Things That Matter

These Historic Moments Defined Life For US Latinos In The US During The Last Decade

The 2010s have been a tumultuous decade for Latinos in the United States. On one hand, Latino culture and Spanish have made huge leaps towards being acknowledged as part of the mainstream. On the other hand, politicians have created a conflictive environment for being Latino in the United States, as immigration policies toughen up and some political discourse becomes borderline racist. These are some of the moments that defined Latino life in the United States in the 2010s. 

1. This is the decade in which we saw Latin American kids locked up in cages.

Credit: CBP / Department Of Homeland Security

This will be perhaps the most infamous fact about the decade. Latinos in the United States saw how migrant kids were locked up in what are actually cages as they were separated from their families and kept under custody of Border Patrol authorities.  

2. Juan Gabriel and Jose Jose died, sending US Latino abuelitas everywhere on a singing spree.

Two of the greatest Mexican singers of all time, adored by tias and abuelitas everywhere, passed away during the decade. Juanga died on 2016 and Jose Jose took his last breath in Miami in 2019. Both deaths were shocking and sent the Spanish-speaking Internet on a meme and condolences frenzy.  

3. DACA was approved by Obama and now Trump wants to get rid of it and the fate of thousands remain uncertain.

Credit: Jeff Chiu / Getty

Barack Obama kept the hopes of millions of DREAMERS alive by pushing DACA, an act that delays action towards people who arrived to the United States as kids and do not have a full citizenship status. As has been the case with most things that Obama did, Trump is now trying to reverse it and DACA sits en la cuerda floja. 

4. Mexican filmmakers ruled over the Oscars, and made strong political statements as they were crowned kings of the movie business.

The Four Amigos, the group comprised by Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, dominated the Oscars. The directors won 5 of the Best Director awards of the decade and whenever they took the stage they talked about immigrant rights and basically Latino awesomeness. 

5. Trump made that infamous speech calling Mexican migrants “rapists” among many other racist, wrong, and troubling comments.

Credit: CNN News

In part he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He set the tone of his presidency right from the beginning, when he announced he was running. This vile remark drew the ire of the Mexican government and Mexicans in the United States. There is no coming back from words like these. Latino companies started to break business ties with him following the remarks. These words will resonate forever when we think of how Trump began his path to the White House and the tone of his presidency. 

6. Three letterS: A.O.C. Love her or hate her, she has disrupted politics and that is a fact.

Credit: Desus & Mero / Showtime / Giphy

Some people think she us the next big thing in American politics, while others, perhaps not being used to respect women in power, dismiss her as a know-it-all. Fact is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has redefined the place of Latinas in US politics and is one of the most articulate people in Congress today. 

7. Andy Ruiz Jr became the heavyweight champion of the world (briefly).

It was hard to believe, perhaps too hard. Andy Ruiz Jr, a Mexican-American boxer, became the heavyweight champion of the world in early 2019 by knocking out the undefeated British champ Anthony Joshua. It was a surreal moment that made Latinos proud. Sadly, Ruiz did not train for the rematch, gained weight and was soundly defeated over 12 rounds. 

8. Latino women got more and better representation on mainstream television.

Credit: Jane The Virgin / ABC / Giphy

The 2010s saw two shows in particular that represented Latinas in a more nuanced and truer way than your usual hot mamacita fare. Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time demonstrated that Latinas can lead a show and be fabulous and intelligent and proud in doing it. 

9. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Credit: Christopher Gregory / The New Yorker

This fatal event brought out the best and the worst in people. It inspired acts of solidarity both in the island and in the United States, where communities came together to support people in need. But it also brought some nasty comments from some people in power that do not even know that Puerto Ricans are actually US citizens. There were also renewed cries for independence after some considered that the response from the federal government was substandard. 

10. The saddest and most impactful photo of the decade: a father and daughter lose their lives trying to cross the border.

Credit: download. Digital image. La Jornada

This photo travelled the world and became the symbol of the plight of millions of people who try to cross the US-Mexico border. A Central American father and his daughter lay on the Rio Grande, having died by drowning. The photo, originally released by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, became viral and triggered countless discussions about migrant rights. 

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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