for afro-latinx women: Nidya Simone, Janel Martinez, Candace Valenzuela, Nodia Mena

1.Nidya Simone

Founder of Blactina Media and filmmaker, Nidya Simone is working to break the eurocentric representation in American media. Studying theater at the City College of New York, Simone has built her career in combining digital media with film and theatre. In her career, she’s been able to weave through film world roles like writing, directing, producing, and acting in web series and short films. In 2017, Simone founded Blactina to bring Afro-Latinx and Caribbean people to the forefront of media, after realizing her family dynamic was not on screen. “The focus of [Blactina Media] is really to have authentic Afro-Latinx and Caribbean representation on screen,” Simone said in an interview with Bronxnet.

2.Janel Martinez

Multimedia Journalist and entrepreneur Janel Martinez dedicates her career to creating the media space, Ain’t I Latina? for Afro-Latinas. The website formed out the pride her mother instilled in her in being “Black-Hispanic” and noticing a lack of Afro-Latinx stories being told in the news. “Oftentimes to see myself reflected was African-American media, so magazines like Essence,” Martinez said in an interview with Remezcla. Graduating with a journalism degree from Syracuse University, she was able to utilize her skills, which included writing for the student-run publication, The Black Voice, and as an editor for Latino news magazine La Voz. Her social media bios say she now continues to work as a storyteller, documenting the daughters of the diaspora.

3.Candace Valenzuela

Democratic Nominee for Texas’ 24th District, Candace Valenzuela could become the first Afro-Latina in Congress. She decided to give back to her community by pursuing a career in education after graduating from Claremont McKenna College. After becoming a mother, she transitioned into the public service by becoming the first Afro-Latina on her local school board. She won the primary runoff for an open seat in the U.S. House by promising to fight for hardworking families. She should know as she has been personally affected by homelessness, has had to work multiple jobs, and deal with costly medical bills due to a pre-existing condition. “I’m frustrated with the representation we’re seeing from politicians across the board,” Valenzuela said in a Facebook Live video. “The people representing us never have had to experience these issues first hand.”

4.Nodia Mena

Nodia Mena is a Spanish Lecturer at the University of Greensboro in North Carolina. From Honduras, she moved to New York as a young adult. It’s there that she learned English, graduated from college, and became a mother. Mena decided to dig into her Garifuna culture after realizing she hadn’t learned about it in school in Honduras. After moving to North Carolina, she continued to struggle to find a community like the one she had in Honduras—until she began to see similarities in the cultures of the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who worked with her. “Now when I think about connecting with other people, I realize there’s nothing scary or mysterious—we can connect over food, music, passion,” Mena said in a TEDx talk. Additionally, Mena also teaches about the Garifuna Culture and Afro-Latinxs at Greensboro.

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