Things That Matter

Afro-Latinas Inspiring Us To Live Out The Dream With Their Poetry

When you’re a Latina who’s walked through life receiving a slew of comments, like “you’re pretty for a morena” or “you could be cute if you fixed that pelo malo,” you know that it isn’t always easy finding women in media who look like you. Let alone in the fields of academia and literature. With our world seemingly turned upside down, FIERCE is paying homage to Latinas who have worked to empower Black women through their words and thoughts on Afro-Latinidad.

Check out some of our favorite powerful Latinas celebrating our roots below.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican spoken word poet and author who hails from New York City. With each line that she delivers, Acevedo does members of the Latino community a favor by highlighting and praising its African ancestry. Her work lovingly celebrates the influence her Blackness has impressed upon her own cultural traditions. “My first language I spoke was Spanish/ Learned from lullabies whispered in my ear/ My parents’ tongue was a gift which I quickly forgot after realizing my peers did not understand it./ They did not understand me,” she says in her poem “Afro-Latina.” Besides holding an impressive presence on Instagram, Acevedo has addressed TEDTalk stages, appeared on BET and Mun2, and authored books like “The Poet X” and “Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Sharee Yveliz

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The “I Mean, I Guess” author has an African-American father and a mother who hails from the Dominican Republic. She has spoken openly about feeling isolated from both cultures. Her poem “Negra Bella” is about empowerment and finding your own way.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe

Del Orbe is a formerly undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic who writes and performs spoken word poetry. Her Instagram page features a collection of her poems, thoughts presented as a stream of consciousness, photos, and memes. Her poetry works to shed light on issues facing the Afro-Dominican community, including the immigrant experience. Braiding her desires to promote resistance and visibility for low-income immigration, Del Orbe’s work is definitely one for any poetry enthusiast to watch.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Ariana Brown

Ariana Brown is an African-American-Mexican-American poet whose experience of being raised in San Antonio, Texas largely inspired her to create the Afro-Latina representation that she often missed out on while growing up. Brown’s poetry takes on so many of the issues Latinas are forced to deal with, including race, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation. In poems like “Inhale: The Ceremony,” the Black writer addresses the ways in which African ancestry is often erased and discredited in history as well as in modern cultures.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Yazmerlin Rodriguez

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Through her numerous posts on Instagram, Rodriguez’s use of the social platform proves that as an artist she prefers to dabble in more than just one art form. She models, opens up about her long-term pursuit of education via physical therapy, and writes epic poems that will excite the heart of any Latina who has ever doubted the beauty and power of her rizos. The Afro-Dominicana from the Bronx, New York uses her poetic verses to remind readers that Black Latinos are “proof of survival and resilience” and that “‘Black don’t crack’ is more than just skin deep.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Venessa Marco

If you have yet to be blessed with the words and observations of this Cuban-Puerto Rican, prepare for an earthquake of emotion that her words will undoubtedly bring out in you. Back in 2014, the Afro-Latina made waves across the Internet when she performed her spoken word poem “Patriarchy.” The piece speaks to the constant sexualization from men and media that so many women often endure. These days, Marco is still stomping down the patriarchy and fighting against colorism, racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Aja Monet

Monet is a Cuban-Jamaican poet, writer, and lyricist from Brooklyn, New York. Back in 2007, when she was 19, she became the youngest poet to ever become the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion. For any Latina finding herself enraged, disheartened, or infuriated by today’s post-2016 election, Monet’s politically driven poems will give you something to lean on. Her work speaks to the everyday struggles of being a Black woman, racism, Trump, sisterhood, solidarity, and displacement. She has two published books, including “The Black Unicorn Sings” and “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Tonya Ingram

Ingram became a New York Knicks Poetry Slam Champion back in 2011 and was a member of the 2013 Nuyorican Grand Slam team. The Bronx-born poet has published her work for two books: “Growl and Snare” as well as “Another Black Girl Miracle.” Each and every one of her words is steeped with intention and speaks to the Black girl’s experience with a strong sense of wisdom and self-love.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Latinas talk “Imposter Syndrome”

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Latinas talk “Imposter Syndrome”

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Imposter syndrome. It may happen when you finally got accepted to college and have found yourself overwhelmed by the student body, or when you accepted that dream job, or even while doing your job. It can happen in relationships, in friendships. Basically anywhere and amongst us Latinas too. Even despite our hard work and much-earned credentials.

We wanted to talk about Imposter’s Syndrome and how to deal with it, so we reached out to our FIERCE audience on Instagram for their thoughts.

Latinas got real with their responses about feeling as if they were undeserving.

Check them out below!

Remind yourself that you’ve worked hard and are deserving.

“Thank you for posting this! I actually just got hired on as a school counselor and I’m feeling this intensely right now. I have to keep reminding myself that I worked so hard for this and that I AM WORTH IT!” – adelitafamania

Understand that anything can trigger it.

“It happens to me every single day on so many levels. It’s been holding me back my whole life and I keep pushing against it, some days it gets the better of me but I won’t give up on myself even when I really feel I’m not capable. I get so stressed all the time thinking someone is going to discover that I’m not smart, or fun, or whatever it is at that moment that I shut down. It’s so good to openly discuss it with friends or even professional help.” – pinatapink

And it can lead to social anxiety.

“This is so hard, I feel like this nearly every day. Lately, it’s been getting in the way of my entire purpose and whether or not I want to work hard at all. I tend to think, “Like for what? I don’t deserve to have the things I want because I didn’t work hard enough.” Yet, I did. Probably more than anyone else in my programs, jobs, teams, even my friend group. This is so tough and often it leads to my social anxiety which affects a whole multitude of behavioral patterns like procrastination and chronic lateness.” –curlsofroses

But you can battle it by not shrugging off your achievements.

“Happens to me all the time. And when people give me praise I tend to say “oh it’s not a big deal.” But I’m trying to remember that I’m enough and hell yeah I’m a big deal.” – erika_kiks18

Because it can happen to brain surgeons and Fortune 500 CEOs too.

“Our country and our community has been through a lot since the middle of March. Now more than ever is the time to nourish our goals and inspirations. In my podcast, I bring together some of the highest achieving Latinos that our country has to offer: Dr. Quinoñes-Hinojosa: who went from migrant farm worker to a world-renowned brain surgeon
Hector Ruiz: one of the very few Latinos to be a Fortune 500 CEO of an American Company Louis Barajas: the #1 financial Latino expert in the USA. (He is most likely your favorite Reggaeton artist’s to-go financial guy.)
Cesar Garcia: an actor who has seen. dozens of times in music videos, shows, and movies. He’s known for his roles in Fast and Furious and Breaking Bad. Chef Aarón Sánchez: The most well-known Latin Chef in the country. Find an episode that catches your attention or share an episode to a friend of loved one that would like to hear from other Latinos on how they achieved their dreams and goals.” – trailblazinglatinospodcast

And you can cure it by not reminding yourself to not give weight to other people’s thoughts.

“I cured mine by not giving a fck! The enemy is a LIEEEE.” –stephaniesaraii

And last but not least, know that it can be hard to defeat but you ARE worthy.

“This was me on the first day after I transferred to University. The feeling still follows me sometimes. It hard to defeat.” – dianalajandre

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Things That Matter

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

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Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.