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'Afuera' Exposes The Real World Of An Undocumented Latinx Transgender Woman

"When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration."

Afuera, a short film directed by Steven Liang and written by Steven Canals, shows the harsh realities undocumented transgender women face everyday. The film tells the story of Jennifer, (played by transgender Mexican actress Jennifer London) who by any means necessary has to survive working the streets. Amid her illegal immigration status, she’s succumbed to a drug addiction and is simultaneously forced to deal with the sharp parallels of being in love.

For Liang, it was pivotal to create a project that showcased these struggles because often times these stories go untold.   “I really wanted to focus on the Latina transgender community because the undocumented process has never been talked about before,” he says seated on a small velvet couch inside the pressroom for the LA Film Festival, on the third floor of The Culver Hotel. “When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration. We see Caitlyn Jenner and Transparent, but we don’t see the other side with the struggles that undocumented and immigrant women go through on a daily basis.”

Within these struggles comes the big issue surrounding the incarceration of illegal trans people. Most are housed in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers. According to a report released by the Human Rights Watch this March, of the estimated 30,000 immigrants detained in a day, at least 65 are transgender women. Most face sexual abuse and a slew of discriminations. Liang notes this is a subject he wishes to tackle further if the film or something similar expands into something larger.

“There are a lot of transgender sisters in the immigration detention centers. They have really really sad stories,” Jennifer points out, “but stories that can be good to show. So [people] can understand before they judge a person that is undocumented or from another country because sometimes they come running away from violence.”

Besides showing the main subject navigate an unstable life in the world of sex work, Liang also made sure to chronicle a love story all the while, as Jennifer is in a committed relationship with Pedro (played by Colombian actor Santiago Malkuth).

Within their love, you’ll see the plight of Jennifer struggling to oblige to Pedro’s demands of not resorting to sex work, something that inevitably doesn’t end up happening. Yet, Liang does what few have done, and that is to showcase a love narrative involving a transgender person, which in turn, depicts how difficult it is for a trans person to find love in a patriarchal society overflowing with anti-LGBT views.

Seated across from Liang sporting a black fedora hat, Malkuth echoes these sentiments. “I want people to pay attention to the love story because it’s really hard for a trans person to fall in love and have a long term relationship,” he says. “And the struggles that all the people who decide to love a trans person go through. That’s an issue that a lot of people are not aware of.”

In addition to this rarely told account, keeping the script in Spanish with English subtitles makes the movie feel a lot more authentic to the message it's trying to convey. (This holds true with how diverse the cast is—the majority of color and subscribing to the LGBTQ community.)

Visually, the film excels in showcasing the many issues that keep Jennifer at the margins of  society. Through dark and gritty imagery of Los Angeles streets, you’ll see her on a hunt for her vices  with the desperation of still keeping Pedro's love and surviving. One scene in particular hits home when she is seen at a taco joint in a seemingly rough part of town. There she confronts two other Latina trans women for her drugs. After the scuffle, one suggests she get out of selling her body in exchange for survival, while the other reminds her of the impossibility as she is undocumented.

Harsh? Yes. But that’s exactly the point London wants the masses to take with them after watching Afuera: how hard it really is being trans and undocumented. What's more, she hopes people see Jennifer as human. “It’s more than just a transgender sex worker movie,” she says. “Transgender women are more than that. We are girls filled with dreams. And we want to fall in love with somebody, and live a life with somebody and grow old with them. I would like people to see the passion that Jennifer has for life, and the warrior that she is everyday."

“We decided specifically not to translate it into English because ‘Afuera’ in Spanish means outside and it has the connotation of freedom and feeling liberated,” Liang says when asked of the meaning behind the film’s title. “It takes so much courage for an undocumented trans women just to be outside and live their lives like a regular person out in the open. That dichotomy was really intriguing because you have to live and in order to live you have to be in public.”

Afuera premiered on June 3 at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more information on the film you can click on, here.

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Nick Rice

The 25 Best Latinx Albums Of 2019

As we inch closer to the end of another memorable chapter in music, the Spanish-language gap gets bigger by the day. To anyone who believed reggaeton's second coming or Latin trap was a trend were gravely mistaken as artists across the diaspora found success on the charts and in the streaming world. Artists like Bad Bunny, Rosalía and J Balvin continued to thrive off last year's releases while dropping memorable singles (and joint projects). Others like Sech broke the mold for the marriage of hip-hop and reggaeton with Panamanian pride. Legends like Mark Anthony and Ivy Queen reminded us of their magic while rising artists like Rico Nasty, DaniLeigh and Melii provided major star power and creative visuals for their tunes. Latinx music has continued to push boundaries and the same goes for our list.

Enjoy our ranking of the 25 best Latinx albums of 2019.

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Kidnapped UPS Driver's Family Blames Florida Police For His Death

As an investigation kicks off involving several police officers and armed robbers, the family of Frank Ordoñez is demanding more than just answers about the father of two's tragic death.

On Thursday (Dec. 5), Ordoñez was killed when officers and two armed men exchanged gunfire in Broward County, Florida after the suspects robbed a jewelry store. Police were notified of what transpired at Regent Jewelers through a silent holdup alarm at 4:17 pm, Police Chief Edward J. Hudak Jr. told CNN.

The men identified by the Miami FBI as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, left the store and hijacked Ordoñez's truck and fled at least 25 miles on the interstate. Police followed the truck as the chase was aired live on television. After coming to an intersection around 5:35 pm, the UPS truck stopped. The 27-year-old tried to escape but was killed in the gunfire the officers had with Hill and Alexander.

The FBI identifies the two deceased individuals responsible for yesterday's jewelry store robbery, carjacking/kidnapping and shootings as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, both of Miami-Dade County. If anyone has information about these crimes, call 1-855-352-7233

— FBI Miami (@FBIMiamiFL) December 6, 2019

Bystander footage revealed 11 officers were involved in the shooting with some of them using bystander vehicles to shield themselves for a better defense. An unidentified bystander was also killed in the shooting. It's currently unknown if Ordoñez and the other victim were hit with bullets from police or the armed suspects.

Ordoñez's family has shared their grief and confusion over what happened and questioned how the police reacted to the incident."For this to happen, I think, is just unnecessary," Joe Merino, his stepfather told NBC's Today show. "Other tactics should have been applied, and they weren't, so when I say the word devastated, it's an understatement."

Ordoñez's brother Roy said he "was just going to work to provide for his two little girls," by taking over someone else's shift. It was also his first time as a driver in his five-year employment with the company. Roy launched a GoFundMe to cover funeral costs as well as an education fund his brother originally had with UPS. "Please don't let my brother's death be for nothing," he said. "Police need to be held accountable." So far, the GoFundMe has raised over $50,000–well ahead of the family's request of $20,000.

"It's a nightmare. It's a bad dream that I hope to wake up from and see him here." Joe Merino the stepfather of UPS driver Frank Ordonez

— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) December 6, 2019

His sister Genny Merino blamed the police for their brother's death."Today I lost my brother, because of the negligence and stupidity of the police," Merino posted on Twitter with a video memorial. "Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware of how stupid these cops are."

Today I lost my brother, because of the fucking negligence and stupidity of the police. Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware how stupid these cops are.

— genny♡ (@geneviemerino) December 6, 2019

The FBI, as well as The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are both investigating the incident.

Ordoñez's family aren't the only ones questioning the actions of the police. Supporters of the GoFundMe called out the police as well. "Que descanses en paz Hermano.... Condolencias para ti y tus seres queridos. Que mal ejemplo estas chotas de la ley de Estados Unidos valen pa puro SORPETES!!," one supporter said which translates roughly to: "May your brother rest in peace. Condolences to you and your loved ones. The law enforcement in the United States sets a bad example, purely surprised!"

Ordoñez's employer UPS was also met with criticism for praising the efforts of the law enforcement for the incident. "We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," they said in a statement on Twitter. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employees and the other innocent victims involved in this incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation."

See the reactions below.

Not sure there's a better illustration for how little your boss cares about you than UPS thanking the cops for shooting their driver to death

— tinybaby (@tinybaby) December 6, 2019

This is a weird way to spell “We are deeply saddened to learn Frank Ordonez, a UPS employee, was a victim of negligent police officers who murdered him and another innocent bystander today. We will ensure his family, especially his two young daughters, are financially cared for.”

— Grace (@graceporta) December 6, 2019

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Courtesy of Crudo Means Raw

Premiere: Crudo Means Raw And Mabiland Reunite For Jazzy Single "La Titular"

R&B in Español isn't a new exploration, but rapper/producer Crudo Means Raw and vocalist Mabiland's latest collaboration makes it feel scared and fresh. The Colombian artists have joined forces once again for "La Titular," a thoughtful blend of dembow-funk and jazzy chords guaranteed to entice a body roll or two.

Crudo views the track as a moody rap number which makes sense given his inspirations like a Tribe Called Quest, CL Smooth and Sade. In addition to notes of love on "La Titular" it's also one of self-reflection. “La Titular" came at a time when we both found emotional stability and a couple of complicated queens," Mabiland tells VIBE VIVA. "It is also true that it emerged at a time of many changes where in progress; both changing as people, and somehow everything was also in a transition. I always enjoy being able to work with a man I am a fan of and who I call a friend." The two scored a hit last year in the Afro-Colombian fusion space and beyond with “La Mitad De La Mitad,” leading Crudo to collaborate with Juanes and former high school classmate J Balvin.

"All over the city, they were banging that track in nightclubs,” he told Rolling Stone about the track. “It would be the 2 a.m. part of the party where it gets really grimy and ratchet, and they would play my song.” If "La Mitad De La Mitad" is the turn-up, "La Titular" is definitely the futuristic Quiet Storm turn down. Other players on the track include guitarist Byron Sánchez and Las musas (Sandra Moore , Amuna y Alie) on the chorus.


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LA TITULAR @mabiland x @crudomeansraw de aleteo en Medellín el próximo 7 de diciembre. Boletería en: @salallenacom @cooltoarteycalle Dj invitados: @tesheeee @tornall Visual x @ednadaism

A post shared by Mabiland (@mabiland) on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:03am PDT

Enjoy "La Titular" below.

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