SPARK Magazine The Variety post: Be unique this Halloween

Need a unique costume idea for Halloween this year? Read my latest blog post for SPARK Magazine and check out a few ideas!

Read it here.

Star of my new favorite movie, “Moonrise Kingdom” and costume idea, Suzy Bishop. Source: fora.mtv.ca

Austin Fashion Report blog: American Apparel on SoCo

Read all about American Apparel off of Austin’s famous South Congress on the Austin Fashion Report blog!

You can read my first contributor report here.

My dream clothing piece right now: American Apparel wool cape in valentine. Source: American Apparel

Disney’s first Latina princess…or not?

DEBATE ABOUT THE SUPPOSEDLY FIRST LATINA DISNEY PRINCESS  NOT LOOKING “HISPANIC ENOUGH” 

Recent reports have said that Disney has their first ever Latina princess, Princess Sofia. But if this is true, why does she look so…white?

No one makes princesses quite like Disney, but they have had an issue with diversity with their royal ladies. In the past two decades, Disney has tried to remedy this with the introduction of a few of their first ethnically diverse princesses: Jasmine (Arabian), Mulan (Chinese), Pocahontas (Native American) and Tiana (African-American.) But Disney has yet to create a princess that celebrates having a Latina heritage, which is where many thought this new princess would come in.

Meet Princess Sofia. Source: Sofia the First Facebook

Why did so many people think this was a possibile reality with the latest Disney princess? According to Entertainment Weekly, during a press tour for Sofia the First (the television series featuring Princess Sofia), a blogger commented on how Sofia’s mother, Queen Miranda, had a “darker complexion than the other characters.” The executive producer responded by saying it is because “she is Latina” and thus began the speculation about Sofia being the first-ever Disney Latina princess.

Queen Miranda, Sofia’s mother, with her new husband, King Roland II of Enchancia. Source: Sofia the First Facebook page

Imagine the surprise of the public when the images and videos of Princess Sofia were released. With auburn hair, blue eyes and a very fair complexion, the Latino community “questioned if such a character could really resonate” with Hispanics. The young everyday girl-turned-royalty Sofia had to not only learn the ropes of being a new princess (as is her TV movie and series’s storyline), she also had to deal with criticism that she didn’t look “Hispanic enough.”

The outcry wasn’t a muted one either. More reports about the new princess’s ethnicity dispute arose than proclaimed her arrival. Some in the Latino community felt Sofia didn’t have a dark enough complexion to be accurately considered “Hispanic” while others argued that not all Hispanics have dark complexions. It was even said that Disney lightened Sofia’s skin tone in order to appeal to a broader audience.

But what does Disney say about all this? Disney recently made a statement on the Sofia the First Facebook page that said they never claimed the new star of their Disney Junior show to be Latina. She “is a fairytale girl” and all of Disney’s characters come from “fantasy lands” that are meant to “reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.” A coexecutive producer and writer for the show further explained to E! News that Sofia is actually of “mixed-heritage” with her mother hailing from a Spain-inspired fairytale kingdom and her father from a Scandinavia-inspired kingdom.

Sofia on her way to her royal new life. Source: Sofia the First Facebook page

While I can understand how frustrating this whole situation might be for the Latino community, all is not lost. Yes, this princess is not Latina, but at least we didn’t find out that Disney did intend for Sofia to be Hispanic. So the argument that Disney lightened the little girl’s skin in order to appeal to a broader audience can be stricken from the record.

Honestly, I am not in any uproar over this situation. While we still don’t have a Latina princess, we did get a new princess that has unique qualities from her counterparts. For the first time, we do have a princess who is of “mixed-heritage” and even though she is of mixed-heritage, she considers herself Enchancian like anyone else. This idea is similar to how a lot of US Hispanics come from a many backgrounds but still consider themselves Americans. Sofia also does have Spanish-inspired roots, even if they aren’t as prominent as some Hispanics.

This situation has shown Disney how popular and important the idea of having an official Latina princess in their royal lineup is. We want to teach young girls that all ethnicities are beautiful and there is no one form of “beauty.” We don’t all need to be as pale as Snow White or as blonde as Cinderella to be “beautiful.”

All the Disney Princesses teach us that diversity and celebrating who we are is important. This lesson alone is enough to show that it is time for an official Latina Disney Princess to expand the diversity of the royal ladies.

I am positive the carriage with the first official Latina Disney Princess will arrive. I am also positive that both her fellow princesses and the world will greet her with a warm Disney Princess welcome!

Source: The Huffington Post Latino Voices

Watch the trailer for “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess:”

Source for video: YouTube

Lack of Latino Culture Acknowledgement at Harvard University

HARVARD UNIVERSITY STILL LACKS A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM OR A CULTURAL CENTER FOR LATINOS

According to the Harvard Crimson, the daily college newspaper at the university, while the peer institutions of Harvard “offer either specific programs for scholarships of Latinos or cultural centers for their students,” Harvard “has no equivalent.”

The class of 2016 for Harvard was 11.2 percent Latino students, but these students will find only student organizations where they can embrace and celebrate their culture at one of the nation’s oldest universities. But “efforts to bring such ressources, including attempts to create a center where students can have access to researchers and resources related to the Latino experience, stretch back approximately 40 years.”

Harvard has a unique standing on “how it chooses to support ethnic and cultural student groups.” Outside of the Harvard University Native American Program, which supports the Native American student population with an office and space to support the students’ education, “no cultural student groups on campus have University-allocated centers.”

Harvard students celebrate the unveiling of the portrait of the first Native American to graduate Harvard, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck. Source: Harvard Gazette

But students that are part of “the nation’s largest ethnic minority” feel “neglected” as one student put it. Latinos are “part of Harvard’s past” and “are a vibrant and undeniable part of its present” so why should they not get the same recognition their fellow Latinos receive at peer universities?

While some believe that “Harvard is heading in the right direction” with their recent “expansion of the Committee on Ethnic Studies,” which “through curricular offerings and collaboration with student groups, offers support for those interested in the study of Latinos both in and and outside the classroom,” others think this is not enough.

David Carrasco, a Neil L. Rudenstine Professor for the Study of Latin America, leads a session for the Latino Leadership Initiative, which trains college students in community organizing and networking. Source: Harvard Gazette

As a student who attends a university that does offer cultural centers for ethnic and cultural student groups as well as scholarship programs for Latinos, I can understand why these Latino students at Harvard are so frustrated.

Latinos are a major part of the future of this country. They are the fastest-growing demographic and their population is expected to reach 30 percent of the population by 2050.

We no longer live in the days of the “melting pot” and need to accept the idea we live in a “salad bowl” of a country. Immigrants no longer just acculturate to the United States, especially the ever-growing Latino population. We have to get our heads out of the sand.

The good news is that there are many places in this country that have realized this and adapted to it. For example, universities across the country now offer cultural centers and academic study programs dedicated to various cultures. I can personally account for this because I participate in the Latino Media Studies program (LMS) at the University of Texas at Austin.

We need to embrace diverse, but fellow Americans.
Source: University of Michigan Department of Psychology

Centers and programs, like the LMS program, that celebrate culture are important to the education of future generations. As an Anglo-American, I study in the LMS program because I want to better understand and be educated on this growing population.

But why is any of that important? The answer is quite simple: we are a diverse mix of people in the United States and it will take a better understanding of the various cultures that make up our communities to be able to best serve them. It will also lead to less ignorance and prejudices. To me, that sounds like a win-win for everyone.

Hopefully, Harvard will better realize this and grow their university acknowledgement of and involvement with various cultures and ethnic communities. It is really is inevitable because with many other universities showing their cultural engagement and the ethnic populations not slowing down in numbers, Harvard will have to participate in order to stay competitive in the world higher education.

Source: The Harvard Crimson

Learn more about the Latino Leadership Initiative at Harvard University:

Source for video: YouTube

Press Hit: UT College of Communication features my press release for the Latino Media Studies program!

The College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin recently featured my press release for the Latino Media Studies program, a certificate program College of Communication students can pursue, on their website. The press release was about how the certificate will now be recognized on UT Austin transcripts. Exciting to see as a little PR student!

Check it out here!