Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Support Your Incarcerated Family Members If You Don’t Know How

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Talking about our primos in prison is taboo. If you ever had a family member in prison, you may avoid talking about it outside your family circle. The incarcerated family member then becomes a ghost, a cautionary tale, or a source of shame. We forget how they arrived in this situation and hesitate to offer support. Looking closely at issues that contribute to mass incarceration in this country can offer insights into the matter. It’s time we take a new approach to incarcerated family, and offer help in ways the correctional system refuses. It’s time to humanize our imprisoned primos and primas, showing love and empathy that we would want to see if we were behind bars.

Considering the U.S. census shows Hispanics make up 18.3 percent of the population, it is bewildering how they come to make up 32 percent of the Federal inmate population.

However, looking at social issues that plague the Latinx community, it is no surprise that low levels of education, poverty, and structural discrimination lead to incarceration. With the latest instances of aggression toward the Latinx community at the presidential level, it will be no surprise if acts of discrimination and targeting of Latinos continues to rise.

What other factors contribute to the incarceration of Latinos?

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The Pew Research Center reports that in 1991, 60 percent of Latinos were sentenced in federal court for drug-related offenses, and 20 percent for immigration crimes. Yet, these figures changed dramatically, with 48 percent of sentences for immigration crimes, and 37 percent of sentences for drug-related crimes in 2007.

The incarceration of Latinos is feeding into the conversation around the school to prison pipeline.

Credit: @LatinoPPF / Twitter

What is the prison experience really like? Netflix series like Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” and “Orange is the New Black” help pull back the curtain on the harsh realities of prison life. More than just TV shows, these depictions exposed micro and macro ways the U.S., home to the largest prison population in the world, focuses not on prisoner rehabilitation, but recidivism instead.

When we think about our family members in prison, we need to remember that they could be facing sexual violence, lack of access to mental health services, solitary confinement, and denial of their reproductive rights.

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It may be the case that an incarcerated family member’s situation is shrouded in mystery and whispers, but this need not be the case. It is not only time to confront these matters at the family level, but to address them at the social level as well. The first step may begin with actually accepting that inmate call. Ask what your family member is going through and share that with the family if he or she permits. You may feel a sense of hopelessness, but there is so much you can do to help not only your own family members but the greater incarcerated Latino community too.

Moving beyond thoughts and prayers—although they’re good too—here are substantive ways you can help incarcerated family members.

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  • Visit if you can. Even if it is only a few times a year, the impact of human contact cannot be overstated. Ensure you are on the approved visitor’s list before you go. Bring identification and arrive early. Be a good listener and most importantly, show that family love.
  • The experience of visiting prison can be inconvenient or even traumatic, so if you feel you cannot commit this fully then try a virtual visit. Apps like JPay offer inmate services like email, video visitation, and secure payment transfers. Send pictures of the family or a video of a holiday gathering.
  • If apps prove to be intimidating, try sending a letter. Have picture printed out—old school style—and include them in your letters. Families are full of births, marriages, and so many other beautiful life events. Share them with your primos and primas who can’t be there with you. If you feel like you simply don’t want to communicate with your incarcerated family member, but you still want to contribute to the cause in some way, join a prison pen pal organization and bring a sense of human connection to others.
  • Another way to help the family behind bars is to send books. The organization, NYC books through bars, understands how much books can help with the rehabilitation and the education process in prison.
  • With vulnerable peoples such as the trans community,  women in prison, those with mental health needs, simply raising awareness on their behalf can be a radical act of kindness.
  • Another act of solidarity with your incarcerated family member is to donate to the ACLU Prisons Project. “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we work to ensure that conditions of confinement are consistent with health, safety, and human dignity and that prisoners retain all rights of free persons that are not inconsistent with incarceration.”

If you have a family member in prison, it is important to their own recovery and reformation to know they have people who love and support them.

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With an array of opportunities to help our family members in prison, it is important to note that reintroduction to society can pose a major challenge for former inmates. These are areas where you can help too. Our imprisoned family members may have been victims of the system, they may have survived the only way they know how, or maybe they just made a mistake. Whatever the circumstance, the key is to remember they are human, and most importantly, they are familia. So ask yourself, for their sake and the sake of our community, what can you do to help?

READ: Cyntoia Brown Was Finally Released From Prison After 15 Years– This Is What Resistance Looks Like

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

Things That Matter

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

We all know that growing old is inevitable in this life and that our days on Earth are numbered. Regardless of that truth, it’s human nature to either feel afraid of growing old or to feel melancholy when it comes to thinking of growing old. What can be even more painful is seeing our parents, our aunts and uncles, or our grandparents growing old and imagining a life without them in it. 

Last week, one woman on Twitter shared a video of her grandfather who has dementia singing along with her to “Fallaste Corazón” by Pedro Infante in a fleeting moment of lucidness. 

In the video, you can see the woman singing with such passion to her grandfather who is attentively watching her sing and who later begins to sing along to the lyrics as well.

 Dayis, on Twitter, shared that her “tata” doesn’t remember a lot of things due to his dementia but in an effort to help him with his dementia, she sings to him every day. 

“Today he remembered the song fallaste corazón and I swear I was trying so hard not to cry,” she writes. “This many is my life.”

According to Alzheimers.net, there are many reasons as to why music boosts brain activity.

According to the site, “musical aptitude and appreciation” are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia patients, music can bring emotional and physical closeness, music can shift moods and stimulate positive interactions, and it evokes emotions that bring back memories.

Since musical aptitude and appreciation are the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, “music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.” In later stages of dementia, patients are also prone to losing the ability to share emotions with their caregivers or family members but through music, they can still reach that emotional and physical closeness they once had. Further, singing to and with dementia patients is engaging and it leads to patients “exercising more mind power than usual.” 

People who saw the touching video on social media were not only quick to share their reactions after watching it but they also shared their own personal experiences with family members and loved ones who had dementia. 

One Twitter user replied to @Dayannagmusic03 and shared that they couldn’t stop watching the video. 

The Twitter user went on to say that their grandfather also has dementia but notices sometimes that “something around him has triggered a memory” and to see that, they said, is the best feeling in the world. 

The woman who initially posted the video shared that her “tata” is currently on “stage 6” of dementia and although it’s been a long and rough battle, “he always seems to remember certain songs.”

“When he does, it warms my heart with joy,” she continued to write on Twitter. 

It’s safe to say the video had a lot of people in their feels and rightfully so.

We love to see raw and touching moments like these. 

The 0:50 mark made us ugly cry too.

This is right when her grandfather starts to faintly sing along with her and man, she sings with so much emotion too. 

Other folks on Twitter sent their blessings to her family and her grandfather.

We hope her grandfather continues to have more moments like this. 

People on Twitter also compared the heartwarming video to the movie Coco.

Remember the scene toward the end of the film when Miguel sings to Mamá Coco and she begins to remember? I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING. 

Others said what we’re all thinking… just thinking about our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents getting old hurts a little bit more as we keep getting older ourselves. 

We’d like to keep believing their invincible and will live forever. 

Another Twitter user @missmalindakat tweeted that she had never seen anyone sing with more “heart and passion” than in that video.

One Twitter user shared her own video of her grandfather in a similar situation who also seemed to remember the lyrics to “El Rey” by Vicente Fernández when her great aunt sang it to him.

It’s touching to see other folks sharing their similar experiences and videos in an effort to support one another. This video has also amassed over 47,000 views on Twitter. 

Listen to “Fallaste Corazón” in full on YouTube below:

These Are The Baby Shower Gifts You Should Include In Your Registry

Fierce

These Are The Baby Shower Gifts You Should Include In Your Registry

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Unless you’re filthy rich, you probably know that being alive in the United States is going to cost you a pretty penny. You also know that getting married and having kids is expensive, which is why a lot of people are choosing to skip out on these traditional customs. How can we afford to do all these things we’re told to do if we still have college debt and live at home? It’s nearly impossible. Unless you get help. That’s what is so wonderful about raising money via crowdsourcing and having registries because it does truly take a village to help you settle into adulthood and parenthood. 

Dockatot Deluxe+ Dock

Credit: Amazon

One thing you can never do is leave your baby alone for a second. Not on the bed and not on the couch. This ultra-sweet sleeping area is called Dockatot Deluxe+ Dock and while it’s a little pricey (closer to $200), it’s very useful, portable, and comfortable. 

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Twins Bassinet

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Twins are all the rage these days, but how can you manage both and your sanity? This crib takes care of them both! It comes with removable bassinets and they claim “is perfect for napping, making it easy to transition to a portable playpen” and comes with a quilted mattress pad which creates a comfortable nap space. It costs about $200 on Amazon, but it’s basically a two for one. 

Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow

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All the presents don’t have to be for your baby, they can be for you too. If you don’t get proper sleep, you and everyone in your household will not be happy. This Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow is perfect for getting your body situated just right. Find it on Amazon for about $60.

Ergobaby Carrier, 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier

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This baby carrier ($124) comes highly recommended because it’s so flexible and is made perfectly for those wiggly baby bodies. Here’s how one reviewer described it: “We bought this carrier for two big reasons. 1: I detest lugging around a car seat or maneuvering a stroller in public. 2: My husband and I are a tad paranoid about child-snatchers. When I bought it I figured I would be the one using it the most, but it ended up being my husband that primarily wears it (he thinks I’m too clumsy and is afraid I’ll trip and fall while wearing her) and he really likes it. From the times that I have used it, I can say it was definitely worth buying and I would buy it again in a heartbeat.”

Pampers Swaddlers

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There’s probably nothing you will need more than diapers. While you may want to go for the organic route, or for those super ambitious parents, the cloth route (good luck), you cannot go wrong with Pampers. 

UPPAbaby Vista

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The main product that will cost you a ton of money is the stroller. You will have lots of cheaper options, but you want to go with a stroller that can be used in various ways and that can also grow along with your baby. But who will fork over almost $1000 for this ride? Your group of friends. Several of them can chip in for this much-needed gift. 

Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib

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One thing we love to do is travel. But a baby on hand can make that really difficult. Thanks to the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib we can finally have some peace of mind that our baby will be comfortable and we won’t have to be lugging around a pack n’ play. It’s also fairly inexpensive, just $200

Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag

Credit: Target

Driving a minivan screams “I’m a parent!” so does the kind of diaper bag you stroll around with. This super cute Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag ($50 at Target) looks just like a backpack but it fits so much more. It’s also a perfect accessory to your stroller, which hangs on the handle. 

Philips Avent 3pk Natural Baby Bottle 4oz

Credit: Target

My mom always said, “when a baby is drinking from a bottle, you must be sure they’re not swallowing air.” Those kinds of retro bottles are thankfully a thing of the past. These new baby bottles are perfect at making sure your baby is only drinking fluids and also super easy for them to grasp on to. 

Now that you know the presents you want, it’s time to choose a registry! Thankfully there are lots of options including Amazon, Target, Walmart and more

READ: A Latino Baby Shower Would Not Be The Same Without These 9 People