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Cristina Jimenez Moreta’s Fight For Immigrants Just Won Her A $625,000 ‘Genius’ Grant

Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

Every year, the MacArthur Foundation hands out a $625,000 “no-strings-attached” award to creative geniuses in various fields. Academics, engineers, activists, writers, and musicians have all won the award, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sandra Cisneros.

There’s no application for the MacArthur fellowship, so the recipients often have no idea that they’re being considered. According to the MacArthur Foundation website, this is the criteria for selecting the fellows:

  1. Exceptional creativity.
  2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments.
  3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Cecilia A. Conrad, a managing director of the foundation and the leader of the fellows program, told The New York Times that the whole point of handing out this money to great minds is to inspire others to do amazing work.

The 24 winners of 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellowship were announced yesterday and Cristina Jiménez Moreta was one of the winners.

Cristina Jiménez Moreta is one of the MacArthur Fellowship winners that won $625,000.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

The 33-year-old told The Washington Post that she could not believe the news. She was informed weeks ago but had to keep it a secret until the news was formally announced.

I felt like it just took me a few minutes to believe — is this really happening?” Moreta tells The Washington Post. “For me, this recognition is a recognition of the lives of undocumented people, of the work that we have been doing to advocate and create change.”

Moreta, the co-founder of United We Dream, was recognized for her work as an immigration rights activist.

CREDIT: Facebook/United We Dream

Founded in 2008, United We Dream is a national youth-led organization that fights for the fair treatment of immigrants, regardless of immigration status.

Moreta knows the struggles that immigrants face very well. She came to the U.S. from Ecuador as an undocumented immigrant when she was 13.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

According to the MacArthur Foundation, Moreta was chosen for “changing public perceptions of immigrant youth and playing a critical role in shaping the debate around immigration policy.”

After winners were announced, Moreta posted this lovely message on her Facebook, thanking her parents for their hard work.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

She writes: “To my family and community, you have been with me and United We Dream throughout the years. Thank you for your love and support. I’m humbled to have received the FDR’s Freedom from Fear Medal from the Roosevelt Institute and have been selected as a MacArthur fellow by the MacArthur Foundation. I could only think of my parents as I received the news of this award. It was my mother and father who heroically risked everything to come to the United States from Ecuador seeking a better life for my family.

This award celebrates the resilience and strength of my parents and and of all immigrants who’ve defeated the odds to make the United States their home. As a proud immigrant woman of color, I ask the country to see me, see my brother, my parents, and the generations of immigrants who’ve come before. This recognition symbolizes the pathways we take to survive and thrive.”

Moreta says this award isn’t just about fighting Donald Trump’s racist politics but about recognizing what immigrants have to offer this country.

“Regardless of what Trump or anyone has to say, this award recognizes our courage, our sacrifices of the community, our humanity, and that this is our home,” Moreta told ThinkProgress. “This award and this journey really reflects that community [of undocumented immigrants] and the power and courage that comes with it when you’re dreaming together of what you want to achieve.”

READ: Activists, Politicians And Celebs React To The Announcement To Rescind DACA

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Mark Zuckerberg Has Apologized For The Facebook VR Tour Of Flooded Streets And Damaged Buildings In Puerto Rico

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Mark Zuckerberg Has Apologized For The Facebook VR Tour Of Flooded Streets And Damaged Buildings In Puerto Rico

Live from virtual reality — teleporting to Puerto Rico to discuss our partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross to restore connectivity and rebuild communities.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, October 9, 2017

The Internet can’t decide whether or not this was a good idea.

On Oct. 9, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s head of social VR, Rachel Dwyer, showed off the social media platform’s virtual reality experience. The promotional livestream was done via Facebook Live because branding. However, one section of the video really bothered some people. During their tour, Zuckerberg and Dwyer went to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico. The video was intended to show the Facebook audience how they’ve been assisting the American Red Cross and NetHope with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. However, some people saw it as exploitative.

The Facebook video showing avatars in Puerto Rico has really caught the Internet’s attention in a bad way…

And in a good way.

CREDIT: Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

Some critics of the video argue that showing scenes from devastated Puerto Rico was unnecessary and tone deaf. However, Zuckerberg received some support from people with family in Puerto Rico because of the work Facebook has been doing on the island since Hurricane Maria hit.

One moment that got people’s attention was when Zuckerberg and Dwyer’s  avatars high-five in front of a flooded house.

https://twitter.com/pipecork/status/917519467483078656

After the livestream, the Internet was divided on the video, with some accusing the company of exploiting Puerto Rico for press.

Puerto Ricans have been struggling to get back on their feet since Hurricane Maria tore through the island. Food, water, medicine, and basic necessities are running low and some still haven’t heard from family and friends on the island. Several companies, including Facebook, are sending resources and people to help in the recovery of Puerto Rico.

Some considered the VR promo helpful in bringing attention to what is happening in Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

And, he does look like a early 2000s Justin Timberlake in VR form.

Zuckerberg replied to the comments criticizing the promo video and apologized.

CREDIT: Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

“One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy,” Zuckerberg posted. “My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery. Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”

So, let us know. Do you think the VR promo was in bad taste?


READ: The Latino Workers At Facebook Have Joined A Union To Get Better Pay To Afford Decent Housing

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