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What It’s Like Being Cuban In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse city — Chinese immigrants, Armenians, Persians, Koreans, Thai folks, Filipinos, Salvadorans, Indians, Ethiopians, black Americans and many other groups have left indelible imprints on the city, its neighborhoods, art, food and culture. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the heart and soul of Los Angeles? Is Mexican. Mexican culture and identity forms the core of this city, so while there are countless places to get the best tacos, tortas and pan dulce you’ve ever tasted, it’s slightly more difficult to find, say, a good croqueta or tin of guayaba. It can lead to some interesting situations for Cubans living in and moving to this city!

Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to be a Cuban who moves to Los Angeles:

1. It can get a little lonely.

2. You feel a surge of pride whenever you see the José Martí sculpture in Echo Park.

Credit: Flickr / CC / hullam

En junio como en enero.

3. …And very disappointed to learn about the community’s issues with it.

Credit: USA Network

Well, excuse you.

4. You’ll enjoy many arguments over the authenticity of Porto’s Bakery.

Work hard, eat harder. ?? I ❤️ Portos! ??? #portos #burbank #whitechocolatemocha #fruittart #food #lunch

A photo posted by nashlyne ramos (@nxshlyne) on

Credit: Instagram / nxshlyne

Their croquetas are unfuckwittable, but how you gonna call pastelitos “strudels”? Come on.

5. And, in fact, arguing over the few good Cuban restaurants within Los Angeles becomes a regular pastime.

Credit: NBC

Look, I’m just saying, if I have to go to Downey to find black beans hecho como en casa, I will die, no lie.

6. You have to take care not to offend everyone around you.

Credit: CW

Because Mexican culture forms such a large part of L.A., you’ve got to be careful when using words like “fajar” and “cojer,” unless you want to get lots of horrified looks and nervous giggles.

7. You have tried and failed to find a specific ingredient you thought would be available in a Latino market.

Credit: CBS Films

OK, so Vallarta doesn’t carry membrillo or guayaba paste. Lesson learned 17 hours after running all around this ginormous freaking city, I GUESS.

8. And yet you keep hearing about these mysterious, roving band of suburban Cubans in places like Downey and Burbank.

Credit: Giphy / Reddit

OK, but where? And why don’t they have a ventanita on every corner, if that’s the case?

9. You will go through frita withdrawal.

Credit: Google

Why. Can’t. I find them. In. This. CITY.

10. When you find a fellow Cuban, you suddenly become 99.7% more Cubanaz@.

Credit: PBS

The voice gets louder, the hands move around more, and your tendency to exaggerate goes up like literally a million percent.

11. You get to celebrate holidays a little differently.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Lechón y congri can’t be beat, but Mexican-style tamales are DELICIOUS around the holidays. And while Cubans don’t typically go all out on Día de los Muertos, Los Angeles’ celebrations are truly beautiful and inspiring.

12. No one knows wtf you mean by “pastel.”

Credit: Giphy / Reddit 

Nooooo, when I said “pastelito de carne,” I didn’t mean meat cake!

13. You realize no one except Cubans understand the Cuban accent.

Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

“Why are you yelling incoherently?” I’M WHISPERING, MENG.

14. …And that we’re far more malhablada than most of our Latino cousins.

Credit: Cartoon Network

Others: “Ow! Tripped on this pinche sidewalk.”

Us: “¡¡¡Coño!!! ¿Pero que clase de mierda es este sidewalk de carajo? Me cago en su madre.”

15. And you get lots of people trying (and failing) to guess where, exactly, you’re from.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

“So you’re… Iranian, right? Armenian? Irish? Jamaican-Polish-Korean?” Sure. We’ll go with that.

But you know what’s awesome about being a Cuban here?

16. You get to learn about LOTS of cultures other than your own.

Credit: RalphGM & RandyFX, via Gizmodo

And that is pretty damn great.


READ: Thanks to Mexicans, Los Angeles has the Sunset Strip

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Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

Fierce

Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

Beverly Hills, one of the most well-known destinations in the country and world has long been a thriving and prime area for real-estate. Long before it was colonized by the Spanish, and was largely populated by rich white elites, the Indigenous people of California known as the Tongva, thrived there.

Hundreds of years later, in the 1830s, when the area was colonized, Maria Rita Valdez Villa, the granddaughter of Spanish colonists Luis and Maria Quintero and the great-granddaughter of an African slave was granted the original 4,500-acre of Beverly Hills, then known as El Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas.

Yes, as it turns out the foremother of Beverly Hills was a Black Latina!

During her ownership, Maria Rita oversaw cattle ranching and farming.

According to LA Magazine, Rita “was well known for holding a yearly celebratory rodeo under a famous eucalyptus tree at what is now Pico and Robertson boulevards.”

Sadly, after working the land for so much time, three Indigenous Californian outlaws attacked the ranch in 1852. The attack led to a shootout amongst “a grove of walnut trees at what is now Benedict Canyon and Chevy Chase drives” and eventually in 1854 Maria Rita decided to sell the area to investors Henry Hancock and Benjamin D. Wilson for $4,000.

Perhaps there’s a chance for justice for Maria Rita in the end.

Recently, Los Angeles County officials revealed that they were contemplating returning a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

According to the Guardian, Manhattan Beach used “eminent domain” in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, of the land where they lived. “The Bruces also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated,” explained the Guardian in a recent report. “Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles county and houses lifeguard headquarters and a training center.”

Manhattan Beach county Supervisor Janice Hahn announced that she was looking into ways to restore justice for Bruce family. Options include delivering the land back to the family, paying for losses, or potentially leasing the property from them

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn explained in a recent interview with KABC-TV.

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mitúCares: Babes Of Wellness Wins Grant To Help Domestic Violence Survivors Heal Mentally And Physically

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mitúCares: Babes Of Wellness Wins Grant To Help Domestic Violence Survivors Heal Mentally And Physically

As our community works to beat and recover from the Covid pandemic, mitúCares wants to help those helping our community in this time. We asked all of you to nominate people who were making our community better with their work and you delivered. mitú is proud to announce that Babes in Wellness is one of two winners for the mitúCares grant program.

Babes of Wellness is more than a fitness business.

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Founder Kat Novoa started Babes of Wellness with a vision to help people achieve wellness as well as physical fitness. Novoa started Babes of Wellness in South LA as an extension of her work as a domestic violence advocacy.

“I became a domestic violence advocate back in 2016 and in volunteering in these shelters and providing complimentary fitness classes for the survivors of violence that were at these shelters, I realized that fitness wasn’t enough for them. Once I introduced them to mindfulness practices like meditation, journaling, just affirmations, I really noticed a change in them and a shift in their mindset.”

Novoa noticed that the fitness industry was not a place that allowed for the mindful healing that can happen while engaged in physical fitness. The male-dominated industry wasn’t built to help with that kind of work.

“Women have been stigmatized for so long and sexualized because of our bodies,” Novoa says. “There’s not really an emphasis, especially in a male-dominated industry like the fitness industry, to take care of and tend to our emotional needs, our spiritual needs all in one place.”

The fitness professional wanted to make sure she helped the community that made her.

Novoa grew up in South LA and there was nothing the community like Babes of Wellness. She saw this as an opportunity to bring something to her community that will help people heal and grow, especially after 2020.

The pandemic has devastated low-income communities and communities of color. Our community has experienced the disproportionate impact of Covid with mounting deaths and financial losses. Unemployment surged and hospitals filled with our loved ones leaving a lot of damage and trauma from which we still need to collectively heal.

“Me, myself, I recently lost my dad due to Covid and I think that for me now that my business and the mission has really changed in the last few months for me,” Novoa recalls. “Now, more than ever, I feel even more passionate about helping our community and really teaching them these principles where they haven’t been taught. They’ve never had access or resources to someone who looks like them that cares about them and knows their struggles.”

Novoa plans to use the same skills and tools she uses to help survivors of domestic violence to find peace to help others heal. The boutique fitness studio is a place where people can find peace while working up a sweat.

Knowing that her work is helping people is the most important part of her day.

Novoa is moved by every client that tells her how much they get out of the work they do with her. Her plan is to make sure that everyone can get to their goals while enjoying the work.

“There was a girl that followed me on Instagram for a really really long time. Years. Prior to me going into this industry though mutual friends,” Novoa recalls. “She saw my journey and she thought 1) she looks like me 2) she’s female in a male-dominated industry 3) she’s Latina 4) she works with survivors of violence. She was a survivor of violence herself. She was overweight and she was really really insecure and she never thought that in her life she could look and feel and be the way that she is.”

Two years later and Novoa is still working with the client.

Congratulations, Kat!

READ: Domestic Violence Victims Have Been Using Code Words At Pharmacies To Escape Abusers During Lockdowns

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