst other Latinx staffers in his administration. Hence why they call themselves the Latinx 44 Alumni association. While this non-profit is not affiliated with the Obama administration, both Alexa and Antoinette accredit their experience working there as one of the reasons their passionate about this project.

“I remember being at the last speech President Obama gave and hearing him say ‘the most important office is the one of citizen,'” says Alexa. “So, we want the next generation to find their purpose in how they’re going to affect change by serving others.”

Credit Pro Image Photo / Courtesy Antoinette Rangel

Alexa worked in the department of hiring Latinx and other POCs staffers and eventually went on to be the special assistant to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Antoinette started as a Political Affairs Intern and moved to multiple positions such as a staffer on communications team, a liaison between the press and President Obama himself, a Deputy Director of Hispanic Media doing communications with bilingual media platforms and also Josh Earnest’s assistant and advisor until leaving to go work for Hillary Clinton.  

It was during their time in the Obama administration where they made connections with what they call “an extremely diverse class of staffers and interns,” who still work in public office today. This vast network is where they were able to get support for their Latinx44 non-profit.

“We originally tried to fundraise for three scholars. But the response of donations was incredible. So now, we have enough for 10 scholarships this summer!” exclaimed Alexa. “Many people in the Obama administration and other appointees from our networks and alumni have donated to this scholarship. It’s all grassroots from our networks who want to help the next generation.”

Still a very new program, this summer 2021 is when Latinx44 will give it’s first class of scholarships.

These two women, who now work in the law sector, stated that the purpose behind this scholarship program hits close to home for them, both personally and for their colleagues who donated. Many of their colleagues who donated shared stories of when they’d have to sleep in their car or endure other obstacles due to the financial obstacles of unpaid internships.

“Alexa and I feel very strongly that there should not be barriers to opportunities like working in public service.” said Antoinette.

Because if it wasn’t for their internships, they wouldn’t be where they are today. One of Antoinette’s college mentors even discouraged her from applying to the White House internship because she said “Those internship’s go to fundraiser’s children and senator’s nieces.”

“And I just think that’s a very short-sided way of looking at it because we all need to be at the table. That’s why I feel passionate about my Latino background. There has been a lot of adversity in my family that we’ve had to overcome. The people who are making decisions affect education, healthcare, and national security, all of which are different issues that impact the Latino community. Latinos should be at the table and we don’t allow those opportunities to happen if they are not getting the same internship experience as some of their peers.” Says Antionette.

Antoinette continues “Brown students should be able to take those opportunities and not have to turn them down just because they can’t afford to work for free.”

Regardless of background or socioeconomic status, non-profit organizations like Latinx44 are meant to create a means for Latinx students to get extra help in their Washington D.C. internship. And not just financially. Winning the scholarship will also pair you up with a professional mentor.

“The financial piece is important but also all of our recipients will be paired with a mentor to help them navigate this summer and their professional career which is especially helpful in navigating predominantly white spaces,” says Antoinette.

Both women emphasized the desire to have more Latinx represented in the political and public service sector, in order to represent the “fastest-growing ethnic demographic in the United States.”

“Don’t be afraid to dream big dreams,” says Antoinette. “Had I listened to that mentor in college, I would not have applied to the White House internship and then spent 6 of the best years of my life working directly for the President.”

Applications close May 1st. Apply now starting here. For more information go to Latinx44’s website.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Courtesy of Timothy Pollard

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

UNIVERSAL MUSIC LATIN

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com