This Latina is the creator of some of today’s most iconic emojis!

Angela Guzman co-created the first set of U.S. emojis./Latin American Post

Colombian immigrant Angela Guzman’s eyes lit up at a job fair as she approached tech giant Apple’s booth to learn about internship opportunities at the company. She hit the ground running as an intern in 2008, and was soon hired to help draft nearly 500 of these 🎉🎄💍🎃🌟🍆🍊🍎 emojis we use today to express our thoughts and emotions. 

Giant emojis./Viva.nl

Her task at Apple was to take the original Japanese emojis and transform them into something new. At the time, Angela didn’t even know what emojis were 😂 

Angela Guzman on Twitter.

Born in Colombia and raised in Miami, Angela found it challenging to communicate as she learned English. In grade school, she’d rely on using pictures to interact with her classmates and teachers. This early skill and sense of ingenuity helped her land that job at Apple.

Angela Guzman co-created the first set of U.S. emojis./BBC News

Co-designing the first set of emojis allowed her to use her real-life inspiration to create some of today’s most popular ones. A dress her sister was working on for an event inspired Angela to create the turquoise dress 👗 emoji. She single-handedly created at least 180 of these playful icons.

Angela Guzman holds a wooden smiling emoji./CNBC

Angela’s discomfort as an English-learner came full-circle, since she gave us a universal tool for communication other than the written word. Now, thanks to Angela, our texts are more colorful 🎉 and 💯fun! 

Father of four ‘bled to death’ under ICE custody

A girl holds a sign to support Rolando Meza Espinoza, a name that had been used by Carlos Bonilla. He died while in custody of ICE./ (Photo: Keldy Ortiz/NorthJersey.com file photo)

Joanna Bonilla lost her father in 2017 to internal bleeding from liver disease that went untreated. She didn’t get to say goodbye to her immigrant father who passed away in a hospital alone while in U.S. custody.

Migrant children at the border./ colorlines.com

Joanna can’t get her dad back, but she can seek justice. That’s why she’s now suing CGB Health Systems LLC, the medical provider at Hudson County jail at the time of her father’s death. She’s heartbroken that things have worsened in immigrant detention facilities since her father Carlos Bonilla’s death.

Carlos Bonilla and his daughter. (Photo: Courtesy of Hudson Civic Action)

Carlos’ case echoes the lives of migrants in search of a better life who have died while in U.S. custody. The Salvadoran father of four lived in the U.S. for 25 years, and owned a construction company with his brother. He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April 2017 while working at a construction site. 

A combination of a broken immigration systems, inept staff and an increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric have added to the recent spike in deaths of migrants in detention. They include five children and two adult trans immigrants, many who had medical issues that went undiagnosed or untreated.

Justice served for Texas rape victims thanks to this Latina

Rep. Victoria Neave with newly signed law./Victoria Neave on Facebook.

Southern state governments may have unleashed a war on women’s rights through a series of anti-abortion bills this session, at least this Latina lawmaker in Dallas, Texas, isn’t keeping her arms crossed. 

Democratic House Representative Victoria Neave wrote the Lavinia Masters Act to tackle the rape kit backlog in Texas so that women don’t have to wait for justice to be served. 

Rep. Victoria Neave and Lavinia Masters embrace after bill passes./Victoria Neave on Facebook.

Victoria, who just completed her second session at the Texas House, has already gained a reputation as a women’s rights warrior. The Latina politician wrote this bill, which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law, to honor sexual assault survivor Lavinia Masters. 

Lavinia’s rape kit sat on a shelf for over 20 years and by the time the DNA was matched to her attacker, the statute of limitations had passed. This meant Lavinia couldn’t press charges even though the criminal had raped other women. Through her law, Victoria is ensuring this never happens to other women in Texas. 

Lavinia Masters provides testimony to support bill./Lavinia Masters for Latino USA.

Victoria says rape is one of the worst things that can happen to a woman, and fiercely pushed this bill forward in Congress in a state where Democrats and Republicans rarely want to work together. Luckily, both sides understood the importance of this law and now officials can find rapists easier and faster. 

Lavinia Masters and Rep. Victoria Neave./ Lavinia Masters for Latino USA.

This is what a determined Latina can do when she sets her mind to it. 

Our military has plenty of Latinxs, but few reach the top

Olga Custodio./Latina Style Magazine

Olga Custodio didn’t intend to become a Latina trailblazer. But she is! Olga is the first Latina U.S. Air Force pilot who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. 

Olga Custodio/Fox News

After 24 years of  service in the Airforce, Olga embarked on a 20-year-long career as a commercial pilot for American Airlines. She retired as a Captain with more than 11,000 hours of flight time, and made it into the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame for her remarkable achievements. 

Olga Custodio/Pinterest
People of color in the military./blog.globalknowledge.com

A study by Casaba Group, a Latinx veterans organization, shows that from 1995 and 2016, only one Latinx became a three-star general. This is abysmal, especially since 17% of all active-duty enlisted service members are Latinxs, which mirrors the 17.5% general U.S. population that is Latinx.

Latinos in the military./bing.com

Top Latinx military officials say part of the problem is that the military piles enlistments and promotions of people of color in one bundle. They also cite our culture’s lack of self-promotion as a potential culprit in career advancement. 

Ultimately, military leadership needs to intentionally promote diverse candidates instead of falling into unconscious bias traps of hiring people who look like them. We need more success stories like Olga’s!

Gina set to inspire first Latina POTUS!

Gina Rodriguez posed for a photo, sitting on a ledge against a fence
Gina Rodriguez

When Barack Obama was elected U.S. president in 2008, he inspired an entire generation of young people to dream limitlessly. Now, Gina Rodriguez, star of The CW’s Jane the Virgin, is planting the seed for a future Latina POTUS, as she defines a Disney character that a new generation of Latinxs can identify with. 

Gina Rodriguez's instagram photo featuring her wearing a black t-shirt which reads "Phenomenally Latina"
Screengrab of Gina Rodriguez’s Instagram post.

Gina is the executive producer of “Diary of a Female President,” an upcoming series about a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl whose journal entries illustrate her life in middle school on the road to becoming U.S. president. It’s a single-camera, half-hour comedy told over the course of 10 episodes on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+.

 

Illana Peña holding a child
Illana Peña on Twitter.

Cuban American writer Illana Peña is creating and scripting the show. She previously worked on The CW’s The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which was a hoot and inspiring to women in its own right. 

Gina Rodriguez./movieplayer.it

Échale ganas, Gina! We can hear the excitement 👏🏽 from moms and their niñas already! It’s about time our girls will get some much-needed inspiration straight from the comfort of their living rooms. We’ll be thanking your for this show at the inauguration of our first Latina POTUS! 

It’s time for Latinxs to talk about depression

Scrabble pieces spell out mental health.
Mental health Scrabble./Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Depression can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. For Honduran immigrant Marco Antonio Muñoz death by suicide was a response to the emptiness and hopelessness he felt when his wife and child were ripped away from him.

Woman with long black hair and pink blouse. She is crying with tissue in hand.
Sad female./shutterstock

The 39-year-old father took his own life while held in a Texas detention facility weeks after the Trump administration launched a harsh crackdown of unauthorized crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. Antonio was so desperate, that he chose to face death rather than a life without his family.

Sad Hispanic woman sitting at edge of bed
Sad Latinx female./The Huffington Post

Suicide impacts Latinxs of all ages, identities and backgrounds. For some of our men, mental health can be compounded due to cultural attitudes that dictate los hombres no lloran, and discourages them from expressing stress, depression or emotions. 

Studies show that:

*Poor communication and taking action seeking help can keep some Latinxs from recovering from mental illness.

*Few Latinxs with a depressive episode seek help, partially due to lack of health insurance and Latinx health professionals. 

*Depression among Latinas is higher, at 46%, than Latinos, with 19.6%.

Animated Gif of woman saying "You're not alone."

There is no shame in living with mental illness. keep an eye on warning signs for when a loved one needs medical attention, and help them seek the treatment they need.