Entertainment

If You Remember The Homies Toys, Their Story Is Even Better

In the late ’90s, Homies figurines became a hit seemingly out of nowhere. Kids went from collecting fake jewelry and those little green soldier toys to collecting figurines inspired by Los Angeles lowrider culture. What began as the creator’s teenage passion art project turned into a major company that brought attention (and criticism) to a culture that was often overlooked.

Remember these vending machines? They were often stocked with gumballs, fake jewelry, temporary tattoos and sometimes, Homies figurines.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

If Homies sound familar, you might recognize these little dudes.

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Credit: tuesdaymoon94553 / Twenty20

These little Homies made their debut in the late 1990s and they definitely left their mark on Chicano culture. You may have pulled out a quarter (or begged your parents for one) to get a figurine from the vending machine.


They were created by artist David Gonzales. His inspiration for Homies? His homies.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

Homies were born out of Gonzales’ own love of creating art. At 16, Gonzales started to capture the people of his neighborhood of Richmond, CA where, as Gonzales recalls, every kid in the neighborhood wanted a lowrider for their first car. His first drawings were inspired by his own homies and his first goal was just to have fun with his friends.

“[I] wanted to make my own homies laugh,” Gonzales told mitú. “When they saw the sketch I did of them… it was instant laughter.”


But it was more than just his friends that inspired his art. Gonzales fell in love with lowrider culture as a teen and he says that that too impacted his art.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

While at a dance as a teen, he witnessed the power and love of lowrider culture.

“I saw a ’75 creme-colored Caprice Classic cruising in front of the hall with only its parking lights on. The whole crowd of homies hanging out front stopped to stare and whistle at it,” Gonzales recalls. “It was slammed to the ground and was one of the prettiest things I had ever seen. I fell in love with lowriders and lowriding culture that night.”


Gonzales was only 16 when he created the seed of Homies figurines: the Chicano comic strip “Mr. Hollywood.”

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

The comic strip was the start of the Homies franchise. At the beginning, Gonzales said he never based his characters off just one person. What he did was he took personalities, styles and names from his homies and mixed and matched to create his characters. Still, the comics were more about just having fun and expressing his culture than reaching for a specific goal.

“No goals except to make my homies laugh and to finish a strip,” Gonzales told mitú about his initial purpose of creating Homies at 16 years old. “I was really slow drawing and spent much of my free time partying. I had no idea what I was creating would be my life’s legacy.”


As Gonzales grew older, he found a full-time job utilizing his art skills…for the U.S. Postal Service.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

“Only full-time job I had before I began drawing Homies for a living was I was a U.S. Postal Service employee,” Gonzales recalled. “I started as a clerk there and eventually became a full-time illustrator before leaving to start my first T-shirt company with Homies as my anchor brand.”


Before the figurines, Homies was focused on art and t-shirts.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

Though this was the way Homies first entered the world, it wasn’t long until the business stalled and needed a transformation.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

“When the run with the Homies T-shirt line ended, before we began selling toys, and I was very close to having my company fall into bankruptcy,” Gonzales told mitú. “We overcame it by perseverance, hard work and good fortune.”


Even though Gonzales almost lost the Homies company to bankruptcy, he kept fighting to keep it afloat.

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Credit: Erick Parra

^^ Words to live by.


Gonzales eventually hooked up with a vending machine company which tried out Homies toys as a “gimmick.” The gimmick? Homies were originally sold as parachute men in vending machines.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

That’s right. Instead of green plastic soldiers, they used Homies figurines. And people loved ’em. “The marketplace went nuts as they bought the parachute toys to collect the figurines attached,” Gonzales told mitú.


However, while most people were hyped about the release of Homies figurines, others criticized the toy line.

Credit: Homies / Facebook
Credit: Homies / Facebook

“It hurt, and I probably took it too seriously,” Gonzales told mitú about the criticism and backlash he received from releasing the toy line. Gonzales felt like his toys were unfairly criticized for perpetuating stereotypes. He says he was only trying to reflect the culture he grew up with: “I felt we were misunderstood as a culture. Not Mexican, not American, not Texan, not anything but California Chicanos into lowriding. Yes, gangs were part of the barrios we came from, but we were not all gangbangers. Our dress was our lifestyle, and our cars were also.”


Mitú asked Gonzales how he has seen the perception of his brand change over time and this is what he had to say:

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Credit: Erick Parra

Yet, despite the previous criticism, Homies will be relaunching in the near future. Gonzales knows that his brand is more recognized by an older generation, but that’s okay.

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Credit: Homies / Facebook

“I feel confident that the older kids… from 15 to 60, will gravitate to the relaunched Homies as it will take them back to a happy place in their lives,” Gonzales told mitú about his hopes for the relaunch. “Where they collected the Homies from vending machines.”


READ: This Janitor Started From The Bottom… And Then, He Invented Hot Cheetos

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Young Boy In Los Angeles Turns Entrepreneur To Help Mother During Ongoing Pandemic

Culture

Young Boy In Los Angeles Turns Entrepreneur To Help Mother During Ongoing Pandemic

aaronsgarden / Instagram

Covid-19 has forced families to figure out the best way to make enough to take care of things. Some have had to find new jobs after being laid off and having to make up enough to save their families. A young boy in Los Angeles is doing that to help his mom makes ends meet.

Meet Aaron and his garden.

The young boy and his mother were on their last $12 when he had an idea of creating a business. According to a GoFundMe account, the young boy convinced his undocumented mother to start a business selling plants to help them make it through the pandemic.

Aaron’s Garden was the business he and his mom created to make some money.

“Aaron and mom have been struggling from being homeless to shelters and bouncing from house to house and now live in a shed,” reads a GoFundMe account. “He came out with the idea of selling plants and starting a business in his yard to be a provider and buy his own hot Cheetos with cheese without having to ask his mom for money.”

Aaron advertises his plants and when you can buy them on his Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Sensitive plant available limited supplies

A post shared by Aaron M. (@aaronsgarden) on

The LA entrepreneur is creating a lot of buzz with people celebrating his efforts. People in the U.S. are struggling as the additional $600 in unemployment has disappeared and a second Covid-19 stimulus is stuck in Congress. Aaron’s plant selling is helping his family during one of the most difficult times in modern U.S. history.

Way to go, Aaron.

View this post on Instagram

We love puppies

A post shared by Aaron M. (@aaronsgarden) on

We are all so proud to see you doing your best to make it through this time. Check his Instagram to see what he has and when and where he is selling the plants. Keep going, mijo!

READ: These Female Entrepreneurs Want You To Wear A Wig That Is Snatched

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Latinas In Texas Are Among The Most Affected By The Wage Gap And It’s Getting Worse

Fierce

Latinas In Texas Are Among The Most Affected By The Wage Gap And It’s Getting Worse

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According to new research, Latina workers had to work until Nov. 20, 2019, to be paid the same wages as white non-Hispanic men in 2018, and it’s even worse in Texas. Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) highlighted that fact on Latina Equal Pay Day, Nov. 20, in a tweet. “In Texas, Latinas make less than $0.45 for every dollar a man makes. That makes us 49th in the nation. The Senate must pass the (Paycheck Fairness Act) now. Latinas deserve better — we all do,” the Representative tweeted. Texas’s House of Representatives approved the Paycheck Fairness Act, sending it to the Senate for a vote back in March. The bill has been stalled in the Senate ever since. If passed into law, the Paycheck Fairness Act would increase penalties for employers that issue discriminatory wages to their workers. The bill would also require employers to report pay information to the Department of Labor, holding employers accountable for paying Latinas unfairly.

Last year, Latina Equal Pay Day was on Nov. 1, but Latinas have to work an extra 20 days than last year to make the same as their white male counterparts.

CREDIT: @REPFLETCHER / TWITTER

Last year, Texas was “the third-worst state for Latinas when it comes to the wage gap,” Maya Raghu, the Director of Workplace Equality at the National Women’s Law Center told Houston Public Media. She added that “the wage gap for Latinas has barely budged in about 30 years.” This year, Texas is the second-worst state in America for Latinas to make a living wage. Rep. Fletcher took Latina Equal Pay Day as an opportunity to push for legislation of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Later, Rep. Fletcher clarified her statement in a follow-up tweet, saying, “Someone asked the question, so to be clear: this statistic refers to white, non-Hispanic men.”

Rep. Fletcher received plenty of backlash from Twitter trolls, who nearly cried ‘white racism’ and spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric. “Why Latinas?  Why not just level it for all????  After all Latinas are your new majority. Who will be looking after the new minority?” asked Twitter user Shifty Schiff. “NO to #LatinaEqualPayDay !! Latinas crossing the border INCREASE chances Americans will be trafficked. #BuildTheWall traitor!!” tweeted another user in response to Rep. Fletcher. Another troll tweeted, “Equal opportunity, not equal outcome.  You can’t enforce equal outcome unless you take all opportunity away from everyone. This is not the job of government!”

In fact, reports show that the pay gap widens the more educated a Latina becomes.

CREDIT: LEANIN.ORG

Unfortunately, education appears to be a key factor, robbing Latinas of opportunities to compete in higher-wage fields because of the lack of access to education. In 2013, 19 percent of all Latina-Americans aged 25-29 had completed a college degree compared to 44 percent of white women, according to a government study. When you add documentation as a factor, the statistics plummet. Still, when you control for education, the gap only gets worse, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. Latinas in the legal field are paid an average salary of $52,477 compared to white men who earn an average of $150,487, averaging a 65 percent pay gap, according to the Bureau of Labor. While Latina CEOs and General Managers are paid 35 percent less than their white non-Hispanic male counterparts.

More than half of Latina mothers are the primary income-earners in their household, and the disparities become inherited. Over the course of her career, the average Latina would earn over $1.1 million more if paid fairly, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families April 2019 report. The report cited that “if the wage gap were eliminated, on average, a Latina working full time, year-round would have enough money to afford one of the following: more than three additional years of child care, nearly 19 additional months of mortgage payments, more than two additional years of rent, almost two years of the maximum retirement contribution to her employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement account, or more than five years of the maximum retirement contribution to her Traditional or Roth IRA account.”

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans are not even aware of the Latina pay gap, according to a LeanIn.Org/SurveyMonkey poll.

CREDIT: LEANIN.ORG

A sample of 5,690 adults polled online between Oct. 25-29, 2019 showed that nearly 1,900 surveyors were not aware of the Latina pay gap. Half of them were not aware of the pay gap between Latinas and white women. The dollar for dollar wage gap is relevant when you control for job title, education, and location, but doesn’t factor in discrimination that favors white men over Latina women for promotion. The LeanIn.org/SurveyMonkey poll found that “for every 100 men who are promoted to manager, only 68 Latinas are promoted. This ‘broken rung’ results in more Latinas getting stuck at entry-level.”

READ: Today Is The Day To Stand Up Against This Horrible Latina Wage Gap And Here’s What You Can Do To Close It

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