In The Community
There wasn’t a day in my life that I did not see mujeres being industrious, enterprising, savvy, and hard-working. The story of my life is lined up with mujeres who fit this description, and I really don’t think that I am an exception. Latinas, especially those that grew up in Latin America, can probably tell stories like mine below:
I was probably 6 years old, and it was Friday night. I spent the afternoon at my mom’s jazzercise and aerobics business, called “Relax.” It was collocated with my father’s taekwondo school, but that day it was all music and ladies in tights. From there, I went with my grandfather to visit his mother—my great grandmother—who lived on another side of town. I got to ride his pickup truck on the back, laying on the wagon, staring at the stars. Growing up in Santo Domingo, I was always close to the ocean. This was one of those days when I could smell the salt as we drove to Abuela Macha’s house.
Macha was not home. She was at “la tienda.” She owned a small store that seemed like a wax museum or eclectic fashion storage. But she made a living from it, sewing and doing alterations for her clients. We visited her there, and I played with all the things she let me touch: the broom and a chair.
Saturday, my mom, Jasmin, had left me with her mother, Abuela Vicky, while she ran some errands. I got really curious about a ceramic elephant that was drying in the sun. My grandmother had a side business making ceramics, which was more profitable than her other side business selling clothes she bought in Puerto Rico. The ceramic elephant was boring, and I decided to enhance it by poking dots with a stick. Dalmatian Elephant didn’t seem to be what the client wanted. Needless to say, I got in trouble and learned that day that the client is always right.
Sunday was my dad’s turn to do family time. The tradition was going to Abuela Ura’s house where meat was scarce, so you had to watch your plate or else. After the meal, we played bingo, and we bet actual money. It was the best. Sundays usually ended with Abuela Ura handing my dad a stack of taekwondo uniforms that she and her mom, Abuela Morena, had made that week. We sold their uniforms at our school.
Looking back, I realize that I am the product of my surroundings. These women were tenacious and committed. They started things, they provided for their families in courageous and innovative ways. They were resourceful and inventive. Everything turned into a dollar, and you turned a dollar into two. And they did it with grace and love and feminine flair, from home.
It is obvious to me why Latin American immigrant women are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs in the United States. And it makes sense to me that they are also decision-makers at home, collectively managing $1 trillion today, and rising.
Fast forward, and you will find me launching my first venture in 1998, writing software to track the performance of aircraft engines. I’ve also been the Mary Kay lady, a food vendor at a local street festival, and a speaker at MIT Media Lab (more than once). My love for entrepreneurship is a love of my culture, an ode to my Abuelas and my mom, a rite of passage for my daughters. Nothing about owning a business is disconnected or meaningless–all of it is a part of me.
As I work with the organization Black & Brown Founders to develop a curriculum and coach other entrepreneurs, I am reminded of the legacy we build with every launch. We make history, every day. Another little girl is watching, and writing stories where the protagonists look like her. As a matter of fact, they are her. Every time I pay for one of my daughter’s college applications, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that my business allowed me to do that–and she knows it. They are watching me now. They are writing their own stories.
Latinas and entrepreneurship are synonyms. High-five Abuelas!
Francesca Escoto is Director of Education and co-creator of the Bootstrapping Bootcamp at Black & Brown Founders. She is also the Founder & CEO of Brava Management Consulting, a boutique firm focused on coaching, operations optimization, and software development. She can be found onTwitter (@waofrancesca).
We all know social media is chock-full of mindless drama that's all about getting likes and clicks. But sometimes, we need to take a breather and ask ourselves: "What are we really playing into here?"
We've been conditioned to believe that women are incapable of achieving greatness without constantly trying to one-up each other. Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth, but it has somehow turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy that we perpetuate ourselves by giving in to these stereotypes and viewing other women as rivals.
And despite this harmful bias being talked about countless times (I mean, people are only now starting to realize that maybe they shouldn't have been so harsh on Britney and Christina), the truth is: it still happens every single day.
It may come as a controversial opinion, but a clear example of this is the relentless online harassment Clara Chia and Hailey Bieber have received in the past couple of months. And while many of us might not be their fans, can we all agree that this has gone way too far? After Bieber started receiving death threats, Selena Gomez decided to speak out and ask her fans to do something that seems so simple, yet so hard for some people: just be kind.
Given the long history of sexism and misogyny in media, it's no wonder women are often judged more harshly than men. Apparently, being "the other woman" is just infinitely more severe than, for instance, sexual harassment allegations and kinda-feels-illegal age gaps that people tend to simply brush off.
The media has created a culture of objectification and devaluation of women, reducing them to their physical appearance or their relationships with men rather than being recognized for their achievements or their talents. With this in mind, it's no surprise that soccer star Piqué isn't getting as much backlash for having cheated on Shakira with Clara Chía, and Justin Bieber hasn't even opened his mouth to defend his wife, Hailey Bieber.
I could go on and on with these recent pop-culture-drama examples, but you get the gist.
Even if a woman isn't tied down to some man, the media will always find a way to come at her for her success and confidence. Take Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who used to be thick as thieves, with Cardi even looking up to Nicki as an inspiration. But the trolls just couldn't let them be great, always trying to stir up beef between them. Apparently, having two amazingly successful mixed-race female rappers in the game is too much for some people to handle. So, the constant speculation and rumors of diss tracks led to a hot-and-cold relationship between the two, leaving them both constantly on the defensive. And as Nicki finally said…
\u201cOk you guys, let\u2019s focus on positive things only from here on out. We\u2019re all so blessed. I know this stuff is entertaining & funny to a lot of people but I won\u2019t be discussing this nonsense anymore. Thank you for the support & encouragement year after year. Love you. \u2665\ufe0f\u201d— Nicki Minaj (@Nicki Minaj) 1540866536
Shifting the Culture
The age-old problem of pitting women against each other is still rife, fueled by the toxic machismo culture that refuses to let go. It's a pervasive mindset that views women as mere objects to be controlled, conquered, and dominated instead of being treated as equal partners and colleagues. This not only reinforces gender stereotypes but also holds back women's progress in every sphere.
This machista mindset creates a cutthroat environment that makes it tough for women to work together or support each other. Women are constantly battling to prove themselves, and if they show traits typically seen as "masculine," like confidence and assertiveness, they're immediately labeled as a threat. As a result, the false belief that successful women are always in competition with each other persists, preventing them from working towards shared goals.
Even as women, we're not immune to the harmful effects of machismo. We have to keep ourselves in check about the sexist behaviors and biases that we might be unconsciously promoting. It's a constant battle that we owe to ourselves and other women to keep fighting.
Still, a promising culture shift is happening right now where successful women are lifting each other up and fighting tooth and nail against the media's relentless attempts to portray them as rivals or "better than this other girl."
In the reggaetón and urbano genres, many talented Latina singers and rappers are making their way through a male-dominated industry, collaborating and supporting each other's work. Take, for example, Karol G, one of the leading female voices in reggaeton right now, celebrating with, uplifting, and thanking fellow female reggaeton singers Natti Natasha, Tinni Stoessel, Lola Índigo, and Bad Gyal during her most recent album's launch party.
The message is clear: there's no beef here; we're all comadres.
In this age of digital dominance, social media reigns supreme, dictating what we see, how we feel, and what we believe. As we navigate this maze of information, we can make an effort to be mindful of the content we consume and how we react to it.
So, are we merely passive consumers, feeding into the hate that is being perpetuated, or are we switching up the narrative? By refusing to feed into harmful stereotypes and instead focusing on celebrating each other's achievements and talents, we can actively change the conversation and create a more supportive environment for all women. Let's be kind and supportive of each other, both online and in real life.
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Warning: Contains Some Spoilers
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to watch a trending Netflix movie.
The military romance Purple Hearts starring Sofia Carson as Cassie Salazar and Nicholas Galitzine as Luke Morrow, is still sitting comfortably in one of Netflix’s Top 10 spots, and while fans are buzzing around the chemistry between Carson and Galitzine, even these actors couldn’t save this mess of a movie.
Purple Hearts tells the story of Cassie Salazar, a Latina woman working at a local bar where she’s both a server and performer, singing with her band and struggling to make a name for herself in the music industry. Cassie moved out of her mom’s house to strike out on her own, only to find out she has Type 1 diabetes. With insurance that won’t cover her insulin and whispered arguments at their local pharmacy that end with her mother not being able to help get her the medicine she needs, Cassie is desperate for a solution.
Cassie has a less than stellar run-in with Luke Morrow, a fresh-from-basic-training Marine that enters her bar, but her interest in the military is piqued when someone makes an offhand comment about how good health insurance is for military service members.
After struggling to figure out how Cassie is going to keep herself alive with insulin she can’t afford, she pitches the idea of getting married to a mutual friend of Luke’s. Luke, who is dealing with his own financial demons agress to marry Cassie to give her access to benefits and get himself an increased monthly salary, leading us down the inevitable sweet enough storyline that guarantees a marriage of convenience that could turn into real love. But given the fact that the entire premise is based on marrying for the sake of financial benefits, I’m not buying this tale being sold.
Purple Hearts attempts to place U.S. healthcare at the center of a storyline but it feels out of sync in a country where women don’t even have bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive rights.
Carson tries her best to bring Cassie’s plight to life, but even their “opposites attracts” storyline that includes Luke being a conservative who accuses Cassie of being a “lib” who villanizes the military can't get me past Luke’s half-hearted excuses about his friend’s “we’re gonna go kill some Arabs!” comments ahead of their deployment.
The internet also had some strong opinions when it comes to the plotline itself:
\u201cwait there\u2019s a netflix \u201crom com\u201d about a type one diabetic who can\u2019t afford her insulin so she marrys a man in the military for his health insurance benefits \ud83d\ude2d\ud83d\ude2d baby that\u2019s a horror movie omg\u201d— drea \u273a (@drea \u273a) 1660164906
\u201cPurple Hearts is for the girlies with racist boyfriends\u201d— \ud835\ude7a\ud835\ude8a\ud835\udea2\ud835\ude95\ud835\ude8a... (@\ud835\ude7a\ud835\ude8a\ud835\udea2\ud835\ude95\ud835\ude8a...) 1659670482
The attempt to humanize Luke and those like him who make hateful statements like this, regardless of their military service status, is tone-deaf to those who suffer at the hands of this rhetoric in real life every day. After four years of conservative supremacy going wild in this country, the last thing we need is conservative apologist rhetoric disguised as supporting someone’s military service.
Purple Hearts tries to place context around a lot of harmful stereotypes about military couple dynamics, misogynistic commentary, displays of machismo, and political points of view., A prime example is Luke defaulting to calling Cassie a “liberal” as an insult when she expresses an opposite opinion.
Needless to say, a buzzy movie in a top streaming spot doesn’t mean it’s a hit. Put Purple Hearts on your to-skip list.