Entertainment

This Boricua Is Bringing An Indie Bookstore To Her Neighborhood Of 1.4 Million

Nöelle Santos is a woman on a mission: giving her borough a bookstore. The Bronx, where Santos resides, has ten colleges, 1.4 million people and, currently, zero bookstores. Santos told mitú that this was just unacceptable so she is doing something about it.

Nöelle Santos, 30, wants to give her neighborhood a unique and accessible bookstore.


According to the website, The Lit. Bar will be more than just a bookstore. The dream project of Santos, who has a bachelor’s in business management and accounting and master’s in human resources management from Lehman College, will be a bookstore, wine bar and community center.

“I saw this petition going around online in October 2014 and it said that the Barnes & Noble in Co-Op City in Bay Plaza was in jeopardy of being closed; that the landlord didn’t want to extend the lease because they wanted a more affluent tenant, someone who could pay more rent,” Santos told mitú.

The looming, and eventual, threat of the Bronx losing their only bookstore launched Santos into action.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I was inspired to do something about it. It was unacceptable to me that there are 1.4 million people in The Bronx and 10 colleges and we only had one bookstore. I decided right then and there that I was going to do something about it; that I was going to open my own bookstore and make it more accessible because I drive but that’s not the case for most people in my borough,” Santos told mitú. “It was really hard to get all the way to Co-Op City. There’s no train that goes over there; that goes all the way to the northeast. Also, it’s a corporate chain store so it never reflected our local people and the demographic that we have here, so I figured that I could do something really special for The Bronx by bringing a second bookstore and it just so happens that now I’m going to be the only one.”

Santos understands the importance of literacy in getting any education.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“First, I need to give people in The Bronx access to books. Just at its core, books and reading and literacy are the foundations for any type of learning so my people need access to books first and foremost. Secondly, specifically where I’m from in the south Bronx, we’ve seen a wave of gentrification and we’ve seen a more affluent demographic move into the borough and gentrification is a thing,” Santos mentioned to mitú about the need for a neighborhood bookstore where neighbors can meet and talk about tense issues.

But she also hopes that the bookstore becomes a place of community.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook
CREDIT: The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I don’t want to see the borough become ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’ where you have the rich on one side and the poor on the other. I want to make a home for people to actually connect and communicate about these issues and become real neighbors and I can’t think of a better way to do that than through wine and books,” Santos expressed about her hopes of bringing community together through books.

The Boricua bookstore owner is also dedicated to making sure her store reflects her community.


“My inventory is going to be general interest but we’re going to specialize in women’s and local interest, whatever that may be at that time,” Santos said adding that, “about 60 percent of my population speaks Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself but I’m going to make sure that I have somebody on staff at all times that speaks Spanish and I’m also going to look into the statistics and I’m going to also address other languages other than Spanish.”

Santos also encourages others to start their own bookstores if they live in underserved neighborhoods because independent bookstores are doing just fine.


“We are thriving and don’t be afraid because you see Borders closing and Barnes & Noble closing down. Independent bookstore sales and statistics are nothing like Barnes & Noble,” Santos stated to mitú. “They abandoned local communities and became corporations and they are feeling the affects of that because the only way they can compete with Amazon is on price and you know who’s going to win there.”

If you’d like to donate to Santos’ crowdfunding efforts, you can click here.

indiegogo.com
CREDIT: indiegogo.com

READ: An Afro-Dominican Mom Made A Bilingual Book So Children And Parents Can Discuss Race And Color

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Bad Bunny’s Concert Parade Made History And Shined A Light On Latino Communities In NYC

Entertainment

Bad Bunny’s Concert Parade Made History And Shined A Light On Latino Communities In NYC

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Leave it to Bad Bunny to elevate the art of a virtual concert with his first live performance in this era of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The beloved San Benito performed a concert on the back of a flatbed truck slowly driving through the Bronx, Washington Heights, and Harlem. The reggaetonero’s set was streamed as part of Uforia’s monthly music series, through which the music outlet, owned by Univision, has lined up concerts to the end of the year. “It was difficult for me to do a concert without an audience. I didn’t want to,” Bad Bunny said during the show, according to Billboard. “But I’m accepting the new reality and I hope people enjoy this. We need it.”

Based upon the hype and reviews, it’s obvious that we the people loved it.

Bad Bunny’s free NYC concert made history as he paraded across the city in a flatbed truck.

Bad Bunny’s moving concert, which started outside Yankee Stadium and at certain points had him literally ducking under traffic light and bridges, was livestreamed on the Uforia app and his own YouTube channel. The hit concert featured songs off his February album YHLQMDLG, including “Si Veo a Tu Mamá,” “La Difícil,” and “Pero Ya No,” among others.

The history-making performance concluded outside Harlem Hospital, where the rapper thanked front-line medical workers for their efforts during the coronavirus quarantine, and performed his song “Yo Perreo Sola.”

“Respect and thanks to those people who have sacrificed their lives in this city,” Bad Bunny told the crowd, per Billboard. “With a lot of faith in God, I sense that good things are coming. I know we are going through very difficult times. I have made thousands of mistakes, but my only mission is to try to be a better person every day.”

The hit concert coincided with the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Bad Bunny’s concert was a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month but it also fell on the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Bad Bunny’s home of Puerto Rico. He thanked Latinos for supporting him and offered words of encouragement during the pandemic.

“With a lot of faith in God, I sense that good things are coming,” he added. “I know we are going through very difficult times, but I have hope that people doing things with their heart, spirit, faith and hope, we’re going to move forward.”

Bad Bunny was joined by virtual appearances from reggaeton stars J Balvin, Sech and Mora. The show was produced by Univision’s Uforia, the radio broadcasting and music events division of the company. 

“We are extremely excited to celebrate the richness of Latinx culture during Hispanic Heritage Month with this one-of-a-kind live streaming experience, and also commemorate the Puerto Rico community’s resilience on the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria, in partnership with Verizon,” Jesus Lara, president of radio at Univision, said in a statement. “We are proud to showcase the artistry of Bad Bunny who has had such a profound impact on our culture and the music industry at large.”

Imagine being the lucky resident of this building with a view like this…

A live stream showed the Latin Grammy award-winning artist dodging traffic lights and excited fans chasing him down streets with their cellphones in hand in New York City. 

El Conejo Malo literally brought the concert to people’s doorsteps. He also used the concert as a chance to shine a light on his native Puerto Rico and the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria that devastated the area. P.R. is still in recovery he mentioned. As the sun went down, Benito tore through the hits from his first album X 100pre like “Ni Bien Ni Bien,” “Sólo de Mí,” and “Romana”.

Although Coronavirus has had a major impact on the music industry, Bad Bunny has found ways to keep himself plenty busy.

CREDIT: EMMA MCINTYRE / GETTY IMAGES

Despite spending most of the year in quarantine in his native Puerto Rico, Bad Bunny has been extremely busy. From gracing magazine covers and making history in the process to surprise releasing an entire album, Bad Bunny has kept his fans on their toes.

The reggaetonero was also set to perform two sold-out shows on October 30-31 at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn stadium, but they’ve been canceled in the wake of Covid-19. So this was the first chance for San Benito fans to witness live renditions from his record-breaking 2020 album YHLQMDLG, and his follow-up surprise album Las Que No Iban a Salir.

The “Yo Perrea Sola” singer also collaborated with Dua Lipa, J Balvin, and Tainy on a hit single, “Un Día (One Day)”. He’s also set to be recognized with the Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision in recognition for his impact as an artist and activist.

You can rewatch the full show here.

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This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

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