Freelance Reporter | Social Media Columnist | Mentor | Speaker | Leadership | UNT Grad Student
Author: Rebecca Aguilar
Journalism is my life. I've been a reporter for 36 years. My office is the world. During my career I have been honored with 50 journalism awards and nominations. I'm also an Emmy-nominated TV commentator. I'm currently the VP of Programs for SPJ Fort Worth Chapter. I'm also the former VP of Online for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
I have something to share. How I turned something unexpected into a fantastic experience. I was invited to speak at the Latino Media Summit in New York City over the weekend. One of the best conferences I have been to in my career. More on that in a future blog.
I thought I was going to be on a panel with others, but Friday morning, an hour before the panel, I learned I would have to speak for 10 minutes alone. Say what? Yes they had told us weeks in advance, but I messed up. All the other speakers had fantastic, informative slide shows.
When I hit the stage, I said, “God give me the words, in Spanish too.” I had written down a few notes, but honestly I spoke from the heart. Not to brag, but it was one of the best presentations I have ever done in my life. I laughed, I teared up, and I shared. I talked about creating change as individuals, making a difference, and not being selfish with your time and knowledge. To be authentic.
So remember, speak from the heart when you have to, and it will be ok. Again thank you to Graciela Mochkofsky and her team for inviting me to the summit at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. A blog is coming soon on the Summit. Go out and inspire!
Organizations around the world are making efforts to help the victims of the volcano eruption in Guatemala. Several fundraisers have been set up. There are also several grassroots efforts.
Dina Potter of Alexandria, Virginia is working with the Shriners of Guatemala to raise money for those in need. The HR consultant has set up a GoFundMe account to raise $30,000. Here is what she posted:
My name is Dina Potter, I was born in Guatemala & now live in Alexandria, VA. It breaks my heart to see the devastation that the Fire Volcano’s eruption has caused, and the limited resources the country has available for rescue efforts. I was leery of donating to organizations that: 1) I didn’t recognize or 2) could be pocketing the money. That is why I have joined forces with Monica Corzo (a trusted friend) & Miguel Angel Valdez, President of Guatemala’s Shriners Club (FB page: @Guatemala Shriners Club No.1) They are boots on the ground in Guatemala, helping coordinate efforts & are also fundraising. Shriners Hospital in the US is a trusted and reputable non-profit organization, that depends on donations to be able to provide medical care to children in the US. Guatemala Shriners Club No.1 in coordination with Shriner’s International, have activated the protocol for humanitarian aid to be able to provide dire medical attention to children under 18 years of age, who have suffered critical injuries or are burn victims due to this natural disaster.
Dina says the $30,000 raised will be used in the follow areas:
1. Guatemala Shriners Club will take part in aid to the children affected due to the devastation caused by the Fire Volcano.
2. A team of medical specialists from Shriners Hospitals for Children (USA), is in Guatemala to evaluate & deliver medical interventions to children who need urgent medical attention due to life-threatening injuries sustained by this natural disaster.
3. We need your help to be able to move the children in air ambulances. Each air ambulance costs $1000/km, so one trip is @$15,000-$20,000.
ACTION AGAINST HUNGER
Action Against Hunger is also in Guatemala helping the survivors. The organization’s teams work in nearly 50 countries worldwide to carry out innovative, lifesaving programs in nutrition, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene. Teams are now in Guatemala. Here is what it has posted on its website.
On Sunday 3rd June, the Fuego volcano or ‘Fire Volcano’ began its second eruption of the year with strong explosions creating ash columns which have risen 6,000 meters above sea level. 3,265 people have been displaced and at-least 700 people are missing. The main area affected by this eruption is the Department of Escuintla, a region where our teams have been implementing a disaster preparedness project, with a specific focus on floods since 2016. Our teams on the ground are working hard to undertake a needs assessment before launching our response to the volcanic eruption. Reaching the areas most affected and to ensure communities have access to clean water and shelter is our top priority.
Miguel Ángel García is the Country Director of Action Against Hunger in Central America-Guatemala and Nicaragua. He described what has experienced on the ground.
The atmosphere is practically unbreathable. Within two to three days, access to clean water and basic sanitation will be a vital humanitarian need for more than 3,200 displaced people living in temporary shelters provided by local authorities.
There are still many people who have not been accounted for and rescue workers are having a difficult time getting to those who are buried under the volcanic ash.
Bishop Daniel Flores and Bishop Joe Vásquez of Texas are telling the world even on Twitter they are against the Trump administration’s move to separate undocumented parents and their children at the border.
Separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy. Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children. A government that thinks any means is suitable to achieve an end cannot secure justice for anyone.
The Trump administration denied for months that there was no formal policy separating families at the border. Their story fell apart and finally they had to come clean that they were separating parents from their children as a deterrent to keep other immigrants from coming to the U.S. illegally.
Read a good background piece by Jonathon Blitzer in The New Yorker. In “How the Trump Administration Got Comfortable Separating Immigrant Kids from Their Parents,” Blitzer writes:
On April 6th, Jeff Sessions and Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of Homeland Security, announced a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants at the border. Anyone who didn’t cross the U.S. border at an official port of entry would be criminally prosecuted, even if they were seeking asylum, and those travelling with their children would be separated from them. The policy was now official, and the Administration acknowledged its rationale: it was separating families to discourage others from travelling to the United States illegally
Before the Trump administration, immigrants entering illegally as families were rarely prosecuted, said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, immigrants were held in family detention centers until they were sent to appear before an immigration court or deported.
Bishop Joe Vásquez, the Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on June 1:
Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values. Family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching. ‘Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.’ (Psalm 127:3) Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.
Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring. Accordingly, children should always be placed in the least restrictive setting: a safe, family environment, ideally with their own families.
My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns. Children and families will continue to take the enormous risks of migration—including family separation—because the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle remain: community or state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and a lack of educational opportunity. Any policies should address these factors first as we seek to repair our broken immigration system.
The New Yorker reports that according to the Department of Homeland Security, 658 children were separated from their parents between May 6th and May 19th.
Other stories of interest:
Houston Chronicle: Immigrant Families Separated at Border Struggle to Find Each Other
Jen Herrera says “I feel amazing you guys” as she fights back tears. She posted a video on YouTube letting the public know how she is doing since removing her breast implants in November.
Herrera is the co-host of “6 in the Mix,” a daily lifestyle show in Miami.
Five years ago, Herrera was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease. She underwent treatment and decided to go the holistic route. She even left her television career for a while.
She says she was never diagnosed with a breast implant illness, but she had similar symptoms related to that illness. Her research on breast implants lead her to the decision to remove them. Herrera calls this journey “Back to a B Cup.”
Follow Herrera’s journey. She starts from the beginning when she decided at 18-years-old to get her implants. More on her website>> Back to a B Cup
Kudos to Herrera for sharing her story and I’m glad she’s feeling healthy again.
TMZ producer Van Lathan has taught the world especially people of color to speak up.
BE UNAFRAID to take on people who have power, fame and money when they are wrong, even Kanye West.
Lathan was not going to allow the Grammy winner to walk out of the TMZ newsroom Tuesday without telling him he was wrong for saying 400 years of slavery was a choice.
West had shouted in the TMZ newsroom “Do you feel that I’m being free, and I’m thinking free?” It looked like most people were stunned, and not sure what to say or respond.
That’s when Lathan had enough. (Video 1:46)
I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought, and the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye you are entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is fact and real world, real life consequence behind everything that you just said. While you are making music, and being an artist, and living the life that you earned, by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our live.
We have to deal with the marginalization that’s come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and brother, I’m unbelievably hurt, by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me that is not real.
Kanye West apologized to Lathan who told him “You have to be responsible…”
IF SOMEONE IS WRONG, SAY SO
Shout out to TMZ and Lathan, because this is why diversity in the newsroom is important. Here is an African-American producer who was not afraid to take on one of the most famous and powerful African-American entertainers in the world.
I’m like Lathan, there is no way I would have allowed West to walk out that newsroom without telling him he was wrong in what he said.
Too many people today are afraid to speak up. They are afraid to tell a person they are wrong, because they fear someone will get angry. They fear being criticized or judged. They fear not being liked and many are afraid to lose their jobs.
Don’t let all that stuff mess with your mind when you can correct a wrong.
I don’t think Lathan had one ounce of fear when he confronted West, and look who we are talking about today.
My message to all of you:
The next time you hear someone say or do something that is WRONG, say something, do something, because silence does not make the world better.
How many times have you thought of getting in your car and just driving? How many times have you thought of leaving your job and grabbing life by the you-know-what?
Well Caleb Himes is not one to just think it. He is doing it.
He recently quit his job as a reporter at KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He plans to travel across the country. Caleb admits he’s a bit nervous and scared, but nothing is stopping him now.
He’s on the road with his two dogs and towing along an Airstream travel trailer. After ten years of reporting stories about a lot of bad people, Caleb is now determined to find the good people in this world. He is out to get words of wisdom from strangers, advice he hopes will help other people.
Here’s another beautiful part about Caleb’s adventure, he’s doing all the work on his own videos. He is shooting, editing and writing the stories. He is a super one-man-band. There is no big production team, just Caleb, his computer, a few cameras and his creativity.
My hope is Netflix, CNN, Amazon or some other big media company buys Caleb’s show “The Greatest of Us” and shows it to the world.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Caleb’s YouTube channel. If you can’t travel the country, he can bring his journey to a computer, tablet or smart phone near you.
Today I turn 60-years-old. I’m celebrating my six decades of an interesting, crazy, and wonderful life.
No, I am not the kind of woman who hides her age. I’ve earned it and I’ll own it.
Dang! Six decades have past and I still remember being six-years-old. I was the middle kid in a family of five children. When you’re the middle child you learn to speak up to get noticed. I’ve never had a problem in that department.
A grew up a happy kid in a small “all-American” town. I will always be grateful that my parents settled in Napoleon, Ohio when they came here from Mexico. It is a town that continues to be full of good people.
I am a fighter for the people, because it rubbed off on me from my parents.
When they were not working, they were fighting for the civil rights of people of color and women. Whether it was getting better pay at General Motors or improving working conditions for migrant workers, my parents were crusaders for good change.
I needed to become a crusader for good change too. Yes, my parents inspired me to become a reporter.
After graduating from high school and college, I got my first job in Toledo, Ohio in 1981. I knew nothing about television news, but a news director named Paul Rae took a chance on me. Years later, I got to tell him before he passed away that he changed my life.
My career has taken me to Toledo, Chicago, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Dallas. It’s been a fun ride, with a few bumps in the road, but nothing I could not survive.
If you see all my photos, I am always smiling. I think because I learned a long time ago to be fearless and to speak up when I know something is wrong. I have never feared bully bosses, losing a job or even people who judge me.
God does have a plan.
I have faced racism and sexism head on, and will continue fighting for equality inside and outside the newsroom. It’s in my blood.
I am a success today because of my family. A great husband, John Boos who was willing to follow me where ever I landed as a reporter. It has also been wonderful being a mother. Our son Alex is now a senior in college.