Things That Matter

Floridians Are Showing Overwhelming Support For Amendment 4 Allowing 1.4 Million People The Right To Vote

Floridians will be voting on a amendment on whether or not to extend the right to vote to as many as 1.4 million people. Technically, it would return the right to vote to these people, all of whom have felony records and have completed their debt to society (jail, probation, fees, etc.).

Florida is one of just three states in the country that legally prohibits felons from ever getting to vote for the rest of their lives once convicted. It’s voter disenfranchisement on the largest scale in the nation and it’s perfectly legal today.

Here’s the story behind the ballot measure that could change all of that.

Florida is the swampiest of swamps.

@VISITFLORIDA / Twitter

I’m from Miami. This is the home state of Jeb Bush. The home state of the “Florida Man.” This is President Trump’s favorite place to vacation. Politicians in the Sunshine State have consistently voted for measures and pushed for measures to restrict the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, African-Americans and any other group you can think of.

Amendment 4 does not grant voting rights to murderers or felonious sex offenses.

@LBC / Twitter

Many organizations feel that this loophole perpetuates the dehumanization of people convicted with those charges, but however you feel about this stipulation, 1.4 million new voters gives the 2020 election a whole new outlook.

Once a convicted felon has completed their sentence, they’re still going to have trouble finding a job and housing because of their record. At the very least, they should be able to participate in their democracy.

Gov. Rick Scott (R) has made the existing process for felons to regain their voting rights next to impossible.

@FLGovScott / Twitter

He has it set up so that these people have to wait as long as seven years to even apply. From there, it will take years for public offices to review the application.

According to the Florida Commission on Offender Review, of 30,000 applicants who have since applied through Scott’s process, only 3,005 have been approved. That means felons have a 10 percent chance of getting their voting rights restored, if they even have the resources to apply.

More than 27 percent of all disenfranchised felons in the U.S. live in Florida.

Untitled. Digital Image. Vox. 23 October 2018.

Not only does Florida have some of the harshest voter restriction laws in the country, but it may even have the most felons of any state in the union. That means that 10 percent of the entire state of Florida cannot vote because of their felony record.

Floridians are rallying to change that.

@BeckNaftel / Twitter

The Second Chances: Yes on 4 campaign has folks phone banking from home, crafting personal postcards to mail out to Florida voters and even has an option to “text bank.” You don’t even have to live in Florida to participate in this campaign.

The Second Chances Campaign doesn’t have a lot of funding, but it’s sweeping support across the state.

@BenJerrysTour / Twitter

In a true grassroots movement, 1.1 million Floridians petitioned for Amendment 4 – the Voting Restoration Amendment – to reach the ballot. Their slogan?

“Floridians from all walks of life believe in forgiveness, redemption, restoration and, ultimately, second chances.”

Meet the founder: Desmond Meade

@yesto2ndchances / Twitter

Meade is himself a convicted felon.

Caption: “Since his release from prison in 2004, Desmond Meade graduated Summa Cum Laude from Miami-Dade College and finished law school at Florida International University. But he is still not eligible to vote. Vote #Yeson4 and help fix Florida’s broken system.”

Of the 1.4 million votes that could be restored, hundreds of thousands are Latino.

@yesto2ndchances / Instagram

Today, 21 percent of all potential black voters in the state are unable to vote due to felony records. We don’t know the numbers for Latinos because the Florida Department of Corrections under reports Hispanics by 250 percent according to research at University of Central Florida.

The most recent poll shows 74 percent support for the Amendment to pass!

@Public_Citizen / Twitter

This is incredible news, but you should know that the Yes to Second Chances amendment requires 60 percent of the vote to pass. That means it has a 12 point margin between now and November 6.

Remember how everyone thought Hillary had it in the bag? Don’t trust the polls. Get your friends and family registered to vote.

Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum supports the bill.

@DisavowTrump20 / Twitter

Thankfully, Rick Scott’s term limit is up, though he’s still trying to run for Senate. There’s a lot you can do with your midterm vote this year, you guys.

He’s for gun reform, healthcare for all and is all about raising teacher’s salaries.

Puerto Rican Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, Frances Colón, has thrown in her support.

@fcoloninFL / Twitter

Listen to her. She sounds smart.

Caption: “Hey #Florida, VOTE Yes on Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to over 1 million who have completed their sentences. It’s about second chances, preventing recidivism by giving rights and responsibilities back, and ending voter suppression. November 6, your vote is your voice.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is also in favor of the measure.

@carloslcurbelo / Twitter

Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles in Florida. He tried to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was denied because of his vote in favor to repeal Obamacare and his unwillingness to cosponsor the DREAM Act. A Democratic challenger to his seat, which includes Miami-Dade County, forced him to adopt more positions that favor the Latino community.

John Legend is pulling through to support voters’ rights.

@FLRightsRestore / Twitter

Legend knocked on doors to ask Orlando residents to vote Yes on 4. According to The Tampa Bay, Legend said, “There are very few Americans that don’t have family members who have been through the system. As much as we think it’s certain neighborhoods, it’s certain folks, it’s really all of us.”

He came through for a charity concert and this is the crowd reaction:

@FLRightsRestore / Twitter

The charity concert happened in a high school’s auditorium and everyone was clearly screaming. I mean, same.

Volunteers are knocking on doors.

@yesto2ndchances / Twitter

If you’ve never canvassed before, I promise you’d be great. We were raised with our mothers slamming doors on us, so we have tough skin.

Students are rallying in their quads.

@BenJerrysTour / Twitter

Literally, Ben and Jerry’s joined in on the campaign offering free ice cream to anyone who registers to vote, while promoting the Yes on 4 campaign. BRB, gotta go buy more Ben & Jerry’s.

Young Democrats are canvassing in groups to talk to their neighbors.

@electyoungdems / Twitter

Folks from all different campaigns are throwing their hat in for Amendment 4 to pass. Look, it’s not like it’s some extremely progressive act. It’s just removing Florida from the worst state on voter suppression to just average.

Plus, if passed, this will be the largest voter rights win since woman’s suffrage.

So who is on the opposition? Guess.

Untitled. Digital Image. American Greatness. 23 October 2018.

Republicans voted NO on this amendment. It’s not even about the felons. It’s about securing power for their party. Everyone knows that anyone who has experienced a broken system votes Democrat.

Florida gave us Trump by only a few hundred votes. Imagine what a million would do.

@yesto2ndchances / Instagram

Anything less than restoring voters’ rights is perpetuated systemic racism and subjugation of power of minorities. The laws are already stacked against us. We’re already more likely to be arrested and convicted of a crime than a white person.

This is more than just breadcrumbs. This is power to change the future.

@yesto2ndchances / Twitter

If you have voting power in Florida, you have the power to grant that same right to people who have made mistakes and paid their dues. Put an end to Scott’s lifetime ban on voting. Every drop in the bucket is what makes a blue wave.


READ: Florida Passed Their First Gun Safety Measure In More Than 20 Years And The NRA Has Already Filed A Lawsuit

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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