What Gina Rodriguez Got Wrong at the Golden Globes

What_Gina_Rodriguez_Got_Wrong_at_the_Golden_Globes-TheWiseLatinaClub The Twitter surge matched Gina Rodriguez's emotions when she accepted the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her leading role in the CW comedy Jane the Virgen.

Choking back tears, she declared:

"This award is so much than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes."

Unlike everyone on my Twitter feed, I cringed at Rodriguez's statement because she missed an opportunity to educate her viewers on the long string of vibrant heroes, as well as a rich cultural and artistic history that has contributed to the Great Works of literature, film, music, and art. Rodriguez and Latinos not only belong to it. They must claim it.

Click here to watch the video of Rodriguez's acceptance speech.

I remember the resentment I felt when the Yale Spanish department forced me to study medieval and Siglo de Oro or Spanish Renaissance literature as part of my doctoral studies. I deemed it a waste of time for someone who planned to specialize in modern Latin American literature. However, in those classes I learned how fundamentally Hispanic culture innovated the humanities and the way in which art represents and interprets our world which in turn impacts areas that affect us such as economic and social policy as well as diplomacy. The partial list includes but is not limited to:

  • Antonio de Nebrija's Gramática de la lengua castellana--the first published grammar of a Western European language
  • Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quijote, considered the first modern novel and Don Quijote, the world's first modern literary hero
  • Diego Velázquez who modernized painting by experimenting with light and daring to show his royal subjects in personal settings
  • El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega whose Comentarios reales de los Inca is a foundational text of the literary genre testimonio--a vehicle to present a counter-narrative  disputing the supremacy of the "official story"

As I moved into modern Latin American literature, I learned about more contributions, with a partial list including:

  • Luis de Buñuel's seminal avante-garde surrealist films
  • Frida Kahlo's daring, brutal, and personal art
  • José Martí, whose poems and nationalism continue to inspire revolutionaries and students today
  • Carlos Santana, great guitarist who pioneered Latino rhythms in rock decades before Pitbull

Like politics, the issue with Hollywood is less about history than it is about power. Those who wield it are almost exclusively white and male. The distinction between, on one hand, a history of talent and contributions to art and specific media and on the other hand, a power structure that keeps out Latinos at the highest levels is crucial. With few exceptions such as TV series mega hit creator Shonda Rhimes, the executive level--producers, studio heads, and agents--doesn't include diversity. This fact determines an industry's world vision with a lasting trickle down effect: which shows are green lighted, actors cast, and writers hired.

The absence of diversity is behind the thinking that an actor from a diverse background "can't bring in an audience." Now, we've moved into the realm of economics. This "bottom line" calculation and its assumptions explain why the film "12 Years a Slave" with a black director and actor at its helm is an exception or why it took 50 years to make the film "Selma"--a feature film with Martin Luther King, Jr. as its central character.

Hollywood's politics and its effects are real. But I challenge Rodriguez and Latino artists to not just insert themselves into the American narrative and claim what's theirs. It requires changing the frame away from what I call a "cabizbajo, sí patrón" or subservient position to one of pride rooted in an understanding of where she stands in the continuum of a rich, complex, and foundational tradition.

Gina Rodriguez is absolutely right. This award is much more than her which leads me to my favorite quote from Don Quijote in chapter five of part one. Faced with doubt from an incredulous neighbor on his knight roving ways, our hero declares:

"Yo sé quién soy" or I know who I am and from where I come.

I hope Rodriguez, the deserving actors, and the young people who look up to them learn about their history and make it part of their and ultimately, our American story. I hope this knowledge nurtures a point of view that clearly states, "of course I earned this respect because I've put in the work, because I come from a long line of talent, and in the case of politics, because my demographic and spending power might combined with my civic participation makes me a force to be reckoned with."

That's not just arriving. It's owning your success.




Summer Break: Smart Packing for Beach Trips

A recent getaway to Jamaica taught me a great deal about items that should be staples when traveling to the beach. Factors such as safety around water, hair damage, and boredom are all issues that could derail a trip if not taken into consideration when packing. For women of color, overlooking threats such as sun exposure may be a natural inclination. However, we are as susceptible to sun burns as Caucasians which is why knowing which items to pack could make or break your trip and your memories.


Comfortably enjoying a vacation at the beach requires packing more then just bikinis and flip-flops. Don't make the same mistakes I made: I erroneously assumed my dark skin would protect me from sunburn and was uncomfortable after getting my first sunburn. I packed plenty of shoes, yet forgot to bring layers to keep me warm during the cool island nights. A water-proof camera and my Kindle, however, were among my best packing decisions.  

Aundrea’s Tips for Packing for the Beach

  1. One can never have too much hair conditioner: I am still dealing with the fallout from failing to pack enough hair conditioner for my beach vacation. Chlorine, sea water, and even fresh water can have damaging effects on your hair, leaving it brittle and lackluster. Packing ample conditioner is the best way to guarantee manageable hair once your vacation is done.
  2. Bring along entertainment: The beach can be a relaxing place to take naps in the sun and frolic in the water. When that is done, then what? Bringing along frisbees, e-readers, or a radio can extend the fun of a beach trip and can also be a great way to meet new friends.
  3. Always bring a first-aid kit: While on my trip, I scraped my foot causing a minor cut. I was absolutely astounded at how long it took me to locate a bandaid. Point taken--when accidents happen, it is best to be prepared. Keep a first-aid kit handy while traveling. Travel size kits have made it even easier to prepare for the worst without taking up much space.
  4. Carry along a jacket: It sounds silly to pack a jacket for the beach, right? However, as I mentioned above, hot days can quickly turn into cool nights. To avoid a summer cold or walking around in damp clothes, bring warm (but light) layers.
  5. Pre-think souvenirs: Buying lots of gifts can quickly add bulk to your bag. Plan to leave a little space in your luggage to avoid managing too many heavy bags at once. For larger items, consider shipping them home for safe and hassle-free travel or leaving space in the car.


Long awaited beach trips can lead anywhere from local lakes to oceans the world over. Whether leaving for a day, weekend, or week, good vacations take planning. Spending time in advance to properly pack for the beach will spare you drama and maximize your fun in the sun.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

What will you pack for your beach trip?

Summer Break: The 'Do It Yourself' Project

Do It Yourself (DIY) projects can be an enjoyable and productive way to spend free time over the summer. The power of the internet has made it easier than ever to execute small life hacks, or tricks to help effectively manage your time, as well as large projects that once required professional help. Whether enjoying crafts with the kids or finishing home improvements, a DIY project will help channel your creativity and challenge your handy side.


Nothing is more satisfying than making something with your own hands. This is especially true for anyone who enjoys the freedom of designing and building her own preferences. For kids and adults alike, home DIY projects can be an important lesson in hard work and resourcefulness. Much as I discuss in  Education Wednesday: Preventing the Summer Slide, hands-on learning activities are particularly important for students to keep skills sharp during the long break from school.

If you are a frugalista like me, DIY projects can also be a cost-effective way to add style and comfort to your life. As a summer hobby, I decided to glam-up a rough-around-the-edges chair I found at a thrift store (pictured above). With a new coat of paint and some creative detailing, my sunflower chair will soon be a fashionable and affordable addition to my room.

Aundrea's 4 DIY Projects to Try This Summer

  1. Make your own spa treatments: Everyone loves a day at the spa. However, shelling out the cash or even taking the time to go is not always an option. Luckily, recreating many luxurious spa treatments at home is a breeze and a fraction of the cost. One of my favorite treatments is the sugar scrub, made with only a few ingredients found in most pantries. For some easy DIY spa ideas, check here.
  2. Restore an old piece of furniture: Much like my sunflower chair, old furniture can take on a modern edge with just a little tender love and care. In fact, it has become quite trendy to convert vintage items into room brightening statement pieces. Restoring old furniture is not only a great way to recycle one woman's junk into your own one-of-a-kind treasure, it also is a great way to master crafty skills such as stripping wood or applying varnishes. Tip: If taking the old to new is not your thing, try your hand at just making something new. My friends recently built a gorgeous outdoor couch for their porch. So jealous!
  3. Create organizational tools: Often getting organized at home or in the office feels like climbing a mountain. However, using simple hacks that repurpose common supplies will help you become the new queen of organization. Check out these clever hacks to get you started.
  4. Repurpose old t-shirts: One of the most time-honored DIY projects is creatively cutting t-shirts into fancy (?) new designs (I keep it simple with the classic muscle tee revamp). T-shirts can also easily be converted into blankets, rugs, towels, wall art, and many other items. This summer find a fun or functional use for that box of old tees.


A summer DIY project is the perfect opportunity to start a new hobby or catch up with loved ones over a fun activity. With warmer weather and a little more daylight, summer is also the perfect time to take on those projects you have been putting off all year. Using just a little money and lots of creativity, doing it yourself may just become your new way of life.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What DIY project will you try this summer?

From Stress To Success in the City: Dressing Professional During the Summer Swelter

Dressing well is not about being stylish or fashion forward (though that is a temptation) so don't wear your mini-skirt and tank top to the office. Your office attire is about communicating your professional personal brand. Though brains and hard work are what get the job done, dressing professionally is important for developing a career brand. When you dress appropriately for your profession, your superiors and colleagues will take you seriously. This is why your professional wardrobe is critical for continued career success

Professional attire

Summer can be hot, humid, and down right uncomfortable. Remember these tips for planning your professional wardrobe during the “fry your eggs on the sidewalk” kind of days.

Haley's 4 Tips for Dressing Professionally During the Summer

  1. Invest in Breathable Materials: Linen and all types of cotton are great alternatives to the traditional polyester suit.  Many types of dresses and suits are made out of cotton and linen for a light summer style. Breathable materials allow you to look professional without sweltering on your morning commute.
  2. Dress for Your Shape: Women come in all shapes and sizes. Dressing professionally for your shape will give you confidence and flatter your body. Rather than comparing yourself to other women, figure out what YOU look best in. If you try to dress for someone else, chances are you will not look your best.
  3. Wear Clothing that Fits: Leave the sparkles, studs, and tight dresses for the weekend. Go for a sophisticated summer look. Find clothing that fits loosely and looks classy without appearing frumpy. Be careful of outfits being too tight. For one thing, it makes for an extremely uncomfortable day at work and more importantly, leaves you vulnerable for criticism from your colleagues.
  4. Find a Love for Dresses and Skirts: Skirts and dresses are a great way to feel feminine while still looking professional plus they are breathable. A dress is a one stop shop. No matching or tucking in, just put it on and you are ready for work.

Remember to reference your corporate culture when establishing your summer closet. Professionals in the fashion industry may dress further out of the box than someone in finance. Some offices have eliminated dress codes (think startups). Know the expectations of your office to dress appropriately for your job.

Dressing for success in the summertime can be a challenge. When planning summer outfits, remember that looking neat and put together is key to career success. Use these tips to stay cool at work so that other professionals look at you and think: “She can get the job done and look good while doing it!”

HaleyFulford-TheWiseLatinaClubA food enthusiast and native Georgia Peach, Haley recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Development. Currently working at the United States House of Representatives, she is passionate about the outdoors, improved access to quality education for all, public policy, and documenting “from stress to success in the city.” Click here to read more about and connect with Haley. 

Edited by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

How you dress professionally during the summer months?

Summer Break: Must-Haves for a Fashionable Summer

Summer's arrival means it is finally (!!) time to lose the heavy coats and change out closets. For the consummate fashionista, the new season is as much about looking good as it is staying cool. Whether your style is sophisticated goddess or bright sunbeam, stocking up on the right items will keep you looking fab all the way to Labor Day.


The perfect summer wardrobe combines comfy basics (such as t-shirts and tanks tops), popular trends, and statement pieces that highlight your own flare. As an avid thrifter, I know great clothes can be found at a variety of places and  price points. Shopping for those items that are sure to turn heads can be both fun and adventurous.

 Aundrea’s Must-Haves for a Fashionable Summer

  1. Three trusty pairs of sandals: Summer is the ultimate toes-out season and one can never have too many sandals. Purchasing three distinctive styles will get you through the season: (a.) The high heeled sandal-this year I went with platform espadrilles to add the sass and class to both formal and casual outings; (b.) The low or no heel sandal such as edgy gladiators are always on my list. However, any flat sandal comfortable enough to wear all day long will do the trick; (c.) The tried and true cheapie: basic flip-flops are great because they always complete an adventure to the beach and are never too expensive to replace.


  2. The signature bathing suit: What is summer without plenty of time at the pool? Thus, the perfect bathing suit is a must. High-waisted bikinis, bold bohemian patterns, and the classic mix-n-match are hot trends this year. For my signature suit I went bright. I found the perfect fluorescent bikini for my upcoming trip to the Caribbean.
  3. Dresses galore: During summertime I love a good dress. Much like my sandals, I pick up three styles to cover any occasion. This generally includes short sundresses, a jazzy maxi, and mid-length tea dresses (great for summer dates!). Hint: You can always spice up a basic dress with fun accessories like hats, necklaces, or big bangles.
  4. Comfy workout clothes: Even in the heat (that's why Atlanta's nickname is Hotlanta!) I plan to keep up with my workouts. This means finding breathable materials that don't skimp on style. For inspiration for your workout attire, check here.


  5. Tote-worthy luggage: If you are like me, you probably have a few trips planned this summer. Luggage that makes a statement (and easy packing) will put the cherry on top off a sweet vacation. Hint: I forgo big bulky bags, checked-luggage fees, and waiting at baggage claim. I opt for functional carry-ons and overnights, so I am always ready to roll and never miss a moment of my trip.


With the season just underway, there is still time to grab the essential items that no fashionista can be without this year. When building your summer wardrobe just remember diversity is key and style can definitely equal comfort. As long as you feel good in what your wearing, you really can't go wrong.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What's your summer style?

Fall in Love with Nina Sky

No date? No problem. Fall in love with Nicole and Natalie Albino this Valentine’s Day.

The identical twin sisters, who make up Latina alternative music duo Nina Sky, have developed a trendy, independent style that’s perfect for the young at heart.

These Queens kids couple performed earlier  this month at El Museo del Barrio on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which transformed for a few hours into a house party. The twins mirror their audience: young, excited, and irresponsible. Smiling while they dance, Natalie and Nicole avoid flashy costumes in favor of outfits that could have come from the front windows of their audience’s favorite stores like Forever 21.

DJ Nicole, distinguishable from her sister by her half-shaved head, glanced at her turntables while Natalie spoke to her audience of peers. The lights were dim and the bass line was loud.

Click to hear their video cover of  Destiny's Child's Say My Name which booms with youthful energy.

Nicole and Natalie Albino, the girls of Nina Sky. Courtesy: MadeMe Clothing/William Yan

The twins have come a long way since 2004, when they first received mainstream attention. Move Ya Body, their debut single from their debut album, gave American pop a Puerto Rican island feel and had a dance break that called for reggae moves.

Nicole and Natalie still chat and dance with their audience but they have grown up and found independence. Their fashion and look today have evolved as they shed their pop personas for an edgy, less-mainstream look.

Most important, they now hold creative control over their music. Independent artists since 2010, they released their album without the financial and marketing backing of a record label.

Find yourselves alone this Valentine’s Day?

The Latina alternative music duo Nina Sky proves that independence and success never go out of style.

The Wise Latina Club's Dulce-Marie Flecha

The Wise Latina Club’s Dulce-Marie Flecha is a rising senior at Penn State. When she is not writing her honors thesis, she is trying to learn a fourth language, feeding her fashion obsession by Googling her favorite designers’, or begging the Yankees to hit with runners in scoring position. Click here to read more about and connect with Dulce-Marie.

What are you listening to this Valentine's Day?