Things That Matter

Spurred By Anger At The Trump Administration, One Latina Entrepreneur Raised $9,000 For Migrant Children

When pictures emerged last week of the devastating conditions immigrant children were being subjected to at detention centers, Patty Rodriguez felt she couldn’t idly stand by. The images made such an impact on Rodriguez that she knew she had to do something to help the children any way she could.

In one weekend, the co-founder and author of bilingual children’s books Lil’ Libros mobilized her social media followers to raise over $9,000..

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Rodriguez mobilized her 90,000 Instagram followers to raise enough money to send hundreds of pairs of shoes to a shelter in Texas. On June 28, Rodriguez saw a photo of a little boy about her son’s age, with a diaper completely soiled and wrapped in a foil blanket. The phot was enough to spur the entrepreneur into action.

“How are people debating this?” Rodriguez said while choking up during a phone interview with mitú.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“There’s no time to focus on that. I went on Zappos to buy shoes myself, and I thought I could purchase a handful myself, or ask my community on Instagram if they wanted to help,” Rodriguez said. “People want to help, they just don’t know how. There’s all this information that you can’t donate to detention centers, but there’s a loophole that you can donate to shelters, but people just don’t know that.”

The shoes are not the only way Rodriguez is using her platform to help the migrants. She recently teamed up with Super Mamá’s Bricia Lopez to raise money for RAICES.

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⁣ I can’t sit here and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the headlines. Migrant children being treated worse than animals. Living in the worst conditions, going days without showering and having a nutritious meal. Children as young as my little Oliver walking around soiled without diapers – having no one around to hold them and properly love and care for them. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the horrendous images of a 2 year old and her father, having drowned after attempting to cross the border. ⁣ ⁣ My heart breaks. And I feel helpless. And I cannot continue to go about my life without trying to help and I think the best way right now is using our platforms. ⁣ ⁣ @bricialopez and I are coming together for a very intimate dinner with 100% of the proceeds— meaning, every penny will go to two foundations working around the clock to offering assistance to families and children at the border, @raicestexas and @thisisabouthumanity. I know many of you guys have asked how you can help. We hope that this dinner inspires you and encourages to help. ⁣ ⁣ This is your opportunity to pick our brains about anything and everything and help our children at the border. ⁣ ⁣ We will have drinks with you, dinner with you, we will even FaceTime your mom! ⁣ ⁣ Dinner will be at Bricia’s restaurant @laGuelaguetza on July 9 at 5p⁣. ⁣ Tag your friends. Let’s come together. We cannot continue seeing our black and brown children hurting and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ Tickets are very limited and are $150, remember every penny will go to the organizations. ⁣ ⁣ You can purchase now by clicking link on my profile. ⁣ ⁣ And even if you can’t make it, I hope this inspires you to give what you can to the organizations mentioned above.

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“I called my girlfriend Bricia Lopez to do a dinner and use our platform to get people inspired. Within hours we had set up a website, it was $150 a ticket, and in less than 12 hours we had sold out. 100 percent of the proceeds go to RAICES,” she said.

RAICES is a non-profit legal services organization in Texas. They made national news when the migrant crisis started directly targeting children at the southern border. They offer legal aid to the migrants as they cross into the U.S. to guarantee the best outcome for their cases.

Rodriguez used the momentum from selling out her charity dinner in less than a day to push to do more.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“I saw a photo of a little girl, Afro-Latina, with foil blanket [strings] to tie her hair—things we take for granted. I got fired up and decided to put it [buying shoes] on Instagram Stories and show the receipts through the process,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez started posting on her Instagram Stories about buying shoes and asking her followers to help at 9 p.m. Friday night. By Saturday morning, her Venmo account had reached $7,000 with donations.


Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Sunday saw another outpouring of donations and her account hit $8,000. By Monday morning, $9,000 had been raised to help the children at the detention centers.

In total, Rodriguez estimates she was able to buy 50 pairs of high-quality shoes for every $1,000 raised. With $9,000, Rodriguez said she estimates Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande will be receiving close to 400 pairs of shoes.

Sizes ranging from toddler sizes to sizes for 15 to 16-year-olds will be shipped out and arriving as soon as this week.

“As a mother of two kids, I can’t sit down and do nothing. I spent Saturday on Zappos figuring out what’s the fastest way to get it done,” Rodriguez said.

No matter how small the action—or donation—Rodriguez sees it contributing to the good of the cause. Although some donors were writing to her that they didn’t think their $1 or $5 donation would do much but they wanted to help, she encouraged them by continuing to post on her stories that every dollar was helping a child get a new pair of much-needed shoes. 

Rodriguez calls it being the “granito de arena in a situation.” 

Credit: Instagram / pattyrodriguez

Tiny but mighty changes can make a big difference. When asked if a call for donations will happen again, Rodriguez said she is open to the opportunity.

“It’s spur-of-the-moment—that’s how I operate. I would like to think it’s something I can continue doing. Perhaps more streamlined—helping more shelters,” she said.

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Date night with my heart. @lafc

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Rodriguez said she is aware that as much as shelters are in need of basic necessities, they also don’t have enough hands. She continues to wonder what shelters may be in most need of besides shoes, and if it’s better to send money to the shelter or if sending over boxes of items is better.

“I haven’t thought that far,” Rodriguez said. “I want to continue helping because this situation won’t have a solution anytime soon. We have to continue advocating and continue collaborating as a community.”

While she said there’s not much we can do right now besides calling Congress, she still wants to encourage others to galvanize awareness.

“What we can do as a community is mobilizing to donate and help shelters where kids are being held,” she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes this inspires others to start their own donation drives within their own community, work, and a group of friends. When one granitode arena joins with another, it can be a sandstorm of change.

READ: All Of The Migrant Children That Have Been Killed At The U.S. Border

RAÍCES Installed ‘Kids In Cages’ Across Iowa To Make A Point About What The Candidates Aren’t Talking About

Things That Matter

RAÍCES Installed ‘Kids In Cages’ Across Iowa To Make A Point About What The Candidates Aren’t Talking About

@RAICESTEXAS / Twitter

Yesterday, voters across Iowa took to the polls to cast their ballot in the Democratic caucuses. And yes, voters also turned out for the less than fair Republican caucuses, in which Trump is basically all but guaranteed to win thanks to a largely rigged primary system that benefits the incumbent.

The results have been, well, chaotic to say the least. It’s the day after and, at least on the Democratic side, we still don’t have a clear answer on who actually walked away the winner. But what we do have is increased attention on Trump’s disastrous and inhumane immigration policies, thanks to an installation by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) Texas, an immigrant rights group.

#DontLookAway: is an exhibit installed by RAICES to call attention to the on-going humanitarian crisis caused by Trump’s immigration policies.

On Monday, just as the caucuses were beginning to start, and voters started making their way to choose their Democratic candidate for president, RAICES installed powerful images across Iowa. Chain-link cages were erected in Des Moines, outside caucus sites, media offices, and other prominent places like city hall. The cages contain fake children inside covered in Mylar blankets, symbolizing the children detained along the border and in detention centers across the country.

Perhaps most powerful: each cage also includes a recording from an actual child who has been kept in detention.

In a press release, Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES said, “The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians. We’re asking people in Iowa and across the country: Don’t look away from the terrors enacted in your name. Don’t look away from the kids in cages, the asylum-seekers turned back at our border, the deportation raids destroying communities across the country. This anti-immigrant crackdown has to end.”

RAICES also held a press conference to talk about the actions they were taking on behalf of detained children.

The group is hoping its installation can refocus attention on immigration, given the lack of consideration the issue has received in the presidential race recently.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Andiola said, “One of the things that has been really troubling for us is seeing that immigration has not even been an issue in the last two [Democratic] debates.”

In an email to Mitú, Andiola said: “We’re doing this as the administration has broken records in immigration detention by keeping up to 55,000 people jailed at once, and has sent back more than 60,000 people to Mexico to await their asylum hearings in conditions that are utterly depraved, as we have been documenting for months. We’re doing this as the Trump administration has quadrupled workplace raids that target people holding a job and paying taxes in this country.”

They’re asking for the American public to support a moratorium on deportations in conjunction with Migrant Justice Platform, a collection of policies developed by dozens of grassroots organizations. Additional policies include an end to immigrant detention, citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people in the country, demilitarization of the border, the dismantling of ICE and CBP, and the formation of truth/reconciliation committees examining the human rights abuses committed against immigrants by previous administrations.

The Iowa caucus is significant as the winner of the Iowa caucuses on the Democratic side has often gone on to become the Democratic nominee.

Credit: RAICES

Yes, the population of Iowa is not representative of all of the Unites States. Its population is 90%, yes 90%, white. But it holds an outsized influence over the US nomination process for president as it holds the very first primary/caucus in the nation.

Candidates who do well in Iowa often build the momentum they need to carry themselves through the primary process and emerge as the candidate for the general election come November.

Their exhibition in Iowa isn’t the first to call attention to the cages – and likely won’t be the last.

These cages are similar to the ones we helped install in New York City over the summer, which went viral as thousands of people took photos of the cages and posted them online, even as police eventually dismantled the cages and hauled them off. We’re replicating the action in Des Moines at the height of the most anticipated caucus in modern history.

Mattel Just Dropped A Barbie With Vitiligo And Another With Alopecia And This Has Me Tearing Up Y’all

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Mattel Just Dropped A Barbie With Vitiligo And Another With Alopecia And This Has Me Tearing Up Y’all

Mattel / Twitter

The maker of the iconic Barbie doll just announced the launch of a lineup of diverse dolls featuring new skin tones, wheelchairs, and body types. The latest Barbie additions are a doll with the skin condition Vitiligo and another with a gold prosthetic leg —and we’re here for all this diversity. 

“More skin tones! More body types! More unique looks” read the caption.

The new Barbie pals doll be part of the Fashionistas collection and it’s being labeled as the American toy company’s most diverse line.

“What makes us different, makes us beautiful”

The line features dolls with vitiligo, no hair, darker skin tones, in a wheelchair and a wide range of body types. These dolls are part of Barbie’s 2020 releases for its Fashionistas line, which, over the past five years, has introduced more than 170 looks showcasing different identities around the world in hopes of representing global diversity and inclusivity, according to a press release from Mattel. 

Mattel launched a new Barbie doll with the condition vitiligo, which causes pigmentation loss in the skin. 

To create the doll with vitiligo, Barbie worked with a dermatologist to ensure the condition was accurately portrayed. Viitiligo causes patches of skin to lose their pigment. Mattel said in a statement that a prototype of the vitiligo toy, which debuted on the Barbie Instagram page last year, became its most “liked” post ever.

Speaking of the Barbie with no hair, the company said:

“If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line.”

Last year, a doll with a prosthetic leg and another with a wheelchair joined the Fashionistas range. 

The then 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who co-founded the nonprofit Born Just Right — which develops “creative solutions that help kids with disabilities live a more enjoyable life” — helped inspire a doll with a prosthetic limb. Barbie’s 2019 Fashionistas line was also the first time it included a doll that uses a wheelchair.  Other dolls in the 2019 Fashionistas line offered a variety of appearances, including braided hair texture and more realistic body types (smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms).

On Twitter people are happy about the new dolls.

Some are excited to see themselves reflected in Barbie form for the first time. “Heeeyy! That’s pretty sweet. I’ve had #vitiligo since I was little, and no one knew what it was,” wrote one Twitter user, “In recent years, I’ve seen high fashion models with it, and now this.. very cool.”

People with Vitiligo are finally feeling seen

Visibility for vitiligo is getting better thanks to models like Winnie Harlow and Amy Deanna. Due in large part to recent exposure to vitiligo through mainstream media, general understanding about and attitudes toward this condition are changing.

Perhaps the most well-known current face of vitiligo is Chantelle Brown-Young

The black fashion model, activist, and vitiligo spokesperson is also known professionally as Winnie Harlow. Winnie was diagnosed with vitiligo in childhood, and she revealed she was teased and bullied and at one point contemplated suicide. “The continuous harassment and the despair that [vitiligo] brought on my life was so unbearably dehumanizing that I wanted to kill myself,” she disclosed.

After competing on America’s Next Top Model in 2014, Winnie Harlow became a household name.

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Stargazing 🔭

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Winnie redefined global standards of beauty and, in her own words, accepting the differences that make us unique and authentic. She went on to speak at the Dove Self-Esteem Project panel at the 2015 Women in the World London Summit and was presented with the Role Model award at the Portuguese GQ Men of the Year event that same year.

Fashion brand Missguided unveiled a diverse range of mannequins in 2018—including one with Vitiligo. 

The collection of mannequins included female figures of different ethnicities, in addition to highlighting skin conditions such as stretch marks and vitiligo.

Mattel is leading the charge for representation in the toy industry.

The American toy maker has incorporated more diversity in its Barbie range by offering dolls with different skin shades, eye colors, hairstyles and clothing. In 2017, the company introduced the first Barbie to wear a hijab.

Though Barbie dolls have long been overwhelmingly white and skinny, Barbie has made strides during the past five years to diversify. 

Previously, Barbie dolls have drawn criticism for upholding a slim, white, domestic ideal. In 2019 though, more than half its doll selections were inclusive. According to a Mattel spokesperson, since 2015, the more than 170 new looks for Barbie have included 5 body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hair styles, 94 hair colors, and 13 eye colors. 

Consumers have largely responded to these choices enthusiastically.

A curvy black Fashionista with an afro hairstyle was the top-selling doll during almost every week in 2019. “We are proud that Barbie is the most diverse doll line on the market that continues to evolve to better reflect the world girls see around them,” says Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and its dolls portfolio.