Things That Matter

Meet 8-Year-Old Latina Immigration Activist Sophie Cruz Who Is Changing The Conversation On Immigrant Rights

It’s a scary time right now for immigrants in the U.S., and nobody feels that more profoundly than 8-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of undocumented parents.

You’ve probably already heard of her from when she made international headlines when she handed the Pope a heartbreaking letter entrenched in her fear of ICE. She was just five years old then. Latina girls may just change the world.

Sophie Cruz is an American citizen of Oaxacan heritage.

@JuanSaaa / Twitter

Her parents came to the U.S. without documentation from Oaxaca, Mexico. She has a little sister, who, in the photos, hilariously seems pretty stoic about her hermana’s stage presence.

It all started on September 23, 2015, when she made it past the barricades to get to Pope Francis.

@tkbcinhayward / Twitter

She was desperate to hand him a letter to beg for help for her undocumented parents. He stopped the parade to give her a blessing and a hug.

They are why she was so desperate to make it past what the NYT called “one of the largest mobilizations of security officers in American history.”

@paolamendoza / Twitter

They had all traveled from Los Angeles to see the pope with an immigration activist group called the Catholic Delegation for Reform.

Security eventually stopped her but the Pope saw her run out from the crowd and invited her to come closer.

@yatzirizepeda / Twitter

Her courage and determination didn’t happen on a whim. She truly hoped to meet the Pope to ask for his help.

“Pope Francis, I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents.”

@fforrfeminism / Instagram

The letter she eloquently shared with the Pope goes on to say, “I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing metals. Immigrants like my dad feed this country. They therefore deserve to live with dignity, they deserve to be respected, they deserve immigration reform, because it would be beneficial to my country, and because they have earned it working very hard, picking oranges, onions, watermelons, spinach, lettuce, and many other vegetables.”

Oh and also, she wrote:

“Don’t forget about us the children…”

@latinaspoderosas / Instagram

“Don’t forget about us the children, or about those who suffer because they’re not with their parents because of war, because of violence, because of hunger.”

She even gave the Pope this muy bella drawing.

@ngjennings / Twitter

That super colorful dress and girl with the braids is how Sophie Cruz sees herself. Nos encanta.

The next day, the Pope brought up the issue with Congress.

@votolatino / Twitter

He had a joint meeting scheduled the next day with the United States Congress, and he took the opportunity to encourage more openness for immigrants and refugees. Five-year-old Sophie Cruz changed the Pope’s agenda.

The next year, she was invited to speak at the Washington Women’s March.

@MurielBowser / Twitter

At this point, she was just 6 years old and speaking in front of tens of thousands of people. 🤭She began with this touching moment, “We are here together, making a chain of love to protect our families. Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”

She gave her speech in both English and Spanish. 😭

@Weasal / Twitter

She went on to say, “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love and tender to snuggle in this path of life.”

“Let’s keep together and fight for our rights. God is with us.”

@MurielBowser / Twitter

When she started speaking in Spanish, her mom just straight up started weeping.

Cruz became the face of DAPA, and sat in Supreme Court hearings to consider protections for parents.

@paolamendoza / Twitter

Beforehand, she spoke in front of five thousand immigrants, families and supporters in front of the Supreme Court. That said, her prominence has meant that she’s had to do a lot of this without her parents.

She met with President Obama and Joe Biden.

@LaCasaBlanca44 / Twitter

Her parents couldn’t pass background checks to enter the White House because of their status, so she went with documentary filmmaker Paola Mendoza. When Cruz isn’t speaking into a microphone to advocate for immigrants, she’s subtly wearing mariposas on her meet-POTUS dress in homage to migrants.

In October 2016, she submitted a question for the Presidential debate.

@elisafayemakes / Twitter

The question read, “If you deport my parents, what happens to me? I am 6 years old and an American citizen. I have a 3-year-old sister who is also an American. My heart is very sad, because I’m scared that ICE is going to deport my undocumented mommy and daddy.”

The question was not aired.

Even though she’s more than a decade away from being able to vote, she wants you to get the vote out.

@CalEndow / Twitter

Also, we must comment on her repping Oaxacan indigenous clothing in the cutest possible way, always.

Cruz has become a political icon for immigration activists.

@marimansfield / Instagram

And there is a ton of artwork on the Internet to prove it. She’s the muse for hope for change.

The San Jose Museum of Art recently created a mural in her honor in October 2018.

@sjmusart / Twitter

Caption: “The #SophieCruz mural of hope is already inspiring our community members. Stop by @PurpleMuseum to check its progress.”

Define American named her “Activist of the Year” in 2018.

@DefineAmerican / Twitter

Caption: “Sophie Cruz is our Activist of the Year for her advocacy for undocumented families.” Get it, girl!

The county of Los Angeles has even awarded her for her activism.

@HildaSolis / Twitter

Politician Hilda Solis invited Cruz to share her message in front of the County Board of Supervisors. Cruz deserves all these awards and more.

What Cruz really deserves is to feel like her family is safe.

@DavidCamposSF / Twitter

And while her parents have not been deported, likely due to the public outcry at this point, they could be legally deported at any time. Sophie needs us all to dig deep past the exhaustion and hopelessness and unearth a passion like hers to create a safer future for all our kids.

Thank you, Sophie. You’re our hero.

READ: Sophie Cruz’s Mom Wiping Her Tears As She Watched Her 6 Year Old Speak At The Women’s March Is All Of Us

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

Fierce

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. 

Chipotle Was Hit With The Biggest Child Labor Penalty In Massachusetts After An Investigation Proved The Chain Was Violating Child Labor And Sick Time Laws

Culture

Chipotle Was Hit With The Biggest Child Labor Penalty In Massachusetts After An Investigation Proved The Chain Was Violating Child Labor And Sick Time Laws

chipotle / Instagram

Chipotle was just hit with the biggest child labor penalty in the state of Massachusetts. Turns out the Mexican fast-food chain was cited for violating child labor and sick time laws. Some of the child labor violations include minors working without valid work permits, working too late into the evening and too many hours daily and weekly. 

Massachusetts’s Attorney General just hit Chipotle with the largest ever child labor penalty in the state.

Attorney General Maura Healey ordered the largest child labor penalty ever issued by the state against the Mexican restaurant chain after finding an estimated 13,253 child labor violations in its more than 50 locations.

“Chipotle is a major national restaurant chain that employs thousands of young people across the country and it has a duty to ensure minors are safe working in its restaurants,” Healey said in a statement. “We hope these citations send a message to other fast-food chains and restaurants that they cannot violate our child labor laws and put young people at risk.”

A review of the chain’s records revealed that minors “routinely worked in violation of the child labor laws,” according to AG Healey.

The fine detailed that Chipotle had employees under the age of 18 working past midnight and for more than 48 hours a week. Teenagers told investigators their hours of work were so long that it was preventing them from keeping up with their schoolwork. The company also regularly hired minors without work permits. 

Some Twitter users and former Chipotle employees were not surprised. 

“Not even a small bit surprised” tweeted one user.

Just last year, workers at an NYC Chipotle staged a mini-strike over the same issues.

“Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what they’re owed!” chanted the crowd of about 30 workers before employees at the Sixth Ave. store in Greenwich Village walked off the job in a staged strike. Workers at another four Chipotle outlets in the city planned to join the Manhattan group in a protest against their employer, which had violated city law by overbooking their weekly work schedules.

“Right now, we’re fighting for our rights as Chipotle workers,” said part-time employee Carlos Hernandez. “I honestly don’t believe the management shows the employees respect. They just don’t want to give us the hours. They don’t want to give us more money.”

The AG’s office of Massachusetts began investigating Chipotle in 2016.

The investigation started after a minor’s parent alleged that the employee had worked “well past” midnight at a Chipotle restaurant in Beverly, the AG’s office said. Audits between 2015 and 2019 identified child labor violations such as minors working without valid work permits, too late into the evening, and too many hours daily and weekly. The chain regularly permitted dozens of 16- and 17-year-old employees to work later than what is allowed by law and worked minors past the nine-hour daily limit and 48-hour weekly limit, the AG’s office said.

Some people have taken to social media to express their discomfort with Chipotle as a workplace.

“Working at this Chipotle makes me feel real uncomfortable” wrote one user. “They over work [their] minors”

Chipotle also did not notify employees of their right to earned sick time. 

According to the AG’s office, the chain did not properly notify employees of their rights under the earned sick time law. It failed to provide the AG’s office with complete timekeeping records and, in some locations, failed to pay workers within six days of the end of the pay period. 

The chain was cooperative with the investigation and is now in compliance with state child labor laws. 

“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with all laws and regulations and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and provide a compelling work environment,” Laurie Schalow, chief corporate reputation officer of Chipotle, said in a statement.

The settlement total is close to $2 million.

The settlement includes penalties for earned sick time violations in which managers granted employees paid time off only for certain illnesses. The violations also include failure to keep accurate records and pay timely wages. Lastly, the company was ordered a voluntary $500,000 payout to a state youth worker fund dedicated to education, enforcement, and training.

READ: Chipotle Is Expanding Its Menu Options For A Limited Time Only, They’re Adding Carne Asada To Stores Nationwide