Axios Latino

Red wooden block with Latino in colors engraved on it.

Welcome back! It's 🪅Pachanga Thursday ... let's get ready to party!

  • 🎓 We're gonna dedicate some space this month to new grads. Know someone who should be featured? Email us a sentence about them, and attach a picture to [email protected] (or just reply to this email).

Situational awareness: U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and other Democrats are asking WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal to address concerns over misinformation in Spanish.

  • Puede leer la versión en español aquí.

This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván, is 991 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: The Asian American-Latino nexus

A black and white photo shows three men in the front of a protest line, all shaking hands. The man on the right is activist Cesar Chavez and in the middle is Larry Itliong, who is smoking a cigarette
Larry Itliong, center, with Cesar Chavez, right, during the Huelga Day March in San Francisco, 1966. Photo: Gerald L French/Corbis via Getty Images

Asian Americans were behind many of the pivotal civil rights gains Latinos have made in recent history, though their connections are largely forgotten, Russell writes.

Why it matters: Asian Americans face increasing discrimination and a lack of understanding among the public about their contributions to the U.S.

Details: A Chinese American man helped give rise to constitutionally protected birthright citizenship, safeguarding millions of Mexican Americans and Central Americans for more than a century.

While Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta are known as leaders of the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 — a movement that brought civil rights and labor together — it was Larry Itliong, a Filipino American, who pushed them forward.

  • An immigrant from the Philippines, Itliong led a strike on behalf of 2,000 Filipino farmworkers who demanded higher wages.
  • Chavez joined at Itliong's request.
  • Chavez and Huerta founded the United Farm Workers union and gained international acclaim for drawing attention to the poor conditions of Latino farmworkers.

2. A dancer in his prime

two men and a woman dance ballet while a large red silk cloth drapes behind them
Isaac Hernández (right) with dancers Natalia Osipova and Jason Kittelberger in Edinburgh, Sep. 2021. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

A Mexican dancer who has gained international renown is now headed to the San Francisco Ballet as principal, Marina writes.

The big picture: Isaac Hernández, 31, is one of few Latinos and Latin Americans who have made it big in the dance world. He’s part of a family of successful dancers and will join his brother, Esteban, who already dances for the San Francisco company.

  • Hernández has performed at the Paris Opera and the national ballet companies of the Netherlands and England.
  • In 2018, he became the first Mexican to win the international Benois de la Danse prize — known as the Oscars of ballet.

What to know: Hernández’s parents taught him and his siblings ballet on an improvised barre in their Guadalajara home.

  • The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia gave scholarships to Hernández and later to his brother Esteban to train in the U.S.
  • “No one would believe me that I was a Mexican who had taken classes on a patio while my mom did the laundry, that that was how I trained before gaining access to the international opportunities that followed,” Hernández told Noticias Telemundo.

Driving the news: Hernández will move to the Bay Area in June after a seven-year stint at the English National Ballet.

  • He will join his wife, Tamara Rojo, a Spaniard set to be the first female artistic director of San Francisco’s company. The couple has a son.
  • The family is also trying to create more dance opportunities in their home country through an annual festival called Despertares that showcases international talents.

3. Skin tone inclusion in tech

A picture of a woman with a plus sign on her cheek
Image: Google

Google is making use of a more inclusive data model as part of its effort to make its services work equally well across a wide range of human skin tones, Axios Login author Ina Fried writes.

Why it matters: Google is the front door to the Internet, and every step it takes toward more equitable products affects billions of people.

Details: Google says it has begun using the Monk Skin Tone Scale, developed by Harvard professor Ellis Monk, as a guide to evaluating its products. Monk's scale is comprised of 10 tones, compared to the more widely used Fitzpatrick model, which only uses six.

  • The company has started using the scale within its own products. Among the first instances are in image search, where it is used in options for selecting makeup, and in Google Photos filters.

The big picture: Developing equitable technology means counteracting decades of discrimination while also taking steps to ensure that human bias doesn't become automated, entrenched, and ultimately codified through algorithms.

  • A great deal of basic technology, including much of photography, was designed with white users in mind.
  • Snapchat's inclusive camera effort, first detailed by Axios, aims to address the legacy of film cameras whose chemical processes were optimized for properly developing images with lighter skin tones.
  • With the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones released last year, Google has been heavily touting its Real Tone feature, aimed at better capturing darker skin tones.

Yes, but: Tech's bias problems go far beyond skin tone. Google head of product Tulsee Doshi acknowledges that there is a lack of diversity of images on the Internet. "The web itself has had a history of bias in terms of who we take photos of, who we publish," Doshi said.

4. Stories we're watching

Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro stands at a podium with a microphone in front of him. He has an expressionless look on his face.
Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Keno George/AFP via Getty Images

1. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s complaint against a Supreme Court justice over a corruption investigation was rejected Wednesday. Bolsonaro claimed the investigation hurt his image in the lead-up to the presidential election.

2. Costa Rican authorities are still scrambling to free thousands of computers from a ransomware attack against government agencies that experts fear could result in lost data for departments like the Ministry of Finance.

5. 📖Smile to go: The joy of reading

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A day of outdoor reading organized by the group ConTextos in San Salvador. Source: Noticias Telemundo

A San Salvador nonprofit is trying to detox kids from increased screen time brought on by the pandemic, Marina writes.

Details: The campaign called “'Tiramos la biblio por la ventana” (putting the library in the streets) has been holding monthly gatherings since late last year, looking to incentivize children and teens to hang out outdoors while reading.

  • There are free books for participants to dive into alone or with parents, and read-alongs and games at plazas in El Salvador’s capital.
  • The project comes from ConTextos, a play on words that can be translated as both “contexts” and “through texts.”

6.🪅Pachanga: Elizabeth de León Bhargava

 Liz de Leon Bhargava poses for a portrait
Photo: Dawin Rodriguez.

Felicidades are in order for Elizabeth de León Bhargava, who was just sworn in as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Assistant Secretary for Administration!

Elizabeth was previously a deputy commissioner in the administration of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. She has over 20 years experience in the public sector.

Thank you again for joining us. We can't wait to be back next week!

P.S. — Don't forget to submit your 🪅Pachanga Thursday recommendations by replying to this email.