Entertainment

This Woman Saw Her Former Yale Classmate’s Story Of Becoming Homeless On The News, Then She Swept Into Help

When CNN first reported about Shawn Pleasants, a former Yale graduate with an economics degree and previous experiencing working on Wall Street and in Hollywood, it generated mass sympathy. The Black businessman, who was a high school valedictorian and built a successful career for himself, shocked readers at the news of his decline. Pleasants, who had suffered a series of misfortunes, found himself out on the streets, addicted to methamphetamine and living in a tend in Los Angeles’s Koreatown for the past ten years. 

CNN’s coverage of California’s homeless crisis put a spotlight on Pleasants, a 52-year-old man who had been suffering for years. 

His life, it seems, has turned around thanks to the generosity of a former Yale classmate who saw his story.

Kim Hersmanis a Black attorney who studied at Yale around the same time that Pleasants did, came across the CNN profile and knew she had to help.”I started reading it — and just tears,” Hershman told CNN in a piece about Pleasants that was published today. In her interview with the news organization, Hershman admitted that she had not known Pleasants very well during their time at the Ivy League university. “When we were at Yale in the ’80s, there were very few Black students there,” Hershman told CNN. “Things are very different now. But I know that for whatever he achieved, something changed, and he didn’t have the support that, maybe, I had.”

When Hershman, who lives just miles from Pleasants’ encampment in Koreatown, first read his story she knew she wanted to help.

Hershman reached out to her network of Yale alumni on a Facebook page for former Black Yale students and asked for their advice and support so that she could help Pleasants.   According to CNN, the day after CNN featured their story about Pleasants, Hershman headed to Koreatown to find him with two other Yale alumni and her partner. “I was a little nervous because I was, like, ‘Where am I going? I’m a 5-foot-1 female,'” she told CNN. After asking around, Hershman was told by a homeless person that she could find him “around the corner.  

Wearing a Yale had, Hershman found Pleasants and took a seat beside him on a sidewalk and took his hand.

Pleasants told CNN that he knew who he was as soon as he saw her. “I had seen her, maybe, seven or eight times at school,” he told the news site. After speaking for some time, Hershman asked Pleasants how she could help. “My big thing was: ‘What do you want? And based on what you want, I’m going to do whatever I can to help you,'” she told CNN.

Pleasants told Hershman that his biggest desire was “to make a difference.” 

“I’m in this situation, and there has to be a reason for it all, and I want to help others,” Pleasants told CNN. That day, the two talked about Pleasants’ vision for a homeless resource center. There he hoped that he could help the homeless by offering them access to showers, mailboxes, and charging phones. Hershman told him that she wouldn’t make him processes but would do all she could to help him to get back onto his feet, as long as he went into a drug rehabilitation program. 

 Despite having rejected previous offers from family members in the past, Pleasants agreed under the condition that he could bring his husband  

“When she wants to do something, she does it, by golly. She’s an angel,” Pleasants told CNN. 

Hershman ultimately moved Pleasants into a guest house located on what CNN described as a “posh LA estate.” There, Pleasants has access to pools, basketball and his own kitchen that Hershman stocked with food. Since his move, Pleasants has been checked into a rehab facility in Los Angeles and his husband is scheduled to under go heart surgery.

 Hershman has paid $10,000 for Pleasants rehab stay and has said that she is ready to pay for more if he needs it. She has also helped set Pleastants up with a more permanent housing situation that will use a federally subsidized Section 8 voucher. 

“We’re people with a myriad of different circumstances. There are people from all cultures, countries, age groups and professions,” Pleasants told CNN of the homeless people he knows. “Not everyone can pay $2,000 a month for a studio,” he said. People who used to help homeless residents, he said, ended up sitting beside “us” on the streets. Pleasants also wants to call attention to the lack of facilities just to “clean your clothes.”  Here’s hoping Pleasants and his partner are able to recover fully and develop a new life together. There’s no doubt our world could use more generous people like Hershman.   

H/T: CNN

As ‘American Dirt’ Stirs Up Controversy, Here Are 10 Books By Latina Authors To Read Instead

Things That Matter

As ‘American Dirt’ Stirs Up Controversy, Here Are 10 Books By Latina Authors To Read Instead

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Whether or not you follow Oprah’s Book Club, you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding the most recent novel on her list: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. The book follows protagonist Lydia Quixano Pérez, a middle-class Mexican bookseller who escapes Acapulco with her 8-year-old son, Luca, after a drug cartel massacres their family at a quinceañera. When Lydia and Luca flee to the US on a freight train, the story unfolds as a chronicle of two migrants’ dangerous journey across the border.

On the surface, American Dirt appears to draw much-needed attention to the experience of countless people seeking safety and prosperity in the US—and while many folks are debating whether or not the book actually succeeds in doing this, it was definitely marketed that way.

After igniting a bidding war between nine publishing houses, American Dirt was ultimately sold to Flatiron Books for seven figures in 2018. With its topical and pervasive subject matter, the publishers assumed that the book would be a hit—and at first, it was. It was endorsed by major writers and celebrities, from Stephen King to Salma Hayek, and it received glowing reviews from several Latina authors, including Sandra Cisneros, Reyna Grande, and Julia Alvarez. Preorders from booksellers were so abundant that Flatiron increased its first printing from 300,000 copies to 500,000. And, of course, Oprah announced that the novel would feature as her Book Club’s first read of 2020.

But with all the hype that preceded American Dirt’s January 21 release came questions about its validity.

Credit: Youtube / CBS News

In May of last year, Flatiron held a book promotion dinner honoring the novel, and the event featured floral arrangements wrapped in barbed wire—an aesthetic choice that sparked a fair amount of early skepticism about the book (on Twitter, the decor was decried as “border chic”). Several prominent figures in the literary world are accusing Cummins—who referred to herself as “white” in a 2015 New York Times essay, but now identifies as “white and Latinx”—of cultural appropriation, asserting that she is capitalizing on the suffering of a group that she doesn’t belong to (though one of her grandmothers was Puerto Rican). Many Latinx writers have expressed disdain for the publishing industry’s tendency to support white authors telling the stories of marginalized groups, rather than elevating authors who actually identify with those groups themselves. Others are simply critical about the prose, lamenting Cummins’ clumsy reliance on racial stereotypes and use of a Spanish not typical of Mexico.

And although several Latinx folks are either actively critiquing or distancing themselves from the book, others remain optimistic about its effect on pop culture. Cristian Perez, a 25-year-old teacher who is Mexican-American, told the New York Times that he” had not heard about American Dirt or the controversy, but he was glad to see a writer using her ‘privilege’ to ‘bring light to the misfortunes of other people.’”

Mexican-American poet and novelist Erika L. Sánchez had initially said that the novel was written with “grace, compassion, and precision,” but recently mentioned in an interview that she wouldn’t have supported the book so fervently if she had known it would cause so much tumult. Still, she added, “I hope this book inadvertently opens up doors for people of color.”

Cummins insists that her aim was to do just that—to highlight the very real, very urgent plight of Latinx immigrants, though she realized she may not be the best person to do so. In the afterword to the novel, Cummins wrote that she wishes that “someone slightly browner than [her] would write” this story—another statement that has not sat well with her critics, as it seems to dismiss the many excellent Latinx authors writing this type of story every day.

Credit: Heather Sten / The New York Times

In regard to the controversy, Cummins stands by her book and the creative decisions she made while writing it. “I do think that the conversation about cultural appropriation is incredibly important, but I also think that there is a danger sometimes of going too far toward silencing people,” she told the New York Times. “Everyone should be engaged in telling these stories, with tremendous care and sensitivity.”

As the contention surrounding American Dirt runs its course, all eyes are on the publishing industry, which continues to fumble its attempts to make the literary landscape more inclusive. A 2015 study showed that white people made up 79% of the industry overall, with only 6% of the industry comprised by Latinx folks. Let’s hope that after the conversation sparked by American Dirt, 2020 looks a lot different.

And in the meantime, here’s a quick list of books by Latina authors that you should read right now! Thanks to our Instagram followers for the recommendations!

The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez

Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, by Raquel Cepeda

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

Dominicana, by Angie Cruz

Malinche, by Laura Esquivel

In the Country We Love, by Diane Guerrero

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez

 

Fans Crowded Around LAX To Welcome Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez To Los Angeles And His New Soccer Team

Entertainment

Fans Crowded Around LAX To Welcome Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez To Los Angeles And His New Soccer Team

lagalaxy / Instagram

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is one of the greatest soccer players right now. Some might even argue that he is one of the most beloved on the pitch. Now, Los Angeles will get a chance to watch Chicharito work his magic for the L.A. Galaxy.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is joining Major League Soccer to play for the L.A. Galaxy.

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Imaginémonos cosas chingonas.

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Chicharito is the highest-paid MLS player since David Beckham was recruited into the North American soccer league. The L.A. Galaxy reportedly paid a $9.4 million fee to Sevilla to transfer Chicharito to their time and his guaranteed annual salary will be $6 million.

Fans of soccer and Chicharito are looking forward to what the star player will bring to the new team.

Credit: lagalaxy / Instagram

“Chicharito is an outstanding player,” Yon de Luisa, the president of the Mexican Football Federation, told CNN.”He’s the Mexican national team’s leading scorer historically and I am sure he is going to have an outstanding participation here in LA.”He’s going to develop a magnificent rivalry against Carlos Vela, who is his friend, and they will be playing head-to-head in this civil war in LA,” added De Luisa, referring to Hernandez’s Mexican international teammate who plays for rival Los Angeles FC.”I really think it’s going to be a good thing for the city, for MLS and for us as well to have Chicharito closer to the national team.”

The move from the European league to the North American league was not an easy decision for Chicharito.

In an emotional video that is going around social media, Chicharito calls his parents and talks to them about his decision to move to MLS. During the call, the global soccer star breaks down in tears telling his parents about his journey in making the decision.

“It’s the start of the process of retiring, you know,” Chicharito said in the emotional video. When his dad pushes back, Chicharito says, “No, no, Dad, but what I want…I’m saying goodbye – and we’re saying goodbye – to a career in which we worked a lot and I know you guys feel it as well and we’re going to see the positive side and it’s going to be amazing. But if we want it or not, we’re now retiring from the European dream.”

The video is a touching and humble reminder that the superheroes we see on the field are people just like the rest of us.

Credit: @Kyndrasports / Twitter

We’ve all been there before. There is something so grounding and necessary about calling your parents when you need advice or are going through a hard time. We’ve all cried to our parents about different issues throughout our lives. Who doesn’t have a memory of crying to their parents over a hard decision and feeling better after the phone call?

Fans in Los Angeles couldn’t wait to welcome Chicharito to his new city and team.

Chicharito stans learned when he was arriving at Los Angeles International Airport so they showed up and gave him a hero’s welcome. For those of you who have ever traveled in and out of LAX you know how hard it is to get in and out of the airport with the traffic. That just goes to show how much Chicharito is truly loved by those who have followed his career.

Some fans are just happy that Chivas’s loss is their gain.

Credit: @NELAWOLF323 / Twitter

It is kind of incredible that the Mexican soccer team hasn’t tried harder to bring back one of the best players. Perhaps there isn’t enough money or Chicharito just doesn’t feel like going back just yet.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Chicharito. We are happy to have you!

Who’s excited to see Chicharito play in L.A.?

READ: Chicharito Announced In A Gender Reveal Party That He Is Having A Chicharito Of His Own