Happy indeed: Watch Pharrell Williams surprise students by paying off their loan debt

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Pharrell surprises NAACP by covering student loans for student leaders

By Yahoo! News

Five HBCU students and recent graduates are surely feeling happy after Grammy-winning producer Pharrell Williams surprised them by paying off their student loans.

The moment took place Friday during an NAACP panel on the student debt crisis among Black students, as part of Williams’ Something in the Water festival.

Speaking on the “Today” show Thursday, the “Happy” hitmaker characterized the festival as a “Black solution to a systemic problem that ended up being this festival that allowed everybody to come together — Black, white, gay, straight, whatever it is that you are. The Washington, D.C.-based event takes place this Juneteenth weekend and will include performances from SZA, Anderson .Paak, Justin Timberlake and J Balvin, among others.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson tweeted photos of the moment the five NAACP youth leaders learned of Williams’ generosity. Johnson also used the event to call on President Biden to relieve all student debt.

“@POTUS, it’s your turn now to do the same for all Americans plagued by student debt,” wrote Johnson.

In a press release, Wisdom Cole, the NAACP’s national director of youth and college, who organized the Black student debt panel, applauded Williams and pointed out how debt specifically affects the Black community.

“Pharrell forever changed their lives. Student debt continues to disproportionately plague the Black community and crush opportunities for so many Black people,” Cole said. “It is time to reduce the racial wealth gap, it is time for President Biden to fulfill his promise.”

Cole was referring to Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to broadly alleviate the national student debt, which he has wavered on since his election.

“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,” Biden said in April. “I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction. But I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness.”

More than 43 million Americans collectively have $1.6 trillion in federal student loan obligations.

Williams’ surprise debt forgiveness comes a day after he was introduced into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as part of songwriting duo the Neptunes, alongside collaborator Chad Hugo.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

Resources for Beginning Your Self-Employment Journey

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A Black man in a business suit in a job interview

Unemployed, underemployed or just curious? Changing circumstances in the economy may be making self-employment a more intriguing option to consider, and there are plenty of helpful training and information resources to help you explore the possibilities.

a black man sitting at his laptop

Self-employment options

Independent work is a term that describes self-employed, freelance, temporary and “gig” work done by millions of workers in the U.S. It also includes individuals who sell items on e-commerce, vend private residential rental space on online platforms or drive for ride-hailing services. Independent work is an increasingly important means for either a primary or supplemental income in the U.S.

Another form of self-employment involves running a business with a physical location that employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business or joining a franchise program.

a black man on the train looking at his phone

Free entrepreneurship learning opportunities

Whatever your ideas for a business model, there is a wealth of valuable entrepreneurship learning and business counseling opportunities available. Check out some of these free resources:

Local American Job Centers provide small business skill training, career awareness and counseling and information to help you understand the types of services and products in demand in your local economy.

 

Entrepreneurial Marketing

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): A course designed to help participants develop a flexible way of thinking about marketing problems and understand key marketing concepts, methods and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • Money Smart for Small Businesses: This new instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) contains 10 training modules covering key topics for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Administration Learning Center: Take free online courses covering how to plan for your successful business startup, launching your business, managing, marketing and growing your business. It also includes an overview for young entrepreneurs.
  • SBA Online Small Business Training: The Small Business Administration offers more than 30 free self-guided online business training courses covering a variety of topics including how to prepare a business plan, franchising basics, government contracting, green business opportunities and more.
  • SCORE entrepreneurship online courses: View all their free courses available, including hiring workers, setting up a physical location, pricing products and services, finding funding and more.

 

Resources for targeted audiences interested in small business

  • Minority Business Development Agency: The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA programs, services and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.
  • Native American Enterprise Initiative: The Native American Enterprise Initiative seeks to build on the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s record of success and advocacy by focusing on the crucial economic issues confronting tribal business entities and Native American-owned enterprises.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

 

Source: CareerOneStop

The Future of College Recruitment Depends on Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

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happy african american college students walking together on campus

By Casey Welch

Over the past year, colleges have struggled to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, between the pressure to move entire degree programs online and the question of how best to connect with potential students in the absence of traditional events like college fairs and campus tours.

The obstacles faced by institutions of higher education have only increased over the years, and even when students can safely return to campus, it’s clear that colleges will be left with a critical, unsolved problem: how to prioritize diversity and inclusion and reflect those values in their recruitment practices.

According to a recent survey, 25% of Gen Zers decided not to apply for a college because they feared being treated unfairly due to their gender, ethnic or racial identity. Many are speaking from personal experience: Over three-quarters of respondents said they had witnessed discrimination in school and over half have experienced it themselves.

Colleges already experiencing a decline in enrollment can course correct through simple adjustments to how they prioritize and reflect the fundamental values of diversity and inclusion in their recruitment practices. This change will have a significant impact, not just on application and enrollment numbers, but on their long-term relevance as institutions of higher education.

Recruiting the next generation of college students, therefore, will require a shift in focus and a strategy that prioritizes a diverse campus culture, where all will feel welcome and appreciated for their differences, instead of ostracized. Recruitment practices are the ideal place for colleges to begin making the importance of diversity and inclusion clear, especially since prospective students are actively looking for the motivation behind initiatives that promote these values, and not just proof of their implementation.
Prioritizing diversity begins by ensuring that college recruiters reflect the background and identity of the students they’re hoping to attract. Almost two-thirds of students indicated that they would be more likely to apply to a college where the recruiter shares their racial or ethnic identity.

The next step toward inclusion is for colleges to be aware of what, exactly, Gen Zers include within that concept. For these future students, diversity and inclusion don’t stop with respect for racial or ethnic differences, they must also include an understanding of the importance of gender pronouns.

The majority of students emphatically agree that recruiters should ask for their preferred gender pronouns, but only a fraction have ever had a recruiter pose that question. Including this question would be a simple change to the existing process, but it’s one notable place where recruiters are missing the mark and missing out on potential candidates.

Colleges that have already undertaken initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion need to communicate the results of those efforts more effectively, such as through statistics and student testimonials that speak to the authentic impact of these changes over time. Respondents also highlighted a few other ways colleges can increase awareness of their dedication to these ideals, including drawing attention to programs or classes that promote diversity and a demonstrated commitment to social justice. Considering how important these criteria are to prospective students, putting in the work to implement these changes will be ineffective in attracting new students if there’s no visibility of their impact.
Simply advertising these changes isn’t enough, however. Colleges should clearly communicate how they plan to continue working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment, as well as why those changes are important. Prospective students are taking a harder look not only at the success of these initiatives, but also the motivation behind their implementation, in their consideration of where to apply.

Changing the look and language of recruitment is an easy switch, but it’s also a powerful one that will have a lasting impact on the future of college enrollment. Gen Z is placing a heavier emphasis on these distinctions than any prior generation, and colleges need to start doing so as well in response.

The next generation of college students is looking for more than an idyllic campus and an exhaustive list of course options; they’re looking for a safe environment that reflects who they are and the future they hope to create. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion and reflecting those values in their recruitment practices, colleges can demonstrate their commitment to actively welcome a diverse community of students and ensure their continued relevance.

How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition

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How to Apply for Higher Education Careers promo

“How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition” is a free ebook for anyone interested in getting a job in higher education.

If you’re starting your career or considering a career change, this ebook dives into what’s needed to apply for higher ed jobs: understanding the difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume, drafting a career-change resume, and checking if your resume can pass the 10-second test. The revised edition includes cover letter writing tips and candid advice from higher ed professionals, including representatives in HR and recruiting.

Download the ebook for strategies to tackle that crucial early step of putting yourself out there to secure your ideal job in higher ed.

Soul Life Travel, the First Black and Women-Owned Travel Agency in Costa Rica

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Soul Life Travel, the First Black and Women-Owned Travel Agency in Costa Rica

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a myriad of things in the way we live. Not only did we learn to value our personal spaces and our community solidarity, but we put into perspective the way we travel and the value we place on freedom of movement.

Combined, these learnings have made us more sensitive to the fair representation and authenticity of our experiences.

For Sadie Jordan and Emily Orgias, these life lessons came to fruition in Soul Life Travel, the first Black and women-owned travel agency in Costa Rica — Jordan’s mother’s native home (Jordan was born in the States).

After years of giving travel tips to their family and friends in the region, always trying to bring value to the authenticity of the Caribbean, Jordan founded Soul Life Travel; Orgias joined her afterward as a travel specialist.

This agency combines their decade-long experience in the travel industry and their more than fifteen years of personal globetrotting.

Soul Life travel offers unique and authentic trips that compete with irresponsible tourism, which poses a growing threat to local culture, especially in Costa Rica.

“We believe that sustainable travel is both possible and essential, which is why we craft exciting tours that highlight, not harm, the essence of places you visit,” the founders explain on their website “Our personal connection to the region not only enhances our expertise and commitment to the local community but also motivates us to carefully design tours that are tailored to every desire in your dream trip.”

As Jordan told Travel Noire, there are many things people don’t know about Afro-Caribbean Costa Rican culture. With Soul Life Travel, the founders hope people will learn by researching and planning trips for them. Their goal is to bring people together around culture, wellness, and adventure in the often forgotten Caribbean coast.

“I created Soul Life Travel to show Black and brown people our cultures. A lot of things connect us, whether it be our cuisine or how our mama’s throw down in the kitchen, and so many experiences,” Jordan said.

Soul Life Travel offers many tours, including “A Taste of Costa Rica,” “A Week In Costa Rica,” and “Afro-Caribbean Costa Rica.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

11 Gorgeous Afro-Latinx-Owned Online Shops To Support During National Black Business Month

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Afro-Latinx Owned products

By Andrea Reindl, Mitu

August is National Black Business Month and this year, there’s no better time to support Black businesses. After the racial reckoning of 2020, many of us are still educating ourselves on structural racism and the impact it’s had on Black business owners and generational wealth. And part of that education includes shopping at Black-owned businesses.

Luckily, there are Black entrepreneurs out there who are following their dreams and making money moves. Here is a list of Afro-Latinx-owned businesses you can shop at online.

Azteca Negra

Azteca Negra was founded by Jefa Marisol Catchings, who identifies as Chicana and Black. Her online store started off selling colorful hand-crafted headwraps, but since the pandemic, she has also expanded into selling face masks as well. Buy the Mami & Me Princesa Headwrap Set (pictured) for $38.00.

La Boticá Studios

Founded by Afro-Dominicana Dawn Marie West, La Boticá Studios is what she describes as a “luxury fragrance brand” that is “rooted in culture.” With scents like “Flor de Selva” and “República,” her candles are sure to transport you to the Caribbean. Candles start at $78.00.

Coffee Del Mundo

Belizean coffee connoisseur Jonathan Kinnard founded Coffee Del Mundo’s to “help people rediscover coffee the way it was meant to be enjoyed.” So unnatural additives are a no-no. You can get pods or whole beans via delivery. Buy a bag of El Salvador Whole Bean (pictured) for $13.50.

The Cozy Cup Tea

The Cozy Cup Tea was founded by a New York Dominicana who loves tea. While she throws tea party events for the tea-lovers out there, she also sells Caribbean-inspired tea on her website. Buy all teas starting at $10.00.

Breukelen Rub Spice Co.

Breukelen Rub Spice Co. is a Flatbush-located spice brand that produces hyperlocal artisanal spice blends and dry-rubs. Founded by Afro-Puerto Rican chef, Chef JD, Breukelen Rub Spice Co.’s most popular spice blend is the all-purpose, nostalgic spice blend Abuela’s Adobo. Buy for $15.00.

Reina Skincare

Inspired by her own skin troubles, Panamanian Jefa Adriana Isabel Robinson Rivera created a skincare brand fit for a queen. She sells everything from cleansers to toners to serums to oil. Browse their catalog.

Coco and Breezy Eyewear

Famous Afro-Puerto Rican twin DJs Corianna and Brianna Dotson created this luxury eyewear line as a creative experiment. Their brand has since achieved wild success. These are luxury eyewear, so the price point starts at $285.00.

Peralta Project

First-generation Dominican, M. Tony Peralta founded the Peralta Project. According to his website, his designs explore blackness in Dominican identity and pay homage to old-school hip-hop. This shirt is available for $35.00.

Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry

Valerie Madison is a fine jewelry business that describes itself as sells Black-Latina owned. The luxury retailer sells engagement rings, wedding bands, and other fine jewelry. These indulgences are a once-in-a-lifetime type of splurge, so prices vary.

Pisqueya Hot Sauce

Pisqueya hot sauce was created by Maritza Abreu from a recipe handed down “through a family of Dominican cooks.” With three delicious flavors (Smoky Hot, Medium Buzz, and Spicy Sweet), you’ll find a sauce for every occasion. Sauces sell for $6.99 each.

Click here to read the full article on Mitu.

All-Black women crew operates American Airlines flight from Dallas in honor of trailblazer Bessie Coleman

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman becoming the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license, American Airlines operated a flight from Dallas to Phoenix with an all-Black female crew.

By Emma Tucker, CNN

An all-Black female crew operated an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Phoenix in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1921.

The airline hosted the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars tour this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Coleman performing the first public flight by an African American woman in 1922. “She bravely broke down barriers within the world of aviation and paved the path for many to follow,” American Airlines said in a statement. Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman, was hosted on the flight operated by the all-Black female crew of pilots, flight attendants, customer service coordinators, cargo team members and the aviation maintenance technician, the airline said. “I’m grateful for American Airlines to give us this opportunity to highlight my great aunt’s accomplishments in the field of aviation,” Gigi said in a video posted by American Airlines titled “Empowering Women in the Skies.”

Very few American women of any race had pilot’s licenses by 1918, but those who did were often White and rich. Undeterred, Coleman learned French and moved to Paris and was accepted by the Caudron Brothers School of Aviation. In 1921, Coleman became the first female pilot of African American and Native American descent.

Coleman died at 34 in 1926 during a practice run with another pilot. While she never fulfilled her dream to open a flight school for future Black pilots, Coleman’s imprint on aviation history lives on, CNN previously reported.

Black women have been “notably underrepresented in the aviation industry, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% in the commercial airline industry,” American Airlines said.

“Today, I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the crew where we are inspiring young girls, young girls of color, to see the various roles that these women play in every aspect to make this flight possible,” Captain Beth Powell, the flight’s pilot, said in the video.

American Airlines said it is committed to diversifying the flight deck, which includes “expanding awareness of and increasing accessibility to the pilot career within diverse communities” through its cadet academy.

The day after the historic flight, representatives from the Bessie Coleman Foundation and American Airlines pilots and cadets met with students at the Academies at South Mountain in Phoenix, where the flight landed, to expose young people to careers in the aviation industry.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success

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These Afro-Latina Creatives Carved Out Their Own Career — & Found Success

By Hilary Shepherd, Refinery 29

Honoring long-held traditions while looking toward the future might be a popular practice around the holiday season, but for some, it’s a year-round business. Just ask 28-year-old digital creator Julianny Casado and 26-year-old makeup artist Sabré O’Neil. As Afro-Latinas (Casado is a first-generation American of Dominican origin; O’Neil is a second-generation American of Puerto Rican descent), the two creatives feel strongly about regularly celebrating their roots not only through their work, but through their own appearances and unique senses of style, as well.

Both Casado and O’Neil say that the journey in accepting their identities wasn’t always an easy one. “Growing up as an Afro-Latina, it was really hard to find my crowd,” O’Neil says. “I didn’t know if I was going to hang with the Hispanic people or the other crowds, so I was always by myself.” By continuing to push forward and make space for themselves in two fields that have historically lacked diversity, they’re helping to make way for opportunities for the next generation of creatives within their respective communities. In partnership with , the sneaker brand that’s been embracing both tradition and innovation through fun twists on the timeless Chuck style for more than 100 years, we asked Casado and O’Neil to share how they discovered their passions, the ways in which their identities influence their work, and how they redefine classic Converse silhouettes in 2021. Read their stories, below.

Julianny Casado, Digital Creator

I discovered my passion… “When I was 16 years old. I’ve always been obsessed with cameras, but my cousin had this really cool DSLR camera, and it really changed the way I felt about photos and how you could tell stories. I wanted to work for National Geographic and do crazy documentative stories. It took off from there. After that, I was always obsessed with photo formats and anything visual. Everything else — like curation and art direction — just grew. I learned from my mistakes and experience.”

My own unique aesthetic is… “Very candid and life-like. I like things to be as organic as possible. Very vibrant, too. I’m obsessed with color — it brings a certain character to the story that I’m telling. I work with the plus-size community and it’s been an experience that I’m so honored to be a part of. There are so many people who aren’t being celebrated, but they should be because they’re athletes and champions in their own right. They go out every day and smash whatever it is that they do. I love giving voices to people who feel like they don’t have one.”

How my identity as an Afro-Latina shapes my work: “I’m from New York City, but my family is from the Dominican Republic. I also have a huge lineage of Afro-descendants, and I love it. It influences everything that I do. I don’t take anything for granted because I know where I come from. I know what my ancestors have been through, and I know I have better opportunities just for being here today. I’ve watched my family turn bread into gold. I’ve seen them work hard at everything that they do, and it’s taught me that it’s the little details that people might not speak about or see right away. That’s definitely something I like to highlight and photograph — the things that aren’t completely obvious or aren’t typically socially accepted as beautiful. I think those are the best parts of life.”

I struggled with my identity… “As I grew up. I’m a first-generation American, so I didn’t have the Dominican roots that my older siblings had. I felt like there was a huge dissociation, but now as an adult, I’m really enjoying learning what those who came before me have done and how important it is to keep our culture and our traditions going. They are the things that make us, and if you don’t practice them, you lose them and you become like everyone else.”

To be Afro-Latina in America today is about… “Digging deeper into your identity. It’s a blessing. We have to stand together because there are so many people who want to deny where we come from. They want us to fit into what the rest of the world’s narrative is. Honestly, I’m so proud to be Afro-Latina and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Not my hair, not my skin, not my experiences.”

My first memory of Converse sneakers… “Was when I was 12. My first pair was white and they were low-tops. I love Converse — they’re my favorite sneakers. They were the coolest shoes growing up. They were so simple, comfortable, and affordable.”

I would redefine classic Converse silhouettes… “By adding a color-blocking pattern to a pair. Color is my safe zone and it makes me feel closest to my identity. I would choose pastel colors because they remind me of my island.”

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

This Afro-Latina Wants To Empower Women With Crypto Education

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man with hand and money in his pocket. Crypto

By BeLatina

As the world becomes more digital, and with the metaverse just around the corner, educating and empowering our communities about access to new resources is vital.

But what happens when the language is convoluted and leaves out minorities?

Enter Marimer Cruz.

This Afro-Latina has written a book to break crypto down and make it accessible to everyone. “Crypto Simplified” is a step-by-step how-to manual that includes videos to start investing in the cryptocurrency world in an easy, quick, and safe way.

According to the author’s press release, the book s a layman’s explanation of the world of cryptocurrencies, how to buy your first crypto, and make money after implementation. Cruz explains what novices need to know about this complicated and rapidly evolving market.

For Marimer Cruz, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the financial jargon is common for all Latinos, especially those from poor backgrounds.

A graduate of TAMUCT and BAYLOR University’s Master’s degree, Cruz grew up amid poverty, abuse, and struggling with systemic lupus.

The Texas-based Puerto Rican experienced firsthand the linguistic and information democratization obstacles when she took her first steps in the world of cryptocurrency.

“I remember how scared I was of sending money from one exchange to another, thinking I will lose it all,” she says.

Now, with “Crypto Simplified,” Cruz wants to change the landscape.

“I remember how alone it feels being one of the few women minority full-time educators and bot traders in the USA,” she admits.

Cruz learned directly from grid bot trading experts and has leveraged her seven years as a super affiliate to help others safely embark on crypto. “Crypto is my passion, and there is nothing like it,” Cruz says, “and I will be spreading the crypto gospel in the Anglo and Spanish markets for years to come!”

Click here to read the full article on BeLatina.

Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.

“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.

Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.

“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.

Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.

“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”

Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.

Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.

“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”

For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.

“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.

For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.

A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.

“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”

According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.

“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.

Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.

Meet Afro-Latina Scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel

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Dr. Jessica Esquivel

By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina

It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.

Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.

Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.

Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.

“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”

Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.

“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”

While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.

The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.

“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”

When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.

“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Beverly Malbranche of Caribbrew Honors Her Homeland of Haiti Through Her Coffee Brand

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Beverly Malbranche wearing a yellow shirt and smiling at the camera

By Nashia Baker, Martha Stewart

Both personally and professionally, Beverly Malbranche has always wanted to make an impact in the world and honor her homeland along the way. To meld the two, she decided to open Caribbrew, her Black-owned and woman-founded Haitian coffee brand. “Once I realized that we used to be a major coffee producer, I felt challenged to revive this lost history and create opportunities through it,” she recalls, noting that she launched the business, based in Passaic, New Jersey, in November 2018.

“I decided to create my own business in order to have more impact and to use my creativity and determination to offer a positive image of Haiti,” she says. “I also wanted to share our gastronomy with the world in some form or shape.” Ahead, Malbranche shares how she took her desire for personal fulfillment and meaningful opportunity and channeled them into her work—and ultimately developed a thriving coffee business that is also a tribute to Haiti.

Increasing Brand Awareness

Malbranche opened her business with $1,000 and built it from the ground up. She turned to Facebook and Instagram to get her company up and running. Through these platforms, she discovered other small businesses and began to learn from them—and started networking offline to build her business, as well. She attended local pop-up shops to continue getting Caribbrew’s name out there, and gained business champions and her first customers as a result.

Producing the Coffee

Caribbrew offers an array of products, but is best known for shade-grown, chemical-free, premium coffee. Malbranche prioritized process when she first started production: Haitian farmers handpick the Arabica beans, which are then roasted in small batches. For those who can’t go without their morning cup of joe, you can shop options like the Caribbrew Dark Roast Premium Haitian Coffee ($15.50, caribbrew.com); it is characterized by its dark, aromatic, heavy-bodied flavor profile. Or, try Caribbrew Medium Roast Kcups ($22, caribbrew.com), made specifically with beans from Thiotte, a mountainous town in the south of Haiti (this roast has hints of chocolate).

“Haitian beans tend to be nutty and mellow in acidity,” Malbranche explains. “[The medium and dark roasts] are both smooth, and while you can taste the nuttiness more in our medium roast, the dark roast has notes of dark caramel and a bit of chocolate.”

Her company’s offerings go beyond coffee, too. Skin care enthusiasts can snag the Coconut Latte Body Butter ($25, caribbrew.com), a Haitian coffee-infused, full body treatment that can reduce stretch marks and cellulite; the Mango Mandarin Haitian Coffee Scrub ($15, caribbrew.com) which exfoliates and decreases facial inflammation, thanks to green coffee properties; and other beauty products, teas, and chocolates from the line.

Brewing with Inspiration

Malbranche’s mission is simple: “I want to create more transparency on the coffee supply chain and create a space for coffee originating from the Caribbean—starting with Haiti,” she says. “I also want to support the ongoing efforts to see more Black- and women-owned businesses in the industry.” As for her customers? She wants them to enjoy exploring her brand and “savor each cup—and also connect with the folks who grow the beans.”

While the entrepreneur has her sights on new goals (the team just launched Caribbrew nationwide via Sprouts Farmers Market and aims to get the brand in more retail locations soon), she has one crucial piece of advice for fellow business owners who are striving for something more. “Give yourself grace and take it one step a time,” she explains. “It’s good to create a roadmap for the vision that you have. That will help you eliminate some activities that do not align with your goals, so you can focus on what matters.”

Click here to read the full article on Martha Stewart.

Zendaya Makes Emmy History Once Again as Youngest Producing Nominee for ‘Euphoria’

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Zendaya in a nude dress on the red carpet

By , Rolling Stone

Zendaya made history in 2020 when she became the youngest woman — and only the second Black woman (after Viola Davis) — to win in the lead drama actress category at the age of 24. Now, with the 2022 Emmy nods out, Zendaya, has made history yet again as the youngest producer to be nominated for an award after Euphoria’s Outstanding Drama Series nod. Zendaya serves as both a star and executive producer on the series.

The general drama series nod comes as she received three other nominations for her role as Rue Bennett in the HBO drama. She was, once again, nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and also received two nods for Outstanding Original Music for both “Elliot’s Song” with Dominic Fike, and”I’m Tired” with Labrinth.

In the Lead Actress category, she faces off against Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, Ozark‘s Laura Linney, Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey, and Morning Show‘s Reese Witherspoon.

Meanwhile, Euphoria is nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series category against Better Call Saul, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Succession, and Yellowjackets. (Squid Game is the first non-English-language series to be nominated for the prize.)

The list of “firsts” doesn’t end there for the Oakland-born star. With her nominations, she’s also the first Black woman (and only second Black person) to receive both songwriting and acting nods in the same year.

More history could be made next year by Zendaya as she revealed in a recent interview with Vogue Italia that not only does she want to direct, but she “probably” will direct a future episode of Euphoria. “I was supposed to direct Episode 6 [of Season 2], but then I had to act in it,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t have enough time, so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to this time around. I wanted to have enough time to do it the right way, so next season probably.”

Click here to read the full article on the Rolling Stone.

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