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Polished Angels Is An Afro-Latina-Owned Traveling Nail Salon Offering Free Manicures To New York’s Elders

At Isabella Geriatric Center, a nursing home in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, Yazmin Ramos places a kit of nail polishes, clippers, cuticle nippers and other care tools on a table as a group of mostly Black and brown elders crowd around, eagerly waiting to be pampered during their free monthly manicure.

Since 2013, Ramos has been visiting facilities like this one around New York as part of her nonprofit Polished Angels, a traveling salon that provides complimentary beauty, mostly nail care, services and priceless conversations with her community’s seniors.

“A nursing home can be a very lonely and depressing place. It can be difficult to be in that circumstance and have strangers care for you, especially when you’re getting to an age where you know you don’t have much time left. So I wanted to give joy back to them, that’s what Polished Angels is doing, making them feel good and like they are not alone,” Ramos, 34, told FIERCE.

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True happiness! ❤️ #teampolishedangels

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She started Polished Angels on Christmas Eve almost six years ago. A woman of faith, she was inspired to give back during the holidays, but wasn’t sure what she could do. With a long-time passion for manicures, Ramos, a producer at The Wendy Williams Show and the executive producer of the web series Faith Works, decided to turn her favorite self-care pastime into a service for others. She contacted a local center to see if they would be interested in having her gift their residents with free nail treatment, and they agreed.

But Ramos never expected the enthusiastic response she received.

“I thought I would just be painting a few women’s nails, but apparently word got out that there were free manicures that it turned into me being there till 11 p.m. I didn’t want anyone who had been waiting to not get their nails painted,” Ramos, who is of Honduran descent, said.

After posting about the event on social media, her inbox was flooded with messages from people who wanted to help her. Just like that, her Christmas present to the elderly turned into a nonprofit with a team of volunteers. Among them: Dascha Polanco. The Orange is the New Black actress learned about Polished Angels through a mutual friend and immediately wanted to get involved. She asked Ramos if they could serve elders in her hometown, Washington Heights, and that’s how the nonprofit started working with residents at the Isabella Geriatric Center.

These days, Ramos visits a set of nursery homes and women’s shelters about once or twice a month. With help from volunteers, some days her manicures, which usually include a gift of polish or skincare products at the end, also come with makeovers and massages as well.

Like any good manicure, though, the service is always accompanied with some girltalk.

“I just want them to feel like they can be comfortable, like they can speak their mind and vent. I don’t want them to keep things bottled up. I let them lay it on me,” Ramos said.

And they definitely do. According to Ramos, they chat about everything, reminiscing about their lives and families, spreading the latest center gossip and giving all the details on the people they’re dating there.

“They love to date in that place. The women there have more boyfriends in the time I spend with them than I’ve had in my whole life,” Ramos jokes.

For the Bronx native, the talks are the most impactful, especially because she didn’t grow up with her grandparents and the elders she serves often don’t have relatives who live close enough to visit them frequently.

“They’ve lived for like 80-plus years, and there’s been a lot of ups and downs, and now they’re here in this situation they may or may not want to be in. Some get visitors from children or grandchildren, and that makes them feel good, but a lot don’t have loved ones around that can be there because sometimes they are out of the state,” Ramos said. “… So they’re in this place where they feel boxed in and have no independence, no freedom, with someone dictating when they can eat or sleep. That takes a toll on anyone, so imagine if you’re older going through that.”

Ramos, who currently funds Polished Angels with her own pocketbook, hopes to receive grants that will allow her to expand her services to other New York boroughs and even across the country.

“It’s important because seniors are forgotten easily and are sometimes even seen in a negative light. Their time is almost approaching, and they should make the best of it, because any time we have on this earth is a blessing and we should use it to uplift each other,” she said.

If you’re in the New York area and are interested in volunteering, message Ramos about her next manicure event at Isabella Geriatric Center on February 23.

Read: This Afro-Puerto Rican-Owned Vegan Nail Polish Brand Is For Women Of Color Who Dare To Live Without Shame

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

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If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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