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Tom Brokaw Meet Miriam Flores, The Hispanic Mother Who Went To The Supreme Court To Fight For English In Schools

I came home this past weekend because I needed a break after this government shutdown and all the talk of a wall and scary brown people. I find myself wanting to scream a lot. And I feel like I’m losing my sense of humor. But it’s hard to escape the onslaught of race baiting when home is the border town of Nogales, Arizona. You might have seen us on the news lately. Trump used my town as a political football back in November when he ordered the National Guard to install concertina wire on the border fence just in time for the midterm elections.

But of course, my weekend plans of eating chorizo con papa were interrupted by political vitriol. As it turns out, Tom Brokaw, NBC News talking head and liberal darling, has added his voice to the dangerous mix of lies and misbeliefs about immigrants and Latinx.

During an appearance on Meet The Press Brokaw came out to say that the Americans he talks to are afraid of having brown grand-babies and Hispanics (Spanish speakers) don’t work hard enough to help their kids assimilate.

@CNN / Twitter

Specifically, he said, we’re not teaching our kids English.

Later on Sunday he tweeted out a classic non-apology apology—he was sorry if his some of his comments offended us—but then doubled down by saying he’d reported on Cesar Chavez, as though that absolves him of stating lies as fact on national TV. His attempts at damage control were just as insulting as his original comments. This esteemed journalist and sacred media cow never offered one fact one way or the other to support his comments or to support his non-retraction. He missed a very teachable moment. But I won’t. If Tom Brokaw can be so easily deceived, there are probably a lot of people with good intentions who might have things wrong as well.

Brokaw is known for putting a spotlight on courageous Americans. I’d like to introduce a courageous American that most Americans will never have heard of.

Miriam Flores was a Spanish-speaking immigrant mother of two daughters in 1992.

She enrolled her five-year-old daughter in a Nogales, Arizona public school. But since her daughter did not speak English, she was enrolled in English Language Learner (ELL) classes. After two years of what was supposed to be intensive English classes, Flores’ daughter was not adequately prepared her to join the English speaking students. She was going to be kept behind.

The fate that Flores’ daughter was not unique. She was one of 1,700 ELL students in Nogales. And she was one of tens of thousands more ELL students in Arizona over the course of decades who were left to flounder. So, possessed with the awareness of injustice, Flores did the most American thing one can do. She sued the State of Arizona to demand the State meet federal requirements. And she took the case all the way to the Supreme Court and back again.

Flores wasn’t asking for special treatment because she was an immigrant or because her daughter spoke Spanish. She merely asked the State to provide what was required by law; in this case it was the Civil Rights Act Of 1963 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act Of 1974. The later was specifically implemented “in order to establish an educational bill of rights for Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Indians, and others who start their education under language handicaps, to make certain that they, too, will have equal opportunity.” Those are Richard Nixon’s words.

Flores’ battle was an uphill battle in many ways. Nogales is a poor border town where 98.4% of students were Hispanic and 28.4% were ELL students. The town is in the poorest and bluest county in what became a whiter and more conservative state. And even though the facts plainly showed that Arizona failed to adequately fund or support ELL education, Republicans in the Governor’s administration and the State legislature dragged their feet and played games, refusing to acknowledge or fix the problem. Republicans drummed up hate with tales of “illegal immigrants” mooching off the system. To show you how much the State objected to doing right by public school kids, they hired Kenneth Starr (the attorney behind President Clinton’s impeachment) and chose to pay him millions rather than educate Hispanic children.

Flores and the Center for Law in the Public Interest persisted. For 23 years.

Her case was used by all sorts of groups for purposes that had nothing to do with helping children. But her case paid off. With the State of Arizona under a microscope, it were forced to do better. Funding improved. Assistance improved. Student outcomes improved. It took holding the State’s feet to the fire for a very long time but things got somewhat better. Flores’ younger daughter benefitted from the changes in ELL education. But, this many years later, things are far from perfect. Even with Flores’ attorneys’ best efforts and decades of asking the State to comply with the law, Hispanic children are still being left behind. Never the less, countless parents and children in this country are the beneficiaries of one immigrant’s inability to accept her daughter being treated like a second class citizen.

Let it never be said that Hispanics don’t work hard enough to help their children assimilate. They enroll their children in school to learn English, and we call them leeches on the system. They fight for their children to get the education required by federal law, and we call them entitlement-seeking troublemakers. They persist for decades and go all the way to the Supreme Court and, still, we call them lazy. Being brown does not make someone any less than other parents all over this country and planet who just want the best for their children. We owe them more than baseless opinions. We need to stop talking at them and start listening to them. In Spanish as well as in English.

But let’s be honest. Well-meaning people like Brokaw can tell us we’ll be accepted as soon as we assimilate and speak English, but nobody really believes they mean it. How do I know? Because of that other ugly thing Brokaw said. Don’t think I forgot. Hispanic kids can speak the Queen’s English with a Midwestern accent in between bites of hot dog and sips of Coca-Cola on a warm Fourth of July and they will still not be accepted by those white folk who are scared of hypothetical race mixing. As long as we are not good enough for their family, we will not be good enough for their country; even if, like my ancestors, we’ve been on this continent longer than any of them. You just can’t reason with stupid.

This episode caught me off guard. I took it for granted that I knew who the good guys are. What I learned is that you can’t take anything for granted. It’s not enough for us to be dignified human beings and upstanding citizens. We have to start running our own campaign to overtake the rhetoric or good people will have no choice but to internalize the lies.


Read: Netflix Posted Beautiful Throwbacks Of Yalitza Aparicio, Now #YalitzaChallenge Is A Thing

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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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