Would you look at that? We are able to enter into 2020 and I’ve yet to catch my breath. It feels like that happened at the snap of a finger, but the reality is that we’ve all been through some craziness this year. These past twelve months have given us happiness, uncertainty, but most of all, it’s given us the ability to understand how important it is to persevere.
The year 2019 also gifted the world many moments where Latinas slayed unapologetically. These Latinas showed us what it was like to put their minds to their goals and get it done. They let us know that anything is possible despite what the mass majority may think. They, without a doubt, are shaping a more inclusive world — the type of world we’ve been needing for a while. So, without further ado, the following are some of the badass Latinas that killed it in 2019.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)
Ever since her impressive win last year as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, AOC has been unstoppable. She’s been working hard towards everything she’s promised. This is why it’s significant to mention the Green New Deal she released earlier this year alongside Senator Edward Markey. Staying true to her word, this ambitious proposal was set out to battle against climate and economic inequality. This takes courage as she’s trekking on grounds few have walked before and she isn’t backing down. I know many people try to discredit her, but there’s no denying how inspirational her drive is.
The Mexican-Chilean artist made headlines earlier this year after her appearance on the Latin Grammys red carpet. She usually graces the world with her eccentric style of music and her expressive art, but this time she became the art piece herself. In order to shine light on the dire situation Chile is going through, she posed topless with a large message written on her bare chest stating: “En Chile torturan, violan y matan.” Translated in English the writing on her said: “They’re torturing, raping, and killing in Chile.” Prior to Laferte’s topless message, Chileans were being exposed to troublesome situations after the subway fare increase back in October. Laferte felt the need to engage in this demonstration of political activism to give her people from Chile a voice from a situation that only seemed to worsen. Shortly after this took place, social media platforms, such as Instagram tried to censor her hashtag #monlaferte, but the message had been received by then. Thanks to her, many started talking about Chile’s inhumane circumstance and it’s now becoming an international interest. That night she also won Best Alternative Album. Without a doubt, Mon Laferte knows no limit. A true example for Latinas everywhere.
In a moment worthy to be recorded in history, Regina Romero became the first Latina mayor in Tucson, Arizona. According to CNBC, she was raised by her immigrant parents in Somerton, Arizona. Despite all the obstacles that surrounded her, Romero, a Democrat, was able to gain the seat after defeating her opponents by a little over 87,000 ballots.
After Puerto Rico’s scandal this summer, Wanda Vàzquez became the second woman governor Puerto Rico has ever had. She recently placed her bid to officially run for governor in 2020 and is already going into her campaign in full effect. It should bring pride to many knowing that a Latina is among the few women leaders around the world.
For the most part, Colombia is an extremely Catholic and conservative country. It has continuously implemented antiquated mentalities and tolerance didn’t seem to be among their top priorities. However, Colombia’s views have been shifting recently. This comes with a huge breath of relief because the world is changing and it’s time to join the path of advanced development Colombia is capable of accomplishing.
This is where Claudia Lopez comes in. Breaking the barriers of the dated conservatism Colombia was used to, she became the first openly lesbian mayor in Bogotá . She defied the hatred that laced the conservatives and persevered. A few years back, this would’ve created a collective outrage all through Colombia (though many currently still oppose this), the support is immense among many groups. Not so long ago, Lopez married her girlfriend and happily shared the news with the world. This might seem like a small step to many, but it’s a large step when it comes to the progress of a country.
The “Bodak Yellow” artist has gained plenty of recognition since her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy.” From then on, she’s become the first person ever of Dominican descent to top the Hot 100 chart. The year 2019 also brought her some goodies that merit celebration. She had her first Hollywood role in J Lo’s critically-acclaimed movie, Hustlers. Aside from that, she became the first female rapper to receive a cover of Vogue. I know Cardi B doesn’t need mo’ press, but there’s no way we can disregard her achievements. So, Bardi and Bardi Gang, keep doing your thing. Okurrr?
Though Los Angeles has quite the Latinx population, it hadn’t had a Latina president overlooking the City Council. Well, that is until Nury Martinez stepped into the game. This year, Martinez became the first ever Latina president of the Los Angeles City Council. She was vocal about her views which included raising the minimum wage, interest in creating a local Green New Deal, and paid leave for new parents.
How could we forget about mother? MJ Rodriguez is a transgender Latina who has shown us true skill and talent as an actress throughout her various roles. She’s also been showing up for the LGBTQ community as well as using her platform to promote inclusivity. Recently, she won Best Actress at the Imagen Awards. Rodriguez has definitely been delivering the best to the world and for that she gets a 10 all across the board.
Dr. Ellen Ochoa
Over 20 years ago, in 1993, Dr. Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina to ever go into space. The years that followed, Dr. Ochoa continued to work diligently in her, which led her to be recognized through several awards. Some of those awards include the prestigious Distinguished Service Medal and Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. To this day she continues being relevant to our society and the world of science. This year she was awarded honorary degrees from both San Diego State and Princeton University. As she accumulates accolades, she also emphasizes the importance of women in STEM careers.
Our beloved Rita Morena has had a hell of a year. Known for continued successes and timeless talent, Moreno was able to surpass her EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) status this year. With this year’s Peabody Award, she is part of the PEGOT club, making her the first Latina ever to be part of one of the most prestigious acronyms there is. You can catch her next year in Westside, a movie she’s starring in as well as executive produced. You can also experience her quirky character on One Day at a Time, an original Netflix series that has now been picked up by PopTV.
Dolores Huerta is one of the toughest social justice warriors we have ever seen. From advocating for unions to farmworkers, Huerta’s passion-driven activism hasn’t slowed down. Her dedication to justice has led her to be arrested due to her constant protests at least two dozen times. This year she was yet again arrested as she protested, alongside five other union members, to increase the wage of Fresno workers who care for the elderly and disabled. She was released shortly after and only given a ticket. Nevertheless, it is apparent that she hasn’t lost track of her loyalty for social justice. As her famous quote says, “si, se puede,” or as it’s known in English, “yes, we can.” Damn right, Dolores Huerta. We all can and she’s shown us how.
Jenny from the block still has it going on. Lopez turned 50 this year, but does it really matter? She is now gracing us with a delightful glow that I’m assuming comes from the satisfaction of doing whatever she desires. Being the ever ambitious woman, she took on the task of simultaneously executive producing and starring in the movie, Hustlers. Though Lopez stated that she went through all her roles in her movie pro bono, it seems like it might pay off. Currently, there are talks that Hustlers might be nominated for an Oscar. If that’s not proof of a job well-done, then I don’t know what is. J Lois definitely living her best life as she makes that dinero.
People are constantly saying that every vote matters. Yet, there are many others that think this is pure bologna. Some just don’t understand how one “measly” vote could ever make a change. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. See, the Boston activist Julia Mejia was able to secure her seat in the Boston’s City Council thanks to a single vote. Her opponent, Alejandra St. Guillen had 22,491 votes while she had 22,492 votes. Mejia is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and the first Latina to ever win a seat at Boston’s City Council.
Sonia Sotomayor is a Latina that has continuously broken down barriers to make space for future generations. One of her greatest feats was when she became the first Latina Justice appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Not only was this a historic moment because of her Latinidad, but also because she was just the third woman to ever serve the Supreme Court. As if that wasn’t inspirational enough to the Latinx community, she published a book that impacted many in 2019. Her children’s book, Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, is about shining light on the differences of others and accepting them either way. She provides her message by using a garden where children who are not alike cultivate it together. By doing this, she is emphasizing the importance of teamwork and tolerance. In a time where bullying is so prevalent, this book is perfect for children to navigate how to approach those different than them. As you can see, Sotomayor promotes order in the courtroom and outside of it too.
Even though Jane the Virgin ended, that didn’t mean her career went along with it. Instead, it has skyrocketed since. In just 2019, Gina Rodriguez starred in two movies, Miss Bala and Something Great. Might I add, she also produced Something Great, and great it was. Furthermore, the animated version of Carmen San Diego debuted on Netflix this year as well. Did she even sleep this year? I feel as though she must’ve used Hermione’s Time-Turner at some point. But then again, Latinas are natural superheroes. We get it done, regardless of any obstacles trying to block our road. Evidently, Rodriguez has always been more than just Jane. She is a woman of her own, ready to take on whatever comes her way.
Of course, these are not the only Latinas who left a dent in the Latinx community this year. I’m sure there were plenty more. I’m talking about the Latina working multiple jobs or the mom going to school. We see you. You’re slaying too!
Either way, any Latina or Latino making a difference for the greater good is as influential as these figures as well. I will say, however, that these Latinas didn’t get where they are now from one day to another. It’s largely known that they’ve worked their asses off amount to the women they are. So, don’t feel discouraged if you are struggling at the moment. Keep it up. At the end of the day, we must all work together for a better tomorrow. Even if it takes some of us a little longer. We will get there. You will get there.