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    How A Wellness Smackdown Got Me Back On Track


    Vendor activation at Wellness Smackdown (Image: Suncear Scretchen)

    When Ain’t I Latina? EIC Janel asked me to cover Jovanka CiaresWellness Smackdown event, I jumped at the chance. As a certified Holistic Health Coach, I love checking out the wellness scene. I’m used to witnessing these events as a spectator, as opposed to participant. But this time was different — I woke up that morning with a pretty wicked hangover. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my bed and a Law and Order SVU marathon for a 10am event in the city.  As it turns out, it was exactly what I needed.

    Jovanka’s wellness soiree was the exact spiritual, mental, emotional and physical checkup I needed to get back on the healthy track. To be honest, I had ventured pretty far off thanks to a heavy bout of seasonal depression.

    Along with physical discomfort, a hangover can also bring a lot of guilt. So the morning meditation was helpful in eliminating the mental abuse I kept giving myself for having one glass of wine too many. I needed to clear my head, which helped open me up to receive the messages that I needed to hear.


    Wellness Smackdown Live (Image: Suncear Scretchen)

    Afterwards, a diverse panel of women dropped girl power gems that left me feeling empowered and ready to let go of self-deprecating thoughts and practices. Although they all represented various sectors of the wellness world, they all urged us to take care of our emotional selves and tap into our feminine energy. Thought leader and Transformational Catalyst Lainie Love Dalby encouraged us to “love and treat our bodies as sacred vessels.”  This quote is a sobering yet powerful reminder that we are earthy representatives of the Higher Power, who wants us to look and feel our best in order to fulfill our soul’s mission.

    After fueling up on green juices, nutrition bars and the energy of fellow wellness junkies,  Jovanka took the stage and challenged us to be a “CEO of your destiny”. The connection was made between the body and success when she hammered home the notion that “health is your biggest form of wealth” and, without it, you cannot “make an impact [in the world] and enjoy your life.” She then presented a check list and asked us to get clear on what we want for ourselves and more importantly what we are saying yes to.


    Jovanka’s bubbly yet tough love and encouragement created an energetic atmosphere that was healing and inspiring. When she exclaimed, “sitting on the couch is a luxury; working out is a necessity” I knew that I was meant to be here and not home watching 24 episodes of detectives Benson and Stabler.


    As a health coach, I was familiar with the subject matter. However, the event reinforced why I feel this is a calling and a refresher, as we all can fall off the healthy living wagon every now and again. I left feeling energized and ready to move forward in helping to spread the health and, in the words of panelist Lanie, entitled to “sparkle shamelessly.”

    Click here to watch our interview with Jovanka Ciares! 


    Entrepreneur Erika Hernandez On How Her Career Change Led to a Life of Purpose


    (Image: Erika Hernandez)

    This week, we’re featuring Erika Hernandez as our Everyday Chica. After realizing it was time to make a change in her life, the Cuban-American entrepreneur made a career shift, deciding to inspire and empower women who were also in a transitional period in life. Her journey in giving back was born.  She spoke with Ain’t I Latina? about finding her purpose, starting a business and how she’s come to understand her identity.

    Ain’t I Latina? :  You created EH Social Events at a transitional point in your life. What was that moment when you knew you wanted to step out on faith and launch this new venture?

    Hernandez: It was the moment I had enough of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Besides being a mother to my then 3-year-old son, I was unhappy with everything that my life was: marriage, home, job, appearance…everything. I started self-evaluating and I was determined to make changes in order to be the best me. I knew being happy in my career was only going to motivate me to continue making changes in other areas, which eventually would lead me to a joyous life.

    What advice would you give to someone looking for clarity during a time when they’re searching for their next move/career?

    Before making any career change, one must first get real with themselves. I’ve seen it time and time again where people change careers or start a new business solely because of the potential of making money, or because it seems fun at first, but then months later they decide it wasn’t for them. Why is this? Because in order for someone to be successful at something, one must love what he or she do and the only way to figure that out is by keeping it real with yourself. If you aren’t jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement to go to work, don’t even waste your time. I’ve been there; I know.

    What inspired you to create Handbags of Hope?

    After going through a funk in 2015, I was inspired to turn my life around and do more. Where I was just months ago and where I am today was a story I needed to share in hopes of helping other women who might be going through something similar. Handbags of Hope was an idea that was brought to me in October and it was originally supposed to be a handbag collection drive at a local coffee shop. But a collection drive was just not enough for me. It kept replaying in my mind and I kept thinking to myself that I needed to do more not only for the women these handbags were going to but all women, or at least as many as possible.

    I knew I wanted to empower women and raise funds for Harvest of Hope Ministries, which is my mother’s non-profit organization. My mother has been my number one supporter through all [of] my adventures. In her late 50s, she finally found something she is passionate about and I just want to be the same support she’s been for me.

    How do you hope this year’s event will help benefit and support women in need?

    Set during March, Women in Business Month, Handbags of Hope supports women in need as they face the emotional and financial challenges of getting a second chance to rebuild a life filled with hope.  A hundred percent of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Harvest of Hope Ministries, so they can continue their mission in restoring hope to women and children in need through their in-kind donations and outreach programs. As women, we run a small world in our purses; it’s one of our most personal possessions.

    So I have asked every single attendee to bring a slightly used handbag filled with snacks and toiletries for a woman who is currently rebuilding her life with the help of Dress for Success Hudson County.   We want attendees to walk away not only feeling fulfilled, but connected to a network of women who are making a difference in business but in their personal lives to make this world a better place for our daughters, sisters, mothers and girlfriends.

    If only 1 out 100 expected women attending Handbags of Hope leaves feeling inspired to live her best life, then my job is done.

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    8 Empowering Lessons from Orgullosa’s #LivingFabulosa Event


    Actress Diane Guerrero, center, moderates a panel of Latina trendsetters, Janet Jones, founder of Vixen Workout, Denise Soler Cox, filmmaker and founder of Project Enye, Raquel Sofía, singer and songwriter, Eliana Murillo, Head of Multicultural Marketing at Google, and Emmelie De La Cruz, personal branding expert, left to right, at at P&G’s Orgullosa #LivingFabulosa event,Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for P&G Orgullosa/AP Images)

    Latinas filled The Paley Center for Media in New York City for the annual Orgullosa #LivingFabulosa event on February 23. While attendees networked and enjoyed goodies from P&G’s beauty brands: Crest, Olay, Secret, Pantene and Venus, the red carpet was graced by celeb guests like SAG Award-winning actress Diane Guerrero and fellow Orange Is the New Black cast members Karina Ortiz, Jackie Cruz and Berto Colon; JW Cortes from Fox’s Gotham and Team U.S.A. Fencer Natalie Vie. caught up with several of the notable guests (check out the videos, here and here).  We asked Ortiz what #LivingFabulosa meant to her.

    “It means working on yourself to be a better person,” said the Dominican actress. “It means working on your dreams, on your goals [and] not settling, and passing on the message to those around you.”

    The gems were flowing throughout last Tuesday’s event. The “Motivating Through Mentors” panel, which included singer Raquel Sofia; Vixen Workout founder Janet Jones; Project Enye founder Denise Soler Cox; personal branding expert Emmelie De La Cruz; and the head of multicultural marketing for Google Eliana Murillo, highlighted the importance and need for Latina mentors. The panel was followed by confidence-boosting sessions led by the panelists: “Moves Like No Other” with Janet Jones, founder of Vixen Workout; “Dreams Are Ageless” with Denise Soler Cox, founder of Project Enye; “Embody Fearlessness” with Raquel Sofia, singer/songwriter at Sony Music; “Strengthen Your Brand” with Emmelie De La Cruz, personal branding expert; and “Healthy, Happy & Hired” with Eliana Murillo, head of multicultural marketing at Google.

    These powerful Latinas left a lasting impression. Here, we take a look at several empowering takeaways from #LivingFabulosa.


    Go for that position or opportunity and do so without apologizing. Most will get it; others won’t, but never dim your light to appease others. Be unapologetic in your journey.   2.


    Whether you have a strong connection to your roots, or discovering where you come from, there’s beauty in that.  


    Knowledge is meant to be shared. Understand your strengths and expertise, and find opportunities to pass on that knowledge. 4.


    How many times have you looked around and said, ‘why doesn’t this exist?’ You don’t have to wait for it to be created. You shoot your shot and make it happen.



    Not to sound cliché but… “great things don’t come from comfort zones.” There’s a whole new world filled with opportunities and lessons at the end of your comfort zone. Trust yourself to navigate that space.   6.

    Be bold and fight for what you want.


    This one spoke to me on a personal level. I’m a bit awkward and growing up didn’t always know where I fit in. Now, I’ve tapped into the various layers of my identity, embraced what makes me different and have used that as a platform to connect with others. My differences have led me to my passion. 8.

    Forever. Always.

    What does it mean to be #LivingFabulosa to you? Let us know in the comments section. 

    Social Media & The Afro-Latina Narrative

    EVENT: ‘Social Media and the Afro-Latina Narrative’

    Ain’t I Latina? is excited to announce our partnership with cool co-working space AlleyNYC in hosting “Social Media and the Afro-Latina Narrative.” Held on Wednesday, February, 24, at 6:30pm, the panel discussion is designed to address how social media has provided a digital space for Afro-Latinas to declare, celebrate and document our narratives. This social media engagement and activism has ignited meaningful conversations and mobilization both in-person and online, as well as national and international coverage.

    Moderated by AIL founder Janel Martinez, our dynamic panel includes:

    Amanda Alcantara (@radicallatina) – writer, multimedia journalist and activist. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of La Galería Magazine, a magazine for Dominicans in the Diaspora, and author of the blog Radical Latina.

    Jamila Aisha Brown (@MsJamilaAisha) – digital strategist, writer and social entrepreneur who specializes in domestic and international advocacy campaigns. As The Opportunity Agenda’s Digital Communications Strategist, she leads the development and implementation of all online platforms and social media outreach and engagement strategies.

    Juliana Pache (@thecityofjules) –  singer, writer and marketer. The Afro-Cuban/Dominican, from Queens, NY, founded “Pussy Power,” an intersectional feminist organization based in Philly (now dismantled). She created the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag to highlight Afro-Latinx contributions during Black History Month.

    Raquel Reichard (@RaquelReichard) – politics & culture editor at Latina magazine and, where she covers identity, cultura and justice through a working-class Latina feminist lens. Her work has been published in the New York TimesThe Washington PostThe IndependentMic and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.

    To join the conversation, RSVP at . Also, follow the conversation via the event hashtag #AILChat.

    We hope to see you there!

    Social Media - Afro-Latina Flyer -

    Celebrity Fitness Coach Jovanka Ciares On Her Health & Wellness Journey

    (Image: Ain’t I Latina? – Jovanka Ciares)

    With the health and wellness boom the U.S. has experienced in the last decade or two, many people are searching for a diet or lifestyle change that best suits them. Ain’t I Latina? tapped health and wellness expert, entrepreneur and celebrity fitness coach on ABC’s My Diet Is Better Than Yours Jovanka Ciares to discuss her road to veganism, the benefits of a plant-based diet and how she landed on national television.

    It wouldn’t be an Ain’t I Latina? conversation if we didn’t discuss identity. We asked Ciares, who is from Puerto Rico, how she identifies.

    “Not until I came to the United States did I start to realize that there was a difference between Latinos of a different color,” says Ciares. “That’s when people probably started to notice there’s such [a] thing as Afro-Latino, or white Latinos…at the end of the day, I’ve always considered myself a Caribbean, a Latina, and a person of African descent.”

    Naturally our conversation flowed to discussing a vegan diet, and we find out that while Ciares thoroughly enjoys her vegan lifestyle, she misses chuletas. I mean, can you blame her?!

    Watch our interview with the health and wellness pro, below:

    For more, check out her website: .

    Those of you in the tri-state area, you’re in for a treat! The celebrity fitness coach will be hosting Wellness Smackdown Live on February 27 in NYC.




    Meet Juliana Pache, the Woman Behind #BlackLatinxHistory


    Juliana Pache. Founder of #BlackLatinxHistory.

    We’re less than a week into February, but there’s no shortage of hashtags sparked by Black History Month. While the annual observance is a time to celebrate and remember prominent people and events within the African Diaspora, its U.S. origins often result in observances and highlights specific to African-Americans, or Afro-Descendants currently residing in America. While there’s great importance in celebrating African-American history during this time, many such as the Afro-Latinx and Caribbean communities are encouraging others to include our stories and moments in discourse surrounding Black History Month.

    Juliana Pache, an Afro-Cuban/Dominican singer, writer and marketer, took to Twitter to share the accomplishments of prominent Afro-Latinx individuals. Hence, the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag was born.

    (The term Latinx, pronounced La-teen-ex, is a gender-neutral term. Latinx is more inclusive of identities that don’t necessarily fit into the man-woman binary.) caught up with Pache to discuss why she started the powerful hashtag, #BlackLatinxHistory.

    What promoted you to start the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag? 

    Every morning, when I wake up, the first thing I do (and maybe I should get in the habit of not doing this, lol) is check my social media. On the morning of February 1, I saw posts about Black History Month, and out of curiosity, I looked at the social media accounts of a few Latinx blogs and magazines, and saw that they hadn’t posted anything about Black History Month. Now, it was February 1, and it was the morning, so, granted, they may have just not posted yet. But I noticed on one of the accounts, they somehow managed to post a picture and article about a non-Latinx white woman that morning. I was low-key infuriated. Not because there was a white woman getting representation, but because we got none. What this said to me, whether unintentional or not, was that, a white face has a greater chance of being represented on the morning of February 1, than a Black one. Granted, I understand that Black History Month is something that’s traditional in the U.S., but I don’t think that’s an excuse. So many Latinx publications and media orgs come out of the U.S., and AfroLatinxs are hardly, if ever, recognized on them. We might get a nod or a mention, here and there, but at the end of the day we are not fairly represented.

    Why is it important that we celebrate Black Litinx history during Black History Month?

    I started posting facts about Black Latinx people, traditions and events, just because I wanted to see that and to share that. The Diaspora is thick and it’s spread out. I wanted to make sure our stories were being told. Originally, I was tagging #BlackHistory, but I created #BlackLatinxHistory when I realized the importance of highlighting this part of the Diaspora for the sake of representation. We’re so often left out of the conversation. Black Latinx is so rich and it’s right here in the U.S.

    How has the hashtag you created been received on social media platforms such as Twitter?

    It seems to be resonating with a lot of people. I’m really glad that people enjoy it and are adding to it. Not just Black Latinx people, but Black people with roots from across the Diaspora seem to be enjoying and discussing it.

    How does social media further the Black Latinx/Afro-Latinx narrative?

    The tool of social media itself is incredible. Being able to share our stories in a way that is easy to digest, but can inspire further investigation in depth. Black/Afro-Latinxs are sharing our stories all the time, and social media provides some access to these stories and these spaces. We can highlight our experiences and celebrate each other.




    Have you participated in the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag? Head to Twitter to be apart of the discussion. 


    Viral Video Showcases Pride & Struggle of Afro-Peruvians


    (Image: YouTube)

    “I feel invisible when I tell people there’s racism in Peru and they don’t believe me,” says a young Afro-Peruvian woman.

    “My name is not ‘morenita,’ ‘zambita,’ or ‘morocha,” notes another Afro-Peruvian woman.

    “It’s as if being Black is bad,” says an Afro-Peruvian man from Tacna.

    A 2013 video, courtesy of The World Bank, has been circulating the web for the last several weeks. The viral video, which features very candid accounts from Afro-Peruvians, hits on the topics of invisibility, underrepresentation and discrimination of Black people in the South American country.

    The World Bank found that four out of ten Afro-Peruvians have felt insulted or prejudiced against “in the workplace, in shops, or other public places,” reports

    Despite the ill treatment, the interviews showcase a strong sense of Afro-Peruvian pride.

    WATCH the video below:

    Afro-Peruvian organizations like LUNDU are working to expand racial classifications in the 2017 National Census, including making visible “racial data on violence against women.” Peru, however, hasn’t made efforts to collect census data on its Afro-Peruvian population since 1940.

    Let us know your thoughts on the treatment of Afro-Peruvians in the comments below.




    Celia Cruz To Be Honored With Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


    (Image: Stanford Hispanic Broadcasting)

    Thirteen years after the passing of the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz will receive a Grammy lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy. Cruz, who sang with greats like Johnny Pacheco, Sonora Matancera and Willie Colón, won three Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammy Awards during her career. A powerful soloist, 23 of her albums went gold.

    The award honors performers who have made contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording, notes the Grammys official website. “Each year, The Academy has the distinct privilege of honoring those who have greatly contributed to our industry and cultural heritage, and this year we have a gifted and brilliant group of honorees,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.” Their exceptional accomplishments, contributions, and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come.”

    The Cuban salsera not only impacted the music industry with her voice and unique sense of style, but the larger Latino community as a beaming example of pride in our African roots. (We, here at Ain’t I Latina? stan for her!)

    We may’ve lost the star in 2003, but her legacy continues to reign on.

    The 58th annual Grammys will air on February 16, 2016 on CBS.


    PopTalk Allows Users to Call and Text Mexico and Latin America for Free



    This post was sponsored by PopTalk. 

    For many Latinos, speaking with family back home is priceless. Since we’re not always able to get that face-to-face time in with loved ones, a call or text keeps us all connected.

    But what if we told you there was a groundbreaking app designed to not only connect you with your loved ones, but have advertisers foot the bill?

    Enter PopTalk.

    PopTalk, a smartphone application created to bridge the connectivity gap between Mexicans and Latinos in the U.S. and family in their respective countries, lets users rent out their smartphone lockscreens in exchange for free international calls, texts and pre-paid data. While most apps require both parties to have smartphones and mobile data to communicate, Poptalk users can call their family members who have landline phones or text loved ones who don’t have a smartphone. Hence, ensuring all Latinos can be reached.

    Created by former Google managers, UC Berkeley graduate Victor Santos and Harvard graduate Sara Choi, both tech entrepreneurs have immigrant families and wanted to ensure others like them could keep in touch with their loved ones.


    (Image: PopTalk)

    “It has been a very powerful experience being able to talk to my family freely without incurring any charges,” says Santos to “My grandmother in Brazil is not doing well, so it has been a great relief to know we can call and text her anytime, as well as pay for her cell phone bill for free, all using PopTalk.”

    PopTalk works with many of the same sponsors you come across in your Facebook news feed. Because PopTalk is accustomed to your likes, you’ll only see things that are relevant and useful to you.

    When it comes to credits, here’s how it works:

    • You can call and text anyone in the world directly within the PopTalk app.  In Latin America, only 52% of people have a cellphone, notes Choi.  With PopTalk, you can call people with landline phones and text people who have feature phones, as well.
    • You can also send your credits to recharge any prepaid phone with airtime or data. Hence, you can send credits to pay for the phone bills of your loved ones abroad, as well as top-up your own phone to give yourself free data.
    • You can earn credits by downloading apps or watching videos. (Tip: These can double the number of credits earned.)

    PopTalk is available for all Android devices.

    More on PopTalk:

    PopTalk is a free application allows Android users (iOS to follow in March) to call or SMS any phone for free by simply renting their smartphone lockscreens to sponsors, receiving credits every day by using their phones normally. Users can also use the credits to pay for their relatives’ cellphone service and data in Latin America.

    Poptalk offers the highest-quality voice service with rates that are just a fraction of calling cards (30x-100x) and local carriers (10x) so every free credit gets you an abundance of minutes and texts.  For example, the average Poptalk user can call a Mexican landline for 600 minutes every month, for free.

    To learn more about Poptalk and to download the app, please visit:

    Join the conversation at:

    20 Amazing Afro-Latina Moments in 2015

    20 Amazing Afro-Latina Moments In 2015

    Afro-Latinas made headlines in 2015. While Afro-Latinas, or Black Latinas, have been changing the game through activism, art, business and entertainment, among other spheres, for decades, there’s something about 2015 that resulted in greater visibility and awareness for our community globally. Between stereotype-smashing hashtags like #LatinasAreNot, #SomosMas and #Afrolatina, which gave many the platform to educate the masses online, and historic moments like Puerto Rican actress and singer Jeimy Osorio becoming the first Afro-Latina to cover Vanidades, a popular women’s magazine, our narratives are reaching new heights.

    With the year nearly over, it’s only right we celebrate how Afro-Latinas did it big in ’15:

    1. Poet Elizabeth Acevedo schools the world on pelo politics when her poem, “Hair,” goes viral. #pajónpower

    2. Vlogger Monica Veloz, widely known as MonicaStyleMuse, released a powerful YouTube video, “I Am Too Dark to Be Dominican.” “We need to stop thinking people look a specific way,” says Veloz in the video. “I don’t have to sit here and speak Spanish to you so you know I’m Dominican.”

    3. TV series Celia debuted on Telemundo. It’s based on the life of legendary cantante cubana Celia Cruz, la Reina de la Salsa.




    4. Jeimy Osorio, who plays the young Celia in Celia, became the first Afro-Latina cover girl for Vanidades.


    (Image: Twitter)

    5. Part Mexican, part Panamanian actress Tessa Thompson shined as actor Michael B. Jordan’s love interest, Bianca, in Creed.



    6. Graciela Dixon became the first woman of African descent to serve as Panama’s Chief Justice.



    7. Cuba holds its first natural hair competition in Havana. Hosted by performance artist Susana Delahante, the two-hour competition brought over 70 contestants in an effort to celebrate the beauty of the Afro-Cuban community.



    8. Thousands of Afro-Brazilians gather in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil for the first ever Natural Hair Empowerment March (Marcha do Empoderamento Crespo). The march was organized by Lorena Lacerda, Andrea and Naiara Souza Gouveia.The historic march took place on November 7, which is exactly 41 years after the historic first march that marked the start of the Black Power movement in Bahia in 1974.



    9. Blogger and image activist Carolina “Miss Rizos” Contreras opens first natural hair salon in the Dominican Republic.  Contreras and her salon were recently featured in the New York Times.



    10. Brown University student Jo’Nella Queen Cabrera Ellerbe and fellow students released “Eminence,” a photo project that shows Black women reclaiming their bodies.


    Jo’Nella Queen Ellerbe: “I’m the queen and no one can take that away from me.” (Image: Taylor Michael)

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