Things That Matter

U.S. Beer Consumption Has Forced People In Mexicali To Fight Against A Major Brewery From Threatening Their Water Supply

CELULA 57 / YouTube / modelousa / Instagram

Residents of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico are in a battle with Constellation Brands over a strained water supply. Constellation Brands is the company that produces many recognizable brands of beer, wine and liquor, including Modelo and Corona. The problem with Constellation Brands and the residents of Mexicali centers around the construction of a new facility, according to NPR. The brewery is a $1.5 billion project and the company is already working with the local to open the facility that will bring 750 jobs tot he area. However, residents are protesting because of the company’s plan to the water in Mexicali to make beer destined for U.S. consumers, according to NPR.

“It’s a model of exploitation and capitalism where they basically come for the natural resources to exploit them and take them away to wherever the market is,” Jesus Galaz Duarte, a member of the activist group Mexicali Resiste, told NPR. “When the market grows and has to to satisfy consumers, they’re going to deplete the water here. So what’s going to happen? They’re going to go to another place where there’s more water to satisfy the same market and deplete their water. They’re going to leave this region without the resources to live a dignified life.”

Protesters have been clear in saying they are not against companies bringing jobs and opportunities to their community. They do, however, have an issue with companies coming to Mexicali to use up the resources in the area and leaving the residents to pick up the pieces when they move on. Residents have been voicing their anger with Constellation Brands and the local Mexicali government since late 2017. Some of the protests have turned violent with bloodied protesters squaring off with local police. Constellation Brands released a statement on their website on January 1, 2018 in response to the unrest in Mexicali.

“We are committed to being a good steward of the environment in areas where our employees live and work,” reads a statement titled Responsible Brewing on the Constellation Brands website. “As such, our new brewery will be built to the highest operational and environmental standards. As part of this commitment, we commissioned an independent environmental study to ensure our operations (once up and running) would not adversely impact the local environment, including the local community’s access to and use of water.”

Check back with mitú as this story develops.


READ: Here Are 11 Reasons Why People Took To The Streets For The May Day Protests In Downtown L.A.

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!

Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Entertainment

Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Since Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón was a child growing up in Carolina, Puerto Rico, she has been fascinated by journalism. She was captivated by the colorful glossies of Cosmopolitan and Revista Tú that sat on the shelves of local drug stores. She wanted to read about the latest beauty and fashion and be on top of entertainment and cultural news from Latin America and the United States. But more than this, she desired to be seen, to have glamorous and powerful Black women that resembled the matriarchs in her own family cover the magazines.

“I never had the opportunity here in Puerto Rico to see Black people, and Black women in particular, in magazines,” Lebrón told mitú. “None of them represented the beauty of my family, my friends, my community or myself.”

As a teenager, Lebrón’s father, who was raised in New York, introduced her to popular African-American publications geared toward women.

 While magazines like Ebony and Essence weren’t yet available in Puerto Rico, her father would have friends mail the glossy or bring them back from trips in order for Lebrón to have access to images and stories of women who looked like her. The unnecessary struggle it took for her to see herself represented in media and the joyous feeling she felt while flipping through page after page of enchanting dark-skinned women inspired Lebrón to one day start her own magazine in Puerto Rico specifically for Afro-Latina women.

In December of 2018, Lebrón’s teenage dreams came true.

 The now 38-year-old communications professional launched Revista Étnica, the first print magazine in Puerto Rico to represent the Caribbean archipelago’s vast and diverse Afro-Latinx population.

“Our community is marginalized. If you have dark skin, you generally don’t have an opportunity to feel like you belong and are a part of this society. We are only good for food, music and sports, and that’s something we want to change,” she said.

Through the biannual magazine, Étnica’s three-person staff and group of collaborators produce a stunning publication that covers beauty, fashion, entertainment, food and culture as well as investigative journalism that looks into the deep-rooted, and largely denied, racism that exists in Puerto Rico. 

In the first issue, writer Edmy Ayala delves into the racial disparities that exist on the archipelago and how the state works to protect the rights and uplift the talents of lighter-skinned Boricuas. 

The second volume, which published in August, features an essay that examines racism in Puerto Rico’s public school system, looking particularly at the ways in which codes of conduct target and punish Black youth. 

“Right now, it’s more critical than ever to be having these conversations,” Lebrón says. “Here, we understand that we are a mix. We are mestizos, with a rich culture that includes our Spanish heritage, Taíno heritage and, less important, our African heritage. Many use this to claim we are all the same here, that racism doesn’t exist. But me being a Black Puerto Rican woman, a young Black person, I can tell you that I struggle every day and experience racism in so many ways.”

This bigotry was particularly evident for Lebrón when she first attempted to launch Revista Étnica. In her mid-20s, she submitted a proposal for the publication in a contest and was one of the finalists. At the time, she was assigned a mentor who would help her work through her proposition and advise her on steps she could take to realize her project. A leading journalist in Puerto Rico, Lebrón was thrilled to have the guidance of an esteemed figure as she pursued her ambitions. That’s why she felt completely discouraged when the male leader suggested that her magazine would fail. 

“He said, ‘people in Puerto Rico don’t want to identify as Black,’” Lebrón recalls. “I started to believe that the magazine wasn’t important, and it took away my dream.”

Disheartened, Lebrón went on to start a different career in media, working in advertising and public relations. In this industry, she was once again confronted by anti-blackness in Puerto Rico. Few brands and companies put Black Boricuas in their ads, catered to Afro-Puerto Rican communities or even hired dark-skinned employees. 

After taking a job as the director of communications for a local nonprofit that put her in direct contact with Puerto Rican youth, Lebrón was reminded of the importance of representation. During each visit with boys and girls across the archipelago, Black children would race to Lebrón, excited to engage with a powerful leader who looked like them.

“I’d tell them, ‘you are beautiful and intelligent,’ and I would see the light in their eyes. I knew I had to do Étnica.”

A decade after Lebrón submitted her proposal for her dream publication, she entered the contest again and became a finalist once more. This time, she won a social enterprise award, which allowed her to fund the first issue of her magazine.

Today, Revista Étnica is available for purchase at Walgreens and Walmarts across Puerto Rico as well as some local shops in the metropolitan area. Through the magazine’s website, readers can order copies from all over the world. Lebrón says she has subscribers from the United States, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and even Switzerland. Additionally, the publication’s site and social media include a blog and content that offers insight and opinions on more timely news.

For Lebrón, Revista Étnica is more than a magazine; it’s also a community and a movement. 

Throughout the year, the publication hosts events, from parties to movie-watching groups, and has recently also launched a start-up program for Afro-Puerto Rican entrepreneurs. She says that her company’s success isn’t measured by its magazine sales but rather by how it can help create economic security for the Black community in Puerto Rico more broadly.

While materializing her wildest childhood fantasies has been both joyous and frightening, she says that ultimately this magazine and this movement is much bigger than her alone.

“I just want women who read Étnica to feel proud of their skin, their body, their imperfections. I want them to know there is a community with them, that they’re not alone,” Lebrón says.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Many Brands Have Missed The Mark But A Few Have Done It Right

Culture

Hispanic Heritage Month: Many Brands Have Missed The Mark But A Few Have Done It Right

US Army Africa / Flickr

Hispanic Heritage Month is here again: it runs from September 15 to October 15 this year. The celebration of Latinidad in the US was made official when in 1968 president Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” Set to begin on September 15, the week celebrated the independence of a few Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. The celebration is great and perhaps originally con las mejores intenciones, but it errs in grouping a whole continent’s diversity into a single group. But well, peor es nada. 

So let’s be positive and see the glass half full. These four weeks are a great opportunity to celebrate our Latino roots. Many brands also see this month as a chance to connect with the Latino market, which is a profitable and expanding demographic in the United States. However, and this is a huge “but”, sometimes marketing people try a bit too hard to connect and end up with messy campaigns that end up just perpetuating damaging stereotypes. For every good idea there seem to be three or four that just miss the mark. 

Hey, here’s a job idea: cultural adviser! Let’s change the ratio and have most brands understand the values and issues we really care about

Credit: gabbyzapata / Instagram

Being aware of what Latinos think and want is key in the highly competitive US market, as Claudia Romo Edelman wrote in AdAge: “Hispanics by more than two to one (68 percent) feel their values are shared by other Americans. And those values are vital: family, work, education, and security for themselves and particularly for their children. They still believe in the American dream (69 percent), saying overwhelmingly that if you work hard you will get ahead (80 percent or greater across generations). Yet, barely half (54 percent) say they see their values reflected by major brands, similar to the number for media and pop culture (55 percent)”. Ouch! This speaks volumes about the lack of a true understanding of how fundamental the Latino market is for any business. 

Because some gringos just don’t get it, like Coffee-Mate branding something as Latino by adding flavors that no one associates with un rico cafecito

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

First of all, it is not a tradition to add Chocolate Abuelita or Lechera to your coffee. We mean, some people might do it, but it is not widespread. Second of all, what on Earth is your “inner Latino”? This campaign is just plain terrible. As Sue writesin the blog Phglesbian.com: “What the hell are you going to do to honor Black History Month? ‘Inner sassy black woman?’ What about Pride Month? ‘Inner queen? Touch your inner lesbian?’ This is a fail, Nestle, and Americans of Hispanic descent deserve better. Maybe you need to cough up some donations from a campaign that’s already on the shelves to help undo the damage”. Yes, queen!

Coffee-Mate, you are just digging a deeper grave for yourself! Yes, all Latinos are salsa-dancing sex-crazed hombres y mujeres…

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

Seriously, WTAF. They did just went there: sexualizing Latino culture is one of the cardinal sins of cultural appropriation and harmful stereotyping. 

And of course, Twitter got up on arms.

Credit: @artistmarclax / @cafenowhere / Twitter

We had never put the famous abuelita and the notion of a Latin lover together…. nothing against older adult intimacy… but just don’t, OK, just don’t. 

But… but… margaritas must contain tequila, right?

Credit: @Sobieski_Vodka / Twitter

Even a very inexperienced bartender or any tío organizing a carne asada knows that a margarita is made with lime juice, crushed ice, salt, and tequila, right? Well, apparently not, at least according to Sobieski vodka. Yes, according to this brand you can replace the very Mexican tequila, which has a denomination of origin, with vodka. First of all, vodka and tequila taste nothing alike. Second… why?

Bringing together family and war.

Credit: US Marines. Promotional campaign

Yes, there are many Latinos who proudly serve in the US military. However, it is a bit tricky to try to appeal to a certain particular demographic by appealing to the emotional connection that most Latinos feel to the notion of family. This is a sort of positive pat on the back that, however, is very complex given the huge life decision that enrolling in the military entails for soldiers and families. This is a borderline case of marketing that does speak to Latino values but simplifies a very intricate issue. 

Dear Macy’s, you could at least get the grammar right, perhaps?

Credit: 1567029508_HHM-Type (1). Digital image. Macy’s

Macy’s understands the importance of the Latino market not only because of local customers but also due to the huge amounts of tourists from Latin America that shop in their stores. It is all good… but they could do better with their campaign copy. “Unidos en cultura” makes no sense at all! Perhaps they meant “Unidos por la cultura”? The English slogan is “United by Culture”, so the translation feels like a half-hearted effort to appeal to “ethnic customers” (really, that is how gringo marketing lingo describes us!). Really, it is not that hard, we are sure that you have at least 50 bilingual, Spanish-speaking staff in your offices, so please do better next time. 

So to do it right why not get… I don’t know… actual Latinos to be part of the creative team? That’s what Nike did with the Los Primeros collection!

Credit: f6zulwr0fvmehebpfdb7. Digital image. Nike.

What a great way to create collection kicks while really digging deep into the Latin American soul. Nike describes this collection as follows “Honoring Latino Heritage Month, Los Primeros showcases distinct cultural expressions from four Latin American artists’ ancestry atop four iconic Nike silhouettes”. We don’t want to be puritans and say that international brands cannot celebrate Latino identity, but it is better if they do it right. Exactly what Nike did. This is the One Heart version of the classic Cortez sneaker, and it was created by Chilean artist Inti following patterns from indigenous textile art. That is how things are done, acknowledging that half of our Latino heritage derives from the proud original owners of the land that is now the American Continent. 

And look at this amazingly weird but very Latino fashion statement.

Credit: wvndm0ug4y1oehwiza71. Digital image. Nike

Few sneakers are as iconic as Air Jordans, and these beauties are decorated by Brazilian artist Pomb, a sensation in the street art world of Sao Paolo. Can we just get a pair already? We could totally rock this with a cool Mitú t-shirt!

Coca-Cola is a marketing genius… but have they done more harm than good to Latino communities?

Credit: hispanic-heritage-month-28-07PM-copy-604-337-dfbf7803.rendition.584.326. Digital image. Coca-Cola.

There is no denying that Coca-Cola has created one of the smartest and most memorable marketing campaigns in history. For Hispanic Heritage Month, they have created promotions that include creating personalized cans and bottles with Latino last names, as well as cans with temporary tattoos celebrating Latino identity. However, Coca-Cola has been linked to high rates of obesity, particularly child obesity, in countries like Mexico. We mean, celebrating a culture involves the general well being of society at large, right? 

READ: Vandals Destroyed A Hispanic Heritage Month Mural At Duke University And Here’s How Students Fought Back