Things That Matter

Kay Lopez Developed Instagram Gifs To Better Represent All Kinds Of Latinas

Latinx representation in media is limited but leaders like Kay Lopez,a  34-year-old social strategist and content developer, are working to change that. For her latest project she developed 100 gifs to better represent Latinas beyond those normally attached to brands or stereotypes. 

“I wasn’t finding any gifs that really spoke to how I felt Latinas should be describing their power and self. The few gifs that I did come across were tied to alcohol brands and soccer teams. It was hard to understand why these gifs didn’t already exist,” she told FIERCE by mitú. 

Her background is in social strategy and content development, and she used her skills in graphic design to create the gifs “that spoke to the Latina community.”

She also tapped into the community she developed through the Instagram account, Latinas Poderosas which has more than 30k followers. 

 

The ethos behind the online community is to uplift Latinas and claim space in the digital world while promoting positivity. 

“Empowering our community is the foundation of Latinas Poderosas. My goal has always been to empower Latinas by showcasing both past and present Latinas who have created positive impact. Women who have not settled, women who have pushed boundaries and who have made their dreams possible despite obstacles.” she said.

This was the same intention she brought to the project so she reached out to the members of this community to find out what it was they wanted, opening up her DMs to suggestions and requests.

She initially drafted several empowering terms that spoke to Latinx in a positive way.

Eventually, her efforts evolved into working to ensure she represented the diversity within the Latinx community. 

She asks for two to three words max per phrase and is continuously looking for popular colloquial adjectives throughout Latin America  to “truly capture the diversity of our community.” 

“I wanted terms that were not focused on one country, I wanted to pull and showcase the diversity in our phrases and the diversity of the Spanish language. Today you’ll find gifs that read ‘cachimbona’ a phrase used in El Salvador, ‘La Llorona’ which ties to Mexican [folklore], ‘Ya Tu Sabes’  used in the Dominican Republic, and, one of my favorites, ‘Blaxican’ created by special request. The more terms we have the more impact we have!”

Since launching earlier this month the gifs have already generated more than 20 million views and counting and so far the most popular terms are “Prima Hermana,” “Mija,” and “Bebecita.” 

Lopez, who is a first-generation Mexican-American Houston transplant living in Los Angeles, is constantly working to make the gifs more inclusive and representative. 

According to one report, nearly 40 million Instagram users over the age of 18 were Latinx in 2014 and yet, according to Lopez, the only gifs available to Latinx were primarily stereotypes. 

“I want to refrain from Latinx stereotypes as much as possible, words like ‘caliente,’ ‘chancla’ ‘tacos’ – with the exception of  ‘tacos before vatos’ which was a request from a fan – and I definitely want to stay away from words that insult our community or other communities. I want the gifs to showcase the diversity of our language, our culture, and the vibrancy of our roots.”

Diversity in a community that includes nearly a quarter of U.S. Latinos who self-identify as Afro-Latino among the millions of immigrants who come from 33 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Her efforts are undoubtedly making the social sphere all the more colorful.

This addition to the digital landscape means that when someone searches “Latina,” “latinas poderosa” or “latinx” in the gif section on Instagram or Snapchat, they’ll be flooded with colorful words including “reina,” “poderosa,” and “diosa.”

Switching up the narrative is ultimately the goal, it’s empowerment at people’s fingertips when the terminology associated with the Latinx community, specifically women, goes from sexual or provocative (the common associations with Latinas) to diverse and uplifting. 

“I want Latinas to know that they matter, that they’re seen and heard. I want to encourage our community to create. If you find our narrative missing don’t just shrug it off, do something and create it because no one else will create it for us.” 

Trump Made It His Personal Business To Get Israel To Ban Two Democratic Congresswoman From Entering After Saying They “Hate Jewish People”

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Trump Made It His Personal Business To Get Israel To Ban Two Democratic Congresswoman From Entering After Saying They “Hate Jewish People”

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Two Democratic members of Congress have just been barred from visiting Israel next week in a move that many fear will deepen the injured relationship between Democrats and the Jewish state and strengthen the bond between Trump and Israeli leaders. On Thursday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from embarking on a planned trip to the country. 

Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely confirmed the ban in a statement to CNN. 

“The plan of the two Congresswomen is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The decision came after President Donald Trump said Israel would be showing “great weakness” if they allowed the women of color legislators, who have both been very critical of the country, to visit. “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people,” the president wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. “There is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

The private trip was organized by a Palestinian-led nonprofit. The women were expected to visit Israel and the West Bank, where Tlaib has family, as well as Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. In the latter Middle Eastern city, they were to join members of the Palestinian Authority at the Temple Mount (called Haram al-Sharif by Muslims), a major holy site for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The decision to block the trip comes one month after Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said that the women would be allowed to visit Israel, noting at the time that barring them would be impertinent.

“Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer, who is close to Netanyahu, said

For some on the left, the Israeli government’s decision to go back on their word is proof that the decision was made in spite of the women. 

Even more, they see it as potentially damaging to an already strained relationship.

“Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”

In a separate statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the decision a “sign of weakness, not strength,” adding that “it will only hurt the U.S.-Israeli relationship and support for Israel in America … Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse.”

Netanyahu’s main grievance with the women is that they support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Both Omar and Tlaib voted for legislation that would have made it US policy to boycott Israel; the measure was thwarted 398-17 in the House.

Since about 2005, the BDS movement has attempted to force Israel to change its approach to the Palestinians through external pressure, like demanding companies to halt business with Israel, asking consumers to stop buying Israeli products and calling on scholars and cultural leaders to stop collaborating with colleagues in the country. For supporters, the mission is much like the boycotts that targeted apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. 

For opponents, however, the movement, and its followers are deemed anti-Semitic.

Democratic presidential candidates have chimed in on the matter as well, with some recognizing that difference in views does not equate to anti-Semitism and others directly placing their anger with Trump, who they believe helped stir up Isreali leaders with his damaging remarks against Reps. Tlaib and Omar.

“Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted. “This would be a shameful, unprecedented move. I urge Israel’s government to allow @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib entry.”

Speaking to Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) called the president a bigot and told him, “opposing Netanyahu’s policies is not ‘hating the Jewish people.”

Former US representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) added: “President Trump, you show great weakness every single day—when you attack women of color when you degrade the office of the president, and when you ask our allies to stoop to your level.”

In July, Trump told Omar and Tlaib, among other members of their “squad” — which also includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — to “go back” to their countries. Tlaib was born in the United States, and Omar was born in Somalia and is a naturalized US citizen.

Progressive Latina Organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez Is Running To Unseat A Republican In The Senate

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Progressive Latina Organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez Is Running To Unseat A Republican In The Senate

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In Texas, Latina organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has launched her campaign for US Senate with the hopes of unseating Republican John Cornyn in 2020. The 37-year-old contender joined the crowded Democratic primary race on Monday. In her launch video, the Austin-based activist alluded to this month’s mass shooting in El Paso, where a white supremacist gunman shot and killed nearly two dozen Latinxs during an attack at a local Walmart. 

Tzintzún Ramirez says hateful rhetoric coming from the White House and conservatives in her own state has allowed “people to feel like they can target us on the streets of our community.”

The candidate is running on a progressive platform that supports Medicare for All.

She is also pushing for the Green New Deal, “massive divestment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement” and rejecting all corporate PAC money. Recently she announced plans to create a “bold” immigration proposal that would “protect the rights of immigrant workers and families.”

“They have refused to deal with immigration reform in a state where one in 10 workers is undocumented, where the economic boom in this state has literally been built on the backs of undocumented workers,” Tzintzún Ramirez, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother and Irish-American father, told the Houston Chronicle. “We have to acknowledge states like Texas — and our country — depend on immigrant workers.”

The long-time organizer has more than a decade of experience working directly with immigrant communities.

 In 2006, she co-founded the Workers Defense Project (WDP), an Austin-based immigrant workers group focusing its efforts on the construction industry, which is the largest employer of undocumented laborers in the state. Tzintzún Ramirez served as the WDP’s executive director from its start until 2016. The following year, she founded Jolt, the largest Latinx civil rights organization in the state, which works to uplift the voice, vote and issues impacting the vast demographic in Texas.

“I’m not a career politician, I have not previously run for office,” she told The Intercept. “I was recruited to run by folks that I think really wanted to have a candidate that represents the ordinary Texan and to advocate for their interests, to protect their rights and fight for them.”

Tzintzún Ramirez will depend on that experience to help her unseat the three-term GOP incumbent.

 She says her team will be able to defeat the establishment by mobilizing the kind of voters that the political system has “underestimated and discounted,” particularly young folk and people of color. While the executive director of Jolt, a position she stepped down from to embark on her campaign, the group helped drive unprecedented voter registration and turnout in 2018. Jolt knocked on the doors of 40,000 Latinx voters, many of whom had never voted before, and also registered voters during Latinx cultural events, like quinceañeras and fairs, as well as on college campuses.

She says her campaign’s Latinx outreach strategy will be even “more grounded in cultural community events,” with a deeper focus on young people on college campuses.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez told the Houston Chronicle.

According to The Intercept, Tzintzún Ramirez is the fifth serious contender to join the Democratic primary race and has serious challengers in candidates like M.J. Hegar, an Air Force veteran who lost a 2018 House race in a Republican-leaning district; State Sen. Royce West; and Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards.

For her team, Tzintzún Ramirez has brought along several workers from Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign, which challenged incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the closest race the state has seen in the last 40 years. 

Zack Malitz, O’Rourke’s former field director and a key player on the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, will serve as a senior adviser. Katelyn Coghlan, former statewide deputy field director for O’Rourke, will be her campaign manager. Ginny Goldman, co-founder of the Texas Organizing Project, will be a campaign chair. Additionally, Tzintzún Ramirez is working with Middle Seat, a digital firm that helped O’Rourke raise substantial funds throughout his campaign. 

One of the first fundraising goals for Tzintzún Ramirez’s campaign was to raise $100,000 in the first 24 hours of her launch. On Tuesday, the candidate tweeted that they more than doubled that target, collecting over $200,000 in one day.

Tzintzún Ramirez believes the growing momentum around her campaign comes directly from people who are ready for a Texas that works for all Texans.

“I don’t think we have a reflection of those in power that represents the Texas we are today. I think I represent those ideals and the diversity of the state, and I want Texas to be a national leader in solving the major problems that our country faces,” she said.

Read: She’s Running: Sandra Sepulveda Could Be The First Latina On The Nashville Metro Council

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