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An Instagram Comicstrip Pays Homage To Natural Hair And Curvy Bodies

YAS. 

A Dominican artist from Connecticut is challenging the generic beauty standards that have plagued Afrolatinx communities for eons, like the obsession for straight hair over hair in its natural state, or petite bodies over fuller ones.

Through a comic book titled Pajón Comic, Crystal Rodriguez showcases her own personal struggle with her hair and her curves. She depicts what most Afro-Latinos go through when it comes to viewing their image in society. The 23-year-old started creating the comic book back in April, and has uploaded several pages of her art on Instagram.

So far, Rodriguez has created two comic books. One focuses on the term “Pajon,” which is a slang term used to describe a Latina’s curly head or afro. The phrase usually has a negative connotation to it, because of the way it’s used to depict afro-textured hair.

“I wanted to highlight the everyday struggle Afrolatinxs go through when developing their self worth,” she told The Huffington Post. “This comic is for the Afrolatinxs [who] have kept childhood traumas locked away in our hearts because good children are supposed to be silent and beautiful with our straightened hair, faldas (girdles) y media panties (pantyhose).”

The cover of the comic book features a set of two cousins. The younger one boasting curly hair look discontent with it, as she complains to her older kin who has apparently straighter locks.

Pajon Comic 🌼Pagina 1. // I'm creating the Pajon series to highlight unique moments in a Dominican/afrolatinxs life. Dominican families like other afrolatinxs families look completely different from one another...for example, siblings express different recessive or dominant traits and cousins can look racially distinctive from one another as well. Navigating within a family and culture that is completely mixed can be beautiful, confusing and difficult because of all these intersecting identities. Dealing with privilege becomes especially sensitive and important. Knowing what to say at the right moment can protect someone from being hurt or their identity oppressed. I hope this comic can help us better understand our intersecting identities, harmful cultural conditioning (mejorar la raza, pajons etc) and how to recognize opportunities to honor our differences whether it be our racial, gender, or sexual identities. I especially made this comic for my possible future children and nieces and nephews to read together. #afrolatinx #decolonize #naturalhair #natural #blackgirlmagic #qpoc #dominican #pajoncomic

A photo posted by Crystal aka shadowbeast (@dominicanbrujaprincess) on

As the issues unfold the older woman spends a chunk of time reflecting on how and why she decides to straighten her hair, but also how that seemingly innocuous choice affects her younger family member.

Pajon comic 🌼 Pagina 3.//You straighten your hair for every important event. And she has noticed this. She wants to be just like you. You spent hours straightening your hair and begin to wonder why you do it? To hear her say she doesn't love her squiggly hair broke your heart and you realize you are a part of her reasoning. ((The norm for a Latina woman is to straighten her hair when she wants to look especially beautiful. It's time to deconstruct that norm because it's hurting little girls...and it probably hurt you long ago when you first decided you looked more special with straight hair.))So you wash your hair that night and promise yourself to make choices independent of social norms. On special days you will wear your hair wild and free and on some days you might straighten your hair to then wear braids for a few weeks...whatever feels good to you🌼 #pajoncomic

A photo posted by Crystal aka shadowbeast (@dominicanbrujaprincess) on

On the second installment of her comic, Rodriguez challenges the many standards that are foisted onto young Latinxs against their usually naturally curvy figures, and conform to a more Eurocentric slim body.

And then lastly, she challenges again the idea of straight hair being the trend to follow.

Pajon comic; Issue 2//Pagina 3: After the hour 1/2 of rollers your hair is not straight enough. Your baby hairs stay resiliently curled. Those will be taken care of...your ears are burning because of the blow dryer and you have been sitting in a plastic silla sweat dripping down your thighs still getting your hair straightened. Meanwhile you watch your brothers get dressed and combed quickly and you wish you could look and be just like them because it is much easier to be handsome then to be beautiful and everyone looks at them like a prize. And you are jealous they are playing cars and you have to be punished with your hair being pulled and hot air turning your scalp red. You cry out and get up off the chair and say you don't want to go anywhere! #tantrum #genderbinary #decolonize #naturalhair #curlyhair #pajoncomic #beautiful

A photo posted by Crystal aka shadowbeast (@dominicanbrujaprincess) on

Yet regardless of the self-loathing episodes the protagonist in these comics goes through, she ends up finding solace in and acceptance of who she is. "La Niña who once hated her "squiggly" hair grew to love herself regardless of anyone's actions. She drew strength from a divine well inside her soul," Rodriguez captioned the picture on the 'gram. "Listened to an ancient voice that reminded her she was a Queen. Today she is an important figure in black identity and Afro Latinx identity politics. Her research and poetry has been published and widely shared."

“I wanted to deconstruct and decolonize my relationship to my body for my sake but also for the little ones in my family that are forming their identities and self-esteem based on the adults in their lives,” Rodriguez said. “I hope this comic can help us better understand our intersecting identities, harmful cultural conditioning and how to recognize opportunities to honor our differences, whether it is our racial, gender or sexual identities.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Sentenced To Life In Supermax Prison Plus 30 Years

After a three-month trial period, a Brooklyn judge sentenced Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to life in prison plus 30 years on Wednesday (July 17), CNN reports. The Mexico native faced 10 charges stemming from narcotic dealings that stretched into the United States, to other criminal activities including money laundering and murder conspiracy. He was once deemed the captain of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzman will reportedly carry out his sentence at Colorado’s Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, a place that the news site deemed “the highest-security federal prison” in the United States. According to The Washington Post, Guzman believes justice wasn’t served in his trial. “When extradited, I expected to have a fair trial where justice was blind and my fame would not be a factor, but what happened was actually the opposite,” he said. “The government of the United States will send me to a prison where my name will never be heard again. I will take this opportunity to say there was no justice here.”

According to CBS News, Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District, said in February that the possibility of parole was unlikely for Guzman. “His conviction is a victory for the American people who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border," he said. Guzman's attorney Mariel Colon said the legal team is weighing an appeal.

The government is also demanding that Guzman turn over $112.6 billion while a restitution fee will be solidified at a different point in time. The verdict arrives nearly two-and-a-half years since he was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico. While detained in the latter country, Guzman escaped from prison on two separate occasions before landing in captivity in the states.

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Gina Torres attends The Hollywood Reporter's Empowerment in Entertainment event 2019 at Milk Studios on April 30, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
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For Gina Torres, The Mission Is Afro-Latina Excellence In Her New Series 'Pearson'

That’s what the formidable Jessica Pearson, a disbarred New York lawyer who enters Chicago’s dirty politics as a fixer, warns her new boss, the mayor, in the trailer for the forthcoming Suits spin-off series, Pearson.

For fans of the eight-season USA Network legal drama, Jessica’s tough-talk and self-assurance is par for the course. Exuding power from the top of quick-witted head to the tips of her pointy stilettos, Jessica isn’t intimidated by status. An opportunity to tell the man how it only bolsters her own vigor. She’s commanding, incredibly skilled and feared–and she knows it. She’s the kind of powerhouse woman Gina Torres, the Cuban-American actress reprising the role, has taken on throughout her lengthy career.

“I’m very fortunate to play strong, significant women,” Torres, 50, tells Vibe Viva. “It’s been an incredible blessing and one I didn’t see coming early on.”

The Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised Torres got her start on the soap opera One Life To Live but has made a name for herself bringing sci-fi badasses to life. Famously playing Zoë Washburne, an ass-kicking fan favorite in Joss Whedon’s TV series Firefly, the Afro-Latina actress was also Nebula, a Sumerian princess and pirate in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; Jasmine, a demon who takes human form and devours people into her super slaves in Angel and woman warrior Hel in the two-season Cleopatra 2525–a role that won her an Alma Award.

The sci-fi goddess, who also had roles in Hannibal, Xena: Warrior Princess, Alias and Westworld, says she, like many aspiring actresses, initially pined for the coveted girlfriend part in films and shows about the mundane life of some American man. But she was rarely cast as anyone’s sweetheart. Instead, she says, each snub guided her down a more fulfilling theatrical path.

“I got to play far more interesting roles,” she says.

For Torres, Jessica’s comeback in Pearson is an evolution of all the fierce women she has played in the past. Unlike in Suits, where the character, a former managing partner at New York law firm Pearson Specter Litt, is somewhat of an enigma, its spin-off, which sees Jessica as its lead, introduces viewers to the complexity of an influential woman of color who understands her might and value.

She is, to quote Torres, a “fully realized human,” who we see restarting her life in the Windy City, navigating the cutthroat, grimy political world as the mayor’s right-hand, grappling with relationship woes that stem from her controversial career transition and reconciling her incessant impulse to win by any means necessary with her drive to do the right thing.

“As I have evolved over the years, as a woman and as an actress, Jessica is a beautiful realization of so many roads taken and not taken. It’s why I think this character will resonate with a lot of professional women,” Torres says. “It shows the sacrifices it takes, the things you have to go through and let go along the way, the rewards and benefits you gain as well as the peace you have to make with it all.”

The idea for the gripping new series, where Torres will make her co-executive production debut alongside Suits veterans Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin, came to the actress while she was home watching the 2016 election explode on her TV.

Looking at the key players, their nasty tactics and the cult-like supporters they cultivated from her small screen got her thinking about her former Suits character Jessica and how she might move in this messy political landscape.

“I was perplexed by the different characters who inhabited this world, and I have to say on both sides of the aisle. I was looking at blind loyalty, true believers, people who just want to power grab. I was fascinated by all of that,” Torres said. “Jessica, as a character, I think was particularly interesting to people because she was a loyal, intelligent character who did whatever she had to do to keep her people safe and the firm together. So I started to think of her in this political arena, because she does have a specific skill set that can be seen in a different way, but she ultimately wants to use her power for good.”

She brought the idea to her agent, who told her she “had a show,” and Suits creators agreed. The then-unnamed spin-off was picked up by the USA Network in March 2018. The series casts Morgan Spector (Homeland) as Chicago Mayor Bobby Novak, Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill) as an ambitious city attorney, Eli Goree (Riverdale) as a journalist-turned-press secretary, Chantel Riley (Wynonna Earp) as Angela Cook, Jessica's cousin, and Simon Kassianides (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as the mayor's tough-guy driver.

As a co-executive producer with influence behind the scenes, Torres has taken the responsibility to drive diversity in the writer’s room. To start, she pitched the character and arc for Yoli Castillo, a DREAMer who is just starting her career in Chicago politics as Jessica’s assistant, who will be played by Puerto Rican actress Isabel Arraiza (Driven).

“Because it was my idea and I brought it to them, the powers that be have been incredibly open to my story ideas and respectful to my original vision of the show, which was to create and mirror Chicago as it is: a diverse world, socioeconomically, culturally and racially,” she said.

Being in the room where stories are created and decisions are made, an experience Torres calls “incredible,” also helped her make a lifelong career dream come true: playing an Afro-Latina character.

“I was very specific about reinventing Jessica’s mythology and making sure, for the first time in my life, I would actually be playing an Afro-Latina character,” she said, excitedly. “In the past, it was never an issue for me because I wasn’t in a position of power, but now, in this instance, I was, and I got to say, ‘this is who she is and we are going to reintroduce her to the world as a proud Afro-Latina character.’”

The Black Cubana, who has played multiple African-American characters during the span of her career, has long called out the mainstream media’s Eurocentric representation of Latinidad.

In 2012, she discussed how casting directors continuously passed on her for Latinx roles in NBCUniverso’s documentary Black and Latino, famously saying, “When I became an actress, I quickly realized that 'the world' liked their Latinas to look Italian and not like me.”

The following year, she told Latina magazine that despite the film industry needing to “figure it out and catch up,” her view of herself never changed, adding, “I know who I am. I’m Cuban American.”

For a Black Latina trying to make it in an industry that not only didn’t understand her but operated to erase her from the popular imagination of Latinidad, self-awareness was survival.

“They didn’t care about the Latina part of me at all because I didn’t look like the Spanish, Eurocentric standard of what Latina women were supposed to look like. But the way I counteracted that was by hiding in plain sight, never pretending to be anything but what I was,” she told Vibe Viva.

Years after Torres criticized the media’s whitewashing of Latinidad, we are seeing more Afro-Latinx characters on TV. On FX, the drama series Pose, which follows the lives of trans and queer African American and Latinx young people in New York's ballroom scene in the late '80s and early '90s, Afro-Puerto Rican actress Mj Rodriguez and the nonconforming Puerto Rican-Dominican-Haitian performer Indya Moore both play lead trans Afro-Latina characters. In the streaming space, even wider representation of Afro-Latinidad is prevalent, with Black Latina main cast members in Orange is the New Black, The Get Down and On My Block.

“We’ve always been around, Afro-Latinx people, gay people, indigenous people, we’ve always been here. Dealing with immigration, diversity, LGBTQ rights and inclusivity isn’t new,” Torres said. “The fact that there has been such a stranglehold on acceptance and inclusivity really boggles the mind. All of our contributions through time are significant, and so what this, [having women of color behind the scenes], brings is a point of view, a truth to what life is, a truth to how society functions.”

While there have been gains for Afro-Latinxs in film and TV in recent years, Torres’ anticipated role in Pearson marks another feat: it’s among the first hour-long, primetime network drama series to have an Afro-Latina lead, alongside FX’s Pose. While social media has been abuzz, praising the legend actress for the triumph, and Torres, too, understands its significance, she also recognizes that representation, alone, is never enough.

“My hope is that people watch the show and enjoy it because it is a great show and the performance is wonderful. I want people to get sucked into it because the success of the show means that I get to be on television for other girls, boys and women like us,” she said. “It’s not always about what you see, but about excellence and creating excellence. So often we are told our stories don’t matter or the talent pool isn’t wide enough, so we need excellence and success for this to last.”

If there’s one thing we can expect from both Torres and Jessica, it’s Afro-Latina excellence.

Pearson airs on the USA Network starting July 17, 2019.

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Cardi B departs from court after being arraigned on misdemeanor assault charges at the Queens Criminal Court on June 25, 2019 in New York City.
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Cardi B Rightfully Slams Lawyer For Obsessing Over Her Courtroom Attire

Cardi B responded to criticism from celebrity defense lawyer Joe Tacopina who is turned off by the entertainers designer duds. In an interview with the New York Post, he went on to say that the entertainer treats her courthouse visits "like a runway show."

Tacopina is representing sisters Sarah and Rachel Wattley, the alleged victims in the rapper's strip club assault case.

"Here's a woman who got indicted by a grand jury with charges, and appears to only be concerned about what she's wearing," the celebrity defense attorney said. pointing to moments where she wore a Barneys pink pantsuit and other luxury items.

"There's going to be a 'Come to Jesus' moment with her, because it's not consistent with someone who's taking this seriously."

Billboard reports that the 26-year-old rapper posted a series of since-deleted Instagram videos, which have resurfaced to YouTube, to chime in on Tacopina's comments on Sunday (July 14). "I don't dress inappropriately when I go to court. I dress like a young f**king lady," she said "Where am I supposed to get my suits from, H&M? Why are you worried about the way I dress?"

The "Rodeo" artist continued to explain that she appeared in court looking opposite of her put together runway-esque self, without wearing makeup or brushing hair. "That just goes to show you that y'all do this s**t for press. I went to court six times already for a f**king misdemeanor," she said.

She is currently facing two felony counts and a list of other lesser charges that were followed by an indictment in June.

View Cardi's full response above.

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