What a Revolutionary Is Made Of

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“Sometimes, the greatest safety can be found in taking the right risk. Whether it be an individual, a community or a country, when faced with tragedy or fearful uncertainty, we either become bigger and enter life more fully, or else we accept a diminished life and resign ourselves to a smaller way of being.”

Michael Meade

By: Gabriela Yareliz

We watched The Banker on Apple TV, today. I don’t do dramas well. I was sitting there, holding my breath, wondering what would go wrong at every turn. It was based on true events, after all. Don’t expect a fairytale there.

This whole post is a spoiler– you have been warned.

SPOILER ALERT: It was a film about two brilliant men (black entrepreneurs) who hire a white factory worker to partner with them and be the face of their real estate deals, as this takes place in the 60s in the US. They were determined to get paid for their talent; they did things legally in a time of rampant discrimination and at the same time opened doors for others and invested back into their own community. They become the nation’s two first African American bankers. Joe was experienced and distrustful; Bernard was an idealist and as Joe calls him– a “revolutionary.”

I think the most impactful part of the film is at the end, where they are about to be imprisoned for something they did not do. They could have lied and gone along with a political agenda that would have saved their butts (the white men around them urged them to go this route), but instead, they chose to speak truth to power, even though they had everything to lose (and did). They lost a lot personally, but their courage impacted an entire nation.

When Bernard Garrett testifies, we don’t know what will happen in the film. But he does the right thing. The truthful thing.

“Mr. Chairman, our nation’s founding documents declare that all men are created equal, and endeavor to create a society where citizens receive the equal protection of our laws. It’s a noble goal. But we all know, for many citizens it’s a lie.”

Bernard Garrett

As I watched this final scene– it sent chills up my spine. I believe it was three years later that the Fair Housing Act was passed– which changed so much for so many Americans. What is my point in giving you this final scene of this film? It blows my mind how we continue to celebrate these true heroes who sacrificed so much for equality, and yet we continue to design laws and regulations that discriminate against so many, even today, in real time. We are arrogant and petty little bastards who have lost all sense of decency, honor and brotherhood.

We live in a time when so many are losing their livelihoods and rights. Right now– under the governments of our time. This is especially ironic and sad when this country’s foundational documents remain the same. A beacon of light that enshrine a freedom and equal opportunity that make remarkable stories like these possible. This film was a reminder that while some may seem idealistic and out of touch with reality because of the risks they take and how they pursue their ideals– what this idealism does is it fuels a revolutionary spirit that effects real change. Change that makes things possible.

A revolutionary: sees the world as it should be and fights for that; is selfless enough to guarantee freedom and opportunity for all; has unbeatable work ethic; speaks truth to power; stands up when he/she is told to sit down; refuses to be used as a puppet in empty agendas; refuses coercion for personal gain; is generous and gives back to the community; lives with integrity, even when it comes with personal loss; and is often on a solitary road. Is a Christian called to anything less?

“Even a rigged game’s fun to play.”

Joe Morris

Real change never comes without sacrifice, without integrity, and without going against the grain. As we see in the day-to-day of our reality, perhaps it is the human fate to never understand this, but as shown in The Banker, only the few greats do.

Carried Home

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Recently, my fiancé (yes– you read that right!) and I were driving back from a farm outside of the city. Taconic State Parkway, y’all. Unwillingly crawling our way back into Gotham City. It was late, and it’s a dark highway. The only thing illuminating those narrow, dark winding roads was the occasional oncoming and flow traffic. When no one else was around, we were submerged in utter darkness. I would look into my side mirror to what was behind us, and it was a black hole abyss. We were driving on those roads like a blind man groping his way out.

These have been unmistakably strange and dark times. We treat those who don’t think like us as enemies, and we will sacrifice the livelihood of others for our own arrogance and illusion of safety. Logic has been kidnapped. We are led by cowards and informed by the corrupt (and I mean this on a global scale). For those of us who diligently study Scripture and prophecy, it has been a time of a lot of reflection. I heard recently, that knowledge without preparation and action around that knowledge is worth very little. It’s common sense, but few of us live in that way, truly.

When we see how things evolve, how quickly people are deceived and swept away in participating in behaviors and thought patterns based on their comforts, conveniences and fears– it’s alarming. It should cause us to look at ourselves. This ain’t nothing, yet, as they say. So this brings us to questions of introspection like, Am I ready for what is to come? Do I have the integrity to stand for something, though the heavens fall? What does it mean to listen to the conscience rather than to a fellow man?

I think we look at heroes of the past, and we glorify and romanticize their stories, failing to realize how hated they were, how ostracized they were, and how many of them became martyrs. We don’t understand that people were arrested, beaten, hosed down– people were killed for what they believed in. And in many places, they still are. We like the ideas of integrity, strength and ideals of freedom and respect but are often not willing to pay the price to keep or protect them.

Highways and country roads without lights are a thing. And let me tell you, in the fall and winter, it gets dark faster, yes, the days are shorter, but we also experience a whole different level of darkness in these colder seasons. The nights are not only longer, but they feel darker. Much darker. I was discussing this with my grandfather. He was telling me that on his long commute, he takes these dark, “wolf’s mouth” roads. He told me that despite having taken this route for years on end, the darkness can still feel disorienting. There are times where he isn’t sure if he is still going the right way. He told me that when he doubts, he tries to think of how it worked out in the past. His gut reassures him.

I think life can feel this way when it’s dark. I think we are all experiencing some kind of a dark fall and winter, whether we realize it or not. Some of us are very aware, while others proceed with an unease and dread, numbed by distraction. It feels like we are speeding through a dark road where we can’t even see two feet in front of us and what lies behind us looks like an abyss.

A car has its own lights, and even that can start to feel dull after awhile. What helps is when other cars with their own lights come and unite on the journey. More clarity comes.

My grandfather told me something interesting. You see, I told him I was sure winter was even more hellish, with all of the moist and glistening lake effect MI snow. He told me it was the opposite. This surprised me. He told me that on a winter night, when there was snow coating the ground, there was light everywhere. The snow acts as a reflector of the moon, if there is one, and all other minor lights around. He said that when it snows, a car with no lights could conceivably make it home okay because of the amplified brightness.

So, on an even darker night than a fall night, if there is a blanket of snow and the accompanying dormant silence of nature, all is bright to see. This reminded me that on the darkest of all nights, we can still find an abundance of light.

Sometimes, it takes utterly and completely dark moments to give us the clarity we need. On a night that may be filled with the impossibility that sometimes looks like feet of snow, the path can be revealed. We are no longer groping our way home but instead we are carried home by the light.

The Problem-Solver: Tata Harper

Image via Zoe Report

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Tata Harper began her eponymous clean skincare company when she started helping her stepfather, who was diagnosed with skin cancer, to make some lifestyle changes. She couldn’t find the products he needed, so she made them. She said, “No one should have to sacrifice their health for their beauty.” (Source) When she is not in the lab, she is with her kiddos.

She shared with Skincare.com: “Being a Latin woman definitely has not brought me any disadvantages. I think the one advantage it has given me is how beauty-oriented Latin culture is. I work in an industry that has been ingrained into every aspect of my life since I was a little girl in Colombia, so I was able to infuse that cultural passion for beauty into my company and everything we do.” (Source) Tata Harper is a problem-solver. It is because of this that she is an #orgullohispano.

The Representative: Nicole Malliotakis

Thenationalherald.com

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am proud to feature my congress rep (11th Congressional District), Nicole Malliotakis. I have never been prouder of voting for someone than I have been with her. I have voted for her on multiple occasions (like when she ran for NYC mayor in 2017), and she has done a phenomenal job as our rep. Our half-Greek/half-Cuban rep is someone who deeply cares about the Brooklyn/Staten Island community and our veterans. She helps community members through the citizenship process, and just recently, she got a family out of Afghanistan. Ms. Malliotakis, thank you for your hard work, integrity and dedication. It is because of this that you are an #orgullohispano.

The Comedian: LeJuan James

Image from Thrift Books

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am not really sure what I can say about half-Dominican/half-Puerto Rican LeJuan James. He is wickedly funny. He became famous through his YouTube Channel where he makes light of our culture’s quirks and imitates our mothers when they would lecture us. What Hispanic person hasn’t sent one of these videos to a friend or even their own family? He has this incredible ability to bring back nostalgia and all the right intonations that remind us of our childhood.

Despite the fun he pokes at our family/culture dynamics that are less than perfect, he is all about family. In his wigs, he always brings joy to a dark day– LeJuan James is an #orgullohispano.

Image via Thirftbooks

The Attorney: Kimberly Guilfoyle

Image via Bustle

By: Gabriela Yareliz

When I first heard of Kimberly Guilfoyle, I’ll admit I judged her based on politics (as an Independent, both parties are fair game. Ha!) When I researched more about her, I realized that she was raised by a Puerto Rican mother who was a special education teacher. Her mother passed away due to cancer when Kimberly was 11. Despite her loss at such a young age, Kimberly later went on to law school, became a prosecutor, became an assistant district attorney in SF, then First Lady of SF, then she worked at Fox News from 2006 to 2018, and then became an adviser to the 45th President.

I read that as a kid, she tried out for a boys’ soccer team and made the team. I admire her go-getter attitude that has brought her very far. She works hard, no matter what you think about her politics.

The List wrote of her, “As an adviser to the White House, Guilfoyle has shown that with hard work and nurtured ambition, anything is possible.” #orgullohispano

Advice from Kimberly: “You better have thick skin, for sure, but you also need to laugh at yourself.” (Source)

The Fighters: Nikki and Brie Bella

Image via wrestlingforum.com

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am a HUGE Nikki and Brie Bella fan. Their beautiful book, Incomparable, details growing up with a young mom and dad who were in an abusive relationship, how they were a surprise to a teen mom, their difficult and almost nonexistent childhood, their parent’s divorce, rape, the death of a loved boyfriend, and then how they started the journey to become the WWE’s most famous “diva” faces and fighters.

From a small suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona to being on WWE, Total Divas, Total Bellas (on E!), their famous YouTube channel, owning Birdiebee, Nicole+Brizee Beauty, and their wine company— these half-Mexican women are expanding their empire with each passing year. What I love about them is how they represent our culture with so much strength and dignity. They are examples of fitness; through their YouTube channel and podcast they encourage education and learning (even if it’s by making fun of themselves in trivia games like Bella Brains); they have fostered a community that is amazing #BellaArmy; and have overcome many past obstacles and shown the rewards of hard work.

Nikki Bella is the longest individual reigning Diva Champion in WWE history. Nicole came back to the ring 7 months after she essentially broke her neck and had surgery. After retirement, both were recently inducted into the WWE hall of fame.

Nikki and Brie Bella are an example to young women everywhere. They are an #orgullohispano.

The Actor: Luis Guzmán

Image from Pinterest

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Those who know me, know that this man makes me smile. (Nothing Like the Holidays is a classic. That scene when they play baseball in the snow…). I think it’s fair to call Luis Guzmán an actor and comedian. The roles he takes often make us laugh. He is someone who has given the gift of joy to the world.

Guzmán was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico and grew up in NYC’s Lower East Side. He worked as a social worker (American University graduate– bet you didn’t know that!) and did acting on the side for fun, until his career took off. If you look at his filmography and TV appearances, there is a good chance he has been in something you have watched. Luis Guzmán, you have overcome obstacles and made a life beyond your wildest dreams. Because of this, eres un #orgullohispano.

“We know how to open the door now and walk in.”

Image via Giphy

The Designer: Nancy Gonzalez

Image via Dallas Culture Map

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Her python bags go for thousands. You may remember that memorable closet scene in The Devil Wears Prada when her name is mentioned as Andy is handed a teal bag. Colombian-born designer Nancy Gonzalez has infiltrated the American and global handbag fashion world to the point of making her iconic. Her first collection debuted in 1998 in Bergdorf Goodman. (Source)

Since then, celebrities and important public figures have worn her Cali-made artisan bags. “She is a driving force for social change, employing almost all women and providing day-care for their children. Nancy strives to instill her employees with dignity, optimism and structure by providing a rewarding work environment.” (Source) She is described as a true visionary and artist. Nancy Gonzalez has been a fashion trailblazer and an example to mothers and Hispanic women everywhere. She has shown us that you can use your creativity to be a force in your community, elevate it and bring beauty into the world. This is why Nancy Gonzalez is an #orgullohispano.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Image via Playintoit.com

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! There is so much happening in the world– it’s hard to know where to look. Still, you know I believe in celebrating the good stuff. Life needs more of that. I often focus on one of the attributes I love about my culture, in this first post. Last year, I focused on joy.

This year, I want to focus on our strength. In these tough times, it has become pretty obvious to spot people who haven’t had many bad days in their life. It was reflected in the hysteria and lack of stability in so much that has been expressed. I will say that one of the many things I admire about my culture is that while we have been through some dark days and nights, we use this to be stable and resilient in unpredictable circumstances. We have a deep strength that allows us to dig our feet into the ground and still stand, in the craziest of storms. Part of that strength is our faith. It’s like a solid cinder block in our core.

I am always excited to feature some Hispanic folks who have made their mark and left their impact on this country (and on the world), paving the way for all of us. The stories around us remind us that anything is possible.

Typically, in my intro post (see last year’s here), I include some of the music I have been jamming out to.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month. Choose strength. And never forget the joy that comes with it, no matter how dark the night.

Stay tuned. We will be honoring some of the greats. xx

Image via Animo