What You Need To Know About The Controversies Surrounding Young Latina Candidate Julia Salazar

In North Brooklyn, New York, Democratic candidate Julia Salazar is running for state senate. Normally, a local race wouldn’t make national headlines, but the young Latina’s sprint for office has gained unconventional attention — likely because the candidate, herself, is unprecedented.

A 27-year-old Colombian-American Jew, backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, Salazar’s campaign gained a national audience when fellow democratic socialist New York Latina Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted one of the highest-ranking members of Congress. With all their similarities, mainstream media picked up her story, painting Salazar as the next young Latina progressive with the potential to defeat the establishment. But as the spotlight on Salazar widened, so did criticism around her campaign, as well as her uncertain identities.

In the weeks leading up to Salazar’s September 13 primaries, news outlets, family members and former classmates have questioned the contender’s religion, immigration status, socioeconomic background and liberal platform. Here, an effort to make sense of the growing controversies around the first-time Latina candidate.

1. Immigrant or Native

Salazar was born in South Florida to a Colombian-born father, Luis, and a New Jersey-born Italian-American mother, Christine. While the candidate has noted her birthplace as Miami throughout her campaign, she has sometimes shared accounts that contradict this history. “My family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when I was a baby,” she said in an interview with Jacobin magazine. “I immigrated to this country with my family when I was very little,” she also said during a campaign stop. Her choice of words imply that she was born in Colombia and migrated with her parents to the United States as a baby, which both her brother and mother have said is untrue. Salazar has said that her words were “misconstrued,” and that she used “immigrated” as shorthand for her complicated upbringing. She claims that she was born in the U.S. but often flew to Colombia with her parents, spending a lot of time as a toddler and youth in the South American country. “It really shaped my early life, and we spent a lot of time there,” she told Vox. “To me, Colombia … was always my family’s home, when we were kids.” While Salazar’s brother, Alex, has said his sister is exaggerating on how often their family traveled to Colombia during their childhood, her mother corroborated her story, telling the New York Times her children went to Colombia at least a half-dozen times as kids.

2. Working-Class or Middle-Class

From her campaign site to interviews, Salazar has claimed she grew up in a working-class home, holding jobs as early as 14 years old “to help make ends meet.” But, in an interview with City and State, Christine said she never relied on her daughter for help. In response, Salazar told the Cut: “I didn’t work those jobs to support my own family. I did it to support myself to an extent. Like if I ever wanted to have a car to be able to drive to school, I would need to pay for the gas, for insurance. A lot of young people have these responsibilities. That’s not to say, woe is me at all. Just to say that I relied on my jobs in order to make up for what my family wouldn’t be able to really provide. It wasn’t like I was working for my lunch money.” While this could reasonably be another example of Salazar misspeaking, rather than explicitly lying, her brother told reporters “we were very much middle class,” adding that their house, pictured above, was in the wealthy Florida town of Jupiter, “Jupiter along the river, it was in a beautiful neighborhood.” In response, Salazar told Vox that with her parents’ divorce as children, “our class status changed up and down — quite a lot” and that her mother, the children’s primary caretaker, had to sometimes work two jobs to make ends meet. She alleges that her brother, a Republican, is challenging her narrative because of his political stance, a claim Alex has denied.

3. Jewish or Christian

On August 23, Tablet magazine ran a story that questioned the validity of Salazar’s Jewish identity, saying it was “largely self-created.” The writer spoke with Salazar’s brother, who said, “there was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish.” Following the article, Salazar spoke with Jewish Currents on the matter. She claims that after speaking with her late father about their surname, he told her that it was a common name among Sephardic Jews — Jews of Spanish or Middle Eastern descent. This is what sparked the former Christian’s interest in the Jewish religion, with her, according to an interview with the Cut, converting to Reform Judaism in 2013 after being involved in Jewish life at Columbia University. In a letter published in The Forward on Sept. 5, her friends from college corroborated her story, writing “to affirm who we know Julia to be as a Jew and as someone with moral character that we believe more than qualifies her to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Senate.” Since the initial Tablet story, other Jews of color have spoken out about how their religious identity is questioned because of their ethnicity, race or late-life conversion.

4. Progressive or Conservative

On August 20, the Gothamist published an article noting that Salazar was previously registered as a Republican and headed Columbia University’s pro-life organization, questioning the candidate’s progressive views on reproductive rights. Salazar did not deny either claims, telling the Cut that she grew up in a conservative Republican home where “Fox News was always on in this little TV in our kitchen.” Like many young people who leave their home and enter college, she said her politics have since changed. Now, running on a platform that includes reproductive justice, she says she is pro-choice and a member of the NYC DSA socialist feminist working group.

5. Victim or Culprit

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#ICYMI: Our Happy Hour fundraiser with The Jewish Vote was a smashing success. Candidate for Lt. Gov. Jumaane Williams (@jumaane.williams) was in attendance and NYC Council Member Brad Lander (@brad.lander) even dropped by to give his endorsement of our campaign!⠀ ⠀ "As a Latina Jew, I draw strength from the long history of Jewish social justice and Latinx social justice organizing.” — Julia Salazar⠀ ⠀ "When you watch someone like Julia Salazar talk about [Jews for Racial and Economic Justice] and how they invested in her as a leader, you have to feel more hopeful than anxious." — NYC Council Member and Deputy Leader for Policy Brad Lander ⠀ ⠀ #MoreHopefulThanAnxious⠀ ⠀ (????: The Jewish Vote // Jews for Racial and Economic Justice [JFREJ] // @eg.sophie)

A post shared by Julia Salazar for State Senate (@salazarforsenate) on

In the oddest Salazar controversy yet, the Daily Mail published a story on Sept. 6 stating that Salazar was once accused of having an affair with former Mets player, Keith Hernandez. The two were neighbors and family friends. In 2010, the 64-year-old former baseball player’s ex-wife Kai Hernandez accused Salazar of the affair and of stealing $11,800 in cash, $1,175 in Pottery Barn vouchers and $950 worth of wine. When the then-college student returned to Florida during spring break in 2011, she was arrested for fraudulently trying to access Kai’s bank accounts by imitating her voice in phone calls. Salazar, however, was never charged. Today, everyone involved in the ordeal, including Kai, has said there was no such affair. In an official statement following the story, Salazar said it was “one of the most frightening things that had ever happened to me.” According to the candidate, she was house-sitting for Kai and her new fiancé in the Hernandez’s home while they were in the middle of their divorce when she discovered drugs, syringes and multiple guns. Concerned, she told Keith, who then sent police to the house. In 2013, Salazar sued Kai for defamation of character, ultimately taking a monetary settlement of $20,000. It should also be noted that a voice analyst on the case determined with “99 percent certainty” that the calls to Kai’s bank “were not made by Julia Salazar and were, in fact, made by Kai Hernandez.”

As a 20-something Latina democratic socialist candidate, Salazar’s campaign is monumental, and has the power to move New York politics further to the left. Her recent spotlight, and the controversy it delivered, could either help or hurt her at the polls on Thursday. For some, Salazar is yet another would-be politician who, if not outright lied, sugared up her biography for political advantage. While for others, she’s one more example of the establishment’s attempts to derail a young progressive woman of color’s campaign.

Read: 20 Badass Latinas Shaping the 2018 Midterm Elections

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

No Pos Wow

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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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School


A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was separated from her mother for 36 hours after agents at the border accused her of lying about her citizenship.

Like thousands of students in our country, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina’s daily commute requires her to cross the U.S. border.

The fourth-grade student attends Nicoloff Elementary School in San Ysidro, California and was in a carpool to school from her home in Tijuana when she ran into traffic. Medina, was commuting to school in a car driven by her mother’s friend Michelle Cardena, Cardena’s two children and her own older 14-year-old brother, Oscar. When the long line to get into the U.S. seemed to be jampacked upon their 4 a.m arrival, Cardenas instructed the kids in her car to walk to the border. She assured them that when they reached it, she would call them an Uber to get them the rest of the way to their school.

But Medina and her never made it across the border or to school that day.

According to the New York Times who talked to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, two Amparo and her brother arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. last Monday.

Upon their arrival, Amparo and her brother presented their U.S. passports to a CBP officer who soon accused her of being someone else. Note: Amparo’s passport image which was taken years before so she did not look exactly like herself. They also accused her brother of smuggling.

A CBP spokesperson has said that Amparo “provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and CBP officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”

After CBP officers the confirmed that her brother was a U.S. citizen, he was permitted to enter the U.S while his sister stayed behind. It wasn’t until 6:30 pm on Tuesday, that Amparo was confirmed to be a U.S. citizen as well and was released and admitted to the U.S. to her mother.

Speaking to NBC7, Amparo said she was “scared” of her detention and that she was “sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

According to Amparo’s mother Thelma Galaxia, her daughter claims that she was told by an officer that she and her brother would be released if she admitted to being her cousin. Galaxia claims that officers also convinced her son Oscar to sign a document that Amparo was his cousin and not his sister.

When Galaxia was alerted that her children had been detained she contacted the Mexican consulate.

After being notified by the consulate that her daughter would be released at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the family felt relieved to be grateful to be reunited with their daughter, Galaxia says the separation should never have happened.

Over the weekend, Twitter was swift to express their outrage over the incident.

Some even expressed their dismay of having a similar situation happen to them.

Many are using the incident as an example of the racial issues plaguing so many U.S. citizens like Amparo.

So many of the comments included outside opinions from those who have yet to experience the direct targetting of ICE.

Over all, nearly everyone was quick to point out the saddest aspect of Amparo’s experience.

Read: Preschool Students Are Doing Active Shooter Drills And I Guess This Is The New Normal Now

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