Things That Matter

Hispanic Caucus Has Dedicated A Day Of The Dead Altar To The Migrants Who Died In Us Custody

The first official Day of the Dead altar on Capital Hill was installed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this week to honor migrants who have died in U.S. or while attempting to enter the country. The ofrenda includes photos of 14 people, many of them children, who died on their journey to acquire United States citizenship. 

This isn’t the only ofrenda in the capital. According to MSN, Marilyn Zepeda, a legislative correspondent to Mexican-American and Arizona Democratic Representative Raul M. Grijalva has created an altar to honor political giants like Elijah E. Cummings lost this year, and Latinx American activists like Cesar Chavez. 

While the office of Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has an altar with green, blue, and pink colorful sugar skulls, fruit, and Mexican candy. 

The ofrendas come at a critical time where Latinxs are better represented in government, but face increasing rates of hate crimes and threats to their personhood due to increasingly hostile rhetoric and policies by the Trump Administration. Solidarity among Latinxs in congress is critical right now. 

CHC puts their ofrenda on display in the Lincoln Room on Capitol Hill. 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus placed their display in the Lincoln Room, named after the president in 2018 by a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives. Formerly utilized by Abraham Lincoln while he was a member of congress from 1847-1849, the symbolism of having an ofrenda in there is notable. 

“This tradition brings family and friends together to remember those who have died and typically includes an altar ornamented with gifts, food and toys,” CHC Chairman Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) told The Hill.  “We are proud that our altar stands in the U.S. Capitol this week so we can collectively uplift each of their stories and remember the brave folks who sought a better life in our country.”

For Representative Tony Cárdenas the tradition reminds him of his parents who came to the United States from Mexico. 

“To me, this is a perfect display of what our country should stand for, which is for people who are fleeing, literally, for their lives. People who are leaving the country that they love to come and start new in a country that inevitably if they live, they will come to love like my parents did,” said Cárdenas. “It’s perfect.” 

Latinx members of congress put ofrendas in their offices.

“It’s important, culturally and historically, spiritually, whatever your higher power is, I think it’s important because it’s a connection to people that have passed, a remembrance, and I think it’s good not to forget,” said Grijalva, who like Rep. Garcia, has had a Día de Muertos ofrenda in his office every year.

According to MSN, Grijalva has photos of Cesar Chavez, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who died Oct. 17, and former House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., who died October 27. 

However, for Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán, who learned about ofrendas through Disney’s Coco, says the altar is bittersweet because of what it says about our country. 

“I think it’s sad that we have to do this,” said Barragán of the ofrendas for dead migrants.  “We have to continue to honor them and their memory to remind ourselves of the fight that we have now and need to continue to forge ahead. But we shouldn’t have to do ofrendas for migrants that are dying on U.S. soil.”

Representative Peter Aguilar echoed the sentiment. Aguilar, who keeps photos of his deceased relatives including his grandmother, believes the altar is a great way for CHC, in particular, to acknowledge the issue with ICE. 

“You don’t want to ever see anybody up there but I think it’s an appropriate way for CHC to honor our culture and honor those individuals who made the sacrifice and the journey,” said Aguilar.

Members of Congress say the ofrendas could humanize migrants to others. 

After seeing a photo of Oscar and Valeria Ramirez, a Honduran father and his 2-year-old daughter who died on their dangerous journey across the border, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer expressed remorse. 

“My heart breaks for Oscar and Valeria and other families who have perished while seeking refuge in the U.S.,” he wrote on Twitter. 

 Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard believes the ofrendas will remind people that amidst all the politicizing at the end of the day migrants are human beings facing unthinkable obstacles. 

“There’s a lot of attention on the wall and all these other things, and my concern is that we’re losing the focus in terms of that we are talking about people who are escaping horrific conditions in their country, that they’re good people, they’re looking for a better — not just a better life, but just to protect their children,” said Roybal-Allard

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Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Culture

Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Mexico’s famed Día de Muertos celebrations are coming up, the time of year when families honor their dead relatives with ofrendas, parades, visits to cemeteries, and many other festivities.

And, of course, Barbie wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations.

Mattel – which makes Barbie – has just launched a new Barbie Catrina that is much more festive and colorful than the first one last year, who was dressed in black.

On this occasion, Mattel worked with Mexican-American designer Javier Meabe who wanted to reflect the joy and deep-rooted traditions of the country.

“As a Mexican-American designer, it was important for me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well as the traditions I grew up with that are represented and celebrated in Barbie,” Meaba said in a statement from Mattel. 

Although, Mattel has enlisted the designs of a Mexican-American designer, not everyone is pleased with the launch. Some are worried that the entire Día de Muertos collection is potentially watering down a 3,000-year-old tradition and are accusing Barbie of cultural appropriation.

Barbie is releasing its second Día de Muertos doll and it’s generating plenty of buzz.

For the second year in a row, Mattel is launching a Día de Muertos Barbie modeled after the traditions of Mexico’s famed celebrations.

“We often look at different ways to continue to engage girls and families to gain knowledge and celebrate other cultures and other parts of the world,” Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “Our hope is for this Día de Muertos Barbie to honor the holiday for the millions that celebrate and to introduce people not familiar with the tradition to the rich meaning.”

This year’s doll was designed by Mexican American designer Javier Meabe who was inspired by his personal background and family traditions.

“It was very important that the second Dia De Muertos doll felt just as special as the first in the Barbie series,” said Meabe in a statement. “As a Mexican American Designer, it was important to me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well, as have the traditions I grew up with represented and celebrated in Barbie.”

He continued, “For this doll, I was inspired by the color gold seen throughout Mexican culture, jewelry, buildings, statues and artwork and highlighted it throughout the design. The roses represent emotions and moments in life including celebrations, birth, death, passion, and love and I also was inspired to introduce new textures and a new dress silhouette.”

Barbie lovers can buy the doll for $75 on the company’s website or at mass retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Last year marked the first time Barbie celebrated the iconic Mexican holiday.

Credit: Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Last year, Mattel released the first Barbie doll celebrating the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and it was a huge hit. The floral dress and headpiece on the doll combined with the traditional calavara makeup design was absolutely stunning, and the same can be said about the 2020 version that just launched.

This time around, the Barbie Dia de Muertos doll features a light, blush-colored lace dress over a layer embroidered with floral and skeleton accents. The intricacy of the makeup has been taken up a notch, and the “golden highlights in her hair shimmer beneath a crown of skeleton hands holding roses and marigolds.”

However, since last year many have been questioning the intentions of Barbie and whether or not this is a good move.

In Mexican culture, the Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is when the gateway between the living and the dead is said to open, a holiday during which the living honor and pay respects to loved ones who have died.

The new Día de Muertos Barbie was intended less as a portal into the realm of the dead and more as a gateway into Mexican culture. At least that is what Mattel is hoping for.

However, not everyone agrees. Latinx Twitter has lit up with both excitement and anger, with some folks appreciating the design while others are calling Mattel out for cultural appropriation. The Día de Muertos doll is another way Latinx culture is slowly entering the mainstream. With acclaimed shows like Vida and One Day at a Time and movies like Coco and Roma winning accolades — it seems even a toy company is looking to capitalize on Latinx culture

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Kellogg’s Has Launched A Pan De Muerto Cereal And Here’s Why It’s Such A Big Deal

Culture

Kellogg’s Has Launched A Pan De Muerto Cereal And Here’s Why It’s Such A Big Deal

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mexico has several deeply rooted traditions. Among them is the annual ritual of celebrating those who are no longer on Earth, known as Día de Muertos. During this celebration, people consume sugar skulls, an altar – or ofrenda – is decorated with the favorite items and foods of the deceased’s, and pan de muerto is widely eaten.

Across Mexico, there is a flurry of activity and traditions leading up to the main celebrations on November 1 and 2 and it’s become an international attraction – attracting foreigners who travel to Mexico in order to witness the celebrations.

The Coronavirus pandemic has people looking for some sense of normalcy and that may explain why you can already find pan de muerto in several panaderías and super markets. However, what caused fury among users of social networks was the launch of a cereal line inspired by the humble pan de muerto.

Kellogg’s has launched a pan de muerto cereal and social media is celebrating this big news.

What would Mexico be without its traditions? For example, without the Day of the Dead. Around the world, Mexico is connected to this day that revolves around serious traditions, rituals, and foods.

Now, it appears that international brands are catching on as Kellogg’s (yes, the international cereal company) announced that it’s decided to create and launch a line of cereals based on Mexico’s famed pan de muerto.

The new cereal by Kellogg’s has already landed in certain stores and includes the flavors of rollos de canela, churros and pan de muerto. On the packaging you can see the new labeling and ingredients such as orange blossom, butter and vanilla.

The origins of pan de muerto are deeply rooted in pre-Hispanic history.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

Pan de muerto is a type of pan dulce that’s commonly eaten in the weeks (or even months) leading up to the now famous holiday of Día de Muertos. It traces its origina back to the time of the Spanish Conquest, inspired by pre-Hispanic rituals that were largely modified under Spanish colonialism.

The delicious pan is a butter-based bread with orange blossom and anise scents, it has a soft flaky brioche-like interior; the crust is thin and golden and many people love the “bones and skull” pieces because they get a little crispy on the outside.

Although the cereal does have people asking – is this cultural appropriation?

As soon as the product hit shelves, it ignited a debate on the issue of cultural appropriation. Many accused the multinational of seeking to profit on the backs of one of Mexico’s most respected and prized traditions. Many pointed out that food is deeply connected to tradition and it’s a cultural symbol that should be respected – not packaged up for commercialization.

However, even if some are against the product launch, it’s too little too late as boxes of the new cereals are already hitting store shelves across the country. In fact, many Internet users are taking to social media to highlight new finds and to share the information so others can get in on the frenzy and give the new product a try.

Not everyone understood the excitement for a cereal…

Although the launch by Kellogg’s of this iconic food as a cereal caused much of social media to lose its cool, not everyone was convinced. Many expressed how confused they were that people were freaking out over a cereal…

While others were ready to spend all the money they have…

This Twitter user was so excited they’re ready to give up all their money for the cereal, saying “Take all my money!” Thankfully, they don’t have to give up all their pesos for a box – with it going for about $63 pesos (or about $3 USD) per box.

So what do you think? Should this product come to the U.S.? Would you be excited to give it a try? Or is it blatant cultural appropriation?

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