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21 Lessons I Learned About Latinas While I Was Living in NYC

I have to admit something rather embarrassing: I grew up in a fairly secluded Latinx household. I was just eight years old when my family moved to the U.S. straight to Miami, where I met Cubans, Cubans and more Cubans — just like my family and I. Although eventually, we moved to another part of Florida and I met different kinds of people, it wasn’t until I moved to New York City for college that I actually met different kids of Latinxs.

Since then, my worldview has grown exponentially. I never realized how secluded I was — or how truly diverse the Latinx community is — until I began to meet and make friends with other Latinas. From learning that not all of us love cooking (say what?!) to sharing dating horror stories, here are 21 lessons that I learned about Latinas (and myself) after I moved to New York City.

1. We are a very diverse group.

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Before I moved to New York City, the only other Latinas I knew were all Cuban. To be honest, they were all very light skinned and looked basically just like me. But after moving, I learned that Latinos are a very diverse group — not all of us are light-skinned. 

2. We don’t all look alike.

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Just as with the light-skinned example above, I learned that Latinxs come in all shapes and sizes. I met Latinas who are tall, who are short, who have a light complexion, who have a dark complexion, who have brown eyes, who have blue eyes. Seriously, we do NOT all look alike!

3. We can support each other without competition.

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The biggest thing I learned as a kid from telenovelas is that women compete a LOT. Well, the truth is that this just isn’t accurate. After moving to New York and meeting some Latinas who eventually became my friends, I learned that telenovelas were lying to me and that we could, inf act, support each other. 

4. Not all of us love to wear heels.

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My mami taught me that a Latina must be always very well put together. She wasn’t a huge fan of heels herself, but she always encouraged my interest in fashion. I dressed up for every single school dance and all. But when I came to New York, I learned that loving fashion isn’t really in our DNA… It’s something that some of us do and some of us do not. 

5. We don’t all have our ears pierced.

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One of the biggest things that shocked me after I moved to New York is that not ALL Latinas have their ears pierced. To be honest, I am still shocked whenever I meet a Latina who doesn’t have her ears pierced (since it’s a very common thing to do when your baby girl is young), but I commend them for stepping outside of that stereotype. 

6. The whole “curvy” thing is just a stereotype.

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I was always very ashamed of my butt growing up. This is probably due to the fact that I was a child of the 80s and 90s and spend most of my childhood pre-JLo. After Jennifer Lopez rose to fame, though, I happily embraced my curves — which is why it came such a huge shock when I eventually met Latinas who absolutely did NOT fit the “curvy” stereotype. 

7. Hair is a difficult and complicated topic.

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Many of us grew up with the “pelo malo” narrative, and my heart breaks more every time I hear a friend tell the story of how her mami made her feel bad about her hair as a kid. This isn’t something that I experienced growing up, but it was a really good thing to learn about when I met other Latinas.

8. Dating is a struggle for most of us.

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Look, I don’t want to say that dating is difficult for ALL of us but it’s been a common complaint amongst the Latinas I have met. Why? Well, to be honest, a lot of men (especially non-Latinx men) are excited about the prospect of dating a Latina. They have a LOT of stereotypes about us built up in their heads, which makes it really awkward on first dates when we have to turn down their awkward overly sexual advances.

9. We’re better educated.

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The number of Latinas earning college degrees is increasing, according to the latest statistics. Although it’s difficult for a lot of us to go to college (due to financial instability, families that want us to stay close, etc), we are still managing to do it and graduate with four-year degrees.

10. There is a big divide between American-raised and not.

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I was raised in two worlds: My parents are immigrants but I grew up mostly in the U.S. since I was only eight years old when we came here. I thought that was pretty normal, but after moving to NYC I realized that there are many different types of Latinx families and the way they are raised. Some Latinas I met are American-born and raised while others come from much heavily immigrant-influenced families.

11. Speaking Spanish isn’t something we all do.

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I grew up speaning Spanish, sure, but I was severely mistaken when I assumed that every Latino family is like this. Just like the fact that some of us are more Americanized than others, some of us do not speak Spanish at all. In fact, a lot of my friends in NYC didn’t. And you know what? That’s okay!

12. Yes, some of us are close to family. Some are not.

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I know it’s a stereotype, but I’ve learned that a lot of (white) American families are… not that close. For instance, I love my husband dearly, but he barely ever talks to his sister or his dad. This is totally normal in his family, though. Whereas, in my family, if I don’t talk to my mom for a few days, she freaks out. Every family is different but I’ve found that many Latinx families tend to be on the closer side. However, well, that’s simply not all of us since some Latinas have tumultuous relationships with their families and need the space away from them to be their true selves.

13. Some of us can be blonde (shocking!).

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This is going to sound pretty ignorant of me (I admit), but I didn’t know a single naturally blonde Latinx person growing up. It just wasn’t a thing in my family or in my parents friends. We were all light-skinned, dark-haired and had brown eyes. So, when I discovered that some Latinas have naturally blonde hair and even blue eyes… Well, I was shocked. But it’s okay, I recovered.

14. We don’t all love to cook.

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There is a pretty big Latina stereotype that we all love to cook and clean. Well, NOT true. Granted, it may sound weird for me to say that because I actually DO love to cook… but my personal interests simply do not translate into the interests of every other Latina out there. We’re all different and we don’t all need to love to be in the kitchen, despite what my abuelita taught me growing up.

15. Yes, we all grew up cleaning on Saturdays.

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Okay, I hate to stereotype here but I’ve yet to meet a Latina who wasn’t woken up early on a Saturday to help her mami clean. Maybe this is just one of those stereotypes that’s very, very true.

16. Many of us have stories of being called “fiery.”

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Whenever I ask a Latina what has been the stereotype that has driven her up the wall, it’s pretty much always the whole “fiery” thing. Sometimes we’re called “spicy” but it’s basically the same thing. There honestly hasn’t been a Latina who I’ve met that hasn’t come across this stereotype more than once… especially in dating, honestly.

17. Our families come from many different countries.

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As I mentioned before, I grew up in a predominantly Cuban part of Florida so that was all who I met. When I moved to New York, I got to meet a lot of other Latinas from many different countries and nationalities. I got to meet Dominicanas, Mexicanas, Salvadorenas, and so much more. It’s been wonderful to learn about all of the similarities and, especially, all of the differences between our different cultures.

18. We didn’t all grow up with a chihuahua for a pet.

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I have no idea where this stereotype originally came from, but I heard a lot of questions growing up whenever I told people that I had a cat. What, was I supposed to have a chihuahua? Apparently, I didn’t get the memo — and neither did most of the other Latinas I’ve met throughout the years. Though, funnily enough, my mom got a chihuahua as a pet the year after I moved out for college. 

19. None of us like being called a “half” Latina.

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This is something that has always driven me crazy, but a lot of people (both those outside of our community and within it) that try to call those of us who have only one Latinx parent a “half” Latinx. That, to me, has always been rather silly. Although I have just half of my dad’s Cuban DNA, I grew up with him full-time and I am a full Latina. This happens to many of us who are mixed, but it’s something that needs to end ASAP.

20. We can do pretty much anything we want.

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Yes, Latinas are unstoppable! It may not seem like it all the time, especially with all of the crazy political BS going on right now, but we have accomplished a lot — and we will continue to persevere, as Rita Moreno said.

21. Nobody understands me quite like another Latina.

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Sure, I have all kinds of different friends. Not all of them are Latinas and all of the Latinas are different — but I have to admit: A lot of the times, it is hard for one of my other friends to understand me. There is just something about the special bond that we share as Latinas that is really unique and special.


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This Black History Month Celebrate The Legacy and Life Of Afro-Latina Reina Julia de Burgos

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This Black History Month Celebrate The Legacy and Life Of Afro-Latina Reina Julia de Burgos

Julia de Burgos is one of the most prominent Afro-Latina poets in modern history, and considered one of the most famous female poets from Puerto Rico. Her short, but prolific, life was defined by her innovative work, radical politics, volatile relationships, and personal struggles with depression and alcoholism. In honor of black history month, we give to your the story of Julia de Burgos, the Puerto Rican, Afro-Latina feminist poet who was ahead of her time.

“My childhood was all a poem in the river, and a river in the poem of my first dreams.”

Born Julia Constanza Burgos García in 1914 in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Julia de Burgos was the eldest of 13 siblings–six of whom died due to malnutrition. De Burgos was raised on a farm in extreme poverty, which influenced both her writings and her political outlook for the rest of her life.

While most female students in 1920s Puerto Rico weren’t expected to pursue higher education, the precocious and gifted de Burgos attended University High School in Rio Piedras on a full scholarship. She went on to receive a secondary education at the University of Puerto Rico, where she earned credentials to become a teacher in 1933.

“Hear the thousand laments of your children, of your soul, of your homeland demanding liberty.”

By the early 1930s, Julia de Burgos was already a published and critically acclaimed author, both as a journalist and as a poet. She released her first book of poems, “Poema en veinte surcos” (“Poem in Twenty Furrows”) in 1938. To promote the book of poems, de Burgos toured Puerto Rico,  giving readings and meeting fans. By this time, she was already deeply involved in the Puerto Rican Independence movement, serving as the Secretary General of the “Daughters of Freedom”.

“Don’t let the hand you hold hold you down.”

By the time she was 23, de Burgos was a published author, had been married, divorced, and found herself single once again. Instead of assuming the name of her ex-husband, as was conventional at the time, the feminist poet re-took her maiden name, changing it from its original iteration of “Burgos” to “de Burgos”. She did this in order to symbolically claim ownership of herself–a feat no man would ever truly be able to accomplish.

After her divorce, De Burgos embarked on a passionate love affair with Dominican physician Dr. Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón, whom many historians recognize as the love of her life. Grullón was an intellectual from a respected family, and their relationship gained her further access into the Puerto Rican elite.

De Burgos and Grullón moved frequently as part of their nomadistic, Bohemian lifestyle. The couple spent a brief sojourn in Cuba and then moved to New York City, where de Burgos would spend the remainder of her life. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t stand the test of time, and de Burgos and Grullón had ended their relationship by 1942. She was left alone and practically penniless in New York City.

“I am life, I am strength, I am woman.”

It was in New York City that de Burgos truly solidified her status as a literary icon, particularly in the “Nuyorican” movement–the birth of the Puerto Rican/New York City blend of cultures that would help shape the Puerto Rican expatriate community for generations . In New York City, de Burgos took odd jobs to support herself while continuing to produce trailblazing poetry. She also contributed to the Spanish-language socialist paper, “Pueblos Hispanos”, eventually becoming an editor.

While in New York, de Burgos married and divorced once more, and the failed relationship launched her into both a depression and a battle with alcoholism that would follow her to the end of her days. During this time, one of her final poems was an English-language meditation on her lifelong struggle with poverty, entitled “Farewell in Welfare Island”.

In the end, despite her talent and promising career, de Burgos died from pneumonia at the age of 39 that many believe was spurred on by her alcoholism. Tragically, there was no one available at the hospital to identify de Burgos’ body, so she was buried in an unmarked grave. Eventually, her relatives discovered her grave and her remains were sent back to home, to her beloved island of Puerto Rico.

“I am black, pure black; kinky hair and Kaffir lips; and flat Mozambican nose.”

Despite achieving middling critical and commercial success during her lifetime, de Burgos found true success years after her death, when a new class of Latinx scholars and readers discovered her work. Her poems experienced a resurgence in popularity in the ’90s, when Caribbean and Latina writers, in particular, recognized her work for its themes of colonialism, feminism, American supremacy, colorism, poverty, and Latinx identity–subjects de Burgos explored far before they hit the mainstream.

Presently, in addition to her exploration of Latinx identity, de Burgos is recognized for her ownership and celebration of her Afro-Latina roots–a stance that was just as radical in the past as it is today. At a time when anti-black racism was just as widespread and insidious in Latinidad as it was in the US, de Burgos defied convention by fully claiming her black heritage, famously writing “Ay, ay, ay, I am black, pure black; kinky hair and Kaffir’s lips; and flat Mozambican nose.”

“She had many sins because she always lived in verse/ And what you do on earth, on earth you pay for.”

Today, de Burgos receives all of the praise and accolades that she wasn’t afforded in life. In both New York City and Puerto Rico, de Burgos has had scholls , parks, libraries, and streets named in her honor. Her likeness has appeared in murals and statues across the US and Puerto Rico, and her face has graced the front of a US postage stamp.

Julia de Burgos has taken not only her place as one of the rightful members of the Latinx literary cannon, but the broader US literary cannon in general. Because of her priceless contribution to art and culture, she is immortal.


READ: 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Celia Cruz, The Indisputable Queen Of Salsa

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A Latina UFC Fighter Took Out A Man Who Tried To Mug Her And This Is Why Parents Should Sign Their Daughters Up For Self-Defense Classes

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A Latina UFC Fighter Took Out A Man Who Tried To Mug Her And This Is Why Parents Should Sign Their Daughters Up For Self-Defense Classes

What happens when you try to rob a woman who just happens to be one of the best UFC Fighters in Brazil? Well, you get your behind quite swiftly kick, as a man in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, just found out after attempting to rob Polyana Viana. According to Buzzfeed, the 26-year-old mixed martial artist had quite the eventful night last Saturday.

Viana was waiting for an Uber on Saturday night, just outside of her apartment in Rio, when a man approached her. Soon enough, she realized that he wanted to rob her. Well, she wasn’t having it.

Speaking with MMA Junkie, Viana recounted what happened when the man approached her around 8 p.m. in Jacarepagua, a neighborhood in the West Zone of Rio:

“When he saw I saw him, he sat next to me,” Viana told MMA Junkie. “He asked me the time, I said it, and I saw he wasn’t going to leave. So I already moved to put my cell phone in my waist. And then he said, ‘Give me the phone. Don’t try to react, because I’m armed.’ Then he put his hand over (a gun), but I realized it was too soft.

“He was really close to me,” she continued. “So I thought, ‘If it’s a gun, he won’t have time to draw it.’ So I stood up. I threw two punches and a kick. He fell, then I caught him in a rear-naked choke. Then I sat him down in the same place we were before and said, ‘Now we’ll wait for the police.'”

Clearly, the man did not know about her impressive 10-2 record or what a badass she is in the ring.

In an even more surprising turn of events, Viana later found out that the man didn’t even have a gun at all. Instead, it was a cardboard cutout in the shape of a handgun. At the time, Viana suspected it wasn’t a real gun but thought it may have been a toy weapon or a knife. After the man was subdued, Viana asked for help from strangers walking by to call the police. According to MMA Junkie, Viana said that she kept the man’s arm immobilized until the police came and took the man to an emergency care facility in order to treat his sounds. Eventually, they took him to a police station, where she was able to file a report. While there, she learned that he had only recently been released after having been arrested before.

Well, he might think twice about approaching any women who are alone on the street for fear that they fight back with the same power and ferocity that Viana demonstrated.

Unsurprisingly, her story has now spread (thanks to UFC President Dana White) and women are celebrating Viana’s victory over her assailant.

It’s pretty fair to describe this whole thing as a “bad idea” for sure. Although the robber likely didn’t know that Viana is a UFC fighter, he should have been clued in by the shirt she was wearing.

That’s right, Viana was even wearing a “UFC” shirt when he tried to rob her.

Here’s something that we should all probably learn, in addition to just never attacking anyone ever, definitely don’t attack anyone wearing a UCF shirt. You never know when that person will turn out to be exactly the wrong person to attack. Of course, if we could simply teach men to not rob or attack women, that would be even better. In the meantime, we could all learn a lesson from Viana and perhaps sign ourselves up for MMA classes.

In fact, one mom is already celebrating Viana’s victory by reminding us all that this is precisely why she takes her daughter to MMA classes.

This is definitely enough to make any mother proud and enough for any woman to decide to take self-defense classes herself. Sure, Viana is a professional fighter… But we can all stand to learn a thing or two from her, can’t we? Learning to defend oneself, as she has, can definitely come in handy.

Of course, Twitter users agree that this man deserved every punch and kick that Viana gave him.

There’s no question that Viana is Twitter’s (and our) new hero after the way she stood up to this would-be robber. We’re also betting that he is very, very sorry for approaching her in the first place. In the meantime, though, it’s probably time to subscribe to Viana’s YouTube Channel to learn a move or two for ourselves.


Read: A Latina Aide Is Accusing Ohio Representatives Of Making Racist And Sexually Suggestive Remarks

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