Disney’s First Latina Princess Will Debut This Summer

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Yes you read that right. Disney has a new princess they are debuting this summer, her name is Elena and she will be the franchise’s first official Latina princess. The Latina Disney princess first made headlines in 2015 when Disney announced that they were adding a new princess.

The news of a new Latina princess came years after the release of princess Sofia of ‘Sofia The First’ who was initially thought to be Disney’s first Latina princess. Disney took a lot of heat for it because many Latinas felt they did not identify with Sofia appearance wise who was fair-skinned with a red-auburn hair color.

This is a ground breaking move for Disney as once again they are expanding their brand as culturally diverse. The story will focus on princess Elena’s journey as a young heiress to throne and learning all she needs to know pertaining to her culture and kingdom.

Actress Aimee Carrero a Latina of Dominican heritage, voices the first Latina princess for Disney and could not be more proud. “By introducing a heroine whose background resembles their own — whose brown locks and brown eyes look like theirs — young girls can now properly identify with a princess.” Carrero said following a statement she made that it was a little harder for young Latinas to identify with the blonde hair blue-eyed Elsa in the mega-hit Frozen because they look nothing like her. Continuing her clear expression of pride she went on to say “They can quite literally see themselves in this new character of Elena, and that is monumental.”

Disney has been promoting and preparing for the launch of princess Elena Of Avalor this summer. She has her own series coming out soon in the earlier part of the summer, princess Elena dolls were released in February, and Princess Elena will debut in Disney parks in the later part of the summer to early fall.

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Sesame Street Has a New Latina In Town

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Sesame Street welcomes a new Latina character to the iconic children’s show and her name is Nina. The character is the latest in a number of new faces added to the long running children’s program. Nina is a college student working several jobs to fund her education. She is able to pay for school working at the shop, laundromat, and babysitting Elmo.

The young Latina character is bilingual and “uses her wit, compassion and charisma to help the furry residents of Sesame Street solve their daily dilemmas, providing a positive role model for preschoolers,” according to the Sesame Workshop.

“Sesame Street is constantly evolving and has a long-standing history of modeling a diverse community,” as stated on the character description for the official site. “As producers took note of changing demographics in the United States, it was important to represent this diversity in the new addition to the cast.”

Nina is portrayed by 26-year-old Miami born Cuban-American actress Miamian Suki Lopez who is no stranger to diversity in her life and filled with pride to represent Latinas in her role as Nina. “Its funny-you’re so proud to be Latina. I’ve never met somebody who’s so proud” Lopez recalled in a phone conversation with New Times. Lopez responded politely with confusion “Why wouldn’t I be?”

The Cuban-American hopes her Latin pride is clearly seen on the show. “I want to make sure that [my acting] comes cross that I’m proud to be Latina and [that if you’re Hispanic] you should be too,” Lopez said, according to the News Times. Lopez joined the cast for the 46th season. The new addition follows the departure of the beloved first Latina character Maria who exit in 2015 during the 45th season after being on Sesame Street for 44 years.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin who created the petition for Sesame Street to have a college attending Latina on the show said this when speaking of the positive affect it could have “a great opportunity to highlight a millenial Latina who is pursuing a college or graduate degree, or who’s running her own business.” Dr Perez-Litwin believes sending Nina to college will inspire an entire generation of children to do the same.

You can watch Suki Lopez as Nina on Sesame Street daily on PBS’s KLRN at 1pm and on HBO/HBO Latino Sundays at 9am.

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Pedestrians vs Vehicles: Who Has The “Right of Way”

Around the boroughs of NYC some may have wondered what the bright orange outlines of bodies on the streets were. Under the cover of darkness, the community organization, “Right of Way Riders” rode over 50 miles and stenciled the outlines of eight children killed by bikes14n-3-webmotorists. They included the name of the victim and a plea of  “Why. Ray. Why?”

This plea is in response to the bikers perception that the pedestrian and biker are often blamed by the NYPD without a complete investigation.

Using commando tactics, they are attempting to bring to light the danger both pedestrians and bike riders have while navigating the busy city streets.  One of the organizers Keegan Stephan, 29 of Williamsburg told the Daily News, “Right now it seems like it’s not safe to be a child in the streets of this city.” Many New Yorker’s may agree. Often the tensions between bikers, cars and pedestrians can be very volatile. right of way

The trifecta of this tension came to a head in August when Sian Green, a British tourist enjoying the summer day had her leg severed while enjoying her time in NYC. A cab came out of nowhere jumping the curb and barreling into her. The cab driver claims a bicyclist beat on the hood of his cab causing him to lose control, while witness claims differ. The altercation seems to have happened but the cab responded aggressively to the bike and lost control as a result.

While the debate is open and there are many perspectives, the cyclists who honored the children though, while breaking the law made their point, loud and clear.

Teen Pregnancy on the Decline in NYC

The Health Department developed the Teens in NYC – Protection mobile app as a way to provide access to free health reproductive services.

Go ahead, and pat yourself on the back, Bloomberg; teen pregnancy is on the decline.

According to new data released by the Health Department, teen pregnancy has decreased in the last decade by 30 percent, and dropped five percent between 2010 and 2011.

“For teens who are having sex, it is important to use birth control and condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The Teens in NYC mobile app provides information in ways that are familiar to teens so they can access to these services.”

The mobile app, Teens in NYC – Protection,  provides educational outlets and services for both young women and men., including the Young Men’s Initiative, which gives access to reproductive health services.

“The City’s efforts over the last decade have already led to fewer teens becoming pregnant each year in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. “Health care guidelines created through the Young Men’s Initiative will help even more teens avoid unintended pregnancy so they can finish their education.”

There are nearly 87 percent of pregnancies that are unintended. While abstinence will prevent unintended pregnancies, for those who are engaging in intercourse can educate themselves with the mobile app.

Of the five boroughs, the Bronx sits atop the list of teen pregnancies with 95.9 of 1000 pregnancies. Health agencies have started a Bronx based initiative called Bronx Teen Connection in Hunts Point and Morrisania.

The city has seen its fair share of controversial ads as a way to address the hard facts of teen pregnancies as well as Plan B is now accessible to 15-year-olds and older.

The app is available for all phones, including the iPhone and Android.

Pic: NYC.gov

Homeless Man Charged in Underage Sex Attack in Queens

By Amanda Andries

This man allegedly sexually assaulted two young girls, said Police. Credit: NYPD

This man allegedly sexually molested two young girls, said Police. Credit: NYPD

A homeless man was arrested on Tuesday evening and charged for the sexual assault of two young girls, in two separate incidents, in the family-filled neighborhood of South Ozone Park, Queens according to reports.

NBC 4 New York reported that Lee Samuel, 25, admitted to police that he attacked the 7-years-old girls, on the afternoon of May 1. He allegedly touched the first girl on her buttocks and later that same day, about two miles away, he exposed himself to the other girl.

Samuel appeared in Queens Criminal court on Wednesday and pled guilty to first-degree criminal sexual act, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child. He was not granted bail.

The neighborhood was on high alert when the news spread that someone had reportedly assaulted two little girls. Crimestoppers even announced that they would pay $12,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of the crime. Police also released three videos of the suspect to help the public ID him.

According to news reports, Samuel has a history of at least 15 prior arrests — two of which were sexual offenses.

Samuel is due back in court on May 20 and faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted.

Statute Allows NYC Prep School Predators to Avoid Prosecution

By Amanda Andries

The clock on the tower at Horace Mann ticked away, as alleged abuses took place there. Credit: Jim.henderson via Wikimedia Commons

Several affluent parents paid one of New York City’s most prestigious and oldest prep schools an annual tuition of more than $25,000 annually, from the 1970s until the mid-1990’s to give their children the best academic opportunity money could provide. But instead, it is suspected that they were blindly sending their children off to be abused by trusted faculty at the The Horace Mann School, according to a New York Times Magazine article, written by a former student, Amos Kamil and published last summer.

On Friday, April 26, the Bronx district attorney said that anyone who may have perpetrated acts of sexual violence at the 125-year-old school, could no longer be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired. Even though they said that they found a history of abuse that went  stretched from 1970s up until 1996.

After the Times article broke the wall of silence that surrounded the tony institution, a hotline was set up for victims and 25 former students — three women and 22 men — came forward with abuse claims against former faculty. The now adult, past students were being represented by celebrity attorney, Gloria Allred.

According the Times feature, the perverse behavior of several well-known faculty members was common knowledge around the Horace Mann campus. One coach reportedly performed “private-parts inspections.”

“I heard about some teachers who supposedly had a habit of groping female students and others who had their eyes on the boys. I heard that Mark Wright, an assistant football coach, had recently left the school under mysterious circumstances. I was warned to avoid Stan Kops, the burly, bearded history teacher known widely as “the Bear,” who had some unusual pedagogical methods. Even Clark came in for some snickering: he had no family of his own, and he had a noticeably closer-than-average relationship to the Bear, another confirmed bachelor,” Kamil, who graduated Mann in 1982, wrote.

On their website the school has a prominent link addressing the abuse claims. They have been unusually open and upfront about the matter— showing a rare level of transparency about the issue. The school has even posted a letter to the parents of students of the school and a hotline number where abuse can be reported. The administration also refers to rules of action that they recommend and advise students to take, in their Family Handbook. 

According to Allred, 20 of her clients have already settled with Horace Mann.

Cough Up A Lung, Where I’m From…New York City?

According to a report by the American Lung Association, New York City makes the list of cities with high levels of ozone and particle pollution.

No, this isn’t the remix to Jay-Z’s Where I’m From (Marcy Son), but according to a new report by the American Lung Association, New Yorkers are breathing in high levels of polluted air.

Researchers of the American Lung Association measured the levels of ozone and soot in the air in close to 1,000 cities across the nation between 2009 and 2011. Results showed that some cities had improved from last year and residents were breathing in cleaner air. However, results also showed that some cities had gotten worse.

New York City joined the company of Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas of cities with high levels of polluted air.

“The long-term trend is positive and headed to much cleaner air,” said report author Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy for the American Lung Association. “[However], there is an uptick in some areas that are a concern and some areas where the problem remains very, very serious.”

It is only expected for New York City whose landscape is comprised more of skyscrapers and tight spaces than grass and gridlock traffic.

More than 1.1 million adults have asthma and are seen in eight percent of school-aged children, which is attributed to the air quality in urban areas.

The cleanliest cities included Bismarck and Rapid City of North and South Dakota respectively.

Maybe Mayor Michael Bloomberg had something here with his congestion pricing plan.

Pic: Wikimedia