U.S. Senator Bob Menendez Celebrates Passage of Legislation to Establish National Museum of the American Latino

Bob Menendez is celebrating a big win for Latino history in the United States.

Congress has passed a massive legislation package that green-lights the establishment of a long-awaited Smithsonian museum dedicated to American Latinos.

Bob Menendez

The 66-year-old Cuban American politician, currently serving as the U.S. Senator from New Jersey, was the lead sponsor of the U.S. Senate bill.

Menendez, a longtime advocate for a Latino museum said that the museum’s passage is the “culmination of decades of hard work, advocacy, successes and setbacks in the movement to recognize Latino contributions to America’s history, economy and culture.”

Though the museum could take years to conceptualize, curate and build, U.S. Congress‘ approval is a victory for the museum’s advocates whose efforts date back decades.

The American Latino museum will “illuminate the story of the United States for the benefit of all by featuring Latino contributions,” decades after the Smithsonian issued a report finding that it displayed a pattern of “willful neglect,” excluding and ignoring the presence and contributions of Latino Americans in both its workforce and exhibition halls.

“With this vote, Latinos and Latinas across our nation will finally have their stories, struggles, and impact on our country validated by the United States Congress,” Menendez said in a statement.

Menendez said he “cannot wait until the day when I can take my granddaughters to visit the National Museum of the American Latino in our nation’s capital.”

Half of the museum’s funding will be provided by federal funds and the other half from private donations. The museum has two years to designate a site.

In 2011, a 23-member presidential commission estimated that a “Smithsonian American Latino Museum” would cost $600 million divided between private donations and congressional appropriations.

The Democratic-led US House had approved the bill to establish a Latino museum in July by voice vote.

In the US Senate, however, passage of the bill by unanimous consent was blocked by Utah Senator Mike Lee, who argued that the country doesn’t need “separate but equal museums.”

The Smithsonian Institution “should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history or a museum of women’s history or museum of American men’s history or Mormon history or Asian American history or Catholic history. American history is an inclusive story that should unite us,” Lee said in remarks made earlier this month.

Teresa Leger Fernandez Becomes First Woman Elected to New Mexico’s Congressional District 3

Teresa Leger Fernandez is celebrating a historic win on election night…

The 60-year-old Latina American attorney and first-time politician defeated Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson in New Mexico’s Congressional District 3 to become the first woman elected to the seat that is currently held by Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

Teresa Leger Fernandez

Luján chose to seek election to the U.S. Senate seat that’s being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall. Luján was declared the winner of the Senate race on November 3.

“It was so emotional to actually realize that I am going to be going to Congress,” Leger Fernandez said during a virtual Democratic Party watch party.

But the history doesn’t end there…

Leger Fernandez and fellow winners Republican Yvette Herrell and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland all won in New Mexico, making it the first state to elect all women of color to Congress, according to The Hill.

Ritchie Torres Elected as First Openly Gay Afro-Latino Member of Congress

Ritchie Torres is heading to Washington D.C. after a historic win…

The 32-year-old New York-born half-Puerto Rican politician, a New York City Council member, overwhelmingly defeated Republican Patrick Delices, to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 15th Congressional District.

Ritchie Torres

In the process, Torres has become the first openly gay LGBTQ Afro-Latino member of the U.S. Congress.

“Tonight, we made history,” he tweeted. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”

“I hope I can represent the possibility that a poor kid, a kid of color, a LGBTQ kid from a place like the Bronx, can overcome the odds and become a member of the United States Congress,” he said.

Torres will assume office on January 3, 2021

Torres will succeed Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano, who is retiring after 30 years in Congress. Torres told CNN that his “highest priority” is “the affordability crisis” in housing, and would work to expand the child tax credit to alleviate child poverty.

He said if Democrats take the White House and Congress, they would have a “once in a century opportunity to govern as boldly in the 21st century as FDR did in the 20th century.” Torres wants to “rebalance” the Supreme Court with additional justices and said if Puerto Rico votes in a referendum this November for statehood, then Congress “will have an obligation to act upon what the people voted for.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Routs John Cummings to Earn Second Term in U.S. House of Representatives

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is heading back to The District

The 31-year-old New York-born Puerto Rican politician, handily defeated Republican John Cummings in her bid for re-election as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

AOC, as she’s known, took 68% of the vote, while her opponent, a former NYPD officer, scored 31% of the vote to earn a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2018, the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist won the seat with nearly 80% percent of the vote, defeating Queens County Democratic Party leader and longtime Congressman Joe Crowley in the primary. She swept her way into the U.S. Congress with a historically diverse midterm group of freshman, including 36 women and 24 people of color.

Ocasio-Cortez currently sits on the House Financial Services Committee and Oversight and Reform Committee.

AOC has racked up several memorable moments in her relatively short time in Congress, including a searing takedown over the summer of Rep. Ted Yoho after he called her “crazy,” “disgusting” and a “f*cking bitch” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol within earshot of a reporter.

In a moving address to the House, she attacked deep-seated sexism and misogyny. “I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. It happens every day in this country,” she said, adding, “I am someone’s daughter too.”

Previously, AOC, whose parents are of Puerto Rico descent, was targeted by an infamous President Donald Trump racist Twitter tirade that urged her and Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The four became known as The Squad, and all four won re-election on Tuesday night.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Among the Real-Life Heroes Celebrated in DC Comics’ “Wonder Women of History” Graphic Novel Anthology

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is getting illustrated

DC Comics has unveiled the new young adult graphic novel anthology Wonder Women of History, which celebrates real-life heroes, including the 30-year-old Bronx-born Puerto Rican politician who currently serving as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ocasio-Cortez, or simply AOC, as she’s known, drew national recognition when she won the Democratic Party‘s primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district in June 2018, defeating Democratic Caucus chair Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, in what was widely seen as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election primaries. She defeated Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in the November general election.

Taking office at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She has been noted for her substantial social media presence relative to her fellow members of Congress

Female and non-binary writers and artists tell 17 stories of those “who take up Wonder Woman‘s iconic mantle” in their respective fields of science, sports, entertainment, politics, social justice and more, according to the DC Comics blog. 

New York Times bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson edited the collection after recently writing the original graphic novel Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed.

In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, Wonder Women of History also spotlights singer-actress Janelle Monáe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Iskwew Air CEO and Founder Teara Fraser, LGBTQ+ rights activist Edith Windsor, transgender activist and Stonewall uprising figure Marsha P. Johnson, Parkland shooting survivor and gun control advocate Emma Gonzalez, disability rights activist Judith HeumannNASA‘s first Hispanic female astronaut Ellen Ochoa, deputy director of Wuhan Institute of Virology and China’s “Bat Woman” Dr. Shi Zhengli, 23-time Grand Slam winning tennis player Serena Williams, stand-up comic Tig Notaro, actress Keiko Agena, and the first African American gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal Dominique Dawes.

The graphic novel will officially hit bookstore shelves everywhere on December 1. The anthology will also include portraits of illustrators Weshoyot Alvitre, Colleen Doran, Agnes Garbowska, Bex Glendining, Ashley A. Woods, and Safiya Zerrougui.

Wonder Women of History is already available for pre-order here.

Joaquin Castro & Congressional Hispanic Caucus Urge Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Update Diversity in the Media Report

Joaquin Castro is calling for a more diverse media…

In a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – chaired by the 45-year-old Mexican American politician and U.S. Representative for Texas’ 20th congressional district – is urging the commission to update its “Diversity in the Media: A Chart Book for Selected Industries” report, which hasn’t been updated since 2004.

Joaquin Castro

The call to action furthers Castro and the CHC’s efforts to increase diversity in media and entertainment and to have a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability in the industry.

The letter is addressed to EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon, as well as EEOC Commissioners Victoria A. Lipnic and Charlotte A. Burrows and discusses the importance of having a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability.

The 2004 report lays out data on the diversity in media in three major categories: broadcasting, publishing and cable.

With the advent of streaming and the surge of digital content, the CHC points out that the media industry has “drastically changed” since the report was released over 16 years ago and it’s time that revisions be made.

Castro and the CHC requested the EEOC update the report no more than 60 days from the receipt of the letter. They also are looking for updates every 30 days until the final report is released.

The CHC broke it down and requested that the new report include:

  1.  Disaggregated data on race, ethnicity and gender by individual industry rather than the grouping format used in 2004.
  2.  New industries such as digital content and streaming provider
  3.  Updated data for all positions in each industry from entry level up to and including Executive level positi
  4.  When possible, data on salaries and wages disaggregated by race, ethnicity and gender for each of the employee categories, including Executive level positions for each industry.

“While discrimination and lack of equal opportunity for underrepresented groups is present in many fields, the media industry is unique in its ability to influence the broader culture and shape the perception of entire groups,” the letter stated. “When Latinos do not have the opportunity to shape the media’s depiction of our communities, it ultimately emboldens a misunderstanding of our communities that weakens the social fabric of American society. The CHC views greater transparency around employment data through publicly available information as critical to increasing representation for Latinos and other underrepresented communities.”

An updated report would hopefully help move the needle further as Hollywood tries to become more inclusive when it comes to talent in front of and behind the camera — specifically in a time when the country is seeing a social and civic reckoning.

It also comes after a blatant lack of Latinx representation when it came to Emmy award nominations, even though the television landscape was filled with Latinx-led shows like Vida, One Day At A Time and Gentefied.

Pose has been an Emmy favorite and although star Billy Porter was nominated, there was no love for show co-creator Steven Canals or series stars Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, who’ve delivered stellar work on the FX drama.

The new ABC comedy United We Fall features Latinx characters but with the cancellation of The Baker and the Beauty, there’s a glaring absence of shows with a majority Latinx cast on a major network.

Last fall, Castro led a congressional delegation to Los Angeles where the CHC met with several studios and streamers, talent agencies, as well as union and guilds. Congress has worked to include this language in almost all of the major funding bills during the Appropriations process and in the National Defense Authorization Act. The CHC has regular conversations with stakeholders regarding the state of the industry. Most recently the CHC had meetings with Amazon Studios and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as they develop their new 2025 diversity initiatives to ensure that Latinos are included in these goals on diversity.

The letter was signed by Castro, Robert Menendez (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce), Tony Cárdenas (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce) as well as members of Congress José E. SerranoRuben GallegoGilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.Juan Vargas and Nydia M. Velázquez.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Getting Lyrical About John Bolton’s Book Title

Lin-Manuel Miranda is getting political…

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican star and Hamilton creator has weighed in on John Bolton’s lift of a lyric from his Tony Award-winning musical for use as the title of his memoir The Room Where It Happened.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Since the former national security adviser announced the title last year, Hamiltonfans have taken notice of the reference to the musical’s song “The Room Where It Happens.” 

Earlier this year, the show’s producer, Jeffrey Seller, told a California newspaper, “I don’t even know how to describe it; it’s just strange.”

And now Miranda has just chimed it… by adding a lyric to another Hamilton number, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” 

He tweeted – with the additions in brackets – today:

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives, who dies, who [borrows your song title to write a cash-in book when they could have testified before Congress]
tells your story…

Bolton’s book is set for release on June 23, and while his portrait of President Donald Trump is far from flattering, Miranda calls him out for not stepping up and testifying before Congress during the impeachment hearings.

Seizing the moment, Miranda provides a link in his tweet to Fair Fight, an advocate for fair elections in Georgia. Miranda’s link opens to a page that says, “Sign up to volunteer and help us build a more inclusive Georgia, where every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

Julián Castro Launches “People First Future” Political Action Committee

Julián Castro is helping the progressives…

The 45-year-old Mexican American politician and former member of President Barack Obama‘s cabinet, has launched a new political action committee aimed at supporting progressive down-ballot candidates who he believes are “prioritizing people, rather than special interests.”

Julian Castro

Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and presidential candidate in 2020, plans to use the group — called “People First Future” — to “identify and support candidates up and down the ballot,” according to a press release from the newly formed organization.

The group also made their first endorsement on Thursday, backing 12 candidates running for U.S. Congress, including seven running in Castro’s native Texas and others in races Democrats hope to be competitive in come November.

“It’s never been more important to elect leaders in our statehouses, governor’s offices, school boards, and halls of Congress who will stand up for the most vulnerable Americans,” said Castro said in a statement. “While hardworking families struggle to pay rent, get good health care, or send their kids to decent schools, well-connected and deep-pocketed special interests get their way.”

The group plans to not only provide financial support to candidates to help beef up the bench of progressive Democrats, but also mobilize progressives across the country to support those candidates.

Castro’s list of endorsements includes his brother, Joaquin Castro, who is running for reelection in Texas’s 20th Congressional District, and Gina Ortiz Jones, who is running for the second straight cycle in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District. 

Castro’s Texas endorsements also include Wendy Davis in Texas’s 21st Congressional District; Candace Valenzuela in Texas’s 24th Congressional District; Julie Oliver in Texas’s 25th Congressional District; Sima Ladjevardian in Texas’s 2nd Congressional District; and Sri Preston Kulkarni in Texas’s 22nd Congressional District.

The former presidential candidate has also endorsed Lucy McBath, a congresswoman who first won Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2018; J.D. Scholten, an Iowa Democrat challenging controversial Rep. Steve King in the state’s 4th Congressional District for the second straight cycle and Mondaire Jones, a Democrat running in New York’s 17th Congressional District. Castro has also endorsed Marie Newman, the Illinois Democrat who unseated an incumbent in the state’s congressional district earlier this year, and Lauren Underwood, another Illinois Democrat who won her suburban Chicago seat for the first time in 2018.

The former cabinet secretary has begun to layout his post-campaign plans in recent weeks and just announced he was joining Voto Latino, a large political organization focused on registering and mobilizing Latino voters, as an adviser with the goal of registering one million Latino voters before November’s general election.

Castro ran for president for nearly a year, announcing his bid in January 2019 and dropping out in January 2020 after failing to garner needed support in either early states or nationally. The former cabinet secretary, though, did win goodwill from progressive operatives and voters during the campaign.

The new political organization will be run by many of the same people who staffed his presidential campaign. Natalie Montelongo, Castro’s campaign political director, will work as the group’s executive director, and Sawyer Hackett, Castro’s campaign spokesman, will work as a senior adviser to the organization.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to Run Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera is making a run for the U.S. House of Representatives… and she’s taking on a popular freshman Congresswoman.

The 53-year-old half-Cuban American journalist, business news reporter and CNBCcontributor has launched a campaign for the New York City Congressional seat currently held by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera

Caruso-Cabrera, an outspoken critic of government excess, will be running as a Democrat in the district, which stretches across the Bronx and Queens, though her political views position her significantly to the right of Ocasio-Cortez. 

CNBC says she will go on leave from the network, where she has been a reporter and anchor for 20 years.

“I am the daughter and granddaughter of working-class Italian and Cuban immigrants,” Caruso-Cabrera said in a statement. “I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful career and I want everybody to have the opportunity that I’ve had. That’s why I’m running.”

Known by her initials, AOC, the 30-year-old political newcomer’s victory in 2018 was one of the high-profile wins as Democrats took control of the House of RepresentativesNetflix captured the win in the documentary Bringing Down the House. Ocasio-Cortez has since racked up more than 6 million Twitter followers. Along with other progressives new to the U.S.Congress, she has become a frequent target of conservatives’ attacks on Democratic leadership.

In her 2010 book, You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government, Caruso-Cabrera emphasizes themes like personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism and limited government.

Prior to joining CNBC, Caruso-Cabrera worked at Univision. She has appeared multiple times as a guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. In a 2011 episode’s “Overtime” segment onYouTube, she promoted her book and defended CNBC against charges that it took a political stance similar to that of Fox News’ opinion hosts. She also described President Barack Obama as “extremely liberal” and misguided because he “believes that government can solve so many problems that it can’t,” such as health care.

Carlos Maza Named to Time Magazine’s List of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet

Carlos Maza is making his influence felt…

Time has released the fifth annual roundup of the 25 most influential people on the Internet, with the Cuban-American Vox journalist/vlogger and video producer making the list of the personalities who have the biggest global impact on social media.

Carlos Maza

Maza is being recognized for speaking about being harassed online, and his quest to target the policy that empowered the culprits.

For two years, Maza was the focus of videos from popular right-wing commentator Steven Crowder, who repeatedly denigrated Maza’s sexual orientation and ethnicity—actions that appeared to violate YouTube’s terms of service. But when Maza reported Crowder, he says YouTube didn’t respond. So at the end of May, Maza went public with his struggles on Twitter. His thread quickly went viral, prompting a new wave of harassment from Crowder fans—and eventually, a pseudo-apology from Crowder and a response from YouTube, which demonetized Crowder’s channel. 

YouTube stopped short of banning Crowder outright, arguing initially that, while some of Crowder’s comments were hurtful, its policies were intended to protect free expression, which can include offensive opinions

In the days that followed Maza’s Twitter thread, YouTube did reveal plans to revisit its harassment policies. But Maza isn’t optimistic about systemic change. “Harassment is really good for engagement,” he tells Time.

But Maza isn’t the only Latino to make the list…

Cardi B’s rise to stardom can be traced back to Instagram, where she now has more than 47 million followers. 

As much as the 26-year-old half-Dominican American rap sensation’s life has changed since the success of “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B’s online presence has stayed consistent—confessional videos and memes between red carpet shots, concert footage and political commentary

In January, Cardi B made headlines for posting a video criticizing President Donald Trump for not funding the government, “all for a f-cking wall.” That clip went viral, and even came to the attention of Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Brian Schatz, who publicly debated whether they should retweet the video. In the end, the lawmakers chose not to, but the video still racked up 20 million views on Instagram. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be a junior member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but when it comes to social media aptitude, her superiority is practically unmatched. 

The 29-year-old Puerto Rican politician and activist, who is simply referred to by her Twitterhandle “AOC,” has nearly 4.8 million followers on the platform, more than most members of theU.S. Congress

In January, shortly after being sworn in as the youngest Congresswoman in U.S. history, Ocasio-Cortez co-hosted a session for her peers about social media best practices, explaining the importance of being “authentic.” And though she’s made some online missteps during her tenure on Capitol Hill— like identifying her Democratic colleague Rep. John Yarmuth as a Republican while slamming older male legislators — Ocasio-Cortez has also expertly harnessed viral tropes to draw attention to subcommittee hearings and granular policy debates that have typically been relegated to the confines of C-Span: an Instagram video of questions she asked at a hearing about cannabis in February has amassed over three million views. 

Germán Garmendia is being recognized for his personality…

Since uploading his first skit to YouTubein 2011, the 29-year-old Chilean YouTuber, comedian and writer has earned more than 13 billion views, making him the world’s most popular Spanish-language YouTuber. 

In his skits and over-the-top riffs, Garmendia mines humor from everyday topics; while describing how tough he is in a video about how to be sexy, for example, he noted that he only cried a little when Mufasa died in The Lion Kingand often pushes doors labeled “pull.” 

Production values have risen on YouTube in the years since he got his start, but despite competition from bigger-budget operations, Garmendia’s main draw as he comments on memes, viral videos, and video games is still his personality. 

As with many YouTubers, he has also provoked controversy, like when misogynistic comments he made in a 2014 gameplay video resurfaced in late 2018. But his subsequent apology was well-received, and his career hasn’t stalled: in fact, Garmendia released his first novel last year.

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