things that matter

Here Are 13 Latino Innovators That Prove Latinos Can Do Anything They Put Their Minds To

wendycarrillo / luisvonahn / Instagram

A few months ago a creative group from Mexico helped raise the spirits of their fellow Mexicans after gaining inspiration from Guillermo del Toro’s simple yet effective answer of “I’m Mexican” after his Golden Globes win. The viral video has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube and features Mexican artists, scientists and pioneers in their respective fields who broke down walls and surpassed obstacles.

Here’s the video that has inspired millions of Mexicans.

With lines from the video such as, “No. You don’t need contacts. You don’t need money. You don’t need the easy road. Because in Mexico, opportunities aren’t found—they’re created,” how can you not feel pumped up?

If you need some inspiration this week, here are 13 other Latinos who have used their talent, grit and hunger to create advancements in everything from tech to sports.

1. Ellen Ochoa

The California native is the first Latina to head to space and completed four Shuttle missions after being selected as a NASA astronaut in 1990. Ochoa continues to reach for the stars as the deputy director of the NASA’s Johnson Space Center, also as the first Latina to hold that position.

2. Guillermo González Camarena

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, González Camarena was 17 years old when he invented an early color transmission system. He also brought television in color to his native Mexico.

3. Luis von Ahn

Each time you have to identify a piece of a boat to allow your computer to know you aren’t a robot, you can thank Guatemalan techie Luis von Ahn. After selling several of his companies to Google and working for them, he left in 2011 to co-found language-learning application Duolingo. He is also a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

4. Susana Ibarra

Ibarra is setting her sights on the horizon as a pilot for Kuwait Airlines. She became El Salvador’s first female commercial airline pilot in 2015 when she was 29 and has now become Kuwait Airline’s second female pilot.

5. Oscar Hijuelos

Cuban-American novelist Hijuelos’ bestseller book ‘The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love’ earned critical acclaim and made him the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction back in 1990. The novel tells the story of the Castillo brothers who emigrate from Havana to New York City and transform into the Mambo Kings of NYC after playing in an orchestra.

6. Maria Contreras-Sweet

Born in Guadalajara, Contreras-Sweet is most-widely known as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama. She was also the executive chair and founder of ProAmérica Bank, the first Latino-formed commercial bank and also founded Contreras-Sweet Enterprises, a marketing and research firm. Contreras-Sweet’s extensive career extends from the public and private sector to corporate America.

7. Adriana Cisneros

At the age of 33, Cisneros became the CEO of Cisneros Group, a family-owned multibillion dollar media and real estate enterprise founded by her grandfather in Venezuela. She joined the family business at 25 and launched its digital media division, focusing on online advertising networks, e-commerce, social gaming and crowd-funding. After five years in the role, she was given the company reigns as its CEO.

8. Linda Alvarado

Alvarado placed her bid to become the first Latina to become a co-owner of a major league team when she became co-owner of the Colorado Rockies. Her success in the business sector began when she started Alvarado Construction with a loan from her parents in 1976. Back then, Latinas could not get access to either capital or even a credit card. Now the company has completed several projects including stadiums, hotels and an aquarium.

9. Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías

Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías was elected the first Latina president of the American Public Health Association and was an active force in the women’s health movement. She helped to bring neonatal care and public health services to women and children around the world. Dr. Trías was a founding member of both the Women’s Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus of the American Public Health Association and received a Presidential Citizen’s Medal in 2001 shortly before her death.

10. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Known as “Dr. Q,” Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa rose to become the chair of neurologic surgery at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and also co-founded the non-profit Mission: BRAIN, Bridging Resources and Advancing International Neurosurgery. After moving to California from Mexico, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa worked as a migrant farm worker and put himself through school at a community college. He then transferred to University of California, Berkeley and attended medical school at Harvard Medical School. He has written an autobiography on his life, Becoming Dr. Q.

11. Jessica Márquez

Named one of CNET’s 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech in 2017, engineer Márquez began working for NASA in 2007 and helps to plan and schedule software tools for space missions. She received her bachelor’s from Princeton University and her Master of Science degree in Aeronautics/Astronautics and her Ph.D. in human-systems engineering from MIT.

12. Alberto Villarreal

Also on last year’s CNET List of 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech, Villareal currently works as the creative lead at Google for the hardware group. In his past jobs, Villareal has worked for automotive-design studios in Europe and launched a strategic design firm in San Francisco. He has also been featured as a TEDx speaker in Mexico City.

13. Wendy Carrillo

A former undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, Carrillo was raised in East Los Angeles and worked for 10 years as a radio host, writer and producer before switching to politics. She is currently an assemblymember for the California State Assembly’s 51st District, representing parts of northeastern Los Angeles and East Los Angeles.


READ: Meet The Trailblazing Latinos That Made It Onto The Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List

Which Latinos are inspiring you to pursue your dreams? Let us know in the comments and share this list with your friends!

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Artist Felix D'Eon Accuses A Wholesaler Of Copying His Design To Sell To Big Box Stores

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Artist Felix D’Eon Accuses A Wholesaler Of Copying His Design To Sell To Big Box Stores

felixdeon / Instagram

Felix d’Eon is a Mexico City-based artist who uses his Mexican heritage to create queer Latinx art. Recently, d’Eon accused Target and Mad Engine of copying one of his designs and selling them. According to d’Eon, his “La Bandera” design was copied to a t-shirt that was sold at Target stores and online. He drew “La Bandera” two years ago for a pride line of art work and was angry to see it recreated for profit.

Artist Felix d’Eon is upset that Target has profited off of art copied from his art.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bi0taj9gwu8/?taken-by=felixdeon

“I was upset when I first saw the image; it seemed clearly inspired by my painting, and it struck me as deeply unfair that I, as an independent, struggling artist, without their reserves of cash, should have my work stolen by a major corporation for their profit,” d’Eon says. “I was upset that I was not consulted before hand.”

Target responded on Twitter to d’Eon’s accusations and disclosed that the shirts came from a vendor.

In a now-deleted tweet, d’Eon identified the vendor who made the t-shirt as Mad Engine. The San Diego-based wholesaler has not responded to mitú‘s requests for comment.

“When you see the two paintings side by side, though, its pretty obvious that they copied me,” d’Eon says. “I find it upsetting that my version is a lot more beautiful, and a cheap, ugly imitation with the same sentiment is the version that should become the one that people would end up wearing.”

D’Eon is disheartened to see big companies consistently profiting off of independent artists.

“These large companies, like H&M, Target, and Forever 21 stealing the work of designers and artists creates an atmosphere in which it is extremely difficult to work, as a creative person,” d’Eon argues. “Its disheartening to be a struggling artist, and find that a major corporation, with immensely deep pockets, and all the money in the world to spend on lawyers, would sell your work, while you yourself struggle.”

The situation speaks to a larger societal problem where artists are undervalued and minorities are misrepresented, says d’Eon.

“It speaks ill of both the company and society that copyrights are protected for corporations, but individuals without those resources have no way to protect themselves,” d’Eon says. “I think that customers should boycott companies that engage in these practices, and support independent artists and designers.”

Mad Engine’s CEO Danish Gajiani did speak to d’Eon according to a post on his Instagram page.

View this post on Instagram

I spoke to the Ceo of @madengine , the company which produced the queer Latinx pride t-shirt which was subsequently sold by @target . They suggested that it is a coincidence that their image looks so much like mine, which is something I cannot disprove, given the similarity of my own painting to the original “La Bandera” card. The question of cultural appropriation, and misappropriation, however, is not ambiguous; the non Latinx model (I’ve talked to him and he’s not a Latinx person – and he was very supportive of my position), the lack of an “El” or a “La” before the word “bandera” which suggests a lack of familiarity with the original game, and the CEO’s inability to tell me if any Latinx or queer people were actually involved in the design or production of the t-shirt, including the artist, suggest that no Latinx people actually had a hand in the design of the Queer Latinx Pride shirt. He listened to me and apologised, and offered me a line of t-shirts and other products which would be Latinx or Queer in theme. He also suggested that in the future he would make certain that members of minority groups would be involved in the process of making products geared towards said groups. I hope sincerely that Madengine does in fact do what was promised, and that Target does something similar. Instead of making products for minority communities without the involvement of said communities, such as the queer Latinx community in this particular case, I hope that they also reach out and make certain that Latinx artists are hired and supported, and queer Latinx individuals consulted, so that they are not simply capitalising on minority communities by trying to take our dollars, but also listening to us so that our concerns and opinions are addressed and queer and Latinx artists and models are supported. @target @madengine

A post shared by Félix D'Eon (@felixdeon) on

The original Lotería game includes the articles “El” or “La” in front of the subject name. D’Eon says that the lack of the articles is calling more attention to the lack of diversity in these offices appropriating Latinx culture.

“Furthermore, the decision to use white models to advertise a Mexican themed gay pride t-shirt is inexplicable to me,” d’Eon explains. “I suspect no actual Latinos were involved at any point in this, which is to say, that this is also an issue of cultural appropriation.”

D’Eon does state in his post that the Mad Engine CEO has expressed a desire to create a Latinx line of clothing with input from D’Eon to do it right.

Let us know.


READ: La Sirena Just Met Her Match With This Queer Chicanx’s El Sireno Lotería Card

Share your pride on social media using #QueerLatinoPride and #StoriesOfUs. We can’t wait to see how you celebrate pride!