How the racism he experienced as a kid inspired him to become a media mogul and advocate.

September is Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate Latino culture and people like Alex who work to infuse it into everyday American life.

"When I was a kid, it was not popular to be Mexican," says Alex Nogales.

"Mexican restaurants went by 'Spanish cafes.' That sounded better," he laughs. "But it was really a Mexican restaurant that sold tacos!"

Alex is the founder, president, and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which is dedicated to increasing visibility for Latinos in media and entertainment.


Photo courtesy of NHMC.

Alex's desire to shine a spotlight on Latino culture stems in part from the discrimination and ignorance he faced growing up.

"I am first-generation, born in this nation. My parents were immigrants from Mexico. We were farm laborers, which meant that we worked the fruits and vegetables in seasons," Alex says.

Photo via iStock.

He and his family would start harvesting cotton in California's Imperial Valley, near the Mexican border. When school was over, they would go to Delano for grapes, then to Manteca for tomatoes, to Northern California for plums and peaches, then back to Manteca before heading back home. They were away from their home in Calexico for six months at a time. Alex enjoyed traveling and meeting people from different walks of life. "But it was a difficult life in many ways," he says.

"Mexicans were not treated very well by the ranchers," he says. "There were signs up and down the state that said, 'No dogs or Mexicans allowed.'"

Today, Alex works to get more — and more accurate — representation of Latino culture into the mainstream.

In fact, he created the National Hispanic Media Coalition to give people a vehicle to do just that.

"It took me years to get over those kinds of discriminatory comments and prejudices," Alex says. But as an adult, when he began work as a writer and producer, he encountered more of the same thing. "I saw who got the jobs and who didn't and why," he says. "A lot of it had to do with, who were people culturally close to?"

Alex and "How to Get Away With Murder" star Karla Souza at the NHMC's 2017 Impact Awards Gala, where Hispanic and Latino actors and actresses are celebrated for their work in the arts. Photo via NHMC/Flickr.

In places where Latino representation is sparse, people sometimes believe inaccurate, harmful stereotypes about Latinos because they've never personally experienced life within the Latino community. People rely on media for real portrayals of people who are different from them, which is why it's so important to Alex that Latinos are characterized correctly.

The importance of visibility is also why Alex chose Los Angeles to live, work, and champion his mission.

More than any other city in the United States, Los Angeles is where you can get an accurate understanding of what the Latino community actually looks like.

Photo by William Garrett/Flickr.

"Our community is no different from other immigrants that have come to this country," Alex says. Individual roles vary so widely that any stereotype is bound to be inaccurate. "We're doctors. We're lawyers. We're cops," he says. He ticks off the names: "The head of the state Senate is a Latino. The head of the Assembly is a Latino. The attorney general is a Latino," he says.

"If you really want to know more, engage us," Alex says. "Go to festivities — any of them that occur during Hispanic Heritage Month."

Visibility is important year-round, but the events held during Hispanic Heritage Month are a great opportunity to learn more about and celebrate Latino culture.

A dancer at a Hispanic cultural event in downtown Los Angeles called the Blessing of the Animals. Photo by Ray_LAC/Flickr.

In his view, the celebration of Hispanic and Latino cultures is something to be shared among everyone.

"I like it when we have people outside our own community coming to our own celebrations," he says. "You know, anything that is ethnic is to be celebrated. The food is great, the cultural things are great, the people are great. And how are you gonna not like something that's happy?"

In Los Angeles, SoCal Honda is helping people celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. To find out how and where to participate (or to get some inspiration for your own town's celebrations!) follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

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