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The Homework Gap Is Something Many Ignore, But Prince Royce Is Working To Bring Awareness To This Issue

@princeroyce / Sprint

Prince Royce can’t remember the last time he read a newspaper or picked up a book. But it’s not because the bachata superstar lacks enthusiasm for reading — far from it. The Bronx native gets all his news and literature digitally.

Sunday night at the Conga Room in Los Angeles, “La carretera” singer proved just how much he values technology and the internet by performing an intimate concert for the 1Million Project, a multi-year initiative benefitting students who lack internet access at home.

Prince Royce teamed up with the Sprint Foundation last year to raise money and awareness for countless students in the United States who don’t have the educational resources that many of us take for granted.

Marcelo Claure/Facebook
CREDIT: Marcelo Claure/Facebook

“I don’t think we realize how many people don’t actually have cell phones or internet service,” Prince Royce told mitú. “In a world where schools have become so competitive, every kid needs the internet, and a lot of them don’t have it.”

The imbalance between students with Wi-Fi access and those without is called the “homework gap,” and it’s these kids who continue to fall behind. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, most American homes with school-age children do have broadband access – about 82.5 percent. However, this means that about 5 million households with school-age children do not have internet service. Pew shows that low-income households, especially Black and Latino homes, make up a disproportionate share of that 5 million.

Prince Royce told mitú that he feels fortunate to have been in the first graduating class of the Bronx Academy of Letters because, although it’s a public school, its small class sizes allowed him to have a more personal, intimate educational experience.

Prince Royce said that he didn’t realize that access to technology was such a problem for young people until last year, which is why he teamed up with his former employer to help close the “homework gap.”

"#TBT freshman year."
CREDIT: “#TBT freshman year.” -Prince Royce

“I realized not too long ago that when you don’t have a phone you can’t even look up a word in the dictionary or you can’t find your way to the local pharmacy,” Prince Royce said. “You can’t check anything. We depend on our phones, we depend on the internet.”

The 27-year-old singer playfully recalled what it was like for him to be a kid and not have the technology that most students have today.


“I remember having a calendar in my bedroom and having to write things down, and now we write everything down on our phones,” Prince Royce said. “I feel like school might be easier now. I used to punch numbers in a calculator and had to get textbooks and had to get help from friends. Now you send text messages or FaceTime with someone else in another country.”

During the event, the Bronx native reiterated that while most have an abundance of resources that are connected to Wi-Fi access, there are still so many students that don’t.

The Conga Room
CREDIT: The Conga Room

“There are other schools that are so big, and these kids can’t get that personal attention,” Prince Royce told mitú. “Some teachers don’t even know their names. I think it’s important to give these kids what they need in order for them to progress.”

Some of the beneficiaries from the 1Million Project attended last Sunday’s show and kicked off the festivities.

Jazz ensemble from Garey High School. Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Jazz ensemble from Garey High School. Araceli Cruz

The jazz ensemble from Garey High School in Pomona were elated not only to perform at the Conga Room but also because they’d finally have Wi-Fi at school. ?

It’s easy to imagine a superstar thinking mostly of himself, reveling in his success. Luckily for the kids of Pomona Unified School District, and many others, Prince Royce isn’t like that.


READ: Listen To Jennifer Lopez, Prince Royce And Selena Gomez Pay Tribute To Victims Of Orlando Shooting

Share and let us know what it would be like for you to not have cell phones or Wi-Fi.

Latina Journalist Captures André 3000 Playing An Indigenous Mayan Flute At LAX And It’s Just So Awesome

Entertainment

Latina Journalist Captures André 3000 Playing An Indigenous Mayan Flute At LAX And It’s Just So Awesome

@antoniacere / Twitter

We see celebrities all the time at the airport. Sometimes they’re noteworthy (Edward James Olmos, Rosario Dawson), sometimes they’re yawners (Gérard Depardieu), but imagine seeing one half of Outkast at your gate. Wouldn’t you freak out? That’s exactly what happened to a New York-based journalist.

Antonia Cereijido, a producer for NPR’s Latino USA podcast, was casually waiting for her flight at the Los Angeles Airport when she spotted André 3000.

Instagram/@antocere

The sighting almost wasn’t meant to be. Cerejido explained that she had missed her first flight.

“The crazy thing is I was supposed to take a flight at 11:15 the night before,” she told Slate in an interview, “but there were 50 minutes of traffic at the airport, so I missed my flight. I was very upset. I had to buy flights for the next day, and I was annoyed. I arrived super early, like, “I’m not going to miss my second flight.”

When she realized it was him, she — as any smart person would do — asked to take a picture with him.

Instagram/@antocere

“Well, I think I said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours,’ and then because my friend had said, ‘That’s not a flute,’ I asked, ‘What instrument is that?’ and he said, ‘Oh, it’s a flute. It’s an indigenous double flute.’ Then I asked to take a photo. I was sort of starstruck. I took the photo, and I went away as quickly as possible before I said anything and I sat down. Then we all boarded the plane, and I uploaded the post on Instagram and on Twitter. I saw that it was popular because it was probably only up for 10 minutes and it had 600 likes.”

Yeah, her tweet was popular. It’s gotten more than 50K retweets.

Credit: @antoniacere / Twitter

“I had one tweet before get kind of popular,” she told Slate. “It was, like, a thousand likes, so I was excited. Then I turned my phone off. And then, when we landed six hours later, it had 68,000 likes. And actually, my first feeling was dread. I felt kind of bad, like, what if I’m outing—what if this is what he does, he goes to places and plays the flute and kind of stays low-key? Because it wasn’t like he was asking for a lot of attention—he was doing his own thing. And I could tell that he saw I was staring at him when he was going back-and-forth, but it wasn’t like he was mad at the attention. He was just sort of neutral.”

But, about that indigenous flute.

Credit: @antoniacere / Twitter

People on social media actually questioned her about her flute knowledge, but she got the response directly from André and the makers.

“I just got off the phone with Guillermo Martinez the man who made Andres’s beautiful flute, she tweeted. “It’s a Mayan double flute. He and his shop are doing incredible work by keeping the music if indigenous North American communities alive. Here is his website: https://www.quetzalcoatlmusic.org/ 

The best part about the story is how Outkast is part of her family history.

Credit: antocere / Instagram

“My family is originally from Argentina, and when we first moved from New York to San Diego, it was so different from my experience up until then that my family became really close,” she told Slate. “And there were two things we listened to all the time: the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Outkast. And we became obsessed with the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album. My mom had a dream that André 3000 taught us the “Hey Ya!” dance. I always remembered that, because it was such a funny thing for my mom to say. And so I have this very fond feeling about him, and he lived up to that. My mom dreamed that he would be nice and teach us something, and that happened to me in real life, which is so crazy.”

So awesome!

READ: ‘Los Espookys’: Get To Know The Cast Of HBO’s New Comedy En Español

This Chicana Started A Collective For Girl Skaters To Confidently Take Up Space In Los Angeles

Fierce

This Chicana Started A Collective For Girl Skaters To Confidently Take Up Space In Los Angeles

For Leti Lomeli, skating always provided her with sisterhood. Playing roller derby for nearly a decade in Phoenix, Arizona, the team contact sport was a community of mostly Latina girls who had each other’s backs and were always bigging one another up. So when the Chicana moved to Los Angeles in her 20s, she was surprised to find that skating was predominantly the realm of white male bros, far from the inviting space she knew and loved. To survive in the new unfamiliar city busting with opportunity, she started the LA chapter of Chicks in Bowls (CIB), an international group building inclusive skatepark communities and experiences.

“It’s more of a structure to get people there, to get more variety and diversity in the skatepark and take up space,” Lomeli, 28, told FIERCE.

After dedicating so much of her life to derby, Lomeli didn’t want to commit herself to the sport as she had in the past. Moving to California to focus on her graduate degree and career, she wanted to enjoy her lifelong hobby without team responsibilities. She hoped it would be fun. But when the transplant first visited a skatepark, her excitement immediately swiveled to insecurity. Alone in a park filled with overweening men, she scurried back to her car, feeling unwelcome in an environment that usually felt like home.

“It was all guys, all skateboards, no quad skates. It was so intimidating to be there by myself. I felt like such a weenie. I left. I didn’t feel comfortable,” she said.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

Hoping to never relive that moment of unease again, Lomeli began searching for diverse skate spaces in LA. She didn’t find one, but she did discover a larger network that would ultimately allow her to create the community she was hungry for: Chicks in Bowls. Founded in 2012 by New Zealand derby skater-graphic designer-entrepreneur Lady Trample, CIB creates and promotes mostly-girl, but open to all genders, roller skate crews around the world. With more than 300 chapters across the globe, the space brings seasoned skaters together with newbies in an environment where they can feel safe, comfortable and excited to do what they love.

While there was already a CIB group in Long Beach, Calif., Lomeli made her case to Lady Trample on why the sizeable and diverse city of Los Angeles needed its own crew, too. In 2016, Chicks in Bowls LA was born, with Lomeli at its helm. She eagerly began organizing meet-ups, which she’d promote on social media. As she anticipated, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the collective she was creating. During any given event, a group of about 30 women skaters took over bowls, confidently entering spaces enmass where they otherwise felt excluded from.

“We just wanted to take up space and own it. We wanted to let them know, we are going to be here, and you’re going to be OK with it. We are going to do what people come to the skatepark for,” she said.

During meet-ups, some women took the opportunity to skate freely while others taught newcomers the basics. Regardless of why the girls came, though, Lomeli wanted them to leave feeling one way: welcomed, not like she did the first time she hit an LA skatepark.

But even among a group of powerful girls, creating an environment where everyone feels safe and secure isn’t always easy.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

“It’s mostly the feeling of intimidation that comes with being surrounded by testosterone and eyes. They might not say anything, but it’s just a big deal to go in there and take up that space. There are certain instances when they do say something or it does get physical, though,” she said.

On one occasion, a male skater, who she says wasn’t practicing proper park etiquette, crashed into her. He then blamed her and wrongfully told her she wasn’t allowed to have roller skates in the bowl. During another event, there was a drunk male skater loudly taunting some of the women in her group. Lomeli put a stop to the jeers.

“For new girls entering a park and seeing this, it’s scary,” she said. “But having other women there, watching them stand their ground, it shows you, ‘I can do this, too.’”

Lomeli, who has since stepped down from her role as president of CIB LA to focus on her career as an applied behavior analyst and explore other recreational passions, says she started the group for selfish reasons: to create the community she felt she needed. However, through that, she was able to organize a collective that extended far beyond her and would excel even without her leadership.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

While the former roller derby player, who has replaced her skates for dance shoes in recent months, may no longer be active in the scene she helped create in Los Angeles, her message, especially for Latinas, remains the same: be bold about your greatness.

“Because we are women and Latinas, we are told to be humble, be quiet, don’t make daring statements. Fuck that! Make your accomplishments known. Be loud and proud about them. Confidently take up space,” she said.

This story was done in collaboration with the The Gnar Gnar Honeys.

Read: Not Seeing Women Represented In Extreme Sports, This Colombiana Skater Created An All-Girl Collective In Bogotá

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