Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Franmarie Metzler; U.S. House Office of Photography
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Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez Wears a Braid To Honor Her Afro-Latina Roots

There is a lot to appreciate about congresswoman Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez. Even though the Boricua Bronx-native made history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress this November, she has continued to keep it real. Earlier this month, she stirred a ton of buzz by using Instagram Stories to lift the veil on Congress and it was straight up genius and recently, she chose to wear her hair in a braid to honor her Afro-Latina roots while she was in Congress. She was also honest about her very intentional decision:

“When I wear a braid, it is to honor the African and Indigenous heritage that is part of being Puerto Rican,” she wrote. “My family is Afro-Latina. When my niece was very little, it upset me to see how early she started to feel that her big, curly, beautiful, natural hair was anything other than gorgeous. I don’t want my little nieces to ever be told that their hair or their braids are “unprofessional.” That’s why I chose to wear one today—to MAKE it normal and celebrated, with respect and honor of our ancestors and to let every little girl out there know that they can bring their braids to Congress, too.”

All I have to say is—you go, girl! As a Latina who identifies as Afro-Latina, it really touched me to see Ocasio-Cortez not only express her pride in her identity but also take a strong stance against European beauty standards often placed on women of color. She just got to Congress and this Puertoriqueña is already breaking boundaries and addressing issues that directly impact the Latinx community and WOC.

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Own your power. . For so many, it’s radical to feel comfortable in your own skin – and to know that you are more than enough, just as you are. . One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” . So take up space. Speak up. Hold the door open and take others with you. Accept that you will be criticized no matter what – that is the price of fighting for change and innovation. I consider constructive criticism a blueprint for improvement and a medicine for ego. . Ultimately, the people who get down, stay focused in adversity, and do the thankless work of change are the ones who transform society. We can all be a part of that, if we so choose. We can all knock a door, register our cousin to vote, or educate ourselves on an issue we’re curious about. . We are all capable of awakening and commitment. And because of that, we can all be great. . 📸: @gigilaub

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Maybe to some folks Ocasio-Cortez identifying as Afro-Latina and showing up to Congress rocking a braid is no big deal, but for thousands of young Latinxs, it really is. This particular midterm election was so important because we realized that if we wanted significant change, we had to be the change ourselves and not only vote, but also run for office. These new WOC in office will fight for issues that matter to us, while also allowing us to see ourselves reflected in our government and in positions of power. While conservatives see her as a threat, we see her as an inspiration and the change our country so desperately needed.