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‘Humans of New York’ Just Featured a Latina Who Broke the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse is a tough cycle to break and even after walking away the fear will always linger. This Latina, who was featured on the photography page Humans of New York, has spent her life fighting against abuse. She’s finally at a place where she feels safe and comfortable.

Jessie Garcia grew up in a house of violence where her mom would beat her for anything from asking for food to breaking a dish.

(1/6) “I grew up in a household where you were beaten for small things. Like breaking a dish. Or asking for food. My mom was very religious, so she’d take us to church and we’d listen to the pastor talk about love. Then she’d still take us to the back room and beat us. I ran away when I was thirteen. I lived in group homes and foster homes in every borough. When I met him, I was working at the supermarket. I was sixteen. He was sixteen years older than me. He had a car. He was handsome. He’d do little things to make me laugh. He’d wait in a long line just to buy a stick of gum from my register. He gave me compliments. I’d never been complimented in my entire life. He called me smart. And pretty. And nice. He brought me flowers. I’d never experienced anything like that before. I felt so alone at the time. I was living at the group home. I didn’t have anyone to teach me about life. I wanted a family. I wanted a protector.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

After living in group and foster homes, she thought she finally found the man to protect her and care for her. She was 16 and he was 32.

(2/6) “Looking back, I don’t know if it was love or lust. I didn’t have anything to compare it to at the time. He started driving me home from work. Then we started going on little dates. Soon we were spending all our time together. I moved out of the group home and began living with him. I cooked for him, and did his laundry, and ironed his clothes. It was natural for me. I’d done all of this for my siblings because our mother would leave us for months at a time. I’d always told myself that I was never going to be like my mother. I was going to be a perfect mom. And a perfect wife. And now that I had the man of my dreams, I’d do anything he asked. The first time he hit me was when I was seven months pregnant with our first child. I woke up to him screaming at me: ‘You see I’m awake, now get up and help me!’ I need help with my insulin!’ I tried to help him with his insulin but I didn’t do it right. So he pushed me on the floor.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Jessie moved in with him…it wasn’t long before he began abusing her. The first time he hit her, she was seven months pregnant with their first child.

(3/6) “I started to become afraid of him. But I never argued back because I thought it would make him even more angry. He started to pick on me. He’d criticize how I dressed. And how I wore my hair. I remember it used to bother him that I used the word ‘love’ so much. I was an optimistic girl, so I was always talking about how I ‘loved’ things. ‘Stop saying that word,’ he’d say. ‘Why do you love everything? That’s so stupid.’ I remember one night he hit me because I mixed his vegetables with his rice. I became very still and quiet around him. Just like I’d been with my mother. Remember—this was all I’d ever known. ‘It’s normal,’ I told myself, ‘Everyone gets a beating sometimes.’ We had five children together. It’s hard to explain why I stayed. He began beating blood out of me. But then he’d hug me and tell me he was sorry. He’d tell me that he needed me. He told me about his childhood. He told me that his father beat him every day. He told me that he had no mother. He used to say: ‘I see you as my mother.’ And that made me feel good. ‘I need you,’ he’d say. And that feeling of being needed is what kept me in that house. He was the father of my children, after all. I told myself he’d been traumatized. And it wasn’t his fault. But here’s the thing– I’d been traumatized too. And I didn’t hurt anyone.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

The man blamed his rough upbringing for his temper but Jessie thought about the violence in her youth and how she’d never treated anyone that way.

(4/6) “One day the counselor at my daughter’s elementary school called me. She said that my daughter had spoken up in class about the abuse. She asked me to come in for a meeting. I downplayed it because I was scared. I told her: ‘Thanks for your concern. But it was nothing, really. And it’s already stopped.’ The counselor gave me a pamphlet for a place called HeartShare. HeartShare was just two blocks from my house, so I stopped in one day. I told the counselor what was happening. She discussed the option of domestic violence shelters. But I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to break up my family. Then one day he beat me so badly in the stairwell. He punched me so hard that he got blood on my children. I told the counselor what happened and she said to gather all my papers. She told me she’d be in a black car on the corner. I told my husband I was going to the grocery store. I was so nervous because he timed me every time I left the house. I still had to pick up the kids from school. And if I was gone for more than a few minutes, he’d come looking for me.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

So she left with her kids and found a shelter.

As a single mother of 5, she’s started over. Though she struggles, she is grateful that she and her children are finally safe and she feels lucky.

(6/6) “I’m trying to make it on my own. It’s been a tough road. I fell behind at our first apartment and we got evicted. But I went through a job program for women and now I work as a case manager with Coalition for The Homeless. We moved into a two-bedroom in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I love my job, but I’m trying to raise four kids on a single income. We don’t have much extra stuff. We don’t have cable. The kids say they need internet for school but we’d need a computer for that, so we just go to the library. I’d love to hang up nice curtains. Or paint the house. But I don’t want to make our apartment into a home because I’m afraid to get too comfortable. I’ve already come close to missing rent so many times. I feel like I can never relax. But I have the most wonderful children. They never want me to buy them new things. But I’m afraid that I’m damaging their confidence. I can’t do anything nice for them. And I don’t want them to grow up feeling like they don’t deserve nice things. But at least we’re together. And we have a home. And we’re safe. I tell the girls all the time that we should feel lucky. I think they get tired of me saying that. But I honestly feel that we're so lucky.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Share this story to raise awareness of domestic violence. Some times you never know what the person you see every day is really going through.

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A Latina Reddit User Asked How People Felt About Non-Spanish Speakers And The Answers Were Eye-Opening

Fierce

A Latina Reddit User Asked How People Felt About Non-Spanish Speakers And The Answers Were Eye-Opening

Joe Raedle / Getty

In 2017, a Pew Research Center study revealed that while there has neen an increase in the number of Latino Spanish speakers at home, the overall number of Latinos who speak Spanish has declined significantly in the past decade. Ultimately, the finding revealed that while the Latino population continues to grow significantly a smaller percentage of Latinos actually speak Spanish.

For many of us, particularly those of us Latinos who don’t speak Spanish, these findings cause us to carry quite a bit of guilt. After all growing up, many of us were told that understanding the language of our abuelos and padres was vital.

For Latinos that have heard the words “¿No habla español?” and felt terrible, the blow Reddit conversation is for you.

“First of all: You’re not any less Latina for not knowing Spanish. There are plenty of Asian-Americans who don’t know their parents language, European-Americans and so on. It’s your culture and your identity and no one can tell you what you are and what you aren’t based on not knowing a certain language.

Secondly, as others have said, you’re in an excellent spot if you want to learn Spanish since you have so many native speakers at your disposal. I’d say use the resources from this sub to self teach yourself, and when you get to a certain level, tell your friends and family what you want to achieve and see how they respond. I’m sure most of them would love to practice with you and help you learn, and worst case scenario if they don’t want to, you can keep self teaching and just respond to them in Spanish at times anyway. I’ve lived abroad for a bit and will-power is a main component of language learning: when people try to speak English to me I don’t fall to the pressure and reply the best I can in Spanish. Not exactly a direct equivalent, but my advice. Buena suerte con su aprendizaje.” – Maxmutinium

“I have a buddy who is half Mexican. He even got a scholarship for it. He can’t even speak to his own grandmother because he doesn’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English.” –MyParentsAre_Cousins

“Does anyone else who is Latinx and does not know Spanish feel this way?

Yeah. Oh yeah. Bilingual parents but it was always English in the home and even with high school and college classes I never quote got it. I’ve been told to my face that I’m not a real Puerto Rican because of it. I am very much one, but I feel very distanced from my own people because of it, from the language barrier, to the exclusion, to the culture difference with not being around Spanish speakers, to being bitter about the whole thing.

Are you trying to learn? If so, what’s working best for you to learn it?

Yes, but I don’t tell people because they’ll start saying stuff I don’t understand or make a fuss over it. I prefer learning on my own terms. Duolingo has been my choice and it’s helped a lot. I feel like I’m starting to be able to think in Spanish which from what I know is a big step towards fluency.” –jclocks

“I’m in the same boat in a lot of ways. My parents didn’t speak much Spanish to me as a child and I only learned a sprinkling of words. In high school I hated spanish class because it made me feel inadequate. At family events I felt like an outsider when people switched to Spanish. I also was really frustrated when people asked me why I didn’t speak it since the assumption was that I had somehow chosen not to learn.

Two years ago I decided to commit to learning it. I went to Ecuador and spent 6 weeks taking one-on-one classes and living with a host family. Afterwards I could have broken conversations, but more importantly I was able to get past my fear of speaking in front of other Latinos. I don’t have the opportunity to do another immersion trip again in the near future, so this year I decided to really invest serious time into learning on my own. I do 5 hours of conversation a week with iTalki; I listen to Glossika on my commute to and from work; I do Anki flashcards every morning and I read Spanish articles using LingQ. I shoot for 2 hours minimum of active practice a day and I supplement that with listening to music in Spanish and Spanish podcasts. Even when I watch stuff in English on Netflix I put on Spanish subtitles to gain a little more exposure.

It’s working. I don’t consider myself fluent yet, but that’s only because my goals have become more ambitious (I want to have native-like proficiency). I’ve put about 500-600 hours worth of study in since I started and I can have conversations and listen to Ted Talks in Spanish. It feels great and I’ve learned a lot about my culture and other Latin cultures as a result.

If you’re willing to put the time in (many experts think it takes more than a 1,000 hours to hit a very high level of proficiency) you can do it too. But you really have to create clear goals and habits built around your learning. Last year I was stagnant and it’s because I didn’t have goals and habits to really develop my fluency. And while an immersion trip with classes can really jumpstart the learning process you don’t need it to become fluent so long as you plug in hour after hour into active exposure and study. Also, if you had exposure to spanish as a baby, you probably have an advantage. There’s studies linking exposure to a language in the early months to a lifelong capacity to make out the sounds of that language better than people who weren’t exposed to it as children. That really helps when it comes to listening and to developing an accent. A lot of my tutors tell me I don’t have the gringo accent, which is also really encouraging.” –eatmoreicecream

“I feel like shit that I grew up with Puerto Rican family, and Spanish speaking ALL around me and still don’t speak it at 28. I also had bilingual childhood friends. The environment was PERFECT for me to grow up fluent in two languages.

Yet here I am close to 30 and I can’t speak shit. I keep telling myself I want to learn but now I feel bummed out that I’m aging past being able to sound “native” anymore.

Double this is my father was disappointed I didn’t know not too long before he died and I feel like all the people who assume I’m fluent in Spanish when they approach is him nudging me on and still nagging for me to learn lol. There’s a definite guilt and “I’m ignoring an entire part of my awesome upbringing” thing going on.

Edit: Missed too many words in the first one that made it sound like I felt like shit about growing up in the environment instead of about not learning Spanish lol. Edit edit: One of my worst regrets is from elementary school, where a teacher asked us what a really simple word in Spanish meant. I knew it of course, but I stayed quiet for whatever dumb reason. Pretty sure that was to test the potential to learn before teaching us the language another missed opportunity to plant the seeds in my young mind. HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 DAMNIT.” –IniMiney

“Forget about sounding native, that’s only something that’s in your mind. You’re never too old to learn a language! I picked up Russian two years ago almost and I’m 35!”- Effervescent_513

“Don’t feel bad, it’s not true that you’ll need sound native. You have to dedicate yourself to training your ear to hearing exactly the sounds, and teaching your speech organ to produce some the new sounds. I really recommend Mimic Method for this. I’ve not even finished the Spanish course and I was confusing Spanish Speakers on holiday because whilst I looked and was foreign what little I knew was pronounced well (sorry, I am widening my doorframes.” –Brutussaid

“I’ve been called white washed and Gabacha (sp?) Because I don’t speak Spanish but have been surrounded by it my whole life. I even married and had a kid with a Latino, and his whole family speaks Spanish too! The only ones in my family that don’t know are me, my brother and sister. It’s so hard. I know a little, but not enough to hold a casual conversation. Everyone is too fast. Plus we’re friends with a lot of Salvadorians and that’s even harder to understand! There’s no way my kid is going to grow up without knowing 2 languages at least. I feel so alienated, some of my in laws’ friends think I’m either quiet or mean because I can’t even understand half of what they’re saying. I have to have someone actively translate for me just to be included in everything.” –MoistCreamPuffs

“I 100% relate to you. I hope to one day marry a Latino that knows Spanish so that way my kid will grow up with learning the language and maybe my future husband can help me too. I too feel alienated when I’m constantly surrounded by Spanish speakers and I barely understand what they’re saying, but with that being said I think both you and I have a great advantage to learn the language because we know so many Spanish speakers. With the help of redditor’s advice, I’m more than confident that it isn’t too late for us to learn! We got this girl!” –lrvxoxo

“Being Latina and not knowing spanish is one of the worst things ever… like I literally feel like a disgrace to my heritage.

Spanish is the language of the conquistadors. It is not the languages of the natives in most of the lands that the language dominates.

Try not to be too hard on yourself.

It will take time, but you can learn. It’s never too late to start! There are many, many free and low cost resources. ¡Buena suerte!” –confusedchild02

Spanish is the language of the conquistadors. It is not the languages of the natives in most of the lands that the language dominates.

The “conquistadors” are our ancestors too! It depends on the location too but Latin America unlike other parts of the world is a mixture from Spanish and the indigenous population in a bigger or smaller proportion. In other words it’s not like Spanish is a foreign language like French is in Africa and English is in India, it’s part of our culture as well and if you don’t speak it you do miss out a huge part of the culture.” –ffuentes

“Being Latina means she could be either 100% or 0% descended from indigenous people.

Though it’s irrelevant because the vast majority of modern Latin Americans have been speaking Spanish (or Portuguese) for generations, and very few identify with anything other than their nationality.” –Enmerkahr

“My ex was Mexican but didn’t speak Spanish. I studied it in school as a second language. He was no where near as good as me, but he had a really good foundation that I didn’t.

Something I struggle with as a non native speaker is that there are just so many words. If you remain consistent and study vocabulary, you’ll know a lot. But there are just so many things you don’t know because you have no reason to know.

Native speakers don’t really have that disadvantage. They’ve heard just about everything at some point even if they can’t recall it off of the top of their heads.

I’m willing to bet that if you started studying in a classroom setting, you’d be fluent in no time.” –TheMeanGirl

“It’s okay. There are a lot of us.” –LolliPoppies

“You situation is favorable over mine as a white guy, I know very few native Spanish speakers, much less that are willing to help me practice on a regular basis. Yo que tu, I would ask my parents to converse with me in Spanish as much as possible and you’ll learn super fast that way.” –TesticlesMcTitties

“I’ve told my parents to help me learn that way in the past & my parents will speak to me in Spanish for like an hour and then stop till the next time I ask, so it’s annoying constantly reminding them to talk to me in Spanish. But I’ll definitely push for it more because I’m sure if they were consistent, I would probably learn super fast as you said.” –lrvxoxo

“Even if you are not fluent, based on your surroundings can you pick up phrases? You might have heard many phrases and understand it but not explain it like a teacher. If this is the case, think of it like filling in the gaps. Never too late to learn.” –MisterE2k14

“I think phrases are the easiest to learn and I think that’s what I know most of, but then again like I said what I do know is very minimal. Thank you for the tip about filling in the gaps, I appreciate it!”- lrvxoxo

“I speak Spanish but not the languages of my grandparents and great-grandparents. I also always thought I was terrible as languages as a kid. Don’t sweat it! There are loads of resources you can download, perhaps more than for many other language. Also you have the advantage that people outside of your family you meet will presume you speak it, so just act like you do – I did. You definitely shouldn’t take this to heart or feel bad about it, but it can definitely act as a motivation. Learn a few stock phrases and just nod, search out group conversations where you don’t need to talk much, watch films and listen to music or podcasts about topics that interest you. Don’t stress about not catching everything; even if you’re a native speaker, you won’t get everything. If there are folks in your city (or extended family, friends) that are native Spanish speakers and struggling, try to spend time teaching them English. Also try to find native English learners of Spanish – you’ll be less nervous speaking to them. Things like Memrise, Lingvist, Clozemaster, Babadum are all great because they’re more active, since sometimes it’s difficult to pick stuff up if you’re only learning stuff passively.” –metalaffect

“In the same exact spot as you. Everyone in my entire extended family knows Spanish except for me and my brothers. It’s easily the thing I hate most about myself. And I feel like I barely have a close connection to most of my family because they have to communicate with me in their non native language and it’s hard to become close that way.

Once I finish my schooling which will actually be in a couple weeks, I plan to go hardcore with my Spanish learning. I have native speakers right at home in my parents so I hope that the process can go relatively smoothly and quickly.” –MrProfessor

“I’m Latino. My aunts, uncles all speak Spanish. My grandparents spoke Spanish. My mom spoke Spanish. But not me. I only knew a little bit from growing up around it but over the past year and a half I finally buckled down and started learning for real. I’m 46. I’m very proud of being Latino. My goal of learning Spanish has more to do with just being more open to non-US culture as well as just wanting to be able to converse in a language my family knows so well.

Oh, and of course I was called a ‘coconut’ by other Latino kids growing up – brown on the outside, white on the inside. But, hey, being Latino makes you thick skinned anyway, so I’m not worried about that. I’m not going to stop with Spanish.

I now fall into the category of ‘I can read it really well, but only pick up about 50% of what is spoken’. I don’t think I’m any less Latino because I never learned Spanish before, I do wish I’d learned before my grandmother passed. She did not speak much English and was fiercely proud of being Latina.

What worked for me was basically immersion, Duolingo, YouTube and Pimsluer, and not thinking I could learn in a month. You didn’t learn English in a month, and additionally, you learned by hearing first, which is kind of the opposite of how people try to learn a second language. You will almost immediately remember words or phrases that Spanish speaking people tell you/correct you on, but it’s a lot harder to just learn words and phrases on your own.

For me, I also discovered that working daily, often really devoting time to it, is best reinforced by not working as hard for a bit. It seems like my brain catches up – suddenly I’ll go back and watch a show on Univision or read a Spanish article and it’s like I can magically read far more than I could before.

Next step for me is a tutor. I’m at the point where I can speak broken Spanish, probably better than my grandmother spoke English. But I, like most people, want fluency.” –silverbax

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Community Rallies Around Latina Leader Who Needed A Double Lung Transplant Because Of Covid

Fierce

Community Rallies Around Latina Leader Who Needed A Double Lung Transplant Because Of Covid

GoFundMe

There is still so much that we do not know about Covid-19. One of the biggest mysteries is the long term effect of the virus after people recover. One of the most common things caused by Covid is the need for lung transplants. A Latina leader in Milwaukee experienced just that.

Carmen Lerma is a beloved member of the Latino community of Milwaukee.

Lerma was diagnosed with Covid-19 in July. At the time, cases were growing across the country and we knew even less about the virus than we know now. Lerma’s Covid diagnosis led to the beloved community member needing a double lung transplant because of the viciousness of this virus.

“She is very kind. She is very loved,” fellow volunteer and friend Carmen Hernandez said of Lerma to NBC News. “I feel so bad for her situation right now. She can’t even breathe. It’s really hard for me to see her going through this when she’s such an active person.”

Months after her diagnosis, Lerma has a new pair of lungs.

Credit: Carmen Lerma / Facebook

The Covid-19 pandemic is entering a new and terrifying chapter as cases are growing around the world. Countries in Europe are implementing new restrictions to control the spread of Covid and certain states are follow suit to protect residents. Lerma is hoping that her story can help to convince people of the severity of the virus.

Lerma’s story highlights the seriousness of Covid-19 complications after surviving a diagnosis.

Lung transplants for Covid-19 patients are becoming more and more common as more people are infected with the virus. Currently, more than 8 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Covid. More than 220,000 people have died and cases, which never significantly decreased, are on the rise again in most states.

Lerma is using her story to get people to care about Covid-19.

Credit: Carmen Lerma / Facebook

There has been a lot of misinformation spread about Covid that has contributed to the spikes. President Donald Trump used his own diagnosis to tell people not to worry about the virus and to get out there and live life, something health experts around the world rebuked. Even Harvard University released a study debunking the claim that certain blood types are more resistant or prone to Covid-19.

In one of the most American traditions, friends set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of Lerma’s medical care.

The GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 of the $100,000 they are hoping to raise to pay for Lerma’s medical costs. She spent months in hospitals fighting the virus that is currently devastating Wisconsin as it spreads unimpeded. Wisconsin is facing one of the worst outbreaks in the U.S. right now after a conservative judge declared Gov. Tony Evers’ restrictions to slow the spread. The state’s Republican Party is suing to reverse the mask mandate, the single strongest tool we have to battle the virus and save lives.

READ: Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

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