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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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+.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks shook Cesar Vargas to his core. He longed to fight for freedom alongside his friends in the military 🇺🇸 but his immigration status impeded him.
It’s a reality that ate at him long before 2001. As a teenager he wanted to enlist in the Army Reserve, but his high school counselor told him he couldn’t because he was “illegal”.
Cesar was devastated. All he wanted to do was help protect the U.S.
At 35 years old, that calling to serve his country turned into reality. It was a culmination of a near 20-year journey from undocumented immigrant, to an authorized and standout attorney and activist.
He fought the legal system for three years before the bar approved his application, where he served as New York’s first openly undocumented lawyer.
Cesar became a renowned immigration reform activist, testified before Congress, launched an advocacy group and served as Latinx outreach strategist for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign.
He’s proud of his service, but knows that the country he’s fought so hard to defend still leaves many in the shadows. Including his own family. His mom Teresa Galindo was heartbroken she and her younger DACA son couldn’t attend Cesar’s boot camp graduation because they lacked “proper documentation.”
She felt discriminated against, she said. Cesar viewed his graduation as a tribute to his mom’s determination. Cesar, you’re our héroe in every sense of the word 🙌 ¡Gracias por tu servicio!
Have you ever pictured yourself with Rihanna’s round-the-clock glow or lusciously vibrant lips? While the musician no doubt has natural beauty, her traffic-stopping looks are greatly enhanced by the work of Mexican American makeup artist Priscilla Ono.
Priscilla is the global makeup artist for Fenty Beauty cosmetics line, and Rihanna’s go-to makeup guru. The granddaughter of Mexicans says this is her dream come true.
Growing up, her family was adamant she pursue medicine, but Priscilla had a different, bigger and bolder dream.
Her grandmother was her greatest beauty inspiration as a kid. Priscilla found herself sneaking into her abuela’s makeup bag when no one was looking.
Fast forward, and Priscilla’s big break came when her now-husband asked her to do makeup for Dawn Robinson’s music video from En Vogue.
That video was Priscilla’s epiphany. Until then makeup seemed like fun on the side, but from that moment on, makeup was a real and viable career.
Her abuela was so upset at Priscilla’s decision to drop out of college to pursue beauty, that she stopped talking to her for two years. But when she saw how happy Priscilla looked during a television interview, her outlook changed.
Now, Priscilla is moonlighting as a fashion designer with the launch of her plus-size line Priscilla Ono x Eloquii. Ladies, she even added pockets to her clothing for 💄maquillaje!
Keep an eye out 🙌🏾 we’ll be seeing much more of Priscilla in the fashion world!
You may have noticed something missing as you enjoy the NBA playoffs: Latinos on the court. Just 2% of NBA players are Latino, so while we pressure the NBA to have more of our own playing the game, here are some Latinx players you can cheer on…
Al Horford was born and grew up in the Dominican Republic. He plays center for the Boston Celtics. His father, Tito Horford, was also an NBA player drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2007, and is a 5-time NBA All-Star. Al is married to Amelia Vega, a model and actress and the first Dominican woman to be crowned Miss Universe.
Jose Juan “JJ” Barea is from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and plays point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. He is only the sixth Puerto Rican to play for the NBA.
Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban, let JJ use the team plane to deliver supplies to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Ángel Delgado is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and plays center for the Los Angeles Clippers. He was ‘Rookie of the Year’ 2014-2015 and won the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the 2017-2018 season.
Robin and Brook Lopez are identical twins born to a Cuban father and American mother, and grew up in California. Both played for the Stanford University basketball team, Brook as power forward and Robin as center. Now Robin, plays center for the Chicago Bulls and Brook is also center for the Milwaukee Bucks.
As the NBA finals come to an end, let’s root for all the Latinx players representing out there, and hope more of them are on the court next season.
There is something essential about reading a book 📚 that resonates with your own life experiences. Some, like these, are written by autores who understand the nuances often ignored by mainstream literature.
Let’s start with “The Rhythm of Success” 📖 where Emilio Estefan shares details about how he left Cuba and used his immigrant experience to help him create a mega-successful music career in the U.S.
He and his wife Gloria Estefan built a music empire and are a source of inspiration for all immigrants.
In “Signs Preceding the End of the World” Yuri Herrera dives into the back-and-forth transition between homeland and new country, and how a person transforms as a result. This is a familiar experience for many immigrant and first-generation Latinxs in the U.S.
If Cuba is your interest, we recommend you read “Take Me With You” 📖 a memoir by Carlos Frías about a Cuban-American who gets in touch with his roots after going on assignment to cover Fidel Castro’s illness.
Reading enriches your life, but getting a hold of a book that ‘gets’ your experience is like having someone enter your mind and read your thoughts.
Visit your nearest bookstore or library for one of these inspirational reads.
Black Lives Matters has brought to the forefront the real dangers black males face when interacting with police. But did you know that Latino males are twice as likely to die at the hands of Latino police?
You read that right.
The fact that our hombres run increased danger at the hands of police of color in diverse communities is tragic and infuriating to say the least.
So what’s going on?
It’s not a simple black or white answer. It includes many factors such as crime rate, unemployment rate, high school dropout statistics, education levels, and population of a community.
Researchers say there isn’t sufficient data to prove whether Latino policemen purposely target Latino males, but we need to find an answer and solution to this problem.
The study shows that income inequality and racial segregation increase chances of police homicide for Latino males and more Latino officers mean a higher chance of Latino male fatalities.
Open dialogue and police sensitivity training would go a long way in ensuring healthier interactions among our brown and black males and law enforcement. We need to work together to nip this atrocious trend.
We live in a climate of fear, that’s not a question.
And for many Latinxs who are not in this country legally, the fear of deportation is constant and potent.
Like José Jimenez, whose father was too afraid to go to the doctor even after the signs of melanoma appeared on his face. The elder Jimenez had to be convinced by his family to see Dr. J. Luis Bautista, who guards patients against la migra.
Many Latinx immigrants ignore health signs, or rely on home remedies that don’t work.
So much so, that many even put off medical emergencies.
Take Julia Rojas, who ignored piercing pain in her lower abdomen and spent the day drinking hot water with mint leaves, as if it was a tummy ache that would be soothed.
The pain forced her to seek help, and doctors immediately removed her gallbladder.
Some immigrants rely on home remedies to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses that need immediate care.
Doctors report seeing patients for the first time with advanced cancers, or feet that are necrotic and have to be amputated.
Migrant workers pick sweet potatoes at a farm in VA. Photo: USDA by Lance Cheung.
In June we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month because immigrants built this country, and continue to help our society function. Immigrants deserve the peace of mind to seek the health care they need. We must demand humane treatment of all Latinxs, enough is enough!