Parkland Florida Mass Shooting: No More Thoughts and Prayers

On Valentines Day, the United States proved yet again that the second amendment is more important than the safety of American school children.

We let 17 high schoolers die because the backbone of the American government refuses to take action on gun control reform in a country that has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world.

That is why I am incredibly comfortable saying that member of congress who voted against gun reform is complacent in these violent, senseless and all too familiar murders.

Students walk in line after being evacuated from Parkland High School

A common rebuttal to this argument is that the problem isn’t the amount of guns but the mental stability of the people pulling the trigger.

You’re right, guns can’t shoot themselves.

But without the unprecedented access given to terrorists to buy guns at high quantities with unchecked amounts of magazines used in mass shootings – America wouldn’t be synonymous with this kind of unspeakable violence.

Addressing the “mental stability” excuse commonly used after mass shootings – a study referenced in Politico found those with serious mental illness are responsible less than 1 percent of all gun-related homicides annually in the United States and 14.8 percent of all of the mass shootings.

Blaming mental illness when talking about mass shootings is a copout.

We need to address the real and ugly issue at hand.  America is complacent in these mass shootings due to the unprecedented access to firearms for practically anyone who wants to buy a gun.

If we had stricter gun control laws, there would be no Sandy Hook. There would be no Columbine. There would be no Las Vegas. There would be no Parkland High School.

Graph from L.A Times showing Parkland, FL in relation to America’s worst mass shootings

As humans first and Americans second , we can no longer fuel our moral high ground by simply spreading “thoughts and prayers” on social media in an effort to prove to our friends and family that we care about these kids lives.  If you are serious about your empathy and disgust at these mass murders then you need to combine your thoughts and prayers with action.

If you actually care, you will show up and vote in 2018 elections for candidates who support gun control reform. You will write to your congresspeople, everyday, and demand they take action on this epidemic.  You will support non-profit organizations, like EveryTown, that work to end gun violence and build safer communities.  You will not forget this mass shooting next week when the media coverage slows down. You will speak up about issues that matter.

If you remain silent, I will take your silence as complacency and that the mass murder of American children isn’t an important issue to you.


What does “Latinx” Mean?

Hola! Last night I had the honor of attending an event on the University of Iowa’s campus discussing Latinx identity. Panelists were a mix of students and faculty and were asked a series of questions pertaining to their own struggles coming to terms with what it means to be Latinx.

Latinx is relatively new term so lets dive in a little bit about what it means before we go any further. It’s a gender neutral term used for those who identity with their Latin American heritage. It denotes the “o” and “a” traditionally used at the end of “Latina” and “Latino” to signify a persons gender in an effort to be more inclusive to those outside of the gender binary.

From Refinery 29’s article:  This Is Where the Word “Latinx” Comes From”

In 2017, NBC News did a report on the term and showed that there is mixed feelings among the Hispanic community whether or not to use the term. Quoted in the article, Roy Pérez, an associate professor of English and American Ethnic Studies at Willamette University said that the resistance to inclusivity is what turns people off from using LATINX.

“‘The underlying gender critique is what fuels hatred towards Latinx,” he said. “But why should we only have one word to describe ourselves? Latinx is just one solution to the complexity and slipperiness of labelling Latinos. And it doesn’t have to supplant other words.”

Make sure to check out the NBC article mentioned above – they do a great job of explaining the new term and getting the full scope of mixed feelings among the Hispanic community.

Now, back to the panel I attended last night. As a woman who identifies as Latina, it really opened my eyes to the diversity and mix of identities within the Hispanic community. There are so many ways to be apart of this community and not one way is the “right” way. A panelist, Danielle Martinez, used the term “imposter syndrome” to describe how she feels about her Latinx identity because she isn’t a fluent spanish speaker and said that there is a shame and guilt associated with trying to fit into a mold of what traditionally is considered Latina/o.

“There is a  shame and guilt that comes with who is and isn’t Latinx,”

When she used the term “imposter syndrome” a lightbulb went off above my head. It was the perfect term to what I had been struggling with my whole life. I identify as a Latina woman but I don’t have dark skin, my father is white so I took his last name and I don’t speak Spanish. I always felt the need to prove myself or give people a whole monologue about my Hispanic roots when the topic was brought up. I even felt embarrassed saying I was a Latina in front of people I perceived as more Hispanic than I am.

But the truth is I grew up in a very strong maternal Mexican household with the values, culture and history being passed down to me from my Mom and Grandma. My cousins may have a different experience than my sister and I because we were the only ones who lived near Grandma and Great Aunts growing up (still do) in a city with a rich Hispanic population and were exposed to our Hispanic roots more.

I can’t even begin to tell you all the parties we went to with mariachi bands or the amount of times people would tell me how proud I should be to come from the Rocha family who did so much for the Hispanic community where I grew up. I wrote a bit about my grandpa being one of the founding members of the League of Latin American Citizens in a post awhile ago which gives you more insight to where my advocacy roots come from.

What I’m trying to say is I carry my Latinx identity with me everywhere I go and this panel gave me the strength to me embrace my identity and not have to feel as if I have to prove anything to anyone.

I am a Latina woman – nobody can take that away from me.

If you want to check out some highlights from the panel – I was live instagramming it so here are some of the best moments.

Activism Quotes That Keep Me Fired Up

As the former, and iconic, President Obama use to say: Fired up and ready to go! But maintaining that go-getter attitude can be really hard.

Life gets busy, people can be mean and sometimes the world seems so doomed that you  just want to lay in bed and watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix.

In order to keep up morale and brighten up either a situation or my overall mood, I look at my inspirational board I created with some of my favorite quotes from people that have shaped my outlook on the world and made it a better place through their activism. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today to keep you motivated and fired up and ready to take on this Monday!

Creating lasting change has never been easy. Especially for minority populations who don’t have the luxury of being able to pick and choose when they will be active members in the fight for equality.

It’s an every day job. A 24/7 gig.

Looking at these bright, colorful and uplifting images helps me maintain my focus and grounds me in the mission ahead – equality for all.

The Power of the #MeToo Movement

trigger warning: this post mentions sexual assault.

Women and girls around the world have mobilized into a sisterhood in rebellion to the culture of protection that allowed them to suffer at the hands of men who took advantage of them. Meet the #MeToo Movement.

Continue reading “The Power of the #MeToo Movement”

LGBT History Month: The History and Importance

In October we’re not only celebrating the month of Halloween, the birth of Hillary Clinton and the resurgence of Pumpkin Spice Lattes – we’re honoring members of the LGBT community with the beginning of LGBT History Month.

If you’re like me and love learning about history and the stories of those who helped shape it – you’re going to love LGBT History Month.

Continue reading “LGBT History Month: The History and Importance”