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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Celebrates Jewish Ancestry For Hanukkah And Encourages Others To Seek Out Their Own Cultural Roots

Like many women of color with Puerto Rican roots, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bears a multilayered identity rife with complexity. The Puertoriquena, who will become the youngest congresswoman in U.S. history next month has revealed that on top of her identity as a feminist, a woman of color, a Latina is also of Jewish Heritage. During a week that has been so important to the culture and beliefs of Jewish people, one which celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple and the surprise that came when oil meant to last for one day burned for eight, the up and coming politician revealed a surprise of her own.

At a Hanukkah celebration hosted by the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd that she is a descendant of Sephardic Jews.

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On the eve of the last night of Hanukkah, the Congresswoman-elect attended a celebration at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center in Queens, New York. To much elation, Ocasio-Cortez shared that her family in Puerto Rico has Jewish ancestry.

“One of the things that we discovered about ourselves is that a very, very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews,” she said to the crowd who cheered her on.

Sephardi Jews are a group of people, originally from Sepharad, Spain or the Iberian peninsula, that is a Jewish ethnic division. “Around 300,000 Jews lived in Spain before Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ordered Jews and Muslims to convert to the Catholic faith or leave the country,” according to Haaretz. The Jewish publication also reports that there are “roughly 3.5 million direct descendants of those expelled from Spain in 1492, living in countries like Israel, France, the United States, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.”

“The story goes that during the Spanish Inquisition,” she said, “so many people were forced to convert on the exterior to Catholicism, but on the interior continued to practice their faith even though they were pressured to not be that on the outside and a strong group of people, strong-willed that were determined to continue living their life as they wanted to live it, decided to get on a boat and leave Spain. And some of those people ended up in Puerto Rico.

For the most part, during her campaign, Ocasio-Cortez had identified as a Catholic, though said she has discovered more information by “doing a lot of family trees in the last couple of years.”

Today, after news broke about her jewish history, Ocasio-Cortez — in anticipation of any negative response, she clarified her statements about her ancestry.

“Before everyone jumps one me — yes, culture isn’t DNA,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of: African Moors + slaves, Taino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once — we are Boricua.”

She also added: “Just because one concrete identity may not be how we think of ourselves today, nor how we were raised, it doesn’t mean we cannot or should not honor the ancestors and stories that got us here. I was raised Catholic, and that identity is an amalgam too — especially in Latin America. If anything, the stories of our ancestry give us windows of opportunity to lean into others, to seek them out, and see ourselves, our histories, and our futures, tightly knit with other communities in a way we perhaps never before thought possible.”


READ: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Continues to Slay By Promising to Pay Her Congressional Interns

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Delivered an Impassioned Speech After the ‘Green New Deal’ Failed to Pass in the House

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Delivered an Impassioned Speech After the ‘Green New Deal’ Failed to Pass in the House

Those of you who have been following Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s career closely know that the “Green New Deal” has been a cornerstone of her platform since taking office in January. The “Green New Deal” is, according to the Sierra Club, a piece of legislation that aims to “mobilize vast public resources to help [the US] transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.” On Tuesday, the Senate voted against passing the legislation by a margin of 0-57–an outcome that was largely expected.

What was unexpected, however, was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction to a fellow House member who dismissed the trailblazing bill as one that would only benefit “rich liberals.”

“If you are a rich liberal from maybe New York or California [the Green New Deal] sounds great,” Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin (R) stated. “Because you can afford to retrofit your home or build a new home that has a zero emissions, that is energy efficient, affordable and safe.”

Needless to say, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not view the goal of reducing carbon emissions as a liberal fantasy in the same way Rep. Duffy did.

When it was her turn to speak at the committee hearing, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t mince words in her rebuttal.

“When we talk about the concern for the environment as an elitist concern, one year ago I was waitressing in a taco shop in downtown Manhattan,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is not an elitist issue. This is a quality of life issue. You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint…Call them elitist…People are dying!”

After the journalist and liberal media personality Brian Tyler Cohen Tweeted out the video to his 43,000 followers, the video quickly went viral–garnering more than 8 million views and 64,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.

Latinas, as usual, took to Twitter to support Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…

The reaction on Twitter proves that combating climate change is not an issue that only effects elite liberals.

In fact, many Latinas view climate change as one of the most pressing issues in politics today.

@AOC Thank you for being a voice of reason. Your words come from the heart of many Americans who believe in helping our fellow man; who believe that clean water and air for ALL is top of the list of Congressional concerns. We MUST save the planet.— Janet (@SurruscoJanet) March 27, 2019

According to environmental scientists, the clock is ticking when it comes to both reducing and preventing humanity’s negative environmental impact.

Many Latinas experience first hand that negative consequences of the climate change crisis.

We, the people of communities like the Bronx where @AOC represents and the 7th where @AyannaPressley represents and the 5th Suffolk, where I represent are the original EJ warriors. We have been poisoned 4 generations w/ bad air, water & land. It’s not elitist, its righteous.— Rep. Liz Miranda (@lizforma) March 27, 2019

In fact, the affects of climate change disproportionately impact low-income Americans who are often displaced due to the destruction of unusual environmental occurrences.

Of course, there were those Latinas who were just ecstatic that they finally felt truly represented by a Representative.

All. Of. This! #AOC is my voice! @AOC represents my voice and my concerns for this country!!!! https://t.co/Ek8q3O36Q6— Alicia Figliuolo / adotfig on ig (@AliciaFigliuolo) March 27, 2019

It’s not every day that Latinas feel that their voices are being heard by politicians.

Some Twitter users reminded everyone that the devastating effects of climate change should not tainted by partisan politics.

The real question should be how ignorant are those old white men who don’t understand that #climatechange is real and will destroy humanity. #ScienceisReal We know the answer, they are driven by #Greed #GreenNewDeal— Michele Garron (@bassm67) March 27, 2019

Facts should not be made into a Republican vs. Democratic issue. The negative impacts of climate change are widely accepted by the scientific community.

Although the Green New Deal didn’t pass in the Senate, we’re very sure that this isn’t the end of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s fight against climate change.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Running For Governor Of Puerto Rico In 2020

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Running For Governor Of Puerto Rico In 2020

Last week, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, announced that she is running for governor in the 2020 elections.

Cruz, who gained national attention after criticizing President Donald Trump’s slow and shoddy response to Hurricane Maria, announced her run at the Caguas Botanical Garden on Friday.

“I’ve been thinking for a long time, what’s the best way I can serve Puerto Rico … I’m going to do so by becoming the next governor,” she said.

Cruz, who was sporting a t-shirt that read “¡Sin Miedo!” — which is Spanish for “without fear” — began her address by discussing her great-grandfather, who worked as an agricultural laborer, and how the legacy of slavery still impacts Puerto Rico today.

“We have to break away from the chains that tie us down in order to have a promising future and break our cycle of poverty,” Cruz, speaking on Emancipation Day, a Puerto Rican holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery on the island on March 22, 1873, said.

In Puerto Rico, the political party system is linked to the island’s political status. Those who support statehood, like sitting Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, are part of the New Progressive Party, more commonly known by the Spanish acronym PNP. People who want Puerto Rico to remain a US territory side with the Popular Democratic Party, or PPD, the party that Cruz is running in. Finally, those who want the island’s independence from the US often support the Puerto Rican Independence Party, or PIP.

After the Category 4 hurricane ravaged the island on September 20, 2017, Cruz, not Gov. Rosselló, became the face of the island, wading through flood water to help those devastated by the storm and publicly feuding with the president. When announcing her candidacy, she reminded the crowd that Gov. Rosselló’s administration “was unable to count deaths after Hurricane Maria” and “stood by Trump when he threw paper towels at people [in Puerto Rico].”

Cruz also took the opportunity to voice her position on other pressing matters on the island, like repealing the Jones Act, which prevents foreign ships from embarking on the island and thus raises the cost of imported goods, eliminating the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board and calling for an audit of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion public debt.

“The reality is that we still live in an island that fights for food, liberty and land,” she said, referring to the PPD’s Spanish slogan “Pan, libertad y tierra.” “We’re building a new movement within the Popular Democratic Party.”

Last month, Cruz also announced that she would co-chair Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2020 presidential race, saying the candidate could create “a new path toward the resolution of many of the issues facing Puerto Rico,” including establishing a “new relationship” with the United States.

Read: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Believes Bernie Sanders Could Create A “New Relationship” Between Puerto Rico And The US

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