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As Hispanic Heritage Month gets underway, we are looking at the present and celebrating the future.

We are living in precarious times; discriminatory rhetoric against people of color and immigrants gets regular airtime; environmental policies enacted to protect the world around us are being rolled back or eliminated even as natural disasters continue to decimate our homelands. Our educational systems and institutions are literally under assault with random acts of violence.

Rather than stand by and watch this current state of affairs, a younger generation is challenging the status quo, doing the ground work to create the change they wish to see. They are organizing, in some cases risking their livelihoods and lives, and using their platforms to enact that change.

Over the next 30 days, we will highlight some of the Latinx who are running towards these challenges, rather than away from them. Check back and tune in as we highlight the game changers of the Latinx generation.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passionately snagged this year’s New York Democratic primary win, to everyone’s surprise but her own. With a background in international relations and her family bred in the Bronx, the 28-year-old Boricua advocates for frontline community topics like tuition-free public college, universal Medicare and prison reform. Ocasio-Cortez continues to grass-root her way toward a Congress seat and a win would make her the youngest woman to ever hold the position.

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Own your power. . For so many, it’s radical to feel comfortable in your own skin – and to know that you are more than enough, just as you are. . One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” . So take up space. Speak up. Hold the door open and take others with you. Accept that you will be criticized no matter what – that is the price of fighting for change and innovation. I consider constructive criticism a blueprint for improvement and a medicine for ego. . Ultimately, the people who get down, stay focused in adversity, and do the thankless work of change are the ones who transform society. We can all be a part of that, if we so choose. We can all knock a door, register our cousin to vote, or educate ourselves on an issue we’re curious about. . We are all capable of awakening and commitment. And because of that, we can all be great. . 📸: @gigilaub

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Emma Gonzalez

Every vision has a voice and whether shaky or stern, Emma Gonzalez is using hers. The 18-year-old Cuban-American student survived the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida and sprung into action turning tragedy into change calling for national gun control laws. Along with fellow students affected by the violence, Gonzalez co-founded advocacy group Never MSD and bravely laser-eyed a powerful speech at the March for Our Lives rally. Her immovable stance has garnered legislative attention in her home state, trailblazing by example for our generation’s youth leaders.

 

Justin Torres

Turning life into art, novelist Justin Torres proves a good story is worth 1000 screens. Torres’ debut book, now a drama film, “We The Animals” follows his life living with a mixed family of three rambunctious brothers and struggling parents from each side of the world. Raised by a Puerto Rican father and Italian/Irish mother, the L.A based Torres has garnered attention from fellow queer writers and the public alike for the portrayal of his tumultous boyhood. He continues to teach English at UCLA and his work of word represents the experience of the underrepresented the way only a memoir-styled piece can.

 

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#lgbt #pride #lgbtwriters #pridemonth #lgbtmonth #justintorres #wetheanimals #holalaredo

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Amara La Negra

Walking in anywhere ‘fro first, Amara La Negra is setting her own standards for beauty and music. The Dominican singer grew up Diana Danelys De Los Santos and has captivated us since she first appeared on the popular TV guilty pleasure Love and Hip Hop: Miami. In the face of color discrimination, the Miami raised La Negra continues to represent her true self giving us care-free Caribbean joints like “Ayy” and her latest single “Insecure.” The 27-year-old is on a musical mission telling Rolling Stone, “There is still a lot of ignorance surrounding the Afro-Latino community, and it has given me all the reason to want to keep fighting for it.”

 

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Residente

From Calle 13 to the world’s biggest stages, Residente is a rapper, producer, composer and humanitarian extraordinaire. The Puerto Rico native started as a visual artist and joined the alternative music scene with his group Calle 13. Born René Juan Pérez Joglar, he utilizes his music to spread social awareness about issues such as access to education and indigenous rights in Latin America. But Residente’s efforts go beyond borders. Whether providing food and resources to Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria or campaigning against gun-violence with UNICEF and Amnesty International, he uses his art as activism. His work has even earned him a Nobel Peace Summit Award.

 

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Gina Rodriguez

The new Latina starts with Gina Rodriguez. The wide-smiling Chicago native, who spent years in theater and the indie film circuit, landed on our radars after scoring the lead role in CW’s television rom-com, “Jane the Virgin.” Her bold acting choices and continued dedication to her craft catapulted her to Hollywood and podiums across the globe. Dedicated to the power of education, women’s rights and accessible healthcare, Rodriguez sits on the board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, has been a loud advocate for the #MeToo Movement and joined campaigns for the NationalBullying Prevention Center. She shows her audience that Latina is not just one thing, but everything.

 

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The Kid Mero

Everyone has that friend from the block/building/school whose comedic genius is “hood famous” and would be phenomenal on TV if he only had a shot. The Kid Mero is THAT dude. Joel Martinez, most recently of Viceland’s Desus and Mero, is bringing his pop culture pontifications along with Desus Nice to Showtime’s first late night comedy talk show in 2019. The 35-year-old Dominican American writer turned comedian turned on air personality got his start on social media; first with his own blog then slinging jokes on Twitter. This segued into a writing gig on Vice’s Noisey, developed into the Bodega Boys podcast which he started with high school friend Desus, and blossomed into their daily late night show. Famous for speaking his mind on everything he hates (and loves) has an unmatched wit reminiscent of another Bronx comedian (we see you Tracey Morgan). The foulmouthed family man of four calls NJ home these days but is a NYC native through and through. Whether supporting local Latino entrepreneurs or bringing his traveling merchandise truck to his hometown, Mero is proof that the Bronx keeps on making it…

 

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Spanto & 2Tone

You’re not in Venice, California until they say you’re in Venice, California. Mexican-American duo Spanto and 2Tone are the duo behind the streetwear brand BornxRaised. It was created in 2013 as a response to L.A’s culture vultures gentrifying their hood as well as an ode to la raza. In only five years, the company has collabo’d with Converse, West Coast rapper YG and New Era creating 90’s inspired mens pieces with the edge of the city’s pre-tourist takeover. Protective of their turf, the team wears the city on their sleeve (literally) reppin’ their hometown with flares of vintage and new age all with the swag of homegrown taste.

 

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Daniel Lubetzky

It would have been easy for Daniel Lubetzky to use his Stanford law degree and be a successful lawyer. Fortunately for the world, it wasn’t enough. Frustrated by a lack of healthy and tasty snacks on the market, the Mexican American launched Kind Snacks in 2004. His fruit and nut bars helped launch an ever growing snack category around the country. But it didn’t stop there. Lubetzky structured Kind as a “not-ONLY-for-profit” company whose Kind Foundation creates more empathetic communities through projects like Empatico, a high-tech pen-pal program that connects kids around the world. Lubetzky’s journey is chronicled in his best selling book, Do the KIND Thing. As a social entrepreneur he’s launched projects that promote peace in the Middle East and business that encourage entrepreneurship in developing nations. His philanthropy and kind mentality have gained recognition from the World Economic Forum and President Obama who named him a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

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Hector Rodriguez

Inspiring a new generation of comic book lovers and super-hero hopefuls, Hector Rodriguez III took to the drawing board with his community in mind and heart. Motivated to see more Latino characters on the pages of comics everywhere the proud Mexicano created super-hero El Peso Hero. Seeing a need for artists and community to converge and tell their own stories, he co-founded Texas Latino Comic Con in his home state. The first of its kind, the free event has garnered attention beyond local news and attracts art and literature lovers of all ages. A schoolteacher by trade, Rodriguez aims to champion diversity in spaces where Latinos can see themselves in the characters they love.

 

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Iris Beilin

Always welcoming her subbies to the crazy familia, the makeup guru Irishcel Puello, known as Iris Beilin on social media, is happy to destroy mainstream beauty standards just by being herself. The spunky 29-year-old Panamanian reaches over 1 million screens with her YouTube channel showing women how to love the skin they’re in. She took it that lesson off the ‘Gram and into real life when she collaborated with e.l.f. cosmetics on a line of lip palettes, Mis Amores, with shades that looks fly on every shade of brown. Geared by faith and fashion, the L.A based Puello is known for her plus-size try-ons and honest product reviews – which are all Latina certified. Candid with her fans and her haters (she kept it real about tired makeup trends like contouring!) she turns content into girl chat thanks to an unmatched energy level and authenticity.

 

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